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!