Am I the only one, who wishes, that I knew how to speed read? There are so many books that I want to read but real life keeps interfering. And today’s guest has such a book, that is now on my TBR list. I wanted to introduce you to him so that you will also put him on your list. So without further ado, meet T.J. Cooke!!!
TJ Cooke, otherwise known as Tim, was formerly a legal executive in London, specialising in criminal law.
He became the legal advisor to the BBC’s most popular drama Eastenders, before going on to write many episodes of broadcast drama himself. He has notched up writing credits for some of UK’s most popular series, including ‘London’s Burning’, ‘The Bill’, ‘Bad Girls’, ‘Family Affairs’ and ‘Madson’ with Ian McShane.
Tim has dovetailed his screenwriting career with advertising copywriting and freelance journalism. He has written numerous television and radio commercials for a variety of well known companies, and compiled features and articles for magazines and newspapers.
Writing under TJCooke, his debut novel, ‘Kiss and Tell’ has been hailed as innovative and inventive crime fiction. It introduces us to unorthodox lawyer Jill Shadow who some say is a cross between Kay Scarpetta and Erin Brockovich.
The book will be available on Amazon Kindle this Autumn, with TJ Cooke’s second novel to follow.
Visit T.J. at his website here.
Inspiration and motivation…
I now work as an advertising copywriter, mostly writing radio commercials.
My very first job however was as an ‘outdoor clerk’ at a busy legal firm inLondon. This mostly involved helping lawyers prepare cases for trial. If they were criminal cases it invariably meant organising visits to remand prisoners in Brixton, Wormwood Scrubs and Holloway. The firm also represented victims of domestic violence, tenants in dispute with their landlords and individuals who had been either been injured or unfairly treated by their employers.
This job was supposed to last six weeks! It was a post-university ‘filler’ and I was meant to be following a career in advertising; in fact I’d been offered a job at a prestigiousLondonagency. However, as it transpired, I ended up spending ten years working in the law, mostly as a legal executive, and largely focussing on crime in deprived areas.
I had a vast range of clients and cases, and every now and again one would come along that left an uneasy feeling. Though I still like to think that our justice system is by and large a sound one, there are cases that seep through the cracks, sometime leaving the guilty unpunished and the innocent unfairly convicted. It’s these grey areas that have always interested me… and this is often where the most compelling stories can be found.
Looking back now I realise I always wanted to write for a living, but until another opportunity presented itself I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I had long since realised that I was not a lawyer by choice, or desire.
It was a chance meeting, atLondon’s famous ‘Old Bailey’ Court that was the catalyst. I had a client on a murder trial, who had a character witness who happened to be the then producer of BBC’s Eastenders. The client was actually acquitted after only fifteen minutes of jury deliberation, one of the quickest on record. He had been attacked himself by two muggers in South London, but he’d fought back and stabbed one mugger with the mugger’s own knife, as it transpired fatally.
After the case had finished the show’s producer told me she was looking for an advisor, someone who could help with their criminal storylines and in particular the upcoming murder trial of character Nick Cotton. That’s how it all got going. I went to the set at Elstree, met all the cast and crew and before long was pitching scripts for the show. As it happened ITV’s The Bill offered me a script first, so I went to their studios in Merton and worked for them for a while. Then I got a tv agent and worked on Family Affairs,London’s Burning, Bad Girls and a few others.
Though I enjoyed the tv work I had a bug to write something original and thought this could best be expressed in novel form. This coincided with my move to Devon six years ago, which is when I first set about writing ‘Defending Elton’ and then ‘Kiss and Tell’… and the story goes from there…
Though I enjoy crime fiction I found that there was a certain template that many writers stuck to. It’s one that often involves a serial killer at large and one or two detectives who ultimately ‘get their man’. These stories can be great in their own way but they weren’t for me.
I deliberately set about creating narrative and character that approached crime fiction from a different angle. I guess I’ve always been a creative person and whether its writing adverts for radio listeners or books for readers I always try to create something original.
Hence Jill Shadow was born. A maverick protagonist, someone who doesn’t always get things right, or pursue matters in an orthodox way. What Jill Shadow does have though is a steely determination, to fight any injustice and to dig out the truth. She has no agenda either, she doesn’t work for the state, has no political affiliation and no particular axe to grind. She treats everyone as equals and will take on any client, just as if she was a cab driver and they were in a queue at a taxi rank.
This has its own risks. Jill won’t be bought, won’t toe the line regardless and won’t take no for an answer. It’s as likely to lead her into scrapes with authority as it is with the underworld… and in ‘Kiss and Tell’ it does both, with plenty of twists and turns along the way…
ABOUT THE BOOK
Down to earth lawyer Jill Shadow has overcome a traumatic past, one kept hidden from both professional colleagues and her 12 year old daughter Hannah. When imminent danger sees Jill transferred to a safe house, and her daughter abducted from school, Jill soon realises it’s a past she must confront…
Desperate to piece things together, Jill knows there are two key events which might help the authorities trace her missing daughter…. her involvement in the Bella Kiss drug case, and the release of her former partner Jimmy Briscoe from a lengthy jail term.
With time running out, Jill takes matters into her own hands…setting out to find her missing daughter and discover where the real truth lies…
With his first novel, TJ Cooke introduces us to Jill Shadow, the accidental lawyer with a past she wants to stay hidden. But despite her best efforts, it catches up with her at the speed of a hurtling train and threatens not only her but her daughter Hannah. The various strands of both her personal and professional life slowly become inextricably linked until all becomes clear as the book reaches its climax. This is a crime thriller with soul and a page-turner to boot. I am sure this is not the last we’ll see of this tenacious lawyer. Highly recommended! Tim Kevan – Bloomsbury Author and former Times and Guardian blogger
Purchase link: Amazon
THANKS TO AUTHOR, T.J. COOKE, I HAVE ONE (1) EBOOK TO GIVE AWAY.
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