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Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start writing?
Throughout my life, writing has been my steadfast companion. Sometimes, the act of writing was cathartic. Other times, writing provided an intimate way to connect with others around the globe. It also offered anonymity and a space where I could vent all without judgment. My English teachers consistently encouraged me to pursue writing professionally, but I didn't take the leap until much later in life. My Colleen Heenan series emerged from my writing to cope with the ongoing stress, frustration, and disappointment involved in victim advocacy work.
Do you write about true events?
My novels sometimes include cases inspired by real events. I'll reflect on a case or hear about one a detective handled, and I'll wonder what if she got angry instead of scared, or what if this person lived instead of died, or what if the perpetrator got his just desserts? Then, I go with it. I write like a magpie, picking up (stealing, if you insist) random things from everywhere and everyone to create characters, scenes and themes. A guy drinks root beer with breakfast? Stealing that. A college student brings her ferret to class, tucked away in her backpack? That'll show up in a book eventually.
Are the characters in your books based on real people?
Anyone who knows me or my husband will recognize the inspiration behind Garrett Corcoran, the old school Texas street cop with a booming laugh, who's possibly Frank Hamer reincarnated (only my husband never killed anyone). Many of my characters are inspired by others, but ultimately they're figments of my imagination or complex composites of many people I've encountered throughout my life and career.
Now, Sam and Sicario, while they never met, are the real deal.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
So many things! I love reading, of course! Food adventures, especially when combined with a spontaneous road trip. Cooking for loved ones. I have an offset smoker, so when it's not too hot outside, I do a lot of that. The process of smoking meat requires focus, but it's also relaxing and usually ends with something delicious. I also love fly fishing and drinking Irish whiskey, sometimes simultaneously.
Any advice for aspiring writers, especially older folks ?
In her book Late Bloomer, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés shared many thoughts that resonated with and motivated me to pursue writing full-time. The message for writers is this: the pen, the paper, the keyboard and screen don't care how old you are.
We're wired to create things. Whether it's music, poetry or prose, a birdhouse, a man-cave or she-shed, we humans are compelled to make stuff. So let it flow.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My all time favorite writer is Joseph Wambaugh. Wambaugh's nonfiction work, like The Blooding and Lines and Shadows, and The Onion Field read like novels, and they're unforgettable. With fiction, I'm drawn to horror, paranormal, and thrillers. During the pandemic, I stumbled upon an author named Marc Layton, who writes fun, spooky short stories about a paranormal investigator, and I devoured that series (start with The Taster). I've fallen in love with Catriona Ward's style. THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET and SUNDIAL will never leave me.
I enjoy crime fiction by straight shooters like John Sanford and Karin Slaughter. And there are books that will always stick with me: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Maid by Nita Prose, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and Thomas Harris' Red Dragon.