Veteran regional press reporter Michael Litchfield is leaving journalism after 37 years to become a full-time crime fiction writer.
Litchfield penned his book, Bullet for an Encore, while commuting from Bournemouth to London as Westminster correspondent for Northcliffe Newspapers.
He is currently politics specialist for the Oxford Mail but plans to leave next month.
Publisher Robert Hale has signed Litchfield up for a three-book deal and written him a big enough cheque to enable him to comfortably leave journalism behind.
He said: “I was on the Bournemouth Echo when I got the job as lobby correspondent with Northcliffe and I was commuting each day to the House of Commons – an hour and 40 minutes each way.
“After reading the papers and sitting twiddling my fingers I thought I’d try my hand at writing a book.”
Litchfield said he had the rough idea for the book in his head for a couple of years.
He wrote the 100,000-word novel in longhand over a period of 18 months – 500 words each way – then typed it up at weekends, completing the job in July last year.
He had five rejections from publishers before being offered a deal in April.
He said: “I was over the moon – it’s a whole new outlook.”
Litchfield has worked for numerous local papers during his career including the Northants Evening Telegraph, Swindon Evening Advertiser and The Sentinel in Stoke, as well as the Sunday Express and The Daily Mail.
By Dominic Ponsford