I love featuring new to me authors on Linda’s Book Bag and when I ‘met’ Robert Crouch in the wonderful Book Connector’s Facebook group and found that it was blogging that led to his first published book, Fisher’s Fables, I had to invite him onto the blog to tell me more, especially as I’m a blogger with writing aspirations. Fisher’s Fables was published on 25th November 2016 and is available for purchase here.
If insubordination were an Olympic sport, Kent Fisher would be world champion, according to his boss, who’s struggling with a section that’s the best at being the worst.
Yet there’s worse to come when Kent shows his dysfunctional team how to win in a no-win situation and get a second chance to make a first impression. No matter what the challenge, or how absurd the strategy, Kent and his colleagues can always find a way to frustrate their superiors.
Loosely based on the author’s experiences, Fisher’s Fables began life as a humorous blog, poking fun at dubious management, even more dubious acronyms, and the most dubious changes never needed.
Fictionalised to protect the guilty, Fisher’s Fables is packed with unforgettable characters and witty dialogue that’ll raise a chuckle or three from anyone who enjoys watching the mighty fall.
The blog and characters went on to inspire the first Kent Fisher murder mystery novel, No Accident, which starts where Fisher’s Fables ends.
What Do You Do When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough?
A Guest Post by Robert Crouch
After years of edits, revisions and rejections by publishers and agents, I put my novel on the shelf and stopped writing. Maybe having an environmental health officer solve a murder in a traditional whodunit was too different. Maybe the characters didn’t leap off the page as one agent advised me.
Despondent and bruised by self-doubt, I figured a break from writing would do me good.
About two years later, I became aware of blogging. It looked like the perfect medium to write about my work as an environmental health officer, but I had to take care. As a law enforcement officer, I would be in hot water if I breached confidentiality. If I revealed the names of dirty restaurants or negligent employers, I could prejudice legal proceedings or find myself in court.
The only safe way to write about my work was to fictionalise it. And there, gathering dust on the shelf was my last novel with a cast of characters from an imaginary environmental health service.
In March 2007, Fisher’s Fables launched when Kent Fisher described my radio interview about the ban on smoking in public places. To broaden the blog’s appeal, I added a healthy dose of humour and irreverence to satirise issues as diverse as sexual health, public spending cuts and the banalities of management.
Over the years, as more people followed and enjoyed Fisher’s Fables, my confidence grew. The characters began to take on a life of their own. The blog morphed into a mini sitcom with complex storylines, plots and conflict, courtesy of a backstory between Kent and new recruit, Gemma Dean. Though fictitious, the episodes tackled current issues and the challenges at work.
Then I realised I’d found my voice as an author.
It was time to return to my whodunit. Twelve months later, after reading the first three chapters and a synopsis, Penmore Press offered to publish No Accident, the first Kent Fisher murder mystery.
Without the blog, I would never have rewritten No Accident. Fisher’s Fables restored my confidence. It allowed me to improve as a writer and breathe life into my characters, turning the dull world of local government into something funny and entertaining in the vein of ‘Yes Minister.’
To show my journey from blogger to published novelist, I published Fisher’s Fables as a book in November 2016, adding two additional posts to end Fisher’s Fables at the point where No Accident starts for a seamless progression. Though perhaps unusual, it feels like a fitting record of a somewhat different approach to publishing a first novel.
I spent hours, sometimes days and weeks, crafting each blog with the care and attention I would give any kind of writing. Whether a journal, a guide to solve problems, or fiction, blogs need snappy titles and quality content to capture readers and hold them. If you can make them laugh, or cry, even better.
Established authors can blog to communicate with readers and encourage feedback. Most readers want to know more about authors, how they work and where they get their ideas from. Blogging is a great way to answer those questions and allow fans and followers to know a little more about their favourite authors.
I’ve covered ‘the writer’s life’ in my Robservations blog, but I want to expand into areas and interests enjoyed by my readers so they can become more involved.
Thank you, Linda, for a chance to guest on your site and share my story with your followers.
My absolute pleasure Rob. Great story and very motivating for aspiring writers like me!
About Robert Crouch
Robert’s love of writing began when he won a national short story competition at the age of 12. Life, marriage and a career in environmental health pushed writing onto the backburner until Penmore Press offered to publish No Accident in 2015.
Robert Crouch pays homage to the traditional whodunit and murder mystery novels of authors like Agatha Christie while adding a fresh and irreverent twist.
He achieved this by creating Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Based on the author’s own experiences, Kent made his first appearance in the humorous and irreverent blog, Fisher’s Fables, which ran from 2007 to 2014 and was released as an eBook in November 2016.
In No Accident (available here), Kent investigates a fatal work accident at a theme park. But could it be a murder in disguise? That’s the question that propels his investigation through many twists and unexpected turns, putting him and the people he loves in great danger.
Robert now writes full time and lives in Eastbourne on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland white terrier, Harvey, who stars in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.
The second Kent Fisher mystery, No Bodies, will be available later in 2017.