Feel delighted and highly honoured that the author of The Theseus Paradox – David Videcette agreed to become the 1st author to appear on my blog.
I was able to ask him some questions that I thought were relevant to the book and also questions that anyone reading this blog would find interesting, he has in my opinion more than covered all bases and I have learnt about his motivation to write his outstanding novel.
Huge thanks to David for this opportunity and his honesty. I urge everyone to read the book because it really will make you think!
1) What motivated you to become a police officer in the first place and how did you rise through the ranks?
My father was a police officer. He was fanatical about polishing his police boots – always making sure they were really shiny. I’d see him rubbing large globules of wax and water onto them for hours on end. Sometimes he paid more attention to those boots than us kids!
I recall once how he’d chased a dangerous suspect up a set of huge iron railings like you see outside Buckingham Palace. The fella had climbed to the top to escape. My dad shimmied up and dragged him down – that was one of his ‘local hero’ stories. He’d tell us lots of exciting tales. Maybe that’s where my love of storytelling first began.
I’d see him in his uniform and his squad car often. As a kid, the lights and sirens were totally exhilarating. Radio Transmission cars in the seventies were just incredible. It was before many officers had personal mobile radios on them – so having a fixed radio in the car was very special indeed!
I remember going to see him at work in the office – he seemed important, like he was making a difference. I was about six or seven years old. I’ll always remember him going out wearing his flat police cap with his shiny, bloody boots on.
I guess all that background served as a motivator.
I did a couple of jobs after leaving college, but nothing ever seemed to really capture my heart completely until I started as a special constable when I was 21. That gave me the experience and incentive to join as a regular police officer when I was 23. I was one of the oldest people in my class.
I started off in a divisional police station, then went to borough-based policing. After that, I was selected for the CID, passed my detectives exams . Then I was selected for organised crime and whilst there got the call up for the Anti-Terrorist Branch.
2) Apart from Operation Theseus what is the most high profile case you have worked on?
I worked on a number of different high-profile terrorist investigations whilst at the Anti –Terrorist Branch. Operation Crevice (Bluewater bomb Plot) and Operation Overt (Transatlantic Airline plot) were some of the better known ones in the media.
Before my time on the Anti-Terrorist Branch I spent some years in organised crime too – I was involved in cracking Europe’s largest car crime ring during my time there. I also worked on a particular facet of the Stephen Lawrence murder case too.
There were some things that I did, which I can never talk about freely though…but I can use them in my novels.
3) As a civilian do you still make observations as if you were still a detective?
I use many of the things I learned as a detective in my current job, particularly the surveillance and observational skills – spotting someone who looks out of place or might be following my clients.
I’m always watching for the unusual. Even if I’m on a break, I still have to sit in the seat that has the best overview of the café so I can survey the surroundings. If I see a white van left parked up in an unusual place, I’m looking for the owner – wondering why it’s been left in that spot and what’s inside it.
I guess it’s ingrained. I’ve been a police officer virtually all of my adult life so far. You never stop being one, it becomes part of your DNA.
4) Is Jake based on you or a combination of officers?
Jake is based on me in terms of the professional experience – and I guess in an emotional sense too. The book condenses my experiences of that case into just a few short months. Obviously there are some things that Jake does which are not very nice or very legal… I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story…
5) If you had your time again, what if anything would you change?
My youngest daughter was born a month before the bombings in 2005. I made the decision to focus on the investigation and lived away from home for a number of years. I missed lots of special moments with both of the children and my wife, which I can never get back.
If I could go back in time I would stop the bombings; fifty-six people would still be alive and I’d spend time at home watching my children grow up.
When time travel is invented – I’m getting a ticket back to 2004 to change these things.
6) Any regrets about being a self-published author?
I don’t have an agent, but I did talk to lots of well-known publishers during 2015. A few wanted to take the process forward but asked for lots of changes to my original story and wanted to push the publishing date to 2017 or 2018.
I was told by several of them that Jake’s illegality and raunchy behaviour would be ‘unpalatable to the female reader’ and he needed to be watered down, neutralised and/or made into a hero with no flaws. I did make some amends, but I wasn’t prepared to make wholesale changes – in particular the changes to Jake and his temperament. I write how things happen in real life. Some heroes are not perfect and often need saving from themselves!
I set out just to tell my story, but I think I’ve achieved something fresh and different. My book doesn’t fit any particular pre-determined mould or suit a current fashion trend that many commercially published books do at this moment in time. And it doesn’t fit other people’s views of what a commercial publication should look like – and that’s fine with me. It’s part historical fact, part detective novel, part philosophy and part crime thriller.
I wanted to share my experiences and communicate a theory – not to fit into a niche. In the end I found writing it quite a cathartic exercise – it is now helping to enlighten and entertain and raise a bit of money for charity. Those are the things that really matter to me – plus the fabulous feedback I’ve had from readers and bloggers such as yourself!
Obviously the upfront costs have all been mine and not the publishers; and these have been fairly significant. I paid professional freelancers who also work with the big commercial publishers to work on polishing my book ready for sale, in order to avoid many of the self-publishing pitfalls. Promoting the book myself however, has given me lots of experience that I would not have gained if I was using a publisher.
It has also meant that I have been able to tie up with a charity of my own choosing – allowing me to give some of the proceeds after costs to the Police Dependants’ Trust – so no, no regrets. Success is all the sweeter when you swim upstream and go it alone!