Islington People: Diplomat’s second career as novelist

Islington author L.C. Tyler talks about fulfilling his two major ambitions - to travel and to write

Crime writer Len Tyler landed his first book deal after firing off a casual e-mail prompted by something he heard on the radio.

Publishing house Macmillan had announced a push for new authors – and for the first time was accepting manuscripts electronically.

The 59-year-old former diplomat had been writing The Herring Seller’s Apprentice for seven years already – and he jokes he would still be working on it had he needed to go to the trouble of printing off the pages and handing them in.

The long-time Islington resident, of Londsdale Square, says: “I just sent if off and forgot about it. Then a good while later – it was on my birthday – I got a reply.

“I did a double take and I was sure it would be a rejection – but it said they really liked it and wanted to publish it. A week later I was meeting my editor at the British Library.”

His latest book, Herring on the Nile, came out on Friday and is the fourth in the humorous, Agatha Christie-inspired Herring series.

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Len, who writes under the name L.C. Tyler, says: “My books pay homage to Christie and the crime writing of the so-called golden age, the 1920s and 30s, but I had read far more humour than crime when I started out. My main influences were writers like P.G. Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh.”

The novelist, who won the Last Laugh Award for the best comic crime novel last year, is enjoying a successful second career after travelling the world as a diplomat.

He has been putting pen to paper for as long as he can remember, and started work on the first Herring book while cultural attach� in Copenhagen.

He said: “I worked for the British Council, which sent me all over the world, to the Far East, to Africa, and my last posting in Denmark.

“When I set out I wanted to do two things – one was to travel and the other was to write. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to do both.”

- Herring on the Nile by L.C. Tyler is out now, published by Macmillan.