Thrillwriting interview

I was interviewed yesterday by Fiona Quinn who runs the immensely valuable Thrillwriting blog where she helps “writers write it right.”

Fiona wanted to talk to me about being an investigative reporter, and since I’ve had some experience along those lines, I thought maybe I could provide her with some insight that might be worthwhile to novelists seeking to toss a newspaper reporter into their story.

Fiona provides all sorts of useful information to novel writers. She offers some primers on the use of weapons, she shows video of how easy it is to get out of duct tape handcuffs (if your plotline includes someone being tied up in duct tape, your plot had also better include that person freeing themselves with relative ease) and she’s even got a post about using tampons as survival tools.

She also regularly interviews experts in a variety of fields, and these folks offer insight into what their jobs are like (hence, me being interviewed about what it’s like to be an investigative reporter).

She provides a good bit of information about homicide scenes, investigative techniques from law enforcement and things of that nature.

Certainly I am no expert, but in my career I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes, covered a lot of murder trials and gone along with sheriff’s deputies, investigators and especially with Sheriff Howard Sills as they solved crimes, and I can say that everything I’ve read on Fiona’s blog corresponds accurately with the things I’ve witnessed.

She offers good information.

So, if you’re a writer of crime fiction or thrillers – or even if you just have an interest in law enforcement procedures – Thrillwriting is a great blog to bookmark and visit regularly. The information Fiona provides will keep you from looking like an idiot.

I’m really grateful to Fiona for reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to talk a little about being an investigative reporter, and I hope the information becomes useful to other writers. I believe the interview is scheduled to appear on her blog late in September.

She did ask me one question that sort of threw me during the conversation. She asked about movies I’ve seen or books I’ve read where the hero was an investigative reporter, and she wanted to know what they got right or got wrong.

I don’t watch that many movies, and I can’t remember ever reading a book where the hero was a reporter. But now that the interview is over, three movies come to my mind: Deadline – USA with Humphrey Bogart (honestly, this is how I picture myself as I go about my day); The Paper with Michael Keaton (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to stack up a couple of bundles of newspapers in my editor’s office and fire my revolver into the bundles); and finally All the President’s Men with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Woodward unraveling Watergate.

In general, and forgiving the dramatic flairs necessary to make the films exciting and appealing to movie-goers, I would say that those three movies probably correspond fairly closely with the kinds of things I’ve encountered in my career.

However, I will say this, I have never once – in anything other than a joke – ever heard anyone yell, “Stop the presses!”

But I did once have an editor threaten to kill me if a city audit did not show evidence of theft of government money, and I think she was fairly serious. There are a lot of things I miss about working for Judy Bailey.

Anyway, if you’re a writer interested in using an investigative reporter in your story and you’d like to contact me and ask me questions, please feel free. I’d be happy to answer questions for anyone who has an interest.

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