Interview with Richard James
Author of The Devil In The Dock
I've been telling stories all my life. As an actor I've spent a career telling other people's, from William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens. As I writer, I get to create my own!
I have written almost thirty plays which are produced the world over; from USA to New Zealand and just about everywhere in between. They're mostly comedies and frequently win awards in competitions and festivals.
In 2014 I wrote a memoir, Space Precinct Unmasked, detailing my experiences working as an actor on Gerry Anderson’s last live action sci-fi series. This was followed by an adaptation of the unscreened pilot episode, Demeter City, and four new short stories featuring the officers of Precinct 88, Space Precinct: Revisited.
As to my own series, I decided I wanted to write a sequence of books set in a world I would want to spend time in and featuring characters I would want to be with. Most importantly, it would have to feature a grisly murder or two! I love the Victorian era. It seems such a rich period of history, populated by some hugely colourful characters, so that is where we first meet Detective Inspector George Bowman.
The Head In The Ice is the first in the Bowman Of The Yard series and follows Bowman's investigation into the discovery of - well, a head in the ice of the River Thames. Over the course of the book, however, and throughout the series in general, we see he has demons of his own to contend with.
There are four books in the Bowman Of The Yard series in all, together with some short stories from Bowman's Casebook. These have been collected into two volumes and fill in the gaps between the novels, giving the reader the chance to follow Bowman's professional progress and personal battles (he's a troubled man, as you'll see) over twelve months of his life.
'A masterful new Victorian mystery series.' Rosie Amber books
'A genuinely impressive debut.' Andrew Cartmel
'Full of the thrills of Victorian London.' Adam Croft
I really hope you like the books. If you do, you can tweet me your thoughts at @RichardNJames. I hope to hear from you!
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What can we expect from The Devil In The Dock?
- The Devil In The Dock is the second book in the Bowman Of The Yard series, so it is a continuation of Detective Inspector George Bowman's journey through the year 1892. This second book is set in the spring of that year.
Do readers have to have read the previous book?
- Not at all. Each book is a distinct investigation so no prior knowledge is necessary. Of course, having read this one, I bet readers will want to go back and read the first in the series, The Head In The Ice! There are enough references in The Devil In The Dock for new readers to understand just what has happened to Bowman in the previous book.
So, what has happened to George Bowman since the last book?
- I'm afraid he's on something of a downward trajectory. We know that he blames himself for something rather traumatic that has happened in his past, and this has consequences throughout this series of books.
Do you enjoy writing the characters in the Bowman Of The Yard books?
- Of course! It's essential I want to spend time with these characters. I've enjoyed fleshing out some of the supporting characters a bit more in a series of short stories from Bowman's Casebook.
How can readers get the short stories?
- By subscribing to my newsletter at www.bowmanoftheyard.co.uk! There are two short stories set between each of the novels. The intention is that, by the end of the series, there will be twelve stories available (novels and short stories), one for each month of the year, 1892.
How would you describe The Devil In The Dock?
- It's a thrilling rollercoaster ride of a novel! It's very fast paced (you might even say explosive!) and also contains some further revelations concerning Bowman's past.
Do you get emotionally invested with your characters?
- Of course! I spend so much time with them, writing the novels and short stories, that I can't help it. One of the most difficult things is to chart Bowman's decline throughout the books, in terms of his mental health. He's a character I love and admire and to see him brought so low is difficult.
What about some of the supporting characters you mentioned?
- They are so important, not just in terms of telling the story, but also by acting as a lens through which to view Bowman's journey. Sergeant Graves is a perenially cheerful character but you can tell that he's finding it harder to keep Bowman's spirits up as the case progresses, while Inspector Hicks seems to relish creating mayhem.
The Devil In The Dock is set around London's Tower Bridge and the docks. How much research was required?
- Lots! Luckily, many of the streets are just as they were a hundred and forty years ago - and many of the original buildings remain too. In the course of my research, I was able to pinpoint exactly where a character might be standing and what they would see. Apart from the modern skyscrapers, the view has hardly changed!
What does the future hold for Inspector Bowman?
- Two more books will follow The Devil In The Dock, set in the summer and autumn of 1892. Again, they will be separate investigations, but will continue to chronicle Bowman's battle with his own sanity. It will all end for the best, but there will be some tough times to get through first...
No longer trusted by Scotland Yard because of his unpredictable behaviour, Detective Inspector George Bowman is despatched to London’s docks on a security detail.
But he is soon plunged into a world of extortion and murder.
When his colleague Sergeant Graves investigates a corpse discovered in Drury Lane, the two detectives soon realise they are working on the same case.
But are the two men exceeding their authority?
Bowman is brought to task by the Special Irish Branch for interfering with their investigation into Fenian activity at the docks. Bowman has more questions than answers. A piece is missing from the puzzle.
Still haunted by his part in his wife’s death, Bowman struggles to keep his sanity and find a link that connects crime across the capital. Cautioned for his erratic mental state by his superiors, the inspector’s very career is at stake.
His life becomes endangered too, as Bowman must face his nemesis across the newly constructed Tower Bridge and prevent a deadly strike against the heart of the Empire itself.
With the whole of Victorian London in the grip of the mysterious Kaiser, Bowman must find the strength to escape the ghosts that haunt him. Just who is the Kaiser, and what do they have to do with his wife's death?