The latest stories, straight to your inbox

The latest stories, straight to your inbox

Be inspired every day with Living North

Subscribe today and get every issue delivered direct to your door
Subscribe Now
Be inspired every day with Living North

Meet the North Shields Author of the DCI Cooper Crime Fiction Books

Meet the North Shields Author of the DCI Cooper Crime Fiction Books All images: B Baskerville
April 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Living North meet North Shields-based author B Baskerville

She shares more about her DCI Cooper series, and why she thinks crime fiction is so popular in the North East.

Tell us about your background.
I was always quite a creative child and I liked writing and drawing at school but I found it quite hard because I always felt like creativity came second, and I’d write a really nice story but it would come back covered in red pen because things would be spelt wrong and I’d forgotten punctuation. I think the passion was drilled out of me a little bit and I went down more of a science route. I ended up going into sports science. I also work as a taekwondo coach, and have done for about 20 years. I feel like that has influenced a bit of my writing, like I can get a good handle on fight scenes and I can bring a bit of realism to things like that. I do like getting stuck into the action scenes!

How did you get into writing novels?
After uni I didn’t write for a very long time. Being a martial arts fan, my husband and I used to watch UFC and when we were watching the Holly Holm v Ronda Rousey fight, I was inspired by an idea for a character – a Geordie cage-fighter. There was a bit of a mystery behind the story and it took me so long to actually write that book (my first novel) but I just didn’t want to give up on that one. It was the first time I’d had an idea that I wanted to see through all the way to the end. I think it took me about three years altogether to finish writing it and to get it out there.

Why crime fiction? 
I really like reading crime fiction and sometimes I need to take a break from it, because it can get a bit much when you’re just reading dark story after dark story. The first crime novel I read…. my husband (then boyfriend) and I had been to Barter Books in Alnwick and I picked up a couple of PJ Tracy books – I think they were the first detective stories that I read. That really sparked my love for crime fiction and I ended up reading through all of her books, then started picking up the Robert Galbraith books and started reading LJ Ross as well. I also really like MW Craven. I’ve just started the Richard Osman ones as well, which are a little bit different, more cosy crime – my books tend to have quite a bit of swearing and a bit more violence in them! I’m liking the change of pace…

Tell us about your DCI Cooper series.
When I finished my first book, The Only Weapon in the Room (that’s the one about the Geordie cage-fighter), I knew I wanted to write another book but I wanted a lead character that was a bit more relatable, and by then I was really into crime fiction so I knew I wanted to write a detective story. Although the character isn’t based on anyone in particular I did get quite a bit of inspiration from my mum at the time. She was coming out of breast cancer treatment and because my character is going back to work after having her breast cancer treatment, I could chat to my mum and make sure parts of that story were correct and I could make her a little bit more vulnerable as a character. I also gave her things that people can relate to such as annoying exes, an unsympathetic boss and a stroppy teenager.

Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?
I get a lot of inspiration when I’m out and about. I might be walking the dog and going to a new place and visualise a certain scene. I definitely like to include real locations, but I’ll sometimes use fictional locations, for example there was a school in Cut The Deck and I didn’t feel comfortable using a real school where children attend, but the vast majority of the locations I use are real and my readers always comment about loving having real-life locations and being able to visualise specific streets and woodland.

What have you learned throughout the writing process?
I’ve definitely got much faster at the process. Sometimes I’ll take a little bit of a break between books but it certainly doesn’t take me three years to write one anymore, I got into a steady rhythm of two books per year for a while. I’ve definitely learned to trust my gut a little bit. I’ve learned that if I’ve got a good idea for a story to just roll with it and not overthink it sometimes.

How supportive have local readers been?
I’ve loved how lovely most readers are, in what I call the Cooperverse! We’ve got our own little Facebook page and people interact. I’ve got some lovely loyal readers and if it’s a horrible, grey day I just have to go on Facebook and see a nice message from someone saying they’ve enjoyed the books, or they’ve read through the whole series – it’s a nice boost! It makes me feel part of a little crime [fiction] loving community.

Why do you think people in the North East are so interested in crime fiction? 
Sometimes I think about why women in particular are quite into crime fiction and I do think some of it is about maybe being more tuned into the dangers of the world and wanting to know what’s out there and what to look out for. In terms of the North East, there’s obviously the Vera effect. Maybe people have been drawn to that TV series and have read the books to go with it, then want similar things to read, or perhaps if it goes back before Vera it could be a lack of Northern detective shows on TV and having a realisation that they are there in the [written] fictional world and spreading the word about that.

What advice could you give readers who are inspired to write?
My advice would be the Stephen King quote, ‘if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot’. Make sure you are reading the genre you want to write. I write crime fiction, so I read crime fiction. My main advice (and it sounds so simple when you say it but I know it’s not because I’ve been there) is to just write the book. I’ve started and stopped things quite a lot and sometimes you just need to persevere and just get that first draft done. Once that is done, it becomes infinitely easier. It’s easier to tidy up a messy first draft, so just get those ideas down on paper. Where I live in North Shields, there are quite a few writing groups which are either very low cost or free (with spoken word events and things like that) and it’s so nice to meet like-minded people and to bounce ideas off them as well.

Do you have a book you’re most proud of?
My favourite is The Only Weapon in the Room, just because it was my first one. It was my baby and it took so long to nurture. My favourite DCI Cooper book is Roll The Dice, which is number three. But if you were to start on the DCI Cooper books I would say to read them in order. Number three is quite important to me because it’s the first time I started including a lot of scenes from the bad guy’s point of view. I found that I really liked doing that, but I don’t know what that says about me! Ever since then, I’ve been including scenes from the perpetrator's or the antagonist’s point of view. That was also my lockdown book. I thought I’d have all this time for writing but it actually took away quite a lot of my inspiration so I had to sort of force myself, and I put my book up for pre-order even though I wasn’t finished writing and that spurred me on to make the most of this time.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got quite an exciting chapter coming up! My life’s about to completely change because I’m moving out of my house and onto a boat. My husband and I got married last year and we sailed around the UK for our honeymoon and decided to give the digital nomad lifestyle a go. So we’re going to sail the boat down to France then to Morocco hopefully by the end of the year, and see where that leads us. It’s a little bit bitter-sweet because I do feel like we’re going to miss the North East but I do think it will offer a new perspective and new inspiration and hopefully new skills as well. We’re going to be blogging it all on our YouTube channel Sailing Hjem, and we’re going to be trying to incorporate some story-writing into that. We’re incredibly busy getting organised, but it’s really exciting at the same time! Cooper-wise, I am writing slowly and plan to get the next one out hopefully autumn time. It’s going to have something to do with off-shore wind-turbines… I can give that away! 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Please read our Cookie policy.