I’m really delighted today to welcome Gina Kirkham as my guest. Her debut novel, Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, is published on 18th May by Urbane Publications, in paperback and as an e-book. I have to say that I really love the look of this one, and it’s been so lovely to share Gina’s infectious excitement as publication day approaches. (I think I can also safely say that it’s the first time a polyester thong has had a mention here on Being Anne!) But doesn’t this look wonderful?
Meet Mavis Upton. As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?
Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.
Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream.
And now let’s meet Gina Kirkham…
“Why do you do it mum?”
Well, that came from nowhere! I looked at my daughter, seven going on seventeen and wondered if I should sugar-coat my choice of career or be brutally honest and in the process, destroy her safe, fairy tale world.
I chose the first option. “It’s fun sweetheart, mummy gets to drive cars very, very fast and best of all, I look after people. People just like you and me.”
She nodded her head and smiled, taking another bite from her biscuit, followed by a messy slurp of milk. “I fawt so… can I have another biscuit after this one?”
…and with that, the conversation on Emma’s mummy being a Police Officer was over.
In reality, my choice of career was more of a calling than an option. My childish fascination into crime, misdeeds and wrongdoings had stemmed from my love of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books which I had avidly devoured in bed whilst clinging by static to my 1960’s polyester quilted throw. After completing the whole set and positively identifying with George rather than the more fragile Anne, my mind was made up. When I grew up I was going to be ‘in the Police’. Admittedly at that time, I had absolutely no idea what this would entail other than catching criminals and hopefully drinking lashings of ginger beer.
In the late 1980’s, after two other careers as a dancer and a Secretary took me in different directions, along with motherhood and divorce, I finally achieved my dream.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. I was a thirty-year-old single mum, and it quickly became apparent that I had lived quite a sheltered life, never having moved from my fishing village birthplace, but what followed was a very accomplished, thoroughly enjoyable career, that even now after retirement, I still miss.
No two days were ever the same. I arrested offenders, I stood on crime scenes, excited to be part of an ongoing investigation, which would then turn into mind-numbing boredom by the third day of duty staring at the same brick wall waiting for the CSI’s to finish. I charged into Friday night pub fights, hung from bridges to save lives, made cups of tea, ploughed through endless files and reports on a daily basis, coped with death and its aftermath, comforted, berated, chastised and cried with complete strangers, everything and more. I was privileged to be able to care for victims and to give them closure. I also got to drive cars very, very fast and to roar with laughter at the ridiculous situations we often found ourselves in. I experienced a whole gamut of emotions over those years; fear, stress, anger, injustice and heartache – but also laughter.
As wonderful as retirement is, with distractions of playing Crocodiles and having my knees forced to caress my ears whilst squeezing into pink plastic play tents for afternoon tea with my gorgeous granddaughters, I often quietly mused my other childish ambition. To write a book.
Very early in my career, I had been taught that humour was an all-important coping mechanism, which was evidenced when I had a near death experience at a violent incident. Although at the time I thought I was dying in the back of the ambulance; convinced I could ‘see the light’, I was actually more concerned about my dreadful fade-to-grey underwear with perished elastic, as the paramedic cut through my uniform. This incident caused much mirth and laughter amongst my colleagues back at the station, which in turn forced me to arrange a hasty visit to my local Primark for new, but relatively cheap, underwear. I returned home with seven pairs of size 18-20 polyester thongs that had cost me a grand total of £3.50.
Reminiscing this episode over a rather nice Gin & Tonic one sunny afternoon, I had another wonderful epiphany and my idea to write about the challenges a thirty-something, single mum with a little girl would face in a police career was born. I struck out the first three chapters on my old and trusty computer that had the ‘e’ missing on the keyboard.
Mavis Upton became my protagonist, she was caring, strong with a sense of humour, and was incredibly fond of humongously large thongs from Primark! All I needed now was a title. Choking back a snigger, wondering if it would ever grace the shelves of Waterstones, it came to me.
I quickly typed it out, my middle finger on my left hand feeling the sharp plastic where the ‘e’ should have been…. Handcuffs, Trunchon and A Polystr Thong ….
…which with the purchase of a new keyboard the following week became…
HANDCUFFS, TRUNCHEON AND A POLYESTER THONG …which as of 18th May will be on the shelves of Waterstones – with all the ‘e’s included!
Gina, that’s a great story – and a lovely taster of your writing! Thanks for joining me today. Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong will be published on 18th May and available from Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles.
And if you’re planning on being in the area, there’s a book launch on the evening of Thursday 18th May at Waterstones Liverpool One 6.30pm – here’s the link. Now that should be a fun evening!
About the author
Gina lives by the sea in Meols, Wirral, now retired and happily running around after two fabulous granddaughters, two Westie dogs and one husband, in between writing and occasional blogging. Do take a look at her website: you can also find her on Twitter.