And the Next Big Thing . . .

I was enjoying Dolores Gordon-Smith’s blog ( about the Next Big Thing in her life so much that I almost forgot I was next in line to pick up the baton in this cyber relay in which we interview ourselves with a set of questions describing what’s next in line for each of us on the writing front.  The Two Jacks – Dolores’ 1920s sleuth Jack Haldean and my 2013 car detective Jack Colby – will be followed by Lesley Cookman’s Libby Sarjeant.

But in the meantime, here’s Jack Colby, car detective:

What is the working title for your book?

My next big thing is very much my current thing. It’s the pits. Well, I tend to think that about every book while I’m writing it, but in this case it’s literally true. Classic in the Pits is not only the working title, but the title under which it’s been contracted. The Pits is the name that Jack Colby gives the converted barn in which his classic car business is carried out, but for this title it has a more metaphorical interpretation. Cars pull off the racing track to whizz into the Pits when something’s wrong – and in this novel quite a bit is wrong about a certain Porsche 356.

What genre does your book fall into?

Not sure that fall is the right word. Alas, far from falling off my computer Jack’s cases have to be coaxed word by word, agonised over, rejoiced over, raced against time …. All those. As for genre, they veer more towards the traditional crime mystery than the lean mean streets of the noir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

Echoing Dolores’ sentiment, chance would be a fine thing! Seriously, though, I find the leap from fictitious characters to real life people too wide a gap to jump successfully. People often ask whether my characters are based on people I know, but I find it impossible to do that, although I do use the occasional real life trait in my characters. So, please Messes Coen, or Mr Spielberg, do feel free to pick whom you like. (Mind you, if Michael Douglas …)

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Classic in the Pits: Swoosh – a summer’s day event for classic cars and aeroplanes – ends with murder, and car detective Jack Colby, currently hunting for a missing Porsche, is right there to get involved in the labyrinthine quest to find a killer.

Will the book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As with most of my recent novels, Classic in the Pits will be published in the UK and US by Severn House Publishers, and will appear later this year. Its predecessor Classic Mistake, featuring a Morris Minor, is out at the end of March. I have a literary agent, and without her I doubt if my career would have existed except in my mind and on the scrapheap.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Jack Colby series was a joint venture with my classic car buff husband Jim, and he remains very committed to it. We set out to strike a balance to appeal to mainstream crime fiction fans but at the same time also to classic car lovers – in other words, not too much technical detail. We remembered Jonathan Gash’s splendid Lovejoy series with its antiques background, which achieves this balance perfectly.

What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?

The element of the husband and wife working together. Does it work? Yes, it does, but I think with every writing partnership one has to work out the way it will work. Ours has turned out like housework – each one has his own jobs. Jim helps me with the car information and is there as a punching bag if I have a plot problem. I write the novels and do most of the plotting. It’s amazing, however, that if one throws a problem around between two people something, somehow, will produce the answer even if obliquely.

And now for the next author in the series, Lesley Cookman

The baton is yours next, Lesley. So keep one eye on her blog at and the other eye out for her books if you don’t already know the splendid Libby Sarjeant.