By way of introduction, I'm one of those people who thought he knew what he wanted to do fairly early in life ... which was to be a biochemist.
In retrospect, I have no idea why.
As it turned out, after graduating from Grossmont (CA) High School, and spending an interesting year as part of the first freshman class at U.C.S.D., I transferred to the University of California Riverside campus and finally did manage to acquire a B.S. degree in biochemistry.
But thanks to a fateful judo accident (not to mention an ultimately successful 2-year effort to talk Gena, my best friend, into getting married after I graduated, which meant I really needed a full-time job), I ended up being hired as a deputy sheriff/criminalist with the Riverside County (CA) Sheriff's Department.
And that, in turn, led to night school in Los Angeles, a transfer to the San Bernardino County (CA) Sheriff's Department Crime Lab, a beautiful and delightful little daughter, a MS degree in criminalistics, an opportunity to set up a Scientific Investigation Bureau for the Huntington Beach (CA) Police Department, 12 years of homicide/rape/robbery/ burglary crime scenes ... and then an opportunity to set up the first full service crime lab for national and international wildlife law enforcement in (of all places) Ashland, Oregon.
And along the way, I managed to write and sell a fiction book.
The book was titled BALEFIRE, the story of a professional terrorist sent out to destroy the city of Huntington Beach, CA (where, as you may recall from an earlier paragraph, I ran the PD crime lab), as a demonstration against the coming 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. To my utter amazement --- and realistically, thanks to Bantam's marketing --- the book got on the NY list for a couple of weeks, and all of a sudden I was a real, honest-to-goodness fiction author.
Just like I was a real, honest-to-goodness cop and forensic scientist.
You see, for all these many years, my cop buddies have been cheerfully assuring me that I'm too much of a scientist to be a good cop. And my scientist buddies have been equally persistent in assuring me that I'm too much of a cop to be a good scientist.
So much for the buddy system.
But in the process of trying to figure what I was supposed to be doing with my professional career, such as it was, I discovered that working crime scenes turned out to be wonderful training for 'getting into the skins' of fiction characters. And forensic science offers a ready source of gory technical tricks and twists to add to the plots. And it really isn't all that hard to write a fiction book. All you have to do is come up with a reasonable plot & set of characters, find 600 hours or so of free time, force yourself to sit down in front of the computer on a regular basis ... and then get lucky enough to find a cooperative publisher.
So I did the predictable husband/author thing, and managed to talk Gena into cooking most of the meals, and cleaning most of the house, and shooing most of the horses and cows back into the pasture ... proceeded to write a few more 'thriller' novels [THE ALCHEMIST, DIGGER (which I rewrote as CHEATER), PREY, WILDFIRE, DOUBLE BLIND, FIRST EVIDENCE, OUTER PERIMETER, IN EXTREMIS and FINAL DISPOSITION] ... and recently finished my latest one, CHIMERA.
Actually, it really wasn't quite as easy as I described. The hard part was convincing Gena that writing these books would make us moderately rich, which would mean --- in my version of the fantasy --- that we could travel to far distant lands to research more books and she could hire someone to go find our horses and cows. I figured she might buy that idea because, as we all know, forensic scientists are sworn to tell the truth.
Unfortunately, my dear wife is 1) a forensic scientist herself, and 2) someone who recognizes bull???? when she sees/hears it (which may have something to do with all that cow-shooing expertise). So I had to promise to share the cooking, cleaning and cow-shooing duties, and help weed her gardens in between book projects ... which has turned out to be a pretty continuous project. Never realized that a couple of acres could grow so many weeds.
Gotta get going on that next book!