I’m a writer at heart, always have been. I wrote my first story, fifty-six pages handwritten, when I was bored in Mrs. Smith’s sixth-grade math class. I continued through high school, college, and continued when I joined the City of Charleston Police Department, Charleston, South Carolina.
At CPD I served in patrol, the Civil Disturbance Unit, as a Negotiator on the Crisis Negotiation Team, and as a Narcotics Detective. Every day no matter the assignment I had my notebook either in my hand or riding with me in the car. I filled notebook after notebook with ideas, plots, experiences I’d want to use later, etc. Problem was, I couldn’t execute. I’d write and think, plot, and write some more, but I couldn’t put a novel together.
This carried on as I transitioned from local law enforcement to federal when I joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. With the FBI I completed assignments at the Hoover Building, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and the Buffalo Field Office where I was on both the Career Criminal Task Force (CCTF) and the Foreign Counterintelligence Squad (CI). Out of Quantico, I was assigned to the CCTF but I was curious about the intelligence side of the house and had to give it a try when the opportunity arose. While with the FBI I also got the opportunity to join the Evidence Response Team (ERT). Here is where my fascination with forensics started. The documentation, photography, sketches, and intricacies of taking sometimes minute pieces of data from a scene and telling the story of what happened to either refute or corroborate a witness, victim, or suspect’s statement was what really drew me to the discipline. I enjoyed the crime scene assignment so much that I eventually earned my master’s degree in Forensic Science through the University of Florida’s School of Pharmacy. That wasn’t until later though, after I left the FBI for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Ask an FBI agent about an agent leaving the bureau for another agency and they’ll tell you it doesn’t happen. No one leaves the Bureau. Well, not “no one.” It was nothing against the Bureau, it was a great agency that treated me really well. I worked on some cool, very complex cases, and they were incredibly family-friendly. But I’d had some buddies from the PD days who were traveling the globe doing the same thing I was in Buffalo, New York. For my wife and I, early thirties, no kids, same gig just with international travel thrown in, the move was a no-brainer.
I traded Buffalo for Pensacola, Florida and found that the spectrum of cases I could work with NCIS was not only broader than the FBI but also afforded me a lot more experience working crime scenes. With NCIS I was on the Major Case Response Team (same as the FBI ERT), and I spent three years with the Contingency Response Field Office (CRFO). CRFO was a volunteer unit of agents who deployed to contingency areas around the world in support of active-duty Navy and Marine Corps commands. I traveled to Nine different countries to include the Middle East and Africa during that time. And I gained a massive appreciation for the sacrifice eighteen to twenty-something Americans were willing to make in defense of their country.
It was during this time that I completed grad school. I would get into the office (wherever that happened to be at the time) two hours before work to get my research and writing completed for school. I did that for two years straight. When I got done, diploma secured in a box somewhere (now that I think about it I still haven’t hung that thing up), I realized that was what I was missing in my writing. All this time I was still writing, jotting down ideas, plotting, but still with no completed story. When I finished my degree, I had all this time in my day and nothing to fill it with. That hole in my schedule became a game-changer.
I took my early morning “school time” and made it dedicated “writing time.” With a goal of five hundred words a day I outlined my first novel, Shattered Circle, an urban fantasy/police procedural, and in about eight months I had a completed first draft. I couldn’t believe it; I was actually surprised I had finished it. And I never stopped. After Shattered Circle came a string of crime thrillers: Brother’s Keeper, Spoilers, Where Angels Sing (Spoilers #2). Then I lost my mind and had it in my head that I had to do a high fantasy novel. In my mind, I saw Die Hard in a castle which turned into Wraith of Sheltermount. It was a lot of fun, but wow when you spend eight hours researching horse terminology for a four-page scene, you’re ready to run back to the real world. The swords and shield itch is still there but to date, I haven’t been suckered back down that rabbit hole. I followed Wraith with a return to the Shattered Circle universe, I had a vision of a witch hunting a hellhound, and a detective that didn’t buy any of it and I had to see how it played out. Acquisitor (Shattered Circle #2) is pending publication with Valhalla Books. Not letting off the gas following Acquisitor, I opened the door to a series I’d had rattling around in my head for a while. Since NCIS is stationed all over the world I thought an NCIS agent would provide the perfect backdrop for novels set in all sorts of exotic locations. East African Blindside will follow Special Agent Tyrone Benhoff as he tackles a homicide in rural Zimbabwe and finds himself in the middle of a bloody Ivory trade turf war. BLOOD RED IVORY will be my first book with WildBlue Press and I’m really excited to see what you all think.