Interview with DJ Williams

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by Claire O’Sullivan

 

DJ Williams

 

I’m pleased to let you know I snagged an interview with DJ Williams, the author of The Auctioneer (which was très cool, along with a copy of the book) which is right here. Sorry, not the book, but the cover… 

The Auctioneer DJ Williams

Here’s the link to purchase it:

‘The Auctioneer’ by DJ Williams ↵ 

Claire: Hi DJ. Thanks for giving this interview and it’s a pleasure to chat with you. I can’t wait to talk about your new book, The Auctioneer. First, I have to hear about your background and your bio– ‘with the DNA of a world traveler.’ Can you tell me a bit about that? 

DJ: My parents were missionaries in Hong Kong where I was born. I was fifteen when the family moved back to L.A. I’ve been in Los Angeles ever since. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many countries, but it was when I found myself in Zambia along the Zambezi River that I realized my dream of storytelling from the age of eight after reading Treasure Island, was the next step of my journey.

Claire: Zambezi! That’s where the Zambezi River was flooding just this month. How incredibly devastating. What you saw and experienced shaped your first novel, The Disillusioned. How so? 

DJ: I don’t want to give away the entire story but it does revolve around human trafficking. It wasn’t until a few years after those three days on the Zambezi River, that I finally sat down and began writing what would eventually become The Disillusioned. I didn’t tell a soul, not even my wife! I finished the first draft and sent it to executive writer/producer Judith McCreary of Criminal Minds, CSI, and Law and Order: SVU. She was gracious enough to read the book, with the caveat that if it was terrible that only the two of us would know it existed. When she called me back a week later she gave me the thumbs up and a year later the novel was published.

Claire: Your readers are certainly glad you talked to Ms. McCreary! You also have been involved in music, production and directing. That kept you busy. I understand you have directed episodes of The Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse. 

DJ: Yes, I was part of several indie record labels, and later worked at an entertainment company in Los Angeles, before branching out on my own to produce and direct. I’m currently in production on Season 16 of The Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse, as well as developing other projects for film/television.

Claire: I’ve watched The Restoration Road and a videocast with Mitch on his site, with a picture of two rows of classic cars in the background. Was Mitch an inspiration to The Auctioneer?

DJ: Mitch and I have been friends for nearly twenty years, beginning shortly after he sold his auction business. He is one of the greatest auctioneers of all time. With the many stories he’s shared over the years, he was definitely an inspiration to spark my crazy imagination.

Claire: It’s not cut from the same cloth, plot-wise as The Disillusioned and Waking Lazarus. You have some very colorful characters and a terrific twisty/turny plot.

DJ: I’m always working to become a better storyteller, and when Chase Hardeman emerged in my imagination I knew this series was going to be a departure from my first two novels. It’s a different world, more along the lines of Jason Bourne meets James Bond meets National Treasure with plenty of thrills, chills, and espionage. I also wanted to write characters that could go the distance, i.e. Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne, so that the world would evolve with each novel.

borsch

Claire: The Auctioneer is a fast-paced novel that grabs you in the first sentence until the last. That last line was killer so I must know, will there be a sequel?

DJ: I’m in the first draft stage working through the details of the plot and developing the characters so readers will go deeper into the world that began with The Auctioneer.  

Claire: Excellent news! For our writers, are you a planner, panster, or plantser? And any other tips for writers?

DJ: While I wish I could say I’m a planner, the reality is that once I sit down to write all the plans seem to disappear as the story comes alive on the page. So, I’d be more of a pantster. Storylines and characters evolve and take me along the adventure. Now, I will say that I do know how the story begins and ends before I write a single word. If not I’d be writing with no end in sight.

Claire: You went the independent route, right? 

DJ: Yes, I used resources from Reedsy where I found a great cover designer and publicist. With my past experience building businesses and entrepreneur DNA, I’ve found that it’s become the best outlet to get my stories to the world. Now, when the right time comes there may be an agent or a publisher who partners with me, but for now, I’m proud to be an indie. The Auctioneer launched in February 2019 and has quickly climbed the charts on Amazon Hot New Releases, ranking #21 (Espionage Thrillers), #22 (Vigilante Justice) and #30 (International Mystery & Crime).

Claire: You have a great imagination and ability to weave a tale, and your background is so varied, I definitely can see why your books shot to the top. I already purchased The Disillusioned and‘Waking Lazarus, so it looks like I’ll be emailing you for another interview. I can’t thank you enough for your time to see into your brain, and where you get your inspiration. 

