Those of you following me on Twitter will know I’ve just been in NY – and that I took my real life Roy Grace – Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Gaylor – with me. I joke that most authors carry their characters inside their head, whereas I travel around with mine!!

Although they don’t look similar and Dave’s wife is very much at home and not missing, Roy Grace’s career is to a large extend modelled on Dave’s – although he hasn’t yet reached the same lofty heights of Dave’s last rank! But just like Roy, Dave Gaylor was very involved with cold cases during his career, and now runs the Cold Case team of Sussex CID.

We spent Monday and Tuesday out with two NYPD cops, who could not be more different in character, yet who have been close friends and buddies for very many years, Pat Lanigan and Dennis Bootle. (My two NYPD characters in Dead Man’s Footsteps) were based on them. Pat at 6’3″ is a true gentle giant, a former stevedore turned tough street cop, he is inside a kind-hearted, liberal, and a full-on Obama supporter.

Dennis at 5’7″ had to learn how to use his brain and blend that with Martial Arts. When he first became a NYPD officer it was at a time when people were killing cops in NY on a regular basis. He told me as a seventh Dan black belt he is a legend in the NYPD after an incident, late one night in Washington Square: Single crewed he confronted by six knife-wielding thugs. He radioed for backup, but by the time the backup arrived, four of the men were writhing on the ground in agony with broken legs, a fifth was in an arm lock, screaming in pain and the sixth had run off. The one thing the unlikely pair share is the hunt for criminals and bringing them to justice. They started working together in the Warrant Squad, learning new ways to handle the streets. Their work included investigating homicides, armed robberies, rapes, assaults, before they moved into the Cold Case Squad. In Dennis’s own words “I played the tough guy and Paddy the good guy. Classic good cop-bad-cop that is often a devastatingly effective formula in any force.” Jokingly he said to me that when he moved house, recently, “It took them one day to move my furniture and three to move my ammunition!

One of my reasons for being in NY was to attend the annual Thrillerfest (no, nothing to do with Michael Jackson) – the convention of the terrific International Thriller Writers organization and to attend their Banquet and Awards ceremony – which is one of the most glittering publishing occasions I’ve ever attended. It was held in the fabulous Cipriani restaurant in Manhattan and attended by 450 people, mostly thriller writers.

English author Tom Rob Smith (who apparently gets upset if his books are called crime novels – because apparently they are literary novels) collected the Best First Novel prize, turning up in a most peculiar white snakeskin leather jacket and sparkly shoes. Jeffery Deaver, who is a really nice guy, scooped the Thriller Of The Year award, beating himself (he was nominated for two books) and Harlen Coben among others. Coben was also there, along with Karin Slaughter who is great fun, our homegrown David Hewson, and our homegrown but exported Lee Child, Sandra Brown, David Morrell, Lisa Gardner, Jim Rollins, Robin Cook, Clive Cussler, and one of my personal favourites, Thomas H Cook (not to be confused with the travel agent!)

Coming back to the UK was something of a let down, as I then went straight to the Crime Writer Association awards in Piccadilly, where I was shortlisted for the Dagger In The Library award – and did not win. Still, I’m up for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year the winner of which will be announced in Harrogate on Thursday evening. Watch out for me. I’ll probably be the one with the Happy Loser Smile yet again!!!!!