Lincolnshire Police officer born in Grantham writes first book after becoming hooked on fantasy novels while recovering from stroke
A Lincolnshire Police officer who started reading fantasy novels while recovering from a stroke has now written his own.
James Horton, 36, was working for the Metropolitan Police in London when he began losing feeling down his left side after finishing a late shift nine years ago.
The father-of-three ended up in hospital on a critical stroke ward but luckily went on to recover.
He now only rarely experiences left-side tingling and slurred speech when he’s exhausted, although the fear of having another stroke has never left him.
While recuperating, he started listening to audiobooks of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as well as The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell.
Ideas for his own novel began forming in his head and around three years ago, while living and working in Stamford, he began putting pen to paper.
The outcome is Blue Swords, the first book in a series called ‘The Crimes and Crests Saga’, and it is already proving a hit.
James, who now lives in Peterborough, said he was delighted with the book’s reception so far having seen it reach number 43 in Amazon’s ‘Hot New Releases’ list.
“I was really nervous putting it out there, especially being in the police, but the feedback so far has been fantastic,” he said.
“It’s about a medieval police force called the Blue Swords so it’s proved really popular among police officers. Local people seem to like it too as it’s set in a fictional town based on Stamford. If you know the town you’ll definitely recognise some of the descriptions.”
He added: “It’s not Game of Thrones! I’m not a big fan of dragons and that kind of fantasy; this is a medieval crime thriller. It’s not quite as graphic as Thrones either!”
Set in 1411, the book tells the story of a peasant called Jep who witnesses a brutal crime in ‘Stanford’ and is then aided by a ‘Blue Sword’. It then follows his escapades as he becomes a member of the fictional police force himself.
The town includes a main street, cobbled square, river, and a pub called the ‘Viking Invader’.
“There’s humour, romance, crime and twists,” said James, who is now busy writing the second book in the saga. “I’ve tried to go back to the old stories of good versus evil, like it used to be in the 90s.
“It’s been good for me writing it. When I come home from a hard day I get to escape to this medieval land!”
He said the stroke had caused him a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety over the years.
“There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about it or wonder if I’m going to have another one,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“It all really knocked me off my pedestal big time. At 27 you feel invincible and this showed I wasn’t. So I decided to focus on something and started thinking about what I’d write about if I wrote my own book.”
He said partner Laura, three-year-old twins Jack and Ivy and son Joseph, nine, had all been a huge source of strength.
“I run my ideas past Joseph on the school run,” said James. “He seems to like them but he may just be saying whatever he thinks will shut me up for a minute!”
Check out Blue Swords: Book One of the Crimes and Crests Saga on Amazon. Published by Michael Terence Publishing, it will hopefully be in book stores soon.
James thanked Lincolnshire Police for their “fantastic” support over the years and general dedication to officers’ wellbeing.