The common question put to me over many years as a writer is about where I get my ideas. Setting aside the old chestnut of using the ideas store down Charing Cross Road, it’s usually because if an idea bugs me long enough, it needs writing. This was the main reason for ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’, book 5 in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series, set in 1960s France.
Written four years after its predecessor, for a series writer like me it was a long gap. The then publishers didn’t want another one, for reasons I guess had to do with sales not reaching expectations. But I wasn’t idle; I wrote spy thrillers for another publisher instead. Yah boo.
But Rocco wasn’t forgotten. Aided by readers regularly asking what the hell I was doing and when was the next one coming out, I’d enjoyed writing about him and the people in his life, centred on the village of Poissons-les-Marais. (Having gone to school in the area helped, and was my way of revisiting old haunts). The books are worlds away from the contemporary world of spies and all the technology that goes with them. I mean, no PCs or smart phones – what’s not to like?
The Rocco books are character-led and thinly linked to a hint of 1960s events in French history on which I hang the story hat. Pushed out of Paris on a policing initiative, Rocco is out of his comfort zone in Picardie, yet not. He’s a professional cop, after all, and crime is crime.
This one involves Algerian gangsters, post-independence, and with a more personal history coming back to haunt Rocco in the shape of a professional assassin hired by a Paris gang leader he’d wronged. Such stuff happens, especially to cops, and Rocco has to deal with it, even though nobody knows
what the assassin (Nightingale) looks like or when the hit will happen. In the meantime, he’s ordered by the Interior Ministry to babysit a government minister from Gabon – a former French territoire – on the run following a coup. It’s not Rocco’s idea of policing, but he has to follow orders. Most of the time.
‘Rocco and the Nightingale is published by The Dome Press – www.thedomepress.com