DJ: This was fun, and I’m looking forward to hearing how you like The Disillusioned and Waking Lazarus.

***

I had a great time interviewing DJ. Now, let me first tantalize you with a bit of The Auctioneer. 

Starting off, as a writer, DJ makes every word count in a well-written, tightly-packed action thriller. A great way to see action, dialogue and setting with the ability to bend rules. If you’re writing a thriller, crime fiction, underworld intrigue, grief, loss, betrayal, mystery, and a clean read, you’ll enjoy The Auctioneer. This novel’s difference is in how his main character overcomes not really understanding his father’s world to understanding it perfectly within the setting of priceless classic cars in underworld trading and solving a murder all at the same time. And, there’s a hint of romance. 

As a reader, The Auctioneer is a pure thrill ride. A young man takes on the mantle of his much-loved father. Chase Hardeman is the son of an ethically-challenged auctioneer and one-time politician. The ex-special ops soldier returns home after his father’s death, only to realize things were not bad. They were worse. Not simply his father’s shady business dealings, but things at home are about to take a turn. 

Within these pages, you’ll find a complex page-turner with twists you won’t see coming. Chase’s life is in constant danger because of the… oh wait. I hate spoiler alerts, so… that’s all about you get for now.

car

 

For a link to ‘The Disillusioned’

And to ‘Waking Lazarus’

A portion of his work goes to the Wounded Warrior Project. You can read more about DJ Williams here: djwilliamsbooks.com

 

wounded warrior project

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The Yemeni Package

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I spent the better part of a week reading one book. One. Normally, I whip through several in a week, review, take a break, write, rewrite, edit, etcetera, ad infinitum. 

I know when I am going to read one of Dale Amidei’s novels, I had better slow the heck down. There will be a lot of players, intricate subplots within plots, and complex political and military strategism. 

I finished ‘The Yemeni Package’ about fifteen minutes ago, and again, Dale’s ability to spin a yarn so complex, so fantastic, it simply bears reading again. Which I will. Since this was the twelfth and final in his multiple series (as I await more). I love the main characters in all of his novels, and I recommend the books highly. You can read them out of sequence as a stand-alone or ‘as they happen’ chronologically through the Main Game. 

There were twists I did not see coming. The main character, Sean Ritter, is dealing with previous emotional crises. He is thrown into another field operation but the U.S. president doesn’t want any bad press (thus another bad situation), the advisor has his own agenda, as well as foreign assisting characters. 

Ritter and his team take this job in the worst of situations among very hostile players without any backup, without the firepower they normally would need to extract someone, and of course, everything goes south with a CIA operative who also has his own agenda. No one is who they say they are. Then I guess you could say, this ‘should be smooth going’ operation goes further south. And just when you thought hell was hot, everything hits the fan. 

Dale Amidei beats the livin’ crap out of his main character, Sean Ritter. Authors do this to twist our emotions. And so were mine. Biting my knuckle. Laughing at ‘duty-bound’ detail, and crying in more than one chapter. Gear up, folks. It’s another ride dodging bullets and deception. Just an FYI, I have not read any political military intrigue thriller that comes close to Dale’s writing. Outstanding, once again.   

Once again, a five star + novel.    

Dale Amidei’s – ‘A Garden in Russia’

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a garden in russia

I swear, Dale Amidei is/was an assassin. Perhaps, married to one. Ahem. His knowledge and research are frighteningly real, vast, and varied. Dale, does the CIA know about you? Are you like, a consultant to the intelligence community?

Okay, besides that… I just read ‘A Garden in Russia,’ his fifth in the Boone File series. Dale is adept at writing strong female characters, tough guys, nurturing men and women, and villains in the end, who have far more to do with what is the lethality of politics and intrigue than a shadowy character with a knife and evil intent.

I’ve read all of the Boone Files, and this does not disappoint. After #4, while I awaited #5, I started at the beginning, ‘The Anvil of the Craftsman,’ which I pressed here previously. A writer, reader of well, any genre can see the ability of Dale Amidei’s writing as complex, intriguing and well-crafted. I honestly hold my breath often, wondering who is going to be shot? What will happen here?

The powers and money behind what happens in the U.S. affects what happens in Russia as well. Like I said, more real than not. Read the paper, watch the news, then you tell me, how did he nail those details so well? Dale’s writing? Never a disappointment.

Something I could imagine seeing in Boone’s bathroom

bathroom pic

Okay, so that’s my bathroom. Romantic comedy, right?

