A 1960s Setting – A Guest Post from Stop Press Murder author Peter Bartram

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I’m delighted to be welcoming Peter Bartram to Linda’s Book Bag today. Peter’s latest novel in the Colin Crampton series, Stop Press Murder, is out now in paperback and e-book published by Roundfire and is available for purchase from Amazon and other online book sellers.

As a sixties baby I was fascinated to find the setting for Peter’s books is the 1960s and I asked Peter why he’d chosen that particular era. Peter kindly agreed to write a guest post explaining all about it.

Stop Press Murder

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First, the saucy film of a nude woman bathing is stolen from a What the Butler Saw machine on Brighton’s Palace Pier.

Next, the pier’s night-watchman is murdered – his body found in the coconut shy. Colin Crampton, ace reporter on the Evening Chronicle, senses a scoop when he’s the only journalist to discover a link between the two crimes. He uncovers a 50-year feud between twin sisters – one a screen siren from the days of silent movies, the other the haughty wife of an aristocrat. But Colin’s investigation spirals out of control – as he risks his life to land the biggest story of his career.

Stop Press Murder, a Swinging Sixties mystery, has more twists and turns than a country lane. It will keep you guessing – and laughing – right to the last page.

Why I Put Colin Crampton In The Swinging Sixties

A Guest Post by Peter Bartram

When it comes to doing research for a book, nothing beats being there.

That was one of the reasons why I chose to set my Crampton of the Chronicle humorous crime mystery series in the 1960s – the Swinging Sixties. Colin Crampton, the hero of the stories, is the crime reporter on the fictional Brighton Evening Chronicle newspaper.

I was a reporter on the real-life nearby Worthing Herald newspaper in the sixties – so I know exactly what newsrooms were like back in those days.

But, of course, having been on a newspaper wasn’t the only reason I chose the 1960s. The decade wasn’t called the Swinging Sixties for nothing. First, there was the music with groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones storming the pop world. And let’s not forget some of those other names such The Who, The Kinks and Dusty Springfield.

Then there were fashion icons like Mary Quant and Twiggy – the mini-skirt, kaftans and painted faces. There were Mini cars on the streets and men on the Moon. There were mods and rockers fighting it out on Brighton seafront. There were beatniks spreading peace and light at Woodstock. It was the Age of Aquarius – make love not war.

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And it was an age of social change – and of shifting attitudes – both grist to the mill for a writer. The background to Headline Murder, the first book in the series, set in 1862, is that year’s big change in Britain’s gambling laws. Betting shops and casinos became legal for the first time.

A plot thread in Stop Press Murder, the second, is the Profumo scandal of 1963 – when war minister Jack Profumo resigned after he lied to Parliament over his liaison with call-girls. (Politicians lying? Not much changes!)

And the third, Front Page Murder, due out next year, will reference the abolition of hanging. The key vote on that took place in December 1964, when my book is being set.

So for a writer of crime mysteries, the Swinging Sixties offers plenty of atmosphere and a stack of important events as background to the main action of the plots.

But what about those newsrooms of the 1960s? I’ve drawn heavily on my own experiences at the Worthing Herald to create the newsroom of the Evening Chronicle. Back at the Herald in the 1960s, we had no computers or mobile phones.

Instead, we pounded away at old sit-up-and-beg typewriters. As deadlines approached and everyone was typing together the newsroom sounded as though a volley of machine guns were firing.

We typed on sets on paper, called folios, interleaved with carbon paper, never more than a paragraph or two on each folio – so that if the sub-editors wanted to change the order of the copy, they could easily re-order the folios. No cut and paste in those days.

On each of our desks there was a big black telephone and a spike on which we’d impale carbons of previous stories. The spike was the equivalent of today’s computer back-ups to the Cloud. We worked in an atmosphere of constant noise – telephones ringing, shouted conversations, the rattle of typewriters.

Sometimes, it seemed, the chances of getting the paper out on time were impossible. But we always did.

I never got involved in quite as many scrapes and scams as Colin Crampton. But, unlike Colin, I never got to solve murder cases as well. Pity about that!

About Peter Bartram

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Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime series. Peter has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s interviewed cabinet ministers and crooks – at least the crooks usually answer the questions, he says. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. (The former is easier to get into but at least you don’t have to wear a hat with a lamp on it in the latter.)

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You can find out more about Peter via his website where there is a free Crampton taster novella, Murder in Capital Letters, available to download and you’ll also find him on Facebook. There’s more about and from Peter with these other bloggers too:

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