Friday 7 September 2012, 15:17
It's enough to make anyone green with envy - a 32-year-old police sergeant who has never written before tries his hand at penning a children's book in his spare time, sends it off to a publisher on a whim, and lands a five book deal.
Rich Pitman from Caldicot acknowledges this somewhat sheepishly. "I've been a bit lucky," he tells me. But there's obviously something about his anti-hero Jimmy Threepwood that excited his publisher and has captivated children, after its first instalment for the Kindle won glowing reviews on Amazon.
The first paperback in the series, Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of Darkness, is out soon, the second is with his editor at Ghostly Publishing and he is already working hard on the third - that is when he gets rest days from his day job at Gloucestershire Police.
He said: "I haven’t been writing very long but I did an MA at Swansea Metropolitan University in 2001 and when I finished I had a lot of time on my hands so my wife suggested I write a book.
"She read it and liked it but it wasn't long enough and I put it to one side and then much later on I had the idea for Jimmy Threepwood, where I wanted to write a book from the angle of the villain.
"It's a real surprise as it's all happened very quickly. I've always enjoyed writing as a hobby but my family were surprised when they read the draft copy.
"It's about a boy who is unloved by his parents. They show him no affection and don't allow him to have any friends, so he lives in a very drab world.
"He doesn't know that his parents have made a pact with a gatekeeper that on his birthday he will be taken away and trained as one of four children destined to destroy the world."Cover detail of Rich Pitman's book Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of Darkness
The book follows Jimmy on his journey as he meets the other three children, all of whom are somewhat more sinister than him. He finds himself caught up in a world governed by a group of Elders where the shape of the future has been written hundreds of years before.
Rich says he knew he was on to something when the children of some friends read the book and said they liked it, one even saying it was "as good as Harry Potter".
And colleagues at the police station in Coleford, Forest of Dean, have also been buying it for their children.
And like a true craftsman, he has created various avenues to explore in the early books, should he be commissioned to write a longer series.
He said: "In the short term I want children to enjoy and become immersed in the story. I am hoping that my story will inspire people to have a go at writing and stretch their imaginations to their limits.
"In the long term I hope that the five stories have an impact on people's lives in the way Harry Potter did. I hope these stories continue the good work of JK Rowling and introduce reading to the next generation of children."
Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of Darkness is due for release on Thursday 18 October and is available to pre-order in Waterstones, WH Smith and on Amazon.
Rich will also be signing copies of his book at Waterstones in Plymouth on 20 October and in Cardiff on 27 October.
He is also attending the Penarth Book Festival on 30 October and will be talking about his work in various schools this autumn.