Sunday, September 29, 2013

Virtual Coffee Interview with Sandy Osborne

My interest was immediately drawn to Sandy Osborne when I learned she is a police officer who, like myself, has based a work of fiction around her male-dominated working environment. The very original Girl Cop has been published to great reviews and I'm delighted she is here for a virtual coffee and a chat.
Hi Sandy. So tell us about how you began your writing career. I believe it was with an article in a local newspaper?

Yes, I responded to a very unflattering picture of me in my local paper taking part in a charity half marathon with a (hopefully!) amusing account of my training programme. This led on to several more articles both locally and nationally which in turn led me to the idea of writing a book. I have made it sound like it happened quickly – it actually spanned nearly 10 years!

What made you want to write about your work environment? How has the news of your book been received?

It’s been received very well and I have had lots of fantastic feedback telling me that I managed to accurately reflect/capture the era of the time. Even male readers (both Police and non-Police) have enjoyed it and are asking for a sequel! I did suffer bullying myself as a probationary officer and I wanted to show that you can win through in the end as I did! The 90’s was a very interesting time of change for women in the Police as we still seemed to be establishing ourselves as ‘equal’ after the disbanding of the Policewomen’s Unit in the 70’s. When I joined in the early 90’s we used to get paid a tights allowance as we were expected to wear our uniform skirts and it was frowned upon if we wore trousers on shifts other than nights. I was definitely a leader of fashion at my station - have you ever tried to scale a wall in a skirt?! I am pleased to say that the girls are undoubtedly on an equal footing these days and have recently been trained alongside the men with the new tasar (stun gun) equipment – Go Girls!

I'm surprised that as late as the 90's women had a special dress code. What an interesting and emotive time to have joined. How have you marketed Girl Cop? On your website you offer author talks. What do they involve?

About the book...
Self funding authors should be under no illusion that selling your book is hard work. As my novel is set in Bath I have tried to use as many local related links as possible. My heroine enjoys a romantic encounter at The Bath Priory Hotel and Spa, and prior to publication I contacted the hotel to ask for permission to include them – not only did they say ‘yes’ but they also offered me a meal for 2 in their Michelin starred restaurant for a draw at my launch. Following on from that they offered a mini break for readers of My Weekly magazine when Girl Cop was reviewed in there in April – fantastic PR for both Girl Cop and the Hotel!

I have a diary of speaker engagements which started as a reciprocal gesture at a luncheon at The Bath Priory Hotel and it has taken off from there – I am now contacted by various groups where I tell the story behind Girl Cop, together with how I got it into print and a summary of my marketing campaign. Alongside this I tell a couple of work related anecdotes in keeping with the label Girl Cop has been given as ‘Bridget Jones in Uniform.’
And of course the online essentials of a Facebook author page and Twitter @Girlcopnovel.

Really clever marketing moves. I'll try place-name dropping in my next novel :) 

A percentage of your royalties goes to the Police Dependants’ Trust and St Peter’s Hospice. Tell us what they do.

The Police Dependant’s Trust is a national charity. They provide financial support to help ease some of the pressures police families face when an officer has been killed or injured on duty. A worthy cause close to the hearts of all the ‘Police Family.’ St Peter's Hospice is Bristol's only adult hospice caring for local people with life-limiting illnesses. Their commitment is to improve the quality of life of patients while extending care and support to their families and loved ones. I chose to support them because they cared for my colleague, Andy whose collar number I use for my love interest, Alex in the book. Andy’s Mum was delighted with the idea and I have a dedication to them both in the acknowledgements.

You went to Cyprus on a writing break to start Girl Cop 2. What a great idea! Was it conducive or did you find some distractions from the keyboard?

Annie Penn who advises me on matters of publicity and writing in general kept telling me I needed to get on with the sequel and I find it very difficult to find time to sit and write with the demands of work and being a Mum, so I decided the only thing for it was to get away! I was very disciplined to make the most of the week – I sat by the pool in the morning, mulling over ideas and writing a few notes before spending the afternoon on my balcony (I dragged the dressing table out there and set up my netbook with my ipod and a glass of beer for company). Someone needs to invent a computer screen you can see in the sunlight! This picture was taken on the balcony of the restaurant I frequented every evening which was right on the beach. The staff got to know me and fussed over me which was great as I felt a bit self conscious on my own for the first couple of nights! I used to sit and read my kindle (bliss!) and I tweeted this pic as my ‘Shirley Valentine spot’ – although no Tom Conti’s or Alex’s (swoon!) had a part in my holiday! I wrote the first three chapters.

Wow, good work. Would you like to become a full-time writer?

Would I like to become a full-time writer? Well with life so manic at times, I would be tempted to say ‘yes’ – but writing can be a very lonely occupation at times and the knocks and rejections can be hard to take, so in reality I think I would really miss the company of and banter with my workmates (but don’t tell them that!). Its something I look forward to in retirement though!
Read more interviews...

Good luck with the sequel to Girl Cop. I look forward to seeing it's release. It's been lovely talking to you, thanks for taking the time for the chat.


  1. Hey!
    I nominated you for a Liebster Award! Check out my blog for the details! :)

  2. I love Bath and was there with hubby earlier this year. Fortunately, had no police contact...though, had I read this first I would have been delighted if we had and I could have met you, even better, I might have been able to take in one of your talks.
    I really enjoyed this interview very much. Thank you both, Fiona and Sandy

  3. Hi I really enjoy your blog, I found you on bookblogs. Followed you, maybe check out mine and follow

    1. Hi, thanks, I'm glad you like it. Am following you back :)

  4. Good interview, and I love that second pic of Sandy.

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