Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Kind of Writer Am I?

By Tracy L. Karol

I love fiction. I love reading it, I love creating it in my mind...I can't wait to pen that first thriller. In fact, I've got an entire series outlined based on the characters in the first book. I've even written the first few chapters.

But I won't lie. Nonfiction is easier to write. First, of course, you aren't creating an entire world out of your imagination. You are dealing with facts. It may be a book that almost reads like fiction, but still the basis is true.

That's where my mind was tonight when I thought, again, about my former jobs. There are crimes, cases, scenes, events that linger with me. Some even haunt me.

I was lucky enough to have a very satisfying career before I became disabled. First I was a print reporter, covering crime, health and education. I wrote mostly "hard news" stories on the crime beat, and features on health. I won some awards. I have a stack of cards from people thanking me for the job I did. The police respected me and the feeling was mutual. Sadly, the pay was horrendous. I soon applied for a job at the metro police department, basically doing the opposite of what I had been. I would go to crime scenes and deal with the media so the detectives didn't have to. I didn't expect to get the job, but it was about triple the income so I went for it.

Obviously I got that one, and I worked closely with detectives for years, seeing the worst of humanity. There's much more to the story, but I'll save it for the book.

That job changed me in a very fundamental way. I never became hard, though I did learn to use gallows humor, like everyone else. Still, there are nights when I can't sleep, thinking of the things I now know; things branded into my soul. After I left and my family suffered our own brutal crime, it seemed every crime I had been to tore through me at once. I saw them not from a police perspective, but from a victim's family. And I wonder, even today, what I might have said to make things worse for those families.

I am a strange mixture. I've reported on crimes. I've been to countless crime scenes and worked with detectives to keep the media informed (or not). And worst of all, I've gotten that phone call that someone I love was murdered.

As I stated, there are scenes that linger, that haunt me. Perhaps the best way to face them is to quit hiding. And so that gave me the idea for a new book. Obviously, I will maintain victim privacy. But there are some stories that just must be told. Will they make sense? I doubt it. But I remember my boss telling me that criminals don't think like us. Even the accidents, the most awful suicides...perhaps sharing them will help someone, or be a warning. At the least, I promise you won't be bored.

Please read this book, when published, not with excitement, but with the reverence due the topic. I lived this. It was my life, and in many ways still haunts me.

So...that's the story of how my second book will come to life. Another nonfiction, but vastly different from the first. Crime, true to life.
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