About Pete and Ian
Peter Stevens and Ian Honeysett are co-authors of the Bastille Mysteries Series. They have known each other since they were students at the now defunct College for the Careers Service back in the 1970s where they staged comedy reviews together. Ian did a History degree at Oxford and taught the subject for a few years before a career in Careers and Personnel. Pete did a Business Studies degree and stayed in Careers work. They both have an abiding interest in history and crime and it was Pete’s idea to co-write a crime novel set in the French Revolution. This seems to be a period largely untouched by crime writers. They did a considerable amount of research before plotting what they hope will be the first of a series of books. Writing “The Eighth Prisoner” and "The Year of The Oath" together has been an interesting and challenging experience! Apart from writing, Ian likes to paint and play the ukulele and Peter likes to play cricket and chess.
How did the two of you meet?
Ian : We met when we were students at Kent College for the Careers Service back in the 1970s in Swanley, Kent. I had previously taught History, Politics and Careers but had decided on a job to one that involved less marking. I’m still not sure if Pete had been employed before or whether he was a perpetual student.
Pete : I first met Ian on the 21st September `1976 at the Kent College for the Careers Service in Swanley, Kent. He was completely sane and sober that evening, lulling me, and others, into a dangerously false sense of security.
Had you written together before?
Ian : The only writing I had done previously was when I did my Post-Graduate Certificate in Education at Worcester College and wrote a Revue which ran for 2 nights. At Swanley, Pete and I somehow decided to put on a couple of shows which were also reasonably well received. We then went our separate ways. I remained in the Careers Service for a few years before moving on, yet again, to become a Training Manager and then a Personnel Manager. We kept in touch, though, and saw each other from time to time. I even invited Pete to my wedding.
Pete : One of the great events in the history of the now-defunct Kent College was the Christmas Review of 1976, written by Ian and myself. Since this was the 1970s criminal charges were not forthcoming.
Why did you decide to write a novel together?
Ian : This was Pete’s idea. He had already written a detective story, “A Dickens of a Murder” following his (early) retirement. When he learned that I had retired, he asked me if I was interested in co-writing a murder mystery. I had vaguely considered writing a novel but not done anything about it so this did have some appeal. I wasn’t quite sure how easy it would be to co-write such a book – a feeling that’s still not quite left me.
Pete : We actually decided to write together again on the completion of our diploma in July 1977. We moved with great speed to start work in March 2011.
Is it your first novel?
Ian : It is – although Pete and I have been working hard on book 2 in what we hope will be a series of novels set during the French Revolution.
Pete : My second, Ian’s first (unless he is hiding something from me). My Dickens of a murder was released in 2015.
Why did you choose a murder mystery?
Ian : Pete and I both enjoy a good murder – as does my wife. We always have one or two detective stories on the go. Murder stories give you the opportunity to develop (we hope) challenging plots with interesting characters. And plenty of shocks.
Pete : No-one murders mysteries like we do. Also we like to portray human nature at its best.
Why set it during the French Revolution?
Ian : Pete and I both read a great deal of history. It was Pete’s idea to set it during the French Revolution as that period has always fascinated him (for some reason) and there didn’t appear to be many other detective novels set during that time. And, of course, 2014 was the 225th anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille – which we hoped might create some interest in the book.
Pete : Because it was such a challenge. To bring in extra killing and mayhem in Paris during the great upheaval and make it original and interesting would have tested Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens (come to think of it, in one case it did- but the other two chickened out).
How hard was it to write a novel together?
Ian : It has been very hard at times. Developing and agreeing to the plot and main characters wasn’t too difficult but we soon discovered that, although you can agree which chapters you will write and what happens during them, you soon discover that things have not always turned out as you expected them to. The story does tend to take over and you find you are in a very different place to the one you anticipated. This may not be such a problem when you’re writing on your own but it is when the other writer has written the chapter that follows your’s! Or, rather, which should follow your’s but now doesn’t. So there were lots of phone calls and emails and meetings to iron this out. But we managed to agree….eventually… with a minimum of violence.
Pete : Very. Ian keeps on portraying people with kindness and humanity. It takes a lot of effort to get him to face reality.
How did you go about developing the story and characters?
Ian : Pete had the basic plot idea and, through discussion, we developed it more and more. Our face-to-face meetings were particularly productive – fuelled as they were by plenty of food and drink. We probably came up with an equal number of characters. Pete particularly came up with political ones and I tended to develop the religious ones – reflecting our respective interests. Pete is somewhat left-wing and I’m more Catholic. So this worked quite well.
Pete : See above. Plotting has always been my strong suit. Ian created the majority of the non-historical characters. I created most of the historical ones.
How much research have you had to do?
Ian : We did a lot of research – largely because we enjoyed it. And it postponed having to write anything. We read and trawled the internet to find out as much as we could about life during the French Revolution ; how the police and Church were organised ; the food ; the politics and so on. We were very conscious that someone attracted to our book might well have considerable knowledge of the period and be ready to highlight any errors! But we didn’t want it to become a history text book so we tried to avoid excessive detail.
Pete : Some. The trick with the French Revolution, as with other major historical events is to find the accounts that chime most with your view of the world. After some searching we found at least one that agreed with ours.
How long did it take you to write it?
Ian : On and off, probably 2 years. In between holidays of course.
Pete : See above. Depending on your view either two years or thirty-six. It seemed longer.
Why did you decide to make it an e-book?
Ian : Essentially because e-books seemed to be the way books were going (though recent reports suggest a resurgence of “real” books. And, given Kindle, you didn’t have to go out to find a publisher! But we have discovered that publicising an e-book has its own considerable challenges. There are an awful lot of them out there ! Neither of us had experience of the publishing world so there has been a great deal of learning to do.
Pete : Why do you think? Send us an agent and publisher and the answer (and question) is redundant.
Ian : We always envisaged a series of books set during the French Revolution so book two will take place over some 14 months in 1790-1791. It is likely to be called “The Year of the Oath” – when the French clergy had to decide whether or not to take the Constitutional Oath. With dire consequences if they decided against it!
Pete : Fear not! Book two is practically written and book three planned. We will need a constant supply of new characters. No-one gets out of the French Revolution alive.
Who are your favourite authors & books?
Ian : In terms of detective novels, there are so many but I particularly enjoy Robert B Parker, Jeffery Deaver, James Lee Burke, Janet Ivanovich, Michael Connelly and Sam Eastland.
Pete : Two guys- Pete Stevens and Ian Honeysett- come to mind. Buy Them Now! Hilary Mantel might have a future. Agatha Christie and Willkie Collins have some basic ideas on murder. Simon Sharma has a basic concept of history. Brideshead Revisited? Wonderful book, shame about the author.