As a reader, I’ve had a lifelong love affair with books. As an author, not nearly so long, but no less passionate. Holding a novel I wrote creates a sense of fulfillment I didn’t expect to find. My Author’s World has expanded with new opportunities, challenges, and friendships, even extending into other countries. The connections, what I refer to as circles within circles, have been amazing.
When I was approached to join a group of authors in launching a new book venture to promote mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction, it didn’t take much to spark my interest. I was even intrigued by the name Mystery Review Crew.
The opportunity to work with renown authors, Lauren Carr, Kari Bovée, C.S. McDonald, JC Gatlin and Shelley Blanton-Stroud, added to my excitement. The talent of these diverse writers is genuinely inspiring.
Adding to the mix was an exceptional individual I came to know during the social media promotions of my books, Operation Navajo and Deadly Business. Kimberly Werntz would manage the new Mystery Review Crew website and social media advertising.
OMG, how could it get any better? What writer, in full possession of one’s mental faculties, which I like to think I am, would say no? I didn’t, and now, here I am with my first post for the Mystery Review Crew blog. What fun.
Who am I then?
A retired cop who said yes on another occasion, a phone call in 2013. A call that turned my life in a different direction. Writing wasn’t on my horizon after retiring from the Dallas Police Department. In fact, I started an accident reconstruction business. A California television producer looking for a Texas accident investigator had found my website. A new reality TV series was in the works that dealt with unsolved mysteries. It was undoubtedly a foretelling for the future, though I didn’t know it at the time.
The first episode dealt with the conspiracy theory surrounding the death of a famous witness to the Kennedy assassination. In 1966, Lee Bowers Jr. was killed in a vehicular crash south of Dallas. Since his death, conspiracy theorists had claimed Bowers was killed because of what he saw on that fateful day at Dealey Plaza.
The producer needed an expert to talk about the crash. At first, I was reluctant since I knew nothing about the collusion. I finally agreed to take a look at the material. It didn’t take long to realize everyone had the wrong location, including Geraldo Rivera. In the 1990s, Rivera broadcast a television show about the crash that killed Bowers. An investigator stood on a highway south of Dallas, pointing to a section of a bridge. The only problem was that in 1966, the bridge didn’t even exist, let alone the highway. The state didn’t purchase the land to expand the narrow, two-lane county road until after Bowers’ death.
Now, they had my attention. Could I find the actual location, or did it even still exist? I became so interested in the project, I expanded my research into what cannot be described in any other terms than a cold case reconstruction of the crash and subsequent events. When I finished, I had enough material for a book. JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy was my first publication.
After publishing the Bowers’ book, I joined Goodreads, where I came across an individual in the UK who conducted a monthly short story contest. He’d post a new picture, and contestants had to write a 500-word story about it. At the end of the year, he published the winning stories. As I had enjoyed the process of writing the Bowers’ book, I thought, why not. It might be interesting.
The picture that month was of a tattered, broken doll standing in a decrepit room with skulls scattered about. Since the doll was a Halloween prop, it would be easy to make it the malevolent entity in a book. Captivated by the image, I wondered if I could put a different spin on the creepy, evil-looking doll. I wrote a story, Not Dead, Not Dead. To my amazement, I won third place. To say I was hooked was an understatement. I discovered writing stories was a lot more fun than accident reconstruction. The rest, as the old saying goes, is history.
I write about what I know, cops and crimes and have published six books. My novels have been described as escapist thrillers, often based on actual incidents, crimes, and criminals.
My twenty-two years of law enforcement experience, patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, SWAT tactical officer, and first female sniper with the Dallas Police Department is my inspiration source. Believe me, it’s endless.
In an interview, I was asked how much of me is in my books. My answer was, “OMG, a whole lot.” Whether it’s a foot chase in a railroad yard, a hyped-up drug addict, a SWAT hostage standoff, an out-of-control eighteen-wheeler, or something as simple as a ‘hook book,’ it’s in my stories.
In my debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, I created a special FBI team, the elite of the elite, Trackers. To date, I have published four standalone Tracker novels. While I use the concept of a group of characters who appear in all the books, a different agent takes center stage in each one. It’s a writing style I not only enjoy reading but also writing. In addition to the FBI Tracker novels, I’ve also written two books involving Texas law enforcement agencies. One of which was inspired by that first short story, Not Dead, Not Dead.
Cops and crime, that’s my forte. The other is investigations. Behind each story are many hours of research. Case in point, an action scene involving the Federal Reserve in Wyoming. It’s why I’ve added a section titled: The Story Behind the Fiction at the end of the book. This is where I get to share the inspiration and facts for the plot and characters with the reader. Whether it’s a bill signed into law by the Texas Governor, World War II Navajo Code Talkers, or Special Rangers, there’s something for everyone.
In my future Mystery Review Crew blogs, I’ll share tidbits of ‘cop talk’ along with other thought-provoking details about mysteries and writing. I have an inherent investigative curiosity that leads me in many directions. It’s why I so enjoy talking about books, plots, and characters. And it doesn’t matter if they are mine or another author. That’s the fun of it all.
If you have a question or a comment, please let me know. I’m always “On The Hunt “ for new ideas.
Until next time, take care and stay safe.
Anita Dickason is a retired police officer with a total of twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience, twenty-two with Dallas PD. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.