LYMM author Martin Edwards lives somewhat of a double life.

By day, he is a solicitor and partner at law firm Mace & Jones and by night, he pens critically acclaimed crime fiction.

Now set to release his twelfth novel, Waterloo Street, Martin is one of the most highly regarded writers in the genre.

"I had always wanted to write from a very young age," said the former Sir John Deane's College pupil.

"I was inspired by Agatha Christie novels and detective stories like that.

"So it was a long held ambition but it took a long time because both my parents wanted me to have a proper job'."

In 1980 Martin became a solicitor at Mace & Jones and starting writing legal articles on employment law before writing a legal book.

It was not fiction, but he wanted to experience having a book published and continued writing fiction at home.

Eventually he came up with the character Harry Devlin who is a lawyer and a recurring character in his Liverpool novels.

It was in 1991 that Martin finally introduced this character to the world in his debut crime novel, All The Lonely People.

Set in a contemporary urban Liverpool, the book mixed vivid characterisation with a complex whodunnit plot.

It earned him a nomination for the John Creasey Dagger for best crime novel of the year.

"That was the starting point and I was pleased to set it in Liverpool because the city has not been the setting of many crime novels.

"I know the area well as I work there and I think it's a fascinating place," added the 52-year-old.

Both involved in the legal world, some people have often wondered if amateur detective Harry Devlin is in some way connected to the author's own experiences but Martin was quick to rule this out.

"Harry Devlin's life and work - they are very different to mine," he said.

"He's a lawyer so I thought it made sense for him to be involved in a number of cases. Also, I felt I didn't know any police officers or private eyes so it would be difficult to write about them."

Martin continued to write a string of Harry Devlin books until 2002 when he tried something different with Take My Breath Away, a psychological suspense novel set in London.

Then his publisher asked him to invent a new series in a rural location, which he decided to set in the Lake District - a place Martin has always liked to visit.

Even Cheshire has been a minor setting in some of his fiction.

As well weaving his time between writing novels and the demanding job of being a solicitor, Martin has reviewed crime fiction since 1987, written a book on true crime called Catching Killers, continues to write legal articles and has more than 40 short stories to his name. How does he manage?

"It's not easy," said Martin, who was born in Knutsford.

"I have a supportive family who seem to understand what I am trying to do and that helps a lot.

"Plus if it's something you have a passion for, it makes it that much easier."

Martin brainstorms his plots and characters from his home in Lymm where he lives with his wife Helena, who he met at Oxford University, and two children, Jonathan and Catherine.

"I start out with a motive," he added.

"I imagine why someone - who could be a normally decent character - would commit this terrible crime.

"So I have the culprit and the victim and then I work backwards from there.

"Although I had to take a different approach when I was asked to complete The Lazarus Widow by Bill Knox, who sadly died before he finished the novel.

"I find crime fiction a very interesting thing to write about because there are so many different ways it can be developed.

"From historical to contemporary, rural to urban, whatever you're doing - there is so much potential in the crime fiction genre.

"For short stories, there's an even broader range of ideas you can experiment with."

While many authors choose to remain enigmatic, Martin is a credit to the writing community endeavouring to have as much contact with his fans and peers as possible.

He was a founding member of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers' Association and has been responsible for editing its annual crime anthology since 1996.

He said: "The Crime Writers' Association is a very good organisation and it's great to meet fellow writers because writing can be quite a solitary occupation.

"Authors like Ian Rankin contribute and we give lesser known writers a chance to get into the collection."

Martin is also well recognised in Cheshire and was recently invited to the opening of an exhibition about the county's writers at the Salt Museum in Northwich.

"It's always nice to get to events and be in contact with people. If they are interested in my writing then so much the better.

"I particularly like question and answer sessions and recently held an event for the Cheshire Women's Institute.

"It was really well organised and it was nice to be a part of that.

"What's more, it's always interesting to see the people from all over the world who read my blog and visit my website," added Martin.

Now, the Lymm author hopes to take his writing career to the next level by getting some of his stories on the small screen or even the cinema.

Martin said: "I've had various TV deals over the years and have scripts sat at my house but so far they have never made it on to the screen.

"Sadly, it's one of those things an author doesn't have any control over but it's an incentive to write better books so people will get to know your writing.

"That's one of the main reasons I write a blog - to connect to people."