This is fiction published in short digital instalments – a TV series that you read. Boxfiction is the digital publisher that is releasing new episodes each week on their website, downloadable to laptops, tablets, mobile phones and e-readers.
Titan is the first of five all-new double episodes further exploring the world of Professor Sam Ryan, played by Amanda Burton in the BBC series, the pathologist who finally left our screens to return to her native Ireland. The new eSeries follows up her story.
It is written by Nigel McCrery, the former policeman turned writer who created Silent Witness as well as New Tricks.
'Authors need to face the challenge of adapting their writing to the changing demands of audiences,' he says. 'People haven’t lost their appetite for the written word, what’s changing is the form and medium in which it is consumed. I’m very proud to be the first writer to work with Boxfiction and excited by the story-telling opportunities the medium creates.'
Silent Witness's first episode on the eSeries has just been released exclusively by Boxfiction, and a new double episode will follow each week for five weeks. The launch episode has been released for free, with each episode thereafter costing 69p to download, or users can subscribe to all ten episodes for a launch price of £5.99. The app can be downloaded for free from iTunes.
• CrimeTimePreview has a guest blog from writer Nigel McCrery about the inspiration for Silent Witness and what's in store for Sam Ryan in the new eSeries.
SILENT WITNESS AND OTHER IDEAS
I am probably luckier then many writers, as I have been a police officer, so writing about crime is a little easier.
I also have a great memory for people, places and – let’s be honest, trivia. Most police shows on TV, they go for previously senior officers to act as advisors. The problem with that is they will tend to follow the company line and not say how it is really done. Most have been off the street for a long time and have become managers rather than ‘street’ officers. The world of crime and policing is far more complicated than these senior officers would have us believe.
As far as Silent Witness is concerned, the idea came from a very celebrated Forensic Pathologist called Helen Witwell. Helen was a tall, glamorous, and highly intelligent woman who loved champagne breakfasts and had a keen sense of humour. So many things about her were larger than life.
The inspiration for Sam Ryan
Her car was always full of old papers, parking tickets, and disused sandwich boxes. She would quite often get lost on her way to the scene of crime. On one occasion when the press got to the scene before she did she stopped the car and before going any further put on all her make up. She said, ‘If you think I’m facing them at 2am in the morning without my slap on you can think again.’
At home she kept a heavily scented garden. When I asked why she told me that pathologists have a tendency to lose their sense of smell. It’s not the smell of the bodies, which although bad are natural. It’s the chemicals. As long as she could smell her garden she knew she was fine. You really can’t write stuff like this. To see her work as a pathologist was also a wonder. It was then that you saw the ability and the – I hope she won’t mind me saying – genius.
Helen was also her own woman: a person more interested in justice than the law. But that didn’t mean she didn’t know the law backwards. I once saw a man released by the court of appeal who thanked her on the court steps for all she had done for him. And she was always sure to follow it too – she refused to follow any police line and just presented the evidence the way it was and not the way others wanted to see it.
Characters like Helen are priceless. I have read many books and seen a lot of TV and yet still I find that ‘real’ people are far more interesting than anything you can make up. It was odd really. When we made the character Sam Ryan the first female Professor of Forensic Pathology, Helen was made the first female Professor of Forensic Pathology at the same time. Life imitating art?
New Tricks prequel?
New Tricks was very much the same. Many of the traits of the characters devised by Roy Mitchell and myself come from people we have known (their names come from the West Bromwich Albion FA Cup winning side. He is a devoted fan).
When Sam Ryan left the series I was amazed at the amount of interest there was in what became of her. All the public knew was she went back to Belfast with her son and that was it. Through Boxfiction’s eSeries I am finally able to show what did happen to her. How her life developed. How she returned to Cambridge and went back to her first love: Forensic Pathology. She meets up with old and new characters and becomes involved in a host of new and interesting stories.
Later through the same Boxfiction format I hope to show where the New Tricks team came from. How they met, how they policed during the 1960s and 70s and the way they dealt with crime 30 years before they were to be brought together again to open cold case files.