28 Oct 2016

NZ detective turned crime writer

From Nine To Noon, 10:10 am on 28 October 2016

A former detective has just published his debut detective novel which he wrote while recuperating from a crippling auto-immune disease.  

Simon Wyatt's novel, The Student Body is a New Zealand crime mystery with an authentic twist set in West Auckland.

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Wyatt, a former detective, wrote most of the novel which working for the child protection team.

He turned to writing in 2012 after at age 28 he was struck down with Guillan Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disorder which left him so weak he couldn't open a packet of chips.

He's since made a recovery but decided to end his career with the police and is now an investigator with the Serious Fraud Office.

He says the disease came on very suddenly.

“I was actually taking a statement from a witness and the first symptom I had was pins and needles in my right calf muscle and at the end of the shift at 10 o’clock at night I walked back to my car and was limping.”

He said he initially thought it would clear up after a night’s sleep, but the symptoms had got much worse overnight.

“I got out of bed and fell on my arse, my legs gave way and I couldn’t wriggle my toes and I knew at that point something was very wrong.”  

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He fortunately got to hospital early and was soon diagnosed with Guillan Barre Syndrome and his recovery was slow.

“I had lower body paralysis but was weak all over my body, I had to learn to walk again, to carry my weight and take each day as it comes.”

Having time on his hands and wanting a goal to work towards Wyatt, a crime fiction fan himself, decided to write a detective novel.

“I wanted to create an authentic product of West Auckland where I grew up, where I spent ten years policing.”

The novel’s main character Nick Night is a newly-promoted detective sergeant in his first week on the job when a 15 year old girl is murdered at a camp in Piha.

The location was important to him, he says.

“West Auckland is a special place because it has so much to offer and a lot of diversity not only the landscape with the Waitakere Ranges but the urban sprawl and the people of West Auckland are unique bunch for sure.”

The book was self-published and is doing well enough for Wyatt to write his second with the same characters - and the former detective says he has plenty more stories in him.