Q&A Interview with David Videcette, author of The Theseus Paradox
Hello David, thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed here on my blog.
What prompted you to decide to start writing novels?
I went out to work one day and came home two weeks later wearing the same clothes and with fifty-six people dead.
Ever since that fateful day on 7th July 2005, I had a story that I simply knew I had to share. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking it to the grave with me untold.
I’m lucky enough to have lived through some incredible experiences during my police career. I want to share with readers what it feels like to chase a suspect down a train track with an Intercity train approaching; what you see when you look into the eyes of a captured terrorist who has tried to blow up a city; how you pass yourself off as a pizza delivery guy to enter the mansion of a crime boss without getting caught.
I want readers to really know how this stuff works. Not the fantasy Hollywood made-up way of doing it – the real British police way – so that readers can experience it for themselves. I want to share crime faction instead of crime fantasy. I want readers to really experience what life is like as a police detective, to have your face in amongst the darkest recesses of society, 24/7.
Have you found writing cathartic in any way?
All police officers, it doesn’t matter what area they work in, are pitted against the rawest elements of human nature. They have to deal with the things that most people choose not to think about day in, day out. The seven deadly sins can be witnessed in society daily – even when you’re trying to sort out the simplest of disagreements or disputes. Then there’s the horror you have to face in dealing with the dead or seriously injured.
Police officers are not immune to any of this. I found that when I started writing. We push this stuff to the back of our minds and hope that it never sees the light of day again. We are just normal people. Writing has made me realise that I’ve boxed and bottled lots of things up. Things that I didn’t have time for or couldn’t face. So, yes, it’s been cathartic.
Your book raises money for the Police Dependants’ Trust – Could you tell us a bit more about this please?
The Theseus Paradox highlights exactly what issues such as bereavement and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) do to police officers. The Police Dependants’ Trust http://www.pdtrust.org has just launched a new initiative called the National Welfare Contingency Fund which will fund treatment programmes for officers caught up in major national incidents such as mass shootings, plane crashes – or like my lead character, DI Jake Flannagan, a terrorist attack. These officers will receive counselling and talking therapies to help with their mental wellbeing, so I’m pleased to say that sales of the book will support these activities.
The Theseus Paradox must have been a difficult book to write whilst keeping within the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act. Did you have to constantly seek advice over what would be allowed, or did you know yourself from your own experience?
I did take legal advice on the book – and I am also aware through my legal experience of where the boundaries lie. The Official Secrets Act is not allowed to interfere with my artistic rights, which is why, “I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story…”
Why do you think your book is so popular across social media and has hit top ten in various Amazon categories?
Everyone can tell you where they were on the 7th of July 2005, when they saw or heard the news. Everyone can remember what they were doing. It’s something that touched all of us. The events of 7/7 made international front page headlines.
But how much do you know about what happened behind the scenes after the event? This book gives you an insider look into an investigation that very few people know anything about and is written by someone who spent five years on that case. It’s up to the reader to decide how much is true and how much is fiction.
All that makes it compelling read and a very different type of crime fiction.
The question of ‘how real is it?’ sets it aside from what’s on the market right now.
Some might say that Jake Flannagan isn’t really a very likeable character, but an extremely hard working one, when he isn’t letting off steam in his rare, off-duty moments. Is he a purely fictitious character, or is there any resemblance to yourself?
Detective Jake Flannagan is a bit of a marmite sort of character and provokes strong reactions from people with regards to his behaviour. I’m really pleased that he gets these reactions, he’s an extremely complex and interesting character and there’s lots to come from him in the next book.
I believe that to be an outstanding detective, you have to think like the bad guys to catch the bad guys – that’s why all the best detectives have a dark side.
Lots of people ask me how much of me is in Jake and vice-versa. Jake is driven. He’s dangerous. He’s stupid. He’s vulnerable. He’s caring. He’s selfish. He’s the man you want on your side in a fight, working on your investigation. Some women would also like to have him in their bed…. but you couldn’t live with him, not for long.
He’s a wild animal that needs taming. The trouble is he doesn’t know what he wants or needs. Right now, I know what I want and need – and that’s where the two of us differ.
Do you have a marketing team helping you promote the book, or are you just very good at doing it yourself?
I don’t have the luxury of an agent or publisher. I’m doing it all myself. It’s been a steep learning curve so far, but I’m always hungry for more.
The description of Jake’s road traffic collision, in the early chapters of the book, was very realistic. Have you ever been involved in one yourself?
I always write from personal experience and I have been involved in a truly horrific car accident. If you’re asking me how close to the truth that scene is – the answer is that you have to make up your own mind!
I hear that a follow-up and possibly a series is planned. Do you feel any pressure from fans now to hurry up and write the next one in the series?
I can’t write fast enough for some people! There is another book in development which is just as compelling and as amazing as the first. The next book is also based on personal police experience and a real-life case. I’ve got at least two books planned after that one too. There are issues and secrets that I’m itching to reveal.
You’ve had a lot of positive feedback about The Theseus Paradox, but have you had much in the way of negativity?
Some people don’t like Jake as a character or his unconventional methods. That’s currently the main negative feedback I get, which to me is absolutely fine. He’s like a chicken vindaloo alongside a whole table full of spaghetti carbonaras. Jake might appear a little unhinged, but he will always, always get to the bottom of a case.
You appear to be a very busy man in one way or another, consultancy, writing, appearing on television current affairs programmes, and you also have time for your readers, and are appreciative of reviews, but what do you most enjoy doing during relaxation periods?
I’ve found time in the day that I didn’t even know existed these past 18 months! I am very busy and I still do lots of varied things at work. I’m also volunteering on behalf of The 7/7 Memorial Trust
I love spending time with my children, just doing the things a dad should do. I made decisions when they were young to throw myself into my job – I missed lots of special moments with them. I try to give them the most precious thing I can as often as I cannow – and that’s my time. That’s all they’ve ever wanted. That’s how I relax now – running them from after-school clubs to parties and all those normal sort of things that I should have done years ago!
Thank you David for your very interesting replies to the questions. Will look forward very much to reading more of your books
You can buy The Theseus Paradox for Kindle here or In Paperback
David Videcette’s Bio:
With twenty years’ policing experience, David has chased numerous dangerous criminals, searched hundreds of properties and interviewed thousands of witnesses during his time with Scotland Yard.
David was a lead Met detective on the intelligence cell in the investigation that followed the 7/7 London bombings.
His debut thriller, The Theseus Paradox is based on the events of that time. Its secrets were probed by the UK’s leading investigative journalist, Andrew Gilligan, and featured in the Sunday Telegraph, the Mirror, The Sun and on ITV News.
The Theseus Paradox topped its Amazon category within a month of launch and was acclaimed by numerous independent review websites – five of which listed it in their top books of the year.
Now a security consultant for high-net-worth individuals, David lives in London and is a regular commentator on crime and terrorism for the BBC and other media outlets.