‘Pursuit’ by Indy Quillen

I am relatively new to Indy’s writing, I confess. However, having read the first two in her Fox Walker series, I’d say I’m hooked.

I’ve read ‘Tracker,’ and last night finished ‘Pursuit.’

pursuit indy quillen

I would have to say, she has done her research, and it shows. Not simply in crime and investigation,  the FBI, local police, retired profilers (which is daunting in itself), but again in her research of First Nations ways.

I suspect she has put all of these tracking, hunting, cooking culture into practice. Bow hunting. Walking from toe-to-heel (that one from ‘Tracker’). Cooking with mud. Who knew? I stopped to take notes… And much, much more.

‘Pursuit’ is a gripping tale of Walker tracking a murderer who has deadly skills. His question is, why did the FBI not send their own? Fox, armed only with a knife and sharp skills finds more truth than he was prepared for.

Great writing. Next book is on my list!

 

Reading Boone

Quote

via Reading Boone  

Dale Amidei: Leading into next month’s release of Boone’s fifth and epic title, A Garden in Russia, I have the opportunity to hand off the forum to a pair of her biggest fans, Rebecca Johnson and Claire O’Sullivan. Ladies, the floor is yours:

Rebecca: Firstly, thank you, Dale, for allowing us to guest post on your page. Claire O’Sullivan and I are here to nag Dale Amidei about his newest book discuss Dale Amidei’s first female heroine in his Boone series of espionage thrillers, a sort of international/ political Tales from the Dark Side. Dale writes complex, powerful novels that pull his characters into unthinkable situations, which is why I have temporarily given up paranormal fiction in favor of devouring his books.

Claire: Readers and writers alike, no matter their preferred genre, would find Dale’s geopolitical intrigue novels exemplary.

Rebecca: That’s some mighty highfalutin language there, but I think you’re absolutely right.

Claire: All I’m saying is that, as primarily a romance reader, I find his books a delicious departure from my usual reads, just like you do.

Rebecca: Can’t argue with you there … but about Boone: How do you relate to her character?

Claire: I think she’s a bad-arse, and I mean that in the “holy-crap-if-she-was-real” sense (and maybe she is). I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Respect her, yes. Mess with her, no way. I would actually like to be Boone. What about you? How do you see her?

Rebecca: Well, you know, every woman has those days when everything jells, right? The makeup and hair work, the clothes fit perfectly, the job rolls on smooth wheels. Then there’s the rest of the time, when the mirror and the closet are your enemies, and the job develops a square wheel and just clunks along, and the kids track dog poop all through the house ten minutes before the party. Those kinds of issues are hiccups in the greater scheme of things, I know, but they seem like disasters at the time. 

And then there’s Dr. Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt’s world. She’s an intel operative who deals in—how to say it?—correcting political situations detrimental to independence and freedom. She takes on the jobs no one in the real world wants to think about. Her profession involves stealth, constant situational awareness, and occasionally sudden death: both other people’s and possibly her own. She has to be good at what she does, just to survive. Dog poop on the floor is the least of her worries.  And yet, even with her youth and strength, she is full of flaws and desires. She has the same soul shadows and asks the same questions we all do: “What have I become? Did I ever have a choice?”

Claire:  I’ve read all four of Dale’s Boone’s File novels, and I’m waiting for the fifth one, A Garden in Russia. Taken together, they chronicle Boone’s journey from a flawed, confused enforcer of justice to a clear-headed confident woman who manages to reconcile her profession with her soul. She’s a cool, aloof bad-girl trigger mama in the first book, truly someone you’d not want to disrespect. But she changes as each novel unravels another of her protective layers, and she begins to thaw into something more human and fragile.

Rebecca: Exactly! And I think the title of the first Boone book, Absinthe and Chocolate, describes her perfectly. Chocolate represents everything Boone is: rich, lush, exquisite, and extreme.  Absinthe, nicknamed the “Green Fairy,” symbolized a changing social order in 19th-century Paris, a new generation of free thinkers and transformative ideas. The Green Fairy was also the embodiment of rebellion, especially female rebellion. Boone is nothing if not transformative and rebellious.

Claire: Well, you’re just chock full of weird information. But why am I not surprised? Dale’s first book hooked me into the series. It really showed Boone’s skills as well as her flaws. But in the second book, The Bonus Pool, Boone learns from a persecuted Chinese Christian pastor how to find peace in her life, and that we all “go from darkness into the Light.” Dale is a master at crafting Boone’s reflections on the old man’s words, as she moves from her internal conflict toward peace.

