One of the best parts about Stonecoast, the MFA program I completed, was the opportunity to meet writers in other genres – fiction and poetry of course, but Stonecoast offers one of the nation's only MFA concentrations in popular fiction. Which is how a nonfiction writer like me got friendly with Karen Pullen. Karen's debut mystery novel, Cold Feet (published by Five Star Cengage), was released in hardback in January, and in ebook format last month. She's published stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Spinetingler, Every Day Fiction and anthologies, and teaches occasional workshops at Central Carolina Community College.
Please welcome Karen Pullen.
The typical mystery writer is a voracious reader who made her literary way from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and now devours Ruth Rendell, PD James, and Sue Grafton. She’s probably an introvert, a homebody, a mild soul. She owns cats. She’s a mom, a teacher, a social worker, a librarian. (No kidding, this description fits me and 90 percent of the mystery writers I know.)
Her only contact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system has been jury duty and her vote for a sheriff. She’s never been in a jail, known anyone who went to prison, compared fingerprints, interpreted blood spatter, or interviewed a “person of interest.”
But her readers expect and deserve authenticity, whether she’s writing about the FBI, evidence analysis, or the local police department.
So what’s a writer to do? How can she write convincingly of courtroom procedure, forensics, prison, DNA evidence, drug smuggling, human trafficking – with virtually no personal experience?
Lee Lofland – retired police investigator, author and consultant -- to the rescue. Four years ago, he organized Writers’ Police Academy.
A remote-controlled robot picked it up and carried it farther away, then a technician in a bomb suit laid a charge next to it, to be detonated remotely. Phew! We were safe, and wiser in the ways of bomb squads.