It’s always a pleasure discovering a new (to me) author who has something original and exciting to offer readers. BM Allsopp is that kind of writer.
B.M. Allsopp writes the Fiji Islands Mysteries, a fresh police procedural series. She lived in the South Pacific islands for 14 years, including four in Fiji, where she worked at the University of the South Pacific. She now lives in Sydney with her husband and tabby cat.
What was the defining event that made you start writing?
After harbouring an idea for a police procedural novel set in Fiji for a few years, I realised that thinking gets a wannabe novelist precisely nowhere. One day a dark question wormed its way into my mind: what if, on my deathbed, I wondered whether I could have written that novel? I decided I must prevent that happening and forced myself to start soon afterwards.
What made you choose this genre?
I enjoy reading the best of many genres of crime fiction, but my favourite is the police procedural. The most unlikely plots convince me when penned by the late great P.D. James and also Ian Rankin, Jane Harper, Peter Robinson and many others. I love the realism of Peter James’ investigation details and rejoice at the honest cop beating the bureaucratic or corrupt system in books by James Lee Burke, Garry Disher and more terrific proceduralists. My ambition as a reader is always to solve the mystery before the novelist’s big reveal. When I achieve this, I get immense satisfaction.
What’s the basic plot of your series?
My Fiji Islands Mysteries feature Inspector Joe Horseman, washed-up Fiji rugby star, and Sergeant Susila Singh, a driven woman defying the odds. Their partnership grows as they strive for justice in their fragile paradise.
How many books in your series so far?
Prequel – Death of a Hero
- Death on Paradise Island
- Death by Tradition
- Death Beyond the Limit
What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?
My books are hardly unique but they’re unusual because of their setting. Fiji is little known except as a tropical holiday destination so I hope my readers will discover the authentic islands whose people I have come to love. I was living in Fiji when I read Alexander McCall Smith’s Tears of the Giraffe. Botswana sprang to life through his endearing characters and subtle cultural understanding. This was when I first wondered if I could write a murder mystery set in Fiji.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Each Fiji Islands Mystery stands alone in the sense that the main plot line is a murder investigation which begins and ends within each book. However, the main characters, Inspector Joe Horseman and Sergeant Susie Singh, continue throughout the series which traces their hesitant but developing partnership. A few subplots also continue across books, like Horseman’s quest for lasting love and the Junior Shiners team’s quest for rugby boots.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I once visited Port Isaac aka Port Wenn in Cornwall, and saw Doc Martin’s house, the tiny harbour and all the locations. It’s exactly as seen on TV! Does that count?
(Yes it does, BD)
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It took me five years to write, rewrite, submit to agents, complete a mentoring program, rewrite, submit to publishers, engage a developmental editor, revise some more, enrol in a self-publishing course and eventually publish under my own imprint, Coconut Press. I could not repeat that process.
‘There must be a quicker way,’ I told myself.
I’ve since read, joined writers’ groups like Alliance of Independent authors, participated in private Facebook groups and become familiar with how others do things. Of course, I learned a lot from that tortuous experience with my first novel, too. I now follow Joe Nassise’s Story Engines process and have speeded up. There’s still got to be a quicker way! I’m considering dictation software.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
None. I’m a finisher by nature and after all that blood, sweat and tears, I’m not going to leave a finished draft of a novel in a drawer. If it’s not good enough I’ll work on it until it’s publishable.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do indeed. I can’t resist. I’m amazed that strangers on the other side of the world love my books and want more. The few bad reviews don’t bother me. Even Shakespeare didn’t please everyone.
Occasionally all you can do is laugh.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes, definitely. I’m a chronic sufferer. An alternative term for this condition is procrastination.
Make sure to check out BM Allsopp’s first-in-series police procedural, Death on Paradise Island: Fiji Islands Mysteries 1
Josefa “Joe” Horseman holds out hope for a comeback. But after riding high in top class rugby, returning to the Fiji detective force with a bum knee and a promotion-hungry new partner wasn’t what he had in mind. So he knows he’ll have to up his game when guests at an island resort discover a young maid’s corpse snagged on the reef.
Horseman’s under pressure to solve the case before the high-end vacation spot takes a major hit to its reputation… and its bottom line. But just as he uncovers a lead on a sabotage suspect, another body rises to the surface.
Below are some of the places BM Allsopp likes to hang out virtually when she’s not writing.