Meet the Men Behind Lt. Joe Crandall...

Heather here, and today to celebrate the release of Donnell’s debut, “The Past Came Hunting”, I’d love to introduce you to the heroes behind Donnell’s fictional hero, Lieutenant Joe Crandall.

Of course, we’ll withhold names to protect the innocents, but here’s how Donnell responded when I asked her about her inspiration for Lt. Joe:
DONNELL: I modeled Lt. Joe Crandall after a lieutenant I met while doing research, and then a commander I met in the Citizens Academy. They were unlike any television protagonist I’d ever met. They were real. Funny, compassionate and I could see how much they cared about people– they weren’t the muy macho guys you see on TV, the dysfunctional Dirty Harry guys. They were concerned about victims, wanted to do a good job and were stretched too thin doing it.
The first is a Lieutenant I went to talk to about arsenic, of all things, before I ever got involved in the CA or the victims advocacy, a program I volunteered with. He listened politely to my plot scenario as I explained how my antagonist was going to ground peach pits into the heroine’s wood press (she was a wood worker) to make arsenic to frame my protagonist. Anyway, he leaned back, kind of rubbed his chin and said, “Where does your story take place?” “Close to El Paso,” I replied. He said, “Why not have him go into Mexico and get it there? They don’t regulate controlled substances like they do in the US.”
After I recovered from blushing over my “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment, his common sense just blew me away.
Then the Commander was a man we, in the CA, were all excited about talking to us about vice and undercover narcotics. We expected a man in uniform. Instead he came in dressed in a tie-dyed T-shirt and jeans and said, “Am I hurting your eyes?” When the class replied, “Yes”, he said, “Good… none of you are on meth…” He was so funny, so human and down to earth, I just half-way fell in love with him and put these two guys together to create my cop protagonist. They were in charge, but still so approachable. I wanted to write about that kind of man.
If you have time, these are two articles I also drew from and are on my web page. The second one, “You’re Not a Cop Till You Taste Them,” was written by a Sgt. Bernie Moss, a bomb technician in Texas. His article was standard reading when I participated in my local sheriff office’s victim’s advocacy program. Sgt. Moss isn’t a writer. He was moved to write that article.
Based on my experiences working with my local law enforcement I was able to create a cop you won’t find on any television program or silver screen.
HEATHER: Donnell, thanks for that insight into Lt. Joe…It makes me even more excited to read his story for myself. And the article by Sgt. Moss? So moving… One final question: Do your real life Lieutenant and Commander know that you’ve based your hero on them?
DONNELL: Yes, they do, and I will be gifting each of them with a copy of “The Past Came Hunting”. So, Readers, here's Donnell's question for you: Do you think my villain should have used the wood press to make arsenic to frame my heroine or gone into Mexico to get it? I'm giving away a $10 B&N to one lucky person who comments during my debut week.

Please come back tomorrow to see what Angi has in store for our very own Donnell!


  1. I think it's a cool idea, Donnell. Ingenious. Not to say he has to use that arsenic. He could go to Mexico to get some, but maybe the heroine wouldn't do that and so to make her look culpable, he grinds the pits to leave trace evidence behind.

  2. I vote for Mexico, Donnell. I like to keep it real. Can't WAIT to read your story. I'm so excited for you! Love your cover, too.

  3. Donnell,
    Mexico is the lazier /easier /less creative way and it leaves him vulnerable to the person who sold it to him--though that person would be in Mexico--though, would there be a record of his crossing into Mexico and back that the cops could track?

    If he's a more anal, careful type of villain, I'm inclined to think he'd want control of the substance himself and do it himself--though of course, he wouldn't do it in his own home where he might leave some evidence--he's far to clever for that. He'd do it out in the woods where the likelihood of discovery would be low. It all depends upon which scenario fits with his personality best--IMO. Can't WAIT to read it!!!!

