I’ve had great feedback about Hard Change from people working in the public sector – particularly local government. It was part of my motivation, to prove it’s possible to write a hopeful, thought provoking and nuanced story about good people working in the worst circumstances… dealing with a murder. The characters in the novel are not the people you normally see in thrillers; these are people in suits dealing in different ways with life and death situations in their city and their families.
I met some of these people at the Cardiff LG Communications conference yesterday. They wanted heroes to identify with, not stereotypical views of bureaucrats who don’t care, people who will fight for good change. And they knew plenty about villains. One said “I remember the time 5 of my councillors were in prison;” another participant offered a story about a Planning Officer who’d been shot. There were real life stories of bravery and violence in the face of corruption, Trading standards officers saving lives from toxic chemicals and environment officers demonstrating how their work stopped an old lady from losing everything in a flood. The stories are all there, it’s a rich mix of what’s important in life and we need more of them. I hope Hard Change contributes to a different picture of public service and that some of the people I met yesterday go on to write their own thrillers.