Since the launch of his debut novel in 2017, we though it was time to find out what Jacques Morrell has been up to since.
Having described himself as a ‘Jacques of all trades and master of none’, who knows what he might have got himself into?
A quick check of his social media accounts, he seems to have added a podcast to his repertoire, although this seems to have started in February this year (2020).
We asked Jacques to reflect on his status as ‘a published author’ and where his writing has taken him since The Showman was published.
Apart from the countless requests from the media for interviews, and the daily fan mail through the door, it’s been fairly steady.
Joking aside, what it has done is to allow me to meet other writers on an equal footing. Writing is about learning to create pieces of work. It is about finding a style of writing that suits you.
The Showman came naturally and organically. It was always going to be a suspense thriller with an atmosphere of the paranormal. I think most people expected it to be a crime thriller. Some people have in fact encouraged me to write for that genre. These people are academics and professional in the business. They see the advantage that I have with my policing experience.
So have you taken that on board?
Not yet. I have also attended a few workshops for writers and literary people. I learnt a few things from them. In particular, I learnt to play around with ideas and words. I was encouraged to try writing in different styles, poetry, short stories, vignettes, comedy, script-writing etc. This taught me to be open minded about my writing. It helps to focus on how I write. To make the best use of it and to make it more meaningful.
I went to a talk by Henry Normal about comedy script writing. Henry is a comedian who went on to write and produce some of the finest English comedy shows of the last 30 years. He gave us advice on script ideas for sit-coms. He advised on what the production companies will look for, such as the ideal number of characters, the setting, the target audience, even the cost of producing it. I had already been playing around with an idea for a comedy, centred around a group of retired police officers.
I went away and worked on it. I got talking to someone in the pub who was also writing a comedy script. We shared ideas. It is almost ready as a script, but there is one character who hasn’t quite found her identity yet. There is something missing and I am not ready to release it yet. It could equally be a short story too.
So apart from those ‘media interviews’, have you been telling your story to people?
Yes, I suppose so. I have spoken to reading groups and book groups about my career and my writing. I was also interviewed by Giorgia, one of the young ambassadors at the Nottingham City of Literature. The interview is online here
I have learnt that The Showman seems to be well received by the younger generation of reader. Initially I though it was the context of it being set in 1978, but I also think it may be down to the style it was written. This review probably explains it better.
The words this person has used makes me feel proud that they have understood the innocence of the characters in The Showman. That is exactly how I see them, a wholesome and naive family caught up in a very difficult situation.
What else have you been working on?
I have made a good start on my memoirs. The story of my police career, starting with ‘First Shift’..
I don’t want you to confuse my first shift with ‘First Shift’, which is the morning shift. When I first wore the uniform, this was from 6 am to 2 pm. It was the first shift of the policing day, followed by days, afternoons, evenings and nights. I suppose the night shift could have been called ‘Last Shift’, but working through the night was dangerous enough, without the added connotation of it being your last shift. My very first shift was an afternoon shift. 'Afters' is always a busy time for the police. I have no idea what day of the week it fell on. Days of the week are immaterial to police officers. The police rota covers seven days in a week, and apart from some quieter periods, it is the ‘same shit’ that goes off. Burglars don’t look at the calendar and say to their partners,‘Blimey it’s Friday already. We’re at the theatre tonight with Oliver and Abigail. I think I’ll screw a couple of houses this morning and knock off at lunch-time. Drug dealers don’t send a text to their customers saying, ‘Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe. Back Monday from 9 am’. People in crisis do not limit their psychotic episodes or cries for help to office hours.
So when will the memoirs be published?
I have paused it for the moment due to the podcast taking up quite a lot of time?
This is a true crime podcast isn’t it?
Yes. It’s call The Six O’Clock Knock. This term is police jargon for the dawn raid.
It’s going well. There are three of us involved, me and a couple of guys who used to work together at the BBC a few years ago. One is the producer and the other the presenter. They are both very bright and professional. I suppose I bring the authentic voice of a copper. We take a fresh look at cases.
I think we are all enjoying it for what it is, a serious bit of fun. Looking at old cases helps me keep my detective brain ticking over.
That sounds good fun. So what else is new?
There is a new apartment block where my first police station used to stand. I took a few photos before it was developed.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, those media interviews did happen