That starts the ball rolling for Boone. By the end of the third and fourth books (One Last Scent of Jasmine and Meat for the Lion), she’s moved away from her despair and doubt, and into a more clear-headed sense of her purpose in life.

Rebecca: Seeing her transformation made me want to say, “Maybe I can do that, too. In my own way I can be better, if I remember that every move is always from the darkness toward the Light.” In these days of turmoil both here and abroad, that’s a good way to think, not only for Boone but for the rest of us who are still cleaning up the dog poop.

Claire: But regarding the writing—you know, Dale writes so well that there are days I wonder why I even bother. And did you ever ask yourself, how does he know so much?

Rebecca: After reading his novels with all those Special Ops and gun-related details, do you really want to ask that question?

Claire: Well, maybe no. But I do enjoy his books, because they’re not just complex in terms of characters and storylines. They address the human condition, whether it’s Boone or another character discoursing on current global and political issues. And in Boone’s case, he manages to hold up a mirror to her soul, so that she—and we—can see her heart laid bare.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
-Paul of Tarsus (or 1 Corinthians 13:12)

I feel like I know her better now.

Rebecca: Well enough to mess with her?

Claire: You think you’re so funny. .. 

Rebecca Johnson was born and raised in the southern United States, mostly in North Carolina with brief relocations to South Carolina and Virginia. She is by education a medical technologist, graduating with honors from N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill, and by preference a calligrapher, needlework designer, and graphic artist. She writes paranormal romances by night when no one is watching, and hides her manuscripts under quilting and needlepoint projects during the day. In her spare time she beta-reads for other writers, searching for nitpicking errors. She believes that God’s purpose for her life is to cause as much trouble for as many people as she possibly can, and she spends at least part of each day fulfilling that purpose. 

Claire O’Sullivan was raised in corn and cow country in the Midwest where she learned the nuances of ‘moo’ to PhD level (piled higher and deeper). She attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls (aka Moo U) with a major in psychology, and changed minors every other week. She left Moo U and attended Lutheran Bible Institute and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies. She has fiddled with writing forever, and currently has several crime/romances in the works, including a comedy noir. She’s pretty sure that Rebecca is indeed fulfilling her purpose by tormenting her daily… er, helping Claire endeavor to write.

Thank you, ladies. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Boone’s novels may be found on the sidebar:
AmazonAppleNookKobo
and other places where ebooks come alive.

Are You GDPR Compliant?

Please check out Marilee McDonald’s blog. You may be required. No wait. You are likely required. If you have any contact with any person living in the EU, you are most definitely required.

https://www.maryleemacdonaldauthor.com/gdpr-compliance/

I am going to do what I can to put the compliancy check box here. It is already on my website, total pain. Next… Facebook. Then… LinkedIn.

author funny tease

Because the EU has nothing better to do than to crap on people’s lives. Idiots.

 

AND YES as I preview, it has my information in there. If you can, please edit that out, add a fake I mean ‘your’ name, optional for website, and check box if you want to receive updates.

Pfft.

-Claire

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom from Kristen Lamb

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This is another good post from the insane, I mean … wise Kristen Lamb’s blog. These are editing tips you do not want to skip.

Why… Pay… More?

kill bill

So slash those sweet lil’ things you love so much. Hey, I had to, and it … sucked.

http://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/04/self-editing-writers/#comment-92608

Don’t blink. Save them in another folder if you can’t let go, but … <pulls pages from your hands> Just Do It. Stop thinking.

wonder

‘Beyond Being Good,’ by Katrina McCain — A Five Star Author

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Today I’ve had the pleasure to interview Katrina McCain on Beyond Being Good, her first breakout non-fiction that tackles the ‘trying to be perfect as an imperfect person.’

Katrina

Claire: Hi, Katrina. New author, how exciting! You’re from North Carolina, right?

Katrina: Yes–I grew up in Charlotte and attended college there. My younger brother lives in Texas, and I am married (5 years, now). My husband, Jarrett and I have a 2 year old daughter and another on the way!

Claire: You’re a busy mom, and congratulations. You have a fascinating past as a fashion model ~ what a different world than your ministry, Pearls of Hope. What is your ministry about?

Katrina: Pearls of Hope Outreach, is a nonprofit organization in North Carolina. We have 16 members between the ages of 20 to 35 years old. We engage in Bible Study and outreach ministries. It’s a wonderful way to connect with other Christian women in the area. I’ve really grown personally from the experience.

