Author Gary Blackwood had his first adult novel published recently, first in the U.K. this past September, and Canada in December. It’s available online, for borrowing at the Tatamagouche Library, and at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery this summer. Raissa Tetanish photo

A local author’s first foray into an adult novel has finally hit the market.

Gary Blackwood’s ‘Bucket’s List’ was released in the United Kingdom in September, followed by Canada three months later.

“I love the book ‘Bleak House’ by Charles Dickens, and in it is Inspector Bucket. I just thought he was a great, great character,” said Blackwood.

“I thought about possibly writing a book with Inspector Bucket as the lead character, but then I read something about Inspector Bucket being based on a real detective.”

Blackwood got to work researching and learned the character was based on a detective for Scotland Yard.

In ‘Bucket’s List’, Charley Field quits the police force in 1853 for disobeying his subordinates, or was he fired?

“In my version, he was fired,” laughed Blackwood. “He becomes a private ‘enquiry’ agent who still passes himself off as a police inspector when it suits him.”

Blackwood has always had an interest in the Victorian era, but he didn’t quite like the Victorian mysteries he’s read.

“They were all the same,” he explained. “They all start with a murder, but you usually don’t know who the victim actually is. Then, it’s followed up by a bunch of other murders.”

He said the protagonist is often an anti-hero, down and out in some way.

“I feel like you have to care about the main character to some extent, and the same with the murder victims,” he said, adding that’s not what he took away as a reader of other Victorian mysteries.

His character, however, does solve additional cases linked to the original one, just so there’s more than one thing happening throughout the book.

“But I had a few too many incidentals, and I had to cut a few out,” he said. “I left in the ones that tied in to the main crime.”

It was March 2015 when Blackwood only had a few chapters written but he started reaching out to agents and publishers – 28 to be exact.

He contacted an agency in Atlanta when his inquiry was “high jacked” by the woman who owns the agency and her assistant.

Blackwood sent one chapter off in the autumn of 2016 at her request, and within about 15 minutes, had a request for a few more.

“That’s just unheard of to hear back so quickly. Usually you wait weeks.”

After the author sent off three chapters to the agency, he went for a walk in the woods. Upon his return, he already had a request for the entire manuscript.

“I was totally floored. That just doesn’t happen.”

Less than two weeks later, Blackwood received an offer of representation, which he accepted. Three months later, in January 2017, a publishing offer came in on the book.

“They have indicated they would possibly like a sequel. I left one mystery open – not for a sequel – but because I didn’t want him to solve everything.”

The writer, who has published 34 other works previously including children’s books, only has a few chapters remaining to write in the sequel, which he hopes to finish by the spring.

For anyone interested in reading ‘Bucket’s List’, it can be borrowed from the Tatamagouche Library, or purchased online through Amazon. It will also be available at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery this summer.