Mystery Mondays is helping celebrate by hosting mystery writers leading up to this exciting week. The first up is Nick Rippington.
Being Persistent by Nick Rippington
MY OFFICE was a crime scene. I envisaged my computer cordoned off by yellow and black tape, the words DO NOT CROSS boldly emblazoned on it, hinting at torturous punishments if the message wasn’t heeded.
In my over-active imagination I saw figures in white paper suits pouring over the contents of my desk, wondering at the significance of the fantasy football teams I had scribbled down in my notebook, whether there might be a hidden code lying dormant among the seemingly innocuous set of names.
I studied the building, its harsh lights glaring out at me amid the uniformed greyness of the docklands office development. Feeling like one of those Watergate reporters, Woodward or Bernstein, I waited in the car park for my contact to arrive, jumping within my skin every time an engine revved or lights flashed.
Eventually Jonesy arrived, handing me a black bin liner. Opening it, I stared at the macabre contents: a half eaten chocolate bar, some chewing gum, a box of staples, a pair of blunt scissors, yellowing paper – lots of it – boasting hard-hitting headlines which had once filled me with pride.
“Sorry about this,” he said. “No one’s allowed in the building. They’re trying to find a smoking gun, I guess.”
I nodded. Two years into my dream job and I faced up to the truth – I was out of work because of ‘crimes’ committed long before I joined The News of the World as a sports journalist.
Having been on holiday, I’d almost missed Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he was closing the paper in the wake of a stories of celebrities having their phones hacked. A friend phoned to tell me and I would only believe him after seeing it confirmed on the 24-hour TV news.
I never set foot in the building again. For the first time in my life I had been made redundant, not a nice feeling when you have a wife and a one-year-old daughter depending on you.
I had always fancied myself as a closet author, but never seemed to find the time. Now, with Indie and digital publishing exploding on the scene, I decided I would give it a go. I went to conventions, joined author and publishing groups and worked out how to set about the task.
With more than 30 years experience in journalism I had plenty of material to fall back on and began with a simple premise: How would a big city newspaper hack handle a move to a small provincial operation? One particular character sprang to mind, a dyed-in-the-wool cockney who thought the world didn’t exist beyond the boundaries of the M25 motorway.
I nurtured this germ of an idea, grew it, had my original story critiqued and rubbished, went back to square one, hardened it, added elements of thriller and mystery, drew on teenage experiences of being a member of a “gang” and came up with Crossing The Whitewash, which I published in August 2015.
Sales were a slow burn but the key is not to give up. Though most of us would rather write than get involved in marketing, my recent progress with Facebook Ads has been highly encouraging, leading to a big surge in sales over Christmas and the New Year. I broke into the top 20 hard-boiled mysteries category in the UK, my name alongside the likes of Phillip Kerr, Gordon Ferris and Stuart MacBride.
With over 30 reviews across the UK and US, many of them positive, readers have suggested they would like to see more of my characters, so the prequel is on the way. I was hoping it would be out in time for MTW but that may be ambitious. It is with the editor now, will then go to Beta readers and finally to my wife Liz, a qualified proofreader (and very good, I must add; quick plug you can contact her through her website http://lizripp01.wixsite.com/heresproof).
During that time I have been lucky to make contact with some pretty successful authors. One of the best tips came from Kerry Wilkinson, who published his first books independently before success on Amazon earned him a 10-book deal with MacMillan.
He read my first three chapters and steered me in the right direction, telling me that dialogue was key, and to let my characters tell the story. Now, whenever I get writers’ block I write a conversation between two characters. It doesn’t matter if it never appears as long as it gets the creative juices flowing again.
Thank you, Kristina, for the chance to write this. I hope your readers find it intriguing enough to take the plunge and read a Rippington.
A Little About CROSSING THE WHITEWASH:
Young football prodigy Gary Marshall and his best mate Arnie Dolan spend their teen years battling adversity and rival gangs on the tough London council estate where they live. Then a series of events occur with massive repercussions for both boys, forcing them apart.
Eight years later Arnie is desperate to revive their relationship and has a secret to impart he has harboured all his life.
So why is Gary hiding away in Wales as a sports reporter under a false name? And why is he so keen to let the past stay in the past?
Who is Nick Rippington?
NICK RIPPINGTON wrote his debut novel, the urban gangland thriller Crossing The Whitewash, after losing his job at the News of the World in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Published in August 2015, the novel recently received an honourable mention in the 2016 EBook Awards competition run by prestigious American magazine Writer’s Digest. The judges described it as “evocative, original, unfailingly precise and often humorous” and considered one of the leading characters, gang leader Arnie Dolan, as “terrifying”.
The judge in the 2016 self-published eBook competition went on to say: “I was impressed with the development of all the characters, major and minor. Arnold is terrifying but never comes across as a two-dimensional villain. By the end, the reader can see that all of the characters have changed.”
A career journalist now working on the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday while continuing with his writing adventure, in a previous life Nick was an Executive Editor at Media Wales – the organisation that produces the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and Wales Online in Cardiff.
In his spare time he is a big fan of the England cricket team and home town football club Bristol Rovers. He has mapped out his writing story, from first draft to eventual publication, in his blog imgoingtopublish.wordpress.com
He is married to Liz and has two daughters, Jemma, 34, and Olivia, 6.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/buckrippers
Blog: http://www.imgoingtopublish. com
Available in Kindle and in Paperback from Amazon UK
Amazon in US:
Category: This is a difficult one. I am having a lot of success in the urban category with Amazon but notice you don’t have one. For now perhaps thriller or contemporary fiction. Certainly if there was an urban category I would place it in that.