My mom cried the day I told her I wanted to be a cop. She’d always hoped that I would choose something safe, like becoming a librarian. It wasn’t an unreasonable supposition based on the number of books I devoured as a kid. I used to read by flashlight under the covers well into the night. Most kids got grounded, I had my books taken away. It was hell.
When my family moved to California, we settled in a little burg known as the San Fernando Valley. Like, Ohmygod! Totally. Valley girls surrounded me. Fresh from the woods of Bucks County, PA, I thought these girls were the most exotic creatures on earth. It took a couple of years before I realized that intelligence was not built on a foundation of cracking gum and feigned ennui.
I fell into law enforcement after a process of eliminating professions I knew were beyond my patience: bookkeeping, professional knitter and the like. Plus, there were two deputies who came into the office where I was the bookkeeper (irony, anyone?). Seemed we had two things beloved by cops the world over: hot coffee and clean bathrooms. Three if you count the two impressionable women who worked there. After a couple of ride-alongs, I was hooked.
Serendipity stepped in when I called Santa Barbara to inquire about openings and was told that the department was holding an orientation that night…. Fourteen years later, I tired of the California rat race and headed to Paris to finish my undergraduate degree. From there, Colorado seemed a good fit. One trip over Red Mountain and into Durango cinched it. Yeah, I took grief over being a California transplant, but the Texans got it worse.
I started as a slick-sleeve despite my experience and I promoted to sergeant, skipped lieutenant and attained the rank of captain. I ran DPD’s evidence room, records bureau, hiring and recruitment, internal affairs, community programs, and a little thing called the investigative unit. Oh, and my name frequently appeared in the newspaper as the department’s spokeswoman.
The highlight of my career was being accepted at the FBI National Academy—an eleven-week executive leadership program in Quantico, VA. If you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs, you’ve seen Quantico. I did my best Jodie Foster impression on the six-mile obstacle course. She had youth on her side; I had determination.
Like any good Californian, I’ve written two screenplays. The first is a story of Joan of Arc. The second tells the tale of the British Sutton Hoo treasure, a 7th Century, East Anglian longship that was unearthed in 1941. It contained the remains of a Saxon king and his treasure trove. Yes, my inner geek is showing. Also my education as a medievalist. I redeem myself only by saying that unlike any good Californian, I’ve never held a SAG card.
I retired from law enforcement after nearly twenty-two years of service. Now, I spend my time in South Florida. The Keys definitely rubbed off on me. I’ve become a professional PADI divemaster and spend a considerable amount of time underwater. I love research!
Adrift, the first Mer Cavallo Mystery, was published January 10, 2017 by Alibi-Random House. It was an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel, Adrift won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the 2015 Royal Palm Literary Award for Unpublished Book of the Year and earned the Royal Palm Literary Award in the unpublished mystery category. Beached, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery, followed exactly one year later. It’s been named the Royal Palm Literary Award Best Mystery and Book of the Year.
What’s next you ask? Stay tuned for a domestic thriller. I’m also the “Person of Renown” for the Florida Writers Association Collection of stories, essays, and poems. More on that soon!
I’m represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency, Los Angeles, California.