Perils and Capers with Kent Author Steve Higgs

Steve Higgs boasts an impressive catalogue of books ranging from urban fantasy to murder mystery.

 

The Kentish author is set to publish twenty books this year alone, and shows no sign of slowing down. We chatted to Steve to find out more about his writing journey.

 

You have a wide variety of titles and genres under your belt. Which is your favourite type of story to write?

My brand is fast action mystery stories with a humorous tilt. These are the stories I like to read, so it made sense to write them – I get a lot of enjoyment out of crafting my tales. I have written seventy books across five series, four of which are interlinked and have very much the same flavour – fun mystery. I also have an urban fantasy series, but again this is fast action with some comedy thrown in to keep things light.

 

Is it hard to come up with such fun and punny titles for your stories?

Devising titles can be one of the hardest parts of writing a book. Other times I start with the title and the idea for a story blooms from it. Generally, though, the story lends itself to the title. Writing the blurb – the few lines that will tell the reader what the book is about without giving away the plot, is the hardest part.

 

Does the setting of Kent inspire your writing at all?

The interlinked series are all set in Kent with a few odd exceptions. I grew up here, and though I joined the Army and was out of the country for the best part of twenty-five years, I returned here when it was time to take off my uniform, and I married a lady who grew up just a few hundred yards from where my parents still live.

The county is so attractive. Filled with quaint villages and hidden valleys, the rolling hills make for a stunning backdrop. Then add castles, ancient fortifications, dramatic coastlines, and centuries of history, and you have the perfect setting for a series of mystery tales.

Blue Moon Investigations follows the adventures of a man who set out to be a private investigator. His office is in Rochester High Street. When a local newspaper ran his first advert, the copy girl misread his text. He was erroneously advertised as a paranormal investigator, but found his office phone would not stop ringing. To date the Blue Moon team have investigated spooky goings on (they debunk every case to find the truth hidden beneath the supernatural nonsense) in Herne Bay, Canterbury, Yalding, Maidstone… the list is extensive. I am now writing book 21 in that series and have seen the books reach number one in both the UK and the US for the genre.

The biggest stars of my books so far are Patricia Fisher and Albert Smith. Patricia, a fifty-something housewife, hails from East Malling. She catches her husband in a compromising position with her best friend on page one of the first book. She empties his bank accounts and jumps on the first cruise shop leaving Southampton. Over the course of the next ten books, she blossoms from mousy to fearsome as she finds the powerful woman buried inside. Along the way she discovers a unique ability to solve mysteries, makes some friends and… well, let’s just say the last book will bring you to tears and leave you on a massive high. The series had been as high as number four in America, and it is fair to say Patricia Fisher changed my life.

Albert Smith is my current bestseller. Another character from East Malling, seventy-eight-year-old retired police detective, he is travelling the British Isles with his former police dog, Rex Harrison. Albert wants to learn to cook the nation’s most famous dishes, but everywhere he goes, from pork pies in Melton Mowbray, to Stilton in, um, Stilton, he finds murder, mayhem, and mystery. Rex is truly the star of the show and provides most of the humour. Though his human, Albert, cannot understand him, the reader gets to ‘hear’ Rex’s thoughts. He can solve a mystery with his nose, but trying to get the message across to his rather dim owner can be a chore.

 

Which is your favourite part of the writing process?

I never plot any of my books. I am what the industry calls a pantser – someone who writes by the seat of their pants. I go into each book with a rough idea of what will happen, but that rarely makes it past the first chapter. My characters tell me what ought to happen next. I write murder mystery, but most times I don’t even know who the killer is until I have written that part.

The answer, then, I guess, is character development. My readers often remark that they feel they know my characters and picking up a new book is like having them come to visit for a time.

 

Who are your creative inspirations?

I draw inspiration from everywhere. From the literary world, Jim Butcher and Stephen King have influenced me. I am not a fan of horror, but Stephen King can weave a tale like no one else alive. I also like Janet Evanovich for her bedlam-filled Stephanie Plum series.

 

What was the last great book you read?

Battleground by Jim Butcher. It was the culmination of a storyline that had taken many books to reach. I like being able to find myself truly invested in a series of books. Standalone tales can be fun, and I am not a fan of cliff hangers, but to be able to craft a series, there has to be subplot and a grander theme running through the tales to pull them all together.

 

What books do you have coming out soon that will excite your fans?

All of them. That might sound like a flippant answer, but I sell a vast amount of books on pre-order when all the readers have is a cover picture, a title, and a short blurb. My fans buy them because they know what to expect and need to read what happens next.

If there are people reading this who want to try my books, you can start anywhere, but I suggest picking up one of the book ones – the first book in any of my series. You don’t have to, but I believe it will increase your enjoyment.

 

To keep up with Steve Higgs’ work and even catch some freebies, visit his website.

by Alice Smales

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