I took time off writing novels to focus on my day job these last couple of years. But I’m back now, with a new book off to my agent, and two more at the “almost done” phase to be completed this year.* It’s fun to be back writing regularly again, and it scares me a little how many ideas I have for new books popping up every day.
So someone asked me recently if my renewed writing schedule means I’m going to quit my job and write full time. My usual answer is, “Yes, when the Publisher’s Clearing House van pulls in front of my house,” (I may already be a winner. I have emails that say so.)
But there’s a reason beside money that keeps me working, and that’s the specifics of what I do. I’m a television producer in the true crime genre. I’ve worked on episodes of Forensic Files, After the First 48, Deadline Crime with Tamron Hall and many more. It is, at times, a very cool job. I’ve been to prisons, police stations, crime scenes, and forensic labs. I’ve talked to cops and prosecutors, victim’s families and convicted killers.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also spent a lot of time sitting at a desk in front of my computer trying to write scripts, or answer questions from the lawyers who need to make sure that everything we say is accurate. Or sitting in an edit bay watching the same thirty seconds of footage again and again to make sure it works for the show.
My Kate Conway books are a reflection of what the work is like – but only to a point. I very rarely get targeted by people for the work I do. I’m assuming. At least no one has killed me so far.
And here’s what I’ve learned from real crime. It sucks. Families are destroyed on both sides, and often the person responsible doesn’t really care. He only cares about himself, his lack of great prison food, or the few visitors he’s getting. One man, who bashed his friend’s head in with a hammer, told me he hated prison because he was, “in here with murderers.” Um…
I’ve also learned that people who have lost their loved ones, or had loves ones kill, often do extraordinary things. They reach out to others who are going through the same thing, they push for new laws for stricter sentencing, for mental health funding or victim’s rights. They form organizations to help those in need. And mostly, they live and love and keep waking up every day to a world they know first hand is imperfect.
It’s fascinating to be invited into these people lives. And, even when the million dollar check arrives from Publisher’s Clearinghouse, I won’t quit TV. But after a few years away from writing novels, I also know that I can’t quit that either. So I’m glad to be coming back and I hope you will be too.
*News in the coming months about the specifics of all the new projects. I promise!