Face to face with Kelvin I Jones

In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to Aylsham-based crime writer Kelvin I Jones, whose latest book, a collection of Edwardian ghost and horror stories, is just out.

In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to Aylsham-based crime writer Kelvin I Jones, whose latest book, a collection of Edwardian ghost and horror stories, is just out. Kelvin, who has also written a number of contemporary crime novels, often gets ideas for stories from the landscape of north Norfolk, where a famous visitor has been a constant source of inspiration . . .

Born in Kent in 1948, Kelvin began writing poems and mythology-themed stories as a youngster. In his teens, he became hooked on the Sherlock Holmes novels of Arthur Conan Doyle, who found inspiration for the classic book the Hound of the Baskervilles while convalescing at Cromer in 1901.

Kelvin continued to write as a student at Warwick University, also performing as one half of a comic singer songwriting duet, and acting in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

But, after graduating with a degree in English and American literature, he put his literary ambitions on hold to embark on a career as a secondary school teacher.

His first book - a biography of Conan Doyle published in 1989 - combined Kelvin's twin passions of crime writing and the occult, and he went on to become an authority on Conan Doyle, also penning his own psychic-themed crime stories.

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But it wasn't until he retired to north Norfolk in 2001 that Kelvin had the chance to concentrate more fully on writing.

He has since published books on the folk tales and superstitions of Cornwall - where he and his artist wife Debbie spent many years - as well as penning a series of essays on Conan Doyle's Cromer connection and writing a series of books featuring Holmes-type detective John Bottrell and his sidekick Dr Rigden

His latest book, a collection of Edwardian-style ghost and horror stories inspired by the tales of Conan Doyle and the ghost stories of Victorian author M R James, features hauntings, psychic manifestations and pure horror.

Kelvin is now working on the 4th in his John Bottrell series, in which the detective is set the challenge of uncovering the mystery surrounding the discovery of a corpse in fishing nets off Cromer.

He is also collaborating with Debbie on a book for older children set in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, where evil happenings follow the accidental disinterment of a medieval magician.

When not working on his own books, Kelvin, who is a member of the Crime Writers' Association of Britain, teaches courses on writing crime and ghost and horror fiction at the University of East Anglia.

Kelvin I Jones's latest book, Carter's Occult Casebook, which features Edwardian-style illustrations by Douglas Water, is available priced �7.99 from Holt Bookshop and www.amazon.co.uk or by emailing cunningman@hotmail.co.uk

What is the best thing about your job?

As a writer, you are not reliant on anything other than your own imagination.

And the worst?

The sheer time it takes to complete a full length manuscript and the amount of persistence required to get to the end of the journey. It can be quite daunting.

Where do you go to unwind?

Always to a wood or a forest. To me, that landscape is a place between worlds and it's the source of all inspiration and consolation.

What is your favourite Norfolk building?

Norwich cathedral because, like all ancient cathedrals and churches, it is a great repository for stories.

What is the one thing you would change about north Norfolk?

More people power! I think things like second homes and supermarkets are important issues and I don't think people have enough power over decision making.

What is your greatest achievement?

Not giving up writing! I have been tempted to several times, mainly because of a lack of faith or commitment. I think everyone suffers from lack of self worth at times, but you just have to ignore it and carry on.

And your proudest moment?

I don't think I have had one.

What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?

I would like to be more spontaneous.

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

The most exhilarating thing I've ever done was storytelling at a Viking ship burial reconstruction in Cornwall.

Who or what is the love of your life?

Debbie - to quote Holmes, she is the "one fixed point in a changing world".

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

Book: The Hound of the Baskervilles, film: The Lord of the Rings and TV programme: the Granada Television series Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett.

How would you like to be remembered?

I don't care about being remembered - it's really not important to me.

Correction: Jean Corbett Jarvis's first marriage was to David Corbett and her second marriage was to John Jarvis, not as stated in Face to Face on May 7. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise for any embarrassment caused.