Your police background and knowledge bring great authenticity to your stories. Are there any scenes in Code of Courage or any of your other novels that you had to veer from true-to-life police procedures because it would be giving too much information away that needs to stay protected? Are there any police procedures or elements of the job that are completely made-up in your stories?
As far as procedures go, I really try to stay completely accurate and true to life. I may tweak things to make the action move smoothly, but I never want to make it so unbelievable that it is not plausible. And nothing in my novels could be considered secret nor would I ever try to “expose” police procedures. So much is online, so much of police work must be transparent nowadays. I want my stories to be realistic and suspenseful.
How do the investigative timelines in your stories match up to real-life investigations? What was the longest case you worked on when you were on the police force?
My timelines do move faster than real life. I have to do that because I write suspense. Real life is boring at times. Especially in police work, there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” None of that would work in a suspense novel.
I only worked cases in juvenile; none were long and drawn out.
Police procedural shows and novels are popular, so much so that I would imagine many people think they understand the ins and outs of a typical day on the force. Are there any myths about police or police procedures you’ve tried to dispel in your stories? If so, which ones? And if you haven’t done so in your stories, is there a myth you’d like to bust now?
A few things bother me about cop shows on TV—one is the way the women detectives dress, another is the penchant for officers to run off alone and violate every tenet of officer safety, and one more is how quickly on-screen officers draw their weapons. First off, in real life, women dress to do their jobs. I’ve never met a woman who could run in six-inch heels. Second, officer safety is drilled into you in the academy. Running off on your own is unsafe and should not be done. And third, officers can only draw their weapon if they perceive a real threat to their life or the life of someone else. I see on TV cops shoving their guns in people’s faces, drawing their weapon when no threat exists, and it just bugs me.
How much are your characters based on your real-life experiences?
There is a little bit of my life in police work in every character. No one character is based on any one person, but bits and pieces of coworkers and places are in all my novels. While in uniform I experienced two riots firsthand. I tried to make the riot scenes in Code of Courage as realistic as possible. I’ve arrested murderers, drunk drivers, burglars, robbers, and drunk people. I try to make the arrests in my novels as realistic as possible. My first book, Accused, came about because while I worked juvenile, a minor was arrested for killing a crossing guard. I saw the kid in booking and thought he looked so normal. The what-if questions led me to the story of a kid arrested for murder, and only the juvenile detective who books him believes that he is innocent.
Just for fun: In Code of Courage, Danni travels to Hawaii for some downtime after she’s injured in the line of duty. If readers could visit Danni on Hawaii and see her favorite spot there, where would she be taking them?
She would take them to the Mauna Lani Beach Club for some awesome snorkeling. Then they would have lunch at an amazing restaurant called Napua.
Just for fun: We’re riding along with Danni while she’s on one of her cases. We’re needing some afternoon caffeine to keep us going. Where does Danni stop so we can grab coffee?
A nice mom-and-pop coffee shop with a wide selection of beans from all over the world. The drip blend is hot and fresh and there is a mouthwatering selection of homemade pastries.
Just for fun: Danni and Gabe have the day off, and Champ has a lot of energy to burn. Where do Danni and Gabe decide to go on an outdoor adventure with Champ?
The beach walk in Huntington Beach. A portion there is a designated dog beach. They would go there and let Champ off the leash to play in the waves.