It’s a great pleasure to be hosting a stop on the S5 Uncovered blog tour. This has certainly been one of the most interesting reads to date, and I wanted to find out a little more about the story behind it from James Durose-Rayner, the author. So before I share the interview, here’s a bit about James and what the book’s about.
About James Durose-Rayner:
James Durose-Rayner has over twenty years’ experience in journalism. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild and the editor of NATM, the UK’s leading specialist civil engineering journal. His writing has been featured in over 210 magazines and his debut indie-novel, S63: Made in Thurnscoe, published in 2001, received positive reviews. In 2015, I Am Sam (Clink Street Publishing) and itv Seven (New Generation Publishing) followed to more affirmative acclaim. Durose-Rayner currently divides his time between the UK and Cyprus.
Based around a series of true events. The BBC’s current affairs programme ‘Panorama’ undertook a sixty minute documentary / exposé surrounding an elite government task force that went undercover in Sheffield over a period of twelve months.
Their remit was to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to fill up the police federations coffers using illegally gained intelligence, on one hand overlooking – and in some cases encouraging – major criminal activity such as murder, kidnap and torture; whilst on the other, surreptitiously acquiring pre-bargained guilty pleas from defendants then reneging on deals, which culminated in some of the heaviest sentences ever handed out in the UK. But the programme was never aired.
TCB: Can you tell us about S5 Uncovered and why you wanted to write it?
JD-R: The story: The Bristol-office of SOCA are interested in a man who originates from the north Sheffield area and its deputy director – Don Chaps, contacts South Yorkshire Police and he asks them to lift him for questioning. After the first bout of questioning, the powers-that-be clear the cells for New Year’s Eve and release him on bail. Unfortunately for SOCA he gets murdered and what the police assume to be just another low-level drug related murder on the ‘Cross (Parson Cross), it turns out to be a little bit more than that.
SOCA are working towards its dissolution and integration into the NCA (National Crime Agency) and its head office down in Vauxhall, London are overly concerned that a current child protection case in Rotherham and Sheffield is being dragged out to the point of stalling and they suggest that the deputy director should stay in Sheffield, not only to investigate the reasons behind the murder, but to also weed out the problems within the existing office and force convictions.
He eventually goes about setting up a covert task force out of an old warehouse in the Shalesmoor area of the city to follow a set of ‘Primary Markers’ – half of whose sole purpose is the acquisition of money and drugs via violence, whilst the other half are just civilians – both sets of who -continually use each other.
The idea was not to bring them in – but to let them go about their everyday business but to always be one step ahead of them using covert surveillance – SOCA’s remit being to fill the coffers of the police federation using ‘their interpretation’ of the ‘Proceeds of Crime Act’.
Behind the story: I said that I would write something for a friend to keep his spirits up. He had just been remanded in HMP Doncaster and was facing a trial for malicious wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He ended up getting a sentence of 8 ½ years. Did he deserve it? The story is in the book.
However, it never started out as a book – but as a screenplay, which became a book. By that time, I had become good friends with a fairly high ranking police officer in Sheffield’s city centre. Although he was a great person and fantastic company – his personal life was nothing short of a train wreck. He drank heavily and had a semi-psychotic wife with mental health issues.
This gave me two sides for my story. The criminal and the police.
TCB: How difficult has it been writing this book and how did you overcome it?
JD-R: I am a journalist and have written well over 200 magazines, so writing the story wasn’t really difficult. The hard part comes afterwards in the editing and proofing.
TCB: How important was research in your writing? Did it ever slow down the writing process?
JD-R: Research is part of my daily job, and yes, quite a bit went into S5 UNCOVERED, especially surrounding the crimes that I didn’t know too much about. Did it slow the writing down? I see research as an integral part of the writing, and as research interests me as much as me getting things down on paper, I wouldn’t really say it did. Quite a good question that!
TCB: What did you do to keep the momentum going when writing such a detailed book?
JD-R: I live between the UK and Cyprus on a 60:40 basis. My day job as a journalist is in the UK and I write as my hobby whilst overseas. It works well. I sometimes get up at 3am in the morning and can write until late at night, such is the passion for the subject. I have been up since 4.30am this morning. It is all part of the process.
TCB: What’s next for you in terms of writing?
JD-R: I am close to completing the third part of a trilogy – Queen of Cups and then I will move on to my half-finished Moles.
My thanks to James for the interview – it was very insightful. And thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my copy of S5 Uncovered.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the S5 Uncovered blog tour.
Where to buy:
Grab you copy of S5 Uncovered on Amazon UK.