As a boy, I used to read everything around the house. My mother owned a small library of classic novels, which was full of literary gems like Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth & 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Herman Wouk’s Caine Mutiny, collections of Sherlock Holmes, and others. Of course, having a small library of great books in the house isn’t enough to entice a hyperactive boy to read them. So what made me want to read these old books?
I read them because I was always diving into trouble. I did typical boy things, like setting off smoke bombs in school to trigger evacuations so I could avoid tests. Spankings didn’t work on me, so my mother grounded me for days on end. Now keep in mind–this was before the days of PlayStation, the internet, and HD cable and blu-ray, so those stints of house arrest were torturous. To keep from dying of boredom, I read many of those classic books in my mother’s library and wrote short stories to entertain myself.
As I grew older, I came to enjoy reading. My tastes in books changed; I started reading gritty and thought-provoking books, where the stories were simple but the characters rich and compelling and whose actions made me contemplate situations in my own life. I remembered reading Cujo by Stephen King, and was fascinated by how he took a simple premise of a rabid dog and made it terrifying. I was even more amazed when I read his Green Mile, which was so different from his horror tales. I immersed myself in Ann Rule’s true crime novels and Donald Goines’ vivid portrayals of urban living. I also couldn’t get enough of crime shows like Forensic Files, and various police procedurals & documentaries that highlighted FBI behavioral profiling and other investigative techniques.
While I always enjoyed writing short stories, it was a violent crime hitting close to home that inspired me to write my first book, a murder mystery about an Atlanta homicide detective. After a close relative was murdered, I was very interested in how the assigned detectives investigated the case and how they handled our family dynamic and our constant questions. It was particularly stressful for us as we realized things didn’t work as they did on television shows, where key evidence is always discovered or processed quickly, or the perps always receive long sentences for the crimes they actually committed.
I needed to write a story where none of those elements were in play. I wanted to write about the emotions a detective and the victims’ relatives may experience. At the same time, I wanted to create a story that sets up the premise for more stories to come. Partners in Crime, my first book (and certainly not my last), is an off-and-on, ten-year culmination of those efforts. The journey was long, painful, fun, expensive, full of setbacks, but very rewarding. Yes, that may sound contradictory, but as any writer knows, one has to pour his or her heart, soul, spirit, body, and focus into completing a book. Once that journey is finished, it is well worth it to have a reader say that they enjoyed the story.