Interview with Ray Britain

Published 2018-03-02.
Who is Ray Britain?
A fair question. I was a police officer in the United Kingdom, completing my career in a high rank. Although I enjoyed a varied career in both uniform and detective roles, the investigation of crime and the camaraderie amongst detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led investigations and for many years I was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role.
Why the pen name, Ray Britain?
For reasons of personal and family security I use a pen name because, over the years, I locked up many criminals but not all of them accepted it was their actions that led to their imprisonment. And, as my career progressed, I was increasingly involved in discreet, national arrangements. (The Official Secrets Act still applies!)
You were a police negotiator?
Yes. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator. In the UK it’s a voluntary role, over and above the ‘day job’ and often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed to support police colleagues faced with a variety of difficult situations, often involving people with mental health challenges.
Why did you want to be a Negotiator?
One of the attractions of the role is that you never knew what your next deployment might be. Often, it was negotiating with someone to surrender to armed officers to avoid being harmed, or killed but more often it was to negotiate with people intent on taking their own lives. Sometimes, it involved negotiating for the release of hostages being held either at gunpoint or with other weapons. In the UK, except for a small number of highly trained, specialist firearms officers, police officers perform their duties unarmed. One of the few countries in the world still to do so, and long may it continue.
How long were you in the police for, and where?
For over thirty years in a police service in the Midlands region of the UK. (Police services in the UK are typically based on traditional county lines)
Why did you write ‘The Last Thread’?
I’ve always wanted to write a book and the common advice is to stick with what you know. There were other reasons too. As a professional investigator I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in the many television dramas that enter our homes each evening. Whatever the complexity of the crime, they are solved within impossible time frames with the most sophisticated technology seemingly always available. It provides entertainment, frequently misrepresents what can be achieved. Like all other parts of the public sector, the police service operates within tightening budgets and things have only got worse through the loss, nationally, of some 20,000 officers over the last decade.
Tell us about your principle character, DCI Douglas Stirling?
Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character, notoriously private with an intriguing, untold back story. He expects his people to work hard but works harder still. Stirling is easily drawn to intelligent, interesting women which can cause complications if his private life conflicts with the demands of his professional responsibilities. Women find Stirling attractive and interesting but can be frustrated by his reserve and his avoidance of emotional commitment.
And the lead female characters?
There are four prominent female characters, all with strong personalities which I believe all readers will enjoy. The book contains some adult themes but they reflect the realities of life, of relationships and of crime. To say more would spoil the story.
How accurate is your story to real investigations?
Very! From the need to work with limited resources, often with dated equipment and in accommodation that’s often inadequate or well past it’s ‘best by’ date, right down to aspects of internal and external political pressures that any SIO can expect to work with in leading his or her investigation.
What was the best and worst part of writing?
The best part is getting the story out of my head and onto the page, plotting its twists and turns and the red herrings to make it interesting for the reader. The worst bit is editing and proof reading! However, it does lead to a better story and has allowed me to strip out irrelevant stuff and, hopefully, made for a better read.
How did you approach the cover design?
I wanted something that was a bit moody, hinted at the sinister underlying theme of the story line, and made the reader curious to find out more. I found a local photographer I could work with and, together, we constructed the image you see. I hope you like it as much as I do.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Everything I've written is drawn from my professional experience, or as observed through the investigations of colleagues. Apart from drawing on memories of my Father, my characters are all fictitious but they are informed by some of the people I've had the privilege to work alongside over the years.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like well written crime fiction that reflects real world and is grounded in reality. Some plots are so fantastical, or so poorly written, that I don't complete the book. I like biographies too as other people's lives interest me.
What are you working on next?
I'm nearing the end of the first draft of my second DCI Stirling novel which I expect to publish in late 2018. As an Indie author, I’ve found there’s a lot of work involved in getting your work to market and in marketing your brand. Having said that, I’m finding it a fascinating and stimulating experience.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle.
Describe your desk
Organised chaos.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The ease of getting your work out there, rather than writing endlessly to mainstream publishers which seems to be the experience of many. But, there's a hell of a lot of work after that in getting yourself noticed.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I really enjoy walking, the higher, the better. My first love is the Lake District with the French Alps a close second. In the winter I try to get away skiing with some friends. And reading, of course, is a wonderful pastime.
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Books by This Author

Forgotten Lives
Price: $6.45 USD. Words: 190,570. Language: British English. Published: January 10, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
A man is murdered with quiet efficiency. A strange emblem left behind suggests a gang killing, but when more bodies are found with the same emblem, and one of them a cop, DCI Doug Stirling’s investigation takes a sinister turn. What linked the victims in life, and death? Stirling's investigation leads to a previous, undiscovered series in London many years ago. But were even they the first?
The Last Thread
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 169,200. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
DCI Doug Stirling is accused of pushing a boy to his death. Haunted by the boy’s eyes as he let go of Stirling's hand, he must investigate the savage murder of an unidentified man. With no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling has too many loose threads as a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships is uncovered.