  4. Love the wood press idea, Donnell. Especially if she already has access to one.


  5. Ah, a bunch of writers in my mix. I think the good lieutenant I talked to was going by something I learned in doing my volunteer work. Criminals are basically shortcutters and lazy. Imagine if they put all that thinking into the private sector and not in a life of crime.

    However, for books you need something ingenious to keep readers reading. You are giving me a lot of great ideas here. Thank you!

  6. First, Donnell, congratulations on your release! I'm so happy for you.

    I'm inclined to agree that going across the border for arsenic leaves the potential for follow-up by detectives.

    Lastly, I'll chime in with you and agree (as a former police officer) that cops are real people. We've got bills, family troubles, and yes,...even hearts!

    Can't wait to read your book.

  7. Ah, Kathy, this means so much coming from you. For anyone whoever wants to write a cop protagonist, without sliding into their skin like Kathy, volunteer or enroll in the Citizens Academy. I promise you'll veer far away from stereotypes after that. Some of what is depicted is true, of course, but making them real is something I tried hard to do in THE PAST CAME HUNTING.

    Thank you for your service, Kathy. Hope you're enjoying retirement and your fabulous writing success!

  8. Hugs on the release, Donnell! LOVE the new title. I vote for the wood press as I love brilliant, crafty villains. Plus the idea that he is using -- almost defiling -- something that is probably very dear to Our Gal is so much more predatory and powerful.

  9. It's nice to have real life men to model your character on. These two sound great!

    Your book sounds great too. I hope you make many sales!

  10. Ooh, he should make it himself. It personalizes it and makes it more sinister.

    Congratulations on your debut! So excited and happy for you.

  11. (Posting for my Crested Butte chaptermate, Lisa Potocar who had technical difficulties posting.)

    There’s no debate for me: The wood press is wicked, but since you fell halfway in love with your Lieutenant, why not follow him to Mexico and see where else it leads? Oh, come on, people…I mean in terms of having dug up some delicious stuff for the Past Came Hunting! P.S. Have you read “The Chapter That Got Away” for this novel on Donnell’s website? If that got away, I can’t wait to see what didn’t!!!!

    I wish you the BESTEST of times for your release, Donnell!!!!!

    Lisa P.

  12. Oh, thanks everyone! Looks like the wood press is winning! :) Thanks for helping me celebrate. Gosh, that means so much!

  13. I vote for Mexico!

    Love your Hero Donnell and I can't wait to read the book!!

    Congratulations, Julie

  14. Burglar vs Thief
    Lazy Quick vs Thinking about the getting away with it

    One of the things I learned in my conversations with the police.


  15. I'm so happy for you Donnell. I love the sound of your hero. :)

  16. I have to go with Mexico. The guy's a murderer, maybe he'd kill whoever sold him the leaves. Done. Wouldn't have to worry about him then.

    For me, keeping it real is important. Congrats on the book and for listening to the experts.

  17. Donnell - I love that the first lieutenant helped you with your plot. That is awesome. I can't wait to read the entire book. I have reserved a day when the tot is in preschool to just snuggle up and get lost in your story!

  18. Julie: So noted LOL :) Thanks for stopping by!

    Yep, Angi, a thief is totally devious ... picture Val Kilmer or Robert Wagner in The Saint or It Takes a Thief..

    Toni, Thank you, and thanks for sharing my excitement!

    Jerrie, another Mexico person.... Interesting. You all are having me work harder!

    Joelle, yep, if that lieutenant hadn't sat across from me and given me a glimpse into his persona, Lt. Joe Crandall would never have happened. Yay for Max off to preschool!

  19. The villain would most certainly go to Mexico!
    Unless he's a patient villain, gringing peach pits.
    I never knew this, about peach pits. I'll probably never suck on a peach pit again . . .

  20. Great interview, Donnell, and congratulations on your debut release. I love how you've based your protagonist on two real-life men you've known. As citizens we owe so much to these dedicated police officers.

    Hmm, I think I'd have the antagonist go to Mexico. I like the danger and exoticism of traveling south of the border. Although grinding the pits and using them in the wood is intriguing and unique, it seems a lot is left to chance.

