Published: 17:16, 28 July 2020
| Updated: 11:20, 29 July 2020
A former police officer turned author has revealed he owes everything ahead of the launch of his book to an unlikely hero – the mother of Madness singer Suggs.
Evan Baldock, who is from Chiddingstone Causeway near Tonbridge, is set to release his first novel Bang Bang You're Dead next month.
The 64-year-old who has had a varied career following his 30-year stint with the Metropolitan Police says he was inspired to base his leading lady on Edwina McPherson.
And he now hopes to thank Suggs personally for the inspiration the singer's mum gave him.
"We contacted him and I think an email got through. I don't need his permission to mention her name, I'd just like him to know," Evan said.
Evan was a sergeant with the Met working on Project Lilac – a government-backed operation aiming to take out drug dealers in the West End between 2000 and 2002.
Edwina – known as Eddi – was the chairman of the local residents' association in the St Giles area of London and they spoke at length about the issues she had seen in her community.
Now, almost 20 years later, Evan has completed the novel and it is on the brink of being released.
"We became friends," he said. "A few of us would go back to her flat after the meetings for coffees and after a while it became just me.
"She started going on about the crimes in her area and anti-social behaviour.
"She wanted someone to write a story about how someone like her felt. She used to swear a lot and was very robust in her language."
When Evan was involved in the meetings with Edwina, he had been writing comedic travelogues about crossing the Pyrennes for friends.
She started reading them and said she enjoyed his writing style before suggesting he should write a book.
"I didn't think I had anything creative in me but I clearly have and because it's been wanted by so many publishers"
He added: "Eddi thought I could write a novel and I said 'don't be ridiculous, I've not got a creative bone in my body'.
"But she gave me a plot and I based it on her. She was an incredible lady.
"She inspired me and said nobody writes a story about people like me.
"In literary circles they are crying out for strong female characters."
The idea for Evan's first novel was born – a vigilante elderly woman fighting crime so that communities would feel safer from anti-social behaviour and drug gangs.
Evan's leading lady, Gloria Jones, is inspired by Eddi's real life experiences around the St Giles area of central London.
He recalls her telling him about how she was threatened on the streets and from the window of her flat could see drug deals taking place in the churchyard and in the high street and how she'd had enough of it.
But the book almost never saw the light of day after it spent more than 15 years in draft form and unfinished.
Evan had written about 50,000 words but Evan stopped due to personal circumstances in his private life and lost touch with Eddi.
Sadly, in January 2019, Evan came across an obituary for Eddi which he said he really affected him because they had not spoken in such a long time.
He said: "I said to my wife 'I'm going to finish it in her memory' so I carried on where I left off."
Evan finished the book, paid for it to be edited and then pitched to 28 publishers and says he was "astonished" to receive nine offers. It has since been listed as one of The Sun's top summer reads for 2020.
He has also worked in his own knowledge following his 30-year career with the Met Police building up twists and turns as law enforcement try to track down Gloria from his own experiences of investigating crimes.
It is quite a change in careers for Evan having left the police in 2011 before opening vegetarian sweet shop 'Sweet Expectations' in Rochester and then turning to writing full time.
Bang Bang You're Dead is his first novel but is now already working on his third having only turned to being an author 18 months ago.
"I love it and at 64 it's probably a great time of life to do it," he said. "I never imagined writing a book and that I would get a contract.
"I didn't think I had anything creative in me but I clearly have and because it's been wanted by so many publishers I now find it easy to write.
"I said it in my dedication to her that I hope she could forgive me for my tardiness in completing it but I think she would be thrilled to bits because she wanted the story out there."
Bang Bang You're Dead is released on August 18 but is available to pre-order via the publisher Red Dog Press website priced £8.99. It is also available as an e-book via Amazon.
More by this authorMatt Leclere
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