The Writer’s Life
Today for the series The Writer’s Life, I am featuring an author interview with Steve Bentley, former undercover cop and barrister now a freelance writer and bestselling author and HuffPost UK Blogger. Steve is the author of the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers, the Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, and Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense; a different type of mystery that features a conflicted character who suffers PTSD from war. He wrote his best-selling memoir Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story: A Gripping True Story of Britain’s Biggest Drug Bust, which will be made into a movie.
I first met Steve on Twitter when I noticed the ads for his books. The title “Who The F$#@K Am I?“ was unusual, and of course, I had to find out the answer. That led me to buying the book and signing up for his newsletter and Facebook author group. Steve put out a request for writers to participate in a mystery anthology he was putting together. I contacted him and agreed to submit my work. I’m proud that I published two stories in “Death Among Us: A Murder Mystery Anthology”, a book that features the work of ten international writers. Although I haven’t met Steve in person, I feel like I know him and consider him a mentor and friend. I’m also a member of Steve’s Fan Club. Members have the opportunity to be beta readers and read ARCs plus write reviews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all of his books that way.
- Now let’s hear from Steve! Tell us about yourself Steve. Where do you live? Where did you grow up and attend school?
Many people know me as Steve, but I use my full given name – Stephen – on my book covers. I have no idea why. I’m a Brit but have lived in the Philippines for the past five years. I grew up in Huyton, Liverpool during the Beatles era and saw them perform live once in the Cavern before they became famous. I consider myself fortunate to have attended a grammar school before they were disbanded in the name of ‘social equality’ which is just a phrase meaning a dumbing down of an education system that wasn’t broken. I didn’t go to university until my late forties.
- Are you married or single? Any children or pets?
Happily married with two boys who keep me young and two puppies, Hershey and Cookie.
- Are you employed now? Retired? If so, what were your previous occupations?
Supposed to be retired but writing books seems like a full-time job to me. I was a detective in the UK for fourteen years and then a London barrister for another fourteen years. At various times, I have also worked as a sales manager, truck driver, motorbike courier, heavy plant operator, and hospital porter.
- Writers always talk about coffee a lot, even posting memes and cartoons. Are you a coffee drinker? Do you eat any specific food/snacks you while writing? Do you listen to music or need silence?
Yes, I like coffee, but only two cups per day. Too much caffeine is not a good thing. I don’t eat or listen to music while I write. I’m too busy ‘seeing scenes’ taking place in my mind before I transfer them to paper (Word).
- What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
I love watching movies and TV shows mainly on Netflix. It’s my way of unwinding at the end of the day accompanied by a cold beer.
- Would you consider yourself a reader? What types of books do you like to read?
I am a reader. I enjoy crime thrillers mostly, but I am also partial to good historical fiction or any interesting biography.
- Have you ever taken any writing courses?
No. I’m self-taught using online resources and still learning.
- Can you tell us what are your opinions about censorship and the media?
As a principle, I disagree with censorship, but I recognize the need to protect minors. I believe in freedom of expression, a free press, and open, transparent society. However, I do advocate that with freedoms come responsibilities. I detest state secrecy and wish I could abolish all freedom of information legislation. Now, there is an oxymoron.
- Tell us about your books, especially your newest one. Why did you decide to publish it and what was your inspiration?
My latest release is titled ‘The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers.’ I decided to write and publish it because the many fans of the series expressed some dismay at the then conclusion of the series in Book Three of the original trilogy. I’m glad I did resurrect Regan as it has been well-received, and that prequel is now permafree everywhere as an intro to the series. I now plan a fourth book in the series. I also have Book Two in the Detective Matt Deal series – ‘Mayhem’ – which was released November 25, 2020.
- What type of characters do you enjoy writing about?
Flawed protagonists coping with their own demons.
- What is the theme of your book? What genre is it and who are your readers? Is it set in a certain time period?
‘The Secret’ is a crime mystery/thriller set in 1960s and 1970s England tracing Steve Regan’s first involvement as an undercover cop. Type of reader is an interesting question. As a generalization I would have to say mainly women aged between forty and ninety. Yes, I do have some nonagenarians in my fan base.
- How do you come up with ideas for your book (s)?
Partly my life experiences inspire a story but also news events that pique my interest.
- Do you self-publish or are you with a traditional publishing company?
As I write this, I am considering an offer to publish one of my books – my undercover cop memoir. That offer is from a prestigious UK mainstream publisher. There are pros and cons that I need to carefully consider. As for the remainder of my books, all fiction, they are self-published.
- Writing can be an emotionally-draining and stressful pursuit for many authors. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t write if you don’t enjoy it. If you enjoy it, write, write, and write some more. You get better every time you write a book.
- How do you market your books?
Mainly through building an email list and cross-promotions with like-minded authors. I have also used Facebook ads with some success.
- Do you have a blog or website? Where can readers buy your book?
My website can be found at stephenbentley.info. ‘The Secret’ is free to website visitors who join my mailing list. I used to blog there too but lately I found that too time-consuming and now concentrate on writing books. Retail links for all my books can be found at Books2Read.
- What is one surprising thing you would like your readers to know about you?
I was aged fifty when called to the Bar of England and Wales.
- Do you have a quote from someone else such an author or a quote from a book/song/motto?
Perhaps this motto – Illegitimi non carborundum (translated as “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”)
- Please tell us about your book, Steve.
The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers
What is the secret capable of destroying a glorious achievement and a source of national pride? A secret so enormous it could not be told for many years, until now. British undercover cop Steve Regan experiences a baptism of fire when he investigates ‘THE SECRET.’ New and old Steve Regan fans can now discover him at the beginning of his crime-busting career in this gripping thriller. Join Regan in this prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thriller series by tagging along with Steven Hanrahan as a young C.I.D. detective in 1970’s Liverpool until his world is shattered by a tragic event involving a fatal car crash.
The young detective is hand-picked for a dangerous undercover assignment. On accepting the role, he moves to London – the ‘Smoke,’ adopting a new identity. The legend of Steve Regan is born with a foolproof backstory so he can infiltrate the international crime gang behind England’s biggest sporting secret. A secret so shocking it could taint the image of British sport irreversibly if it were ever divulged. What is that secret? Is it worth dying for?
- Where can readers buy The Secret?
What are the links for your social media and website?
Thank you so much Steve! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your writing life. I hope you’ll return with updates and news about more books.
***More of Steve’s thoughts about censorship and using swearing in writing will be in a future blog. Should authors use swearing or ‘bad words’ in books for authenticity or should they try to please all readers who may be offended?