    May you have many, many sales for "The Past Came Hunting." BTW, great title!

  21. Suzanne and Jo, thanks so much! This has been a fun blog and an inspiration to my muse. I think I know precisely how I'm going to handle it :)

    Thanks so much for your good wishes and stopping by!

  22. Donnell, I'm so excited about your release! Arsenic from peach pitts? Who knew? I think Mexico is the easy way out for someone who isn't a woodworker...like the villian. However, if he's wanting to frame her, then the woodpress would do the trick. I vote woodpress.
    I hope your sales are through the roof!

  23. Donnell, congratulations on release week finally arriving! Can't wait to read about your Lt. Joe.

    And I agree with everyone else who said the wood press is the way to go... Theresa explained it well above. ;)

  24. Ah, June, thank you so much. Your opinion is noted ;) And what a nice thing to say about me needing a new roof LOL LOL. Hugs.

    Anne, that's going to make Theresa soooo happy. She loves being right . I'm so pleased you stopped by. (Note, I'm reading Anne Marie Becker's ONLY FEAR and she'll be a guest on Get Lost in a Story soon. Prepare to be VERY afraid. I sure am! And I don't scare easily.

  25. Donnell, it's wonderful that such important and busy men would lend their time to help you with your book. I can hardly wait to read it!

    I vote for Mexico also since the book takes place in El Paso, although the wood press would be a good way to pin it on her.

  26. Cathy, isn't it though. And you know what? Police officers are probably some of the most generous people around, if you haven't done something wrong, that is . Generally, if you request a ridealong, and I hope you do, they'll assign you to someone who likes to talk. Talk about storytellers. Some of these men and women are great... just look at Kathy Bennett who commented above. Her readers are comparing her to Sandra Brown!

    Yep, you're muse must be e-mailing my muse, Cathy! Thanks for stopping by!!

  27. Donelle, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of your book. Your characters sound interesting and fun!

    I am like you friend, why not just go to mexico or somewhere else to get the poison. I am lazy though, so the less I have to do the better! :)

  28. Welcome Donnell,
    Hmm, I think I'll go the Mexico route.

  29. Love the fact you worked hard not to make your characters a stereotype. I would have him go to Mexico because it can add another dimension the villain with, possibly, villains after him.

    Best of luck with your book. I can't wait to read it!

  30. Hi Donnell, congratulations on the release. I love your real heroes. They make me want to read about your Lt. Joe. Of course send the protagonist to Mexico. You know how I love to travel and use foreign settings.

  31. Woodpress all the way, baby! Congrats on your release! I'm so glad it's finally here!!! Can't wait to read...

  32. I'd go for the wood press. That makes the villain more ingenious and the hero more bad ass for catching them.

    abbydillon16 AT yahoo DOT com

  33. Happy release week, Donnell! So happy for you and wishing you many sales. The Past Came Hunting is a wonderful, suspenseful ride with a great kickass herione. I highly recommend it!

  34. Congrats on your new release! I vote the wood press thing, I think it would add more to the story.

  35. I love the idea of the wood press, but I know either way, your story will rock! Congratulations!!!

  36. I've always found that law enforcement types have devious imaginations :) Glad your guy helped you with yours! Congrats on your release week!

  37. Oh, my goodness, I've been out and about and came to see all your well wishes. Thanks, everyone. Hmmm. Wonder if I can put the wood press IN Mexico. :) Happy reading and writing!

  38. Donnell - your two models for the book definitely sound like real-life hero material. I love that you blended both to get Joe.

    My vote: the wood press. It shows your villain is intelligent, devious, and obsessed.


  39. I adore heroes who know how to lead and take charge but still remain down to earth with a sense of humour. It makes them that much more real.

    I would go with the wood press because it seems harder. Mexico sounds like a logical choice so in that sense it might too easy. But either choice would work as now I'm intrigued with the story.