Committed to the Business and Each Other: An Interview with RC Bridgestock
Being in business with a partner or family member can work brilliantly, but it can also be extremely challenging. I specialise in working with Family and couple businesses and I’m fascinated how the relationship dynamics can make or break a business.
In my Committed to the Business and Each Other series, I speak to a range of couples and families in business to find out what they feel is the secret to their success and some of the lessons they have learnt along the way.
Today I’m speaking to RC Bridgestock, a husband and wife team who live on the Isle of Wight and are originally from West Yorkshire. Robert (Bob) & Carol Bridgestock are a co-author team who have written five novels and have consulted on TV dramas including Happy Valley and Scott and Bailey.
I’m particularly interested to hear what Bob and Carol have to share as I’m a big fan of their books and TV work. You may also remember that Phil and Yin Johnson of JJ Associates International (who I interviewed in January) appear as characters in some of the RC Bridgestock novels.
Why did you decide to write crime fiction?
With nearly half a century of combined police experience, we bring unique insight of how real life cases are conducted into fictional stories. This adds authenticity rarely seen in British crime fiction, coupled with warmth, humour and humanity that we experienced during our careers. By reading our stories we hope our readers will be immersed in the world we create just as much as we enjoy imagining it and that our passion for entertaining crime fiction, coupled with our insight into the investigation room of a major case, leaps from the pages.
Thinking right back to the beginning, what prompted you to start writing with each other?
On retirement, Bob received a Certificate from West Yorkshire Police in appreciation and recognition of 30 years ‘Loyal, Devoted and Exemplary Service to the Community’.
During the last 3 years of Bob’s 30 year CID led police career he took charge of 26 murders, (including the largest multiple murder investigation carried out by W.Y.P in 30 years), 23 major incidents, including drive by shootings, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator dealing with suicide interventions, kidnap and extortion. He taught future CID officers at every rank from all over the world, at the internationally acclaimed West Yorkshire Police force training school in Wakefield.
He was also involved, at Superintendent level, in a protracted high profile investigation of police corruption in another police force, being the most senior officer on site. As a young detective he worked on the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry and the Sarah Harper murder. For his life’s work he received over 25 commendations from high court judges and chief constables who credit him with personal commitment and professionalism, expertise and diligence, as well as competence with skilful leadership in sensitive, complex high profile cases with the subsequent presentation of compelling evidence.
I also worked for seventeen years with the same force as a police support worker. Together we had a vast amount of experience to share and put the world to right on what is correct police procedure. One of Bob’s pet hates is reading a book or seeing a TV drama/film where that was blatantly misconstrued. But, he would never write a factual account with disregard to a real victim of crime, who he feels serves the life sentence. So after being told we ‘should write a story’ by others, we decided to write factual procedure in fictional stories with the thoughts, feelings and experience of those who have been there and worn the t-shirt to try put that straight.
Did you consider how your relationship would be affected by being in business together before you started?
No, not at all! We love being with each other and are the best of friends, as well as being husband and wife.
What kind of business planning did you do?
Absolutely none. What started out as a bit of a hobby has been a serendipitous journey and who knows where it will end? The evening class to write a book to show the children and grandchildren what our lives in the police were really like turned into a fictitious story with real police procedure (our thoughts and feelings as Jack and Jen to uncover the real man beneath the mask of the detective) and somehow this evolved into the Dylan series…
Would you say that you both have similar strengths or different ones, how do you implement them in the business?
We are not that different in character. Bob and I have the same principles and goals. We are both natural leaders but respect each other greatly, so we’re more than happy for each other to take the lead at any given time. We have a habit of finishing each others sentences – so alike is our thinking – it’s spooky! Neither of us are particularly business minded, we give too much away :-), that’s why we need a very good literary agent, publisher and accountant – all of which we are very lucky to have.
We have different roles in our writing process and both are happy with what the other does so we don’t have any arguments or fights – a lot of healthy discussions though because to us our characters are very much alive.
Bob writes the crime plot of the book from start to finish – I wouldn’t have any idea of how a crime investigation goes even though I worked for the police. From finding the ‘body’ the reader sits on DI Dylan’s (who is very loosely based on Bob) shoulder while he goes through police procedure to catch the perpetrator(s). Then Bob gives, 60/80 thousand words to me and I start at the beginning and give the victim a background, a life, and set the scene for the murder. I also add the family life and personal drama of Jack and Jen (who is very loosely based on me) as I go through the narrative.
Each book stands alone in terms of the crime story, but if you want to read the family saga it is best to start at the beginning of the series with the first book ‘Deadly Focus’.
What has been the biggest challenge to you working together?
Who breaks off what they are doing to answer the telephone!
Oh, gosh, we have had surpassed so many of our expectations and achieved all of our goals and so much more over the last seven years but the greatest achievement for us both was finishing our first novel ‘Deadly Focus’ and getting it published. Writing over one hundred thousand words is by no means easy, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than finding an agent and a publisher.
Has working together changed your relationship outside of the business?
Our relationship changed for the better the day Bob retired from the police force. No more pagers, calls out in the night or unsociable hours… we were free to do what we pleased for the first time in our married life. We moved 300 miles to the Isle of Wight and once again relished spending time together – although I am usually found up stairs in the office and Bob at the dining room table working these days.
Have you made use of any outside resources to support you? If so, were they helpful?
Our most useful resources have been our family/friends and ex colleagues in all walks of life who have eagerly joined us on our journey – and now they are all very much part of ‘Team Dylan’. From them we gain up-to-date knowledge of various professional enterprises – for us as much as our stories are fictional they have to be procedurally correct in all areas.
What advice would you give to other couples who are thinking of starting a business?
Define your roles from the outset. Set goals that you can achieve and make sure your objectives are shared. Our golden rule is to look for the positive in everything.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Don’t wait till tomorrow to follow your dream. A year on you will wish you had started today… And no one is too old to write. Why not consider writing about your life – if for nobody else but for your children and grandchildren? Don’t you wish your grandparents had written about there lives for you to read?
STOP PRESS! Since Bob and Carol did this interview for me they’ve had some very exciting news: the Jack Dylan crime series is going to be made into a TV series! They’ve also been taken on by a new agent who is thrilled to be representing their work.
Thank you Bob and Carol for sharing this fascinating insight with us!
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