Ex-policeman's novel sets records

JAY BOREHAM
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013
Ken Brewer
JAY BOREHAM/ Fairfax NZ
GROWING SUCCESS: Manurewa author Ken Brewer’s first attempt at a novel is reaping big rewards.

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A former police officer and first-time fiction writer from Manurewa is turning heads on the international stage. 

Ken Brewer launched his first novel The Enfield Conspiracy at the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club on Sunday. 

But the book was originally published in New York at the end of November and had already broken records before the glue had set on the first page.

It was printed just six weeks after Seaburn Publishing snapped up the manuscript.

''I asked my literary agent and she said that [the time] between contract signing and publication varies between six and 24 months.

''Six weeks is unheard-of for an established author and unbelievable for a first-time one,'' Brewer said.

The book was sitting in the top 5000 books on shopping website Amazon.com within a week of being published for the United States and British markets.

Brewer hoped it would be just as successful here and is looking for a book chain to pick up the distribution rights.

The military adventure follows Ensign Nicholas Reede who joins the British army as a teenager and is sent to India to fight during the 1857 mutiny.

He is plucked from death's door in the Bay of Bengal and ends up being dispatched to New Zealand, only to be pitted against Maori guerrilla fighters.

The story and characters are fictional but the plot follows historical events that occurred in the 19th century.

Brewer and his family moved to New Zealand in 1974 from Exeter, England and he spent 21 years with the Counties Manukau police.

He has also published a number of non-fiction books about the history of the New Zealand police, work that ultimately seered him towards fiction, he said. 

''I wanted to write about a young man from my part of the world, from Devonshire in England, who becomes a policeman here in the 1800s.''

Researching the topic took him a year and then writing the book another two. He finished the manuscript in 2009 but it was several months before he asked anyone to read it.

Once he started to give it to family, friends and colleagues no-one could put it down. So Brewer sent the book to a literary agent and three days later he signed a contract.

Three companies are vying for the rights to publish the unnamed sequel to The Enfield Conspiracy which Brewer hoped to have finished by the end of this year.

Seaburn Publishing also indicated it wanted to republish Brewer's non-fiction work on New Zealand police history in the United States.

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''Apparently there is a big market for that sort of thing over there,'' he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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