Please welcome to the blog...
Tell us about your journey to become a published author?
I have been a blogger writing about issues in police work and firefighting. I have a professional career that has encompassed being both a police officer and firefighter. People have always said I am a good storyteller and need to write a book. So when I was off work with an injury, I sat down and authored a mystery novel.
What sparked the idea for this series?
I saw an interview with Joseph Wambaugh talking about how he used his time with the LAPD to help write stories about Police in LA. It got me thinking about some of the series I read. Then it dawned on me that the first city I worked in could be a great place for a series. There are many incidents and people I know that can be twisted and turned into fiction.
Tell us about your latest release.
Fire Cop is a fictional story about Officer Ben Graystock who is stressed out about a local drug dealer. Eventually, he decides to try something extreme to facilitate busting this dealer--setting his house on fire. The plan does not work out, so he sets more fires.
Officer Stu Thompson is tasked with investigating the fires. He is also best friends with Graystock. This allows the arsonist to keep tabs on the investigation into his crimes. After people start to die in the fires the pressure is on for Officer Thompson to solve this case and prevent the next death.
Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.
This is an easy problem to solve with a gallon of gas and a highway flare.
Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.
My writing space is anyplace my MacBook will sit. Often times it is the kitchen counter. As for a routine. I work a day shift from 8am - 4pm. Then by 4:30pm I am at CrossFit for a workout. Home by 5:30pm to eat then play with the kids till their bed time. Once they goto bed I set up my laptop in the kitchen and start writing. Typically I spend a minimum of two hours writing. Then might watch one television show. Before bed I will read typically for an hour. However when a book is good I might stay up later turning pages till my eyes get to heavy to keep open.
What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?
A reviewer from NetGalley said, “The characters are solid and the story line is something new I haven't seen before. I couldn't help but root for the arsonist at times, couldn't even guess at how it all would end."
This review vindicated the gamble in the style I took. I did not want to do a typical "who did it" mystery. This book equally tells the story of how the criminal does his crimes and the investigations. Even if it is not a "who done it" one read still was wondering about the outcome from the case.
What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?
As a police officer I write ALOT of police reports. My writing is described as reading like a police report. One agent asked to read the full manuscript. Later he emailed me that it was an amazing read but not one he was able to represent. He said it would take too many re-writes to take it from technical report to commercial story.
I was both bummed and happy. The feedback pointed me in the right direction to improve. However, it still was a rejection. His advice helped in my next revision that was ultimately accepted by a small press indie publisher for printing.
What is the high point of your career, so far?
Coming home from work to see a box on my front porch knowing it had the first print run of my book. Opening that box and seeing the stack of books is something I can't put into words.
What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?
"Working on book two. I have multiple ideas and could not pick which one to do as the second book. Then when I was half way done with it I realized I was going down the wrong path with the story. Also a discussion with an author acquaintance of mine caused me to realize someone important in the story needed to die. That death would put me on the path this story is missing.
I have yet to write that death. Everything around that death is written but I just can't bring myself to put that chapter on paper. This character is someone I had plans for and thought would have an arch over a few books. Yet that death then becomes more meaningful, if it hurts me, it should make some readers feel something also.
Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.
Time's Up by Janey Mack. It is the most fun read I have had in the last year. Seriously, it is like nothing I have read in a long time. The protagonist is a meter maid. Someone who wanted to be a police officer but could not make it, so took the next best job.
Other than the original plot is the way it is written. Janey has a sarcasm in her writing that is just fun to read.
What’s next on your writing journey?
Finish up book two. Over half way done, just need to wrap up some lose ends and edit it.
I know I need to learn more about the craft of writing. Got a few conferences I want to go to to learn more. Also willing to teach other writers about what I know, being a police officer. I will be at the 2016 Writers Police Academy teaching some topics on Investigations.
What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?
The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers.
Best advice I got was to just get ideas out of the head and onto paper. Write what ever is in your head now. Get it down. Worry about the editing, you can edit later when it is time to edit. "
How can we find you online?
Please check out RJ’s books here…