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Sunday, June 7, 2009

How Does an Old Lady Like You Presume to Write Police Procedurals?


Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, the latest Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

She is a member of EPIC, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com


Trailer for No Sanctuary -

Trailer for Kindred Spirits -

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Website: http://fictionforyou.com


HOW DOES AN OLD LADY LIKE YOU PRESUME TO WRITE POLICE PROCEDURALS?
by
Marilyn Meredith

No one has actually come out and put that question into words, but I have seen it several folks’ eyes. I have been asked if I was in law enforcement at one time. The answer to that one is “no.” And I am not writing about me in any shape or form.

What first got me interested in writing about people in law enforcement was my son-in-law who was an officer for the Oxnard CA P.D. My daughter didn’t like hearing his stories, so every morning after he got off the night shift, he’d come to our house for coffee and tell me his exciting stories. I went on a ride-along with him after promising not to mention to anyone that I was his mother-in-law. This was in the days before seat-belt laws and riding with him was not only enlightening it was a bit on the scary side. When he chased after a burglar he made me come along with him, because, as he said, “How’re you going to know what it’s like if you don’t come along?”

When we moved to the foothills, I went on a couple of more ride-alongs with the Porterville P.D. The first was with a brand new officer he forbade me to get out of the car. The second was with the only female officer at the time and she was great. It was Saturday night and she did bar checks and let me follow her around. When she was through in a bar, she’d holler out, “Did anyone see the little old lady who came in with me?” Everyone always pointed at me. (Not so great for my ego.) She also went to a family dispute—I stayed in the car for that one. Her Sergeant showed up and asked me if I’d heard anything. He listened at the door and all was quite. He told me she did a wonderful job calming down volatile situations. From about 2:30 a.m. until 6, she didn’t get a single call. As we patrolled the streets, she told me so much: the difficulties of being the only woman in the department as well as being a single mom.

I interviewed the female resident deputy for our area and she told me many of the same problems she had being the only woman working with so many men.

When I met a lovely Native woman who told me all about growing up on the reservation, I began to get the idea for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. Tempe, a Native American, is the resident deputy of Bear Creek which bears a striking resemblance to the foothill community where I live. We are located close to the Tule River Indian Reservation which also makes several appearances in different Tempe books as well as those who reside there. In the latest, Kindred Spirits,
Tempe travels to Crescent City to learn more about a murder victim and finds out a lot about the travails of the Tolowa people.

Coming in the fall, Dispel the Mist, Tempe has a close encounter with the Tule River Indian legend of the Hairy Man who bears a close resemblance to Big Foot..

Rocky Bluff P.D. is located in a fictional beach community on the coast with a slight resemblance to Carpenteria CA and Oxnard in earlier times. The characters in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series are law enforcement officers and their families. Though the same characters appear in more than one book, the focus changes for each one. A romance began to develop in Smell of Death between Detective Doug Milligan and Officer Stacey Wilbur. In the latest, No Sanctuary,
things between the two heat up a bit as Stacey helps Doug investigate the murder of a popular minister’s wife.

My goal in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is to show how the job affects the family and what goes on in the family also affects the job.

In both series, each book stands alone and it’s not necessary to read them in order. Some of the earlier Rocky Bluff P.D. books can only be ordered from my website, http://fictionforyou or through Kindle. The Tempe books are available from me, on the Kindle, Amazon, or the publishers’ sites.

Back to the main question, how do I presume to write police procedurals? Besides what I’ve told you, I also belong to the Public Safety Writers Association http://www.publicsafetywriter.com and many of the members are active or retired law enforcement and quite willing to answer all my questions. And the bottom line is, I’m writing fiction—and stories that I hope will entertain the reader.


6 comments:

Pat Browning said...

Hi, Marilyn:
Great post. Love hearing about your early days with Tempe.
All the best to you and Hap,
Pat Browning

Earl Staggs said...

Marilyn, I love your youthful spirit and enthusiasm. I think you should continue writing full speed ahead for another 50 years. Then you can slow down a little.

F. M. Meredith, author said...

Hi, Pat--we miss you. We had so much fun when you joined us in San Luis Obispo.

Earl, I don't intend to slow down until I have to.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Vicki Lane said...

Interesting post, Marilyn -- you give me the courage to go and find out about doing a ride along/

Meredith Cole said...

Keep on keeping on Marilyn! You're right--it's fiction. And you certainly did your research (I love your description of your ride-alongs!).

Ken Lewis said...

Hi, Marilyn:

If you're ever in the Rogue River area, I would be happy to take you on a ride along. You'd have to sign our waiver first, stating that if you get hurt or killed while you're with us you won't sue the city, but after that, we'd be off. My weirdest call (so far) this week was on Monday just before 1pm. I was called to back up Oregon State Police on a suicidal subject at Valley of The Rogue State Park on I-5, four miles from our city. The only problem was I was the first unit on the scene and ran smack dab into the subject who was at a pay phone (yes, we still have a few of those here!) talking with the 911 dispatcher and slicing himself with a razor blade as I pulled up. He told the dispatcher, "I see a police officer...he's getting out of his car" and the dispatcher told him to "stay on the phone" but at the same time I had drawn my gun and was yelling at the guy to raise his hands and step away from the phone booth! You can imagine how confused the poor guy was, what with already wanting to kill himself, and I couldn't figure why he was shouting back at me, with his hands in the air, "I can't! I can't!" What he was really doing was shouting to the now dangling phone receiver and the dispatcher "I can't!" (stay on the phone). Anyhow, I "proned" him out...made him lay on his stomach on the hot pavement while I handcuffed him...and because he didn't have a shirt on, he was squirming around like a frog in a hot skillet when the three OSP units roared up, lights and sirens blazing. So, yeah, if you're ever in my neighborhood let's go for a ride. It'll be fun!