Claire: That’s terrific, getting young women involved in studying the Word and in outreach ministries. So, tell me a bit of your testimony, coming to Christ?

Katrina: It’s been a long road to Jesus. My parents are ministers and I admire them greatly, but I always felt like I was missing something. I knew right from wrong, but I struggled. Once in college, I reinvented myself, launching into a 9-year fashion career. I began to compromise for the sake of having friends. I did things I knew displeased God, yet did them anyway. I became hypocritical, because I lived one way around friends, but portrayed the “good girl” to family and church. It became exhausting.

Claire: Exhausting is a good way to put it.

Katrina: I guess you could say I was a “goody two shoes” type of person. People thought I was a Christian, but I knew I wasn’t. I had a lot of head knowledge, but not a relationship with God. Because of my upbringing, I determined to maintain my virginity, which by the grace of God, I did. But I found my friends’ lifestyle to be a huge hindrance on my dating life. I cut corners in my dating, which led me into a relationship with a boy with his own issues. Ultimately, he lost his life over his choices. He was robbed and shot 9 times and died in the summer of 2007. We were only 21 years old. I was devastated!

Claire: How heartbreaking!

Katrina: I felt so alone, ashamed around family. Even though they extended their love to me, I wasn’t sure if God was still there. For a long time I believed God was punishing me, but Scripture tells us that God is close to the broken hearted (Ps. 34:18) So, one night, I prayed this really sloppy prayer. I was so remorseful. I asked the Lord to forgive and change me, and though I wasn’t really sure what that meant or even what it entailed, I believed with all my heart that He could do it. That prayer was my first step to salvation, and I’ve been on this journey, ever since.

Claire: Very powerful testimony. A lot of heartbreak, too.  Who would you say was the biggest influence in your life’s path?

Katrina: My mother. Hands down. She has a heart for people and whatever you’re going through, she finds ways to understand with compassion. Nothing is off limits. She’s open to listening and discussing anything with any one. I desire to be like her.

 

Claire: It sounds like she really grounded you. Quite the variety from Mother Teresa type talking about Betty Crocker to Jerry Springer! I would love to meet her.

Your book is for every woman. But tell us a bit about Beyond Being Good.

Katrina book cover

Katrina: In the fashion world, the image of perfection can be debilitating. The expectations are outrageous. The same can be said in our personal lives. The pressure of perfection is one that God never put on us to carry. Salvation is a gift, not an object we have to work or prove ourselves worthy of. In Beyond Being Good, I share my mistakes and failures. People need to know that they are not alone in their imperfections. I’m very transparent, because pretenses only perpetuate the myth that perfection is necessary to live in abundance. What a lie!

Claire: Again, amen. Once we drop the veil of self-secrecy, we can live out ‘carrying one another’s burdens.’  

Katrina: Beyond Being Good is my gift to anyone who is in a place where she is tired of her past year, past week, past cuss word, past abortion, past lie, past drink, past mistakes holding her back from truly experiencing the fullness of God’s perfect love over her.

Claire: Well said. And you’re quite open and real in Beyond Being Good.

Katrina: That’s exactly why Beyond Being Good is my message to women of all backgrounds, that our goodness is not required for God’s love. I think church culture, subconsciously, teaches this error and many of us have been deeply wounded with confusion regarding God’s grace. But the Bible is filled with imperfect people who have been used by God in very dynamic ways!

Claire: –Oh, amen, amen. Who are some of your favorite authors, non-fiction and fiction?

Katrina: I’m not much of a fiction reader—there are movies to curb that crave. But my favorite nonfiction authors are John Piper, Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Gary Thomas, Gary Chapman and, believe it or not, Malala Yousafzai (the youngest woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize).

Claire: Great authors, all. Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?

Katrina: Jess Connolly, writer of Dance, Stand, Run, and Wild and Free. She has such a heart for women that I find captivating. She’s about my age, writes to women in our Millennial generation, but is still very relevant to older women, as well. Also, Stasi Eldridge. Stasi’s book, Becoming Myself, is a staple in my personal library! Each time I read it, I re-discover new aspects of myself as a woman and Christian. I hope to write books that produce similar reactions in others.

Claire: Something we can look for, reality in our lives, not shame. I love Dance, Stand and Run! Jess Connolly helps us ‘get’ that grace isn’t cheap indeed. And Stasi Eldridge is a terrific author with a difficult past. I read Captivating and believe it to be one of the most spiritually-awakening books I’ve read. Know you are on this edge is really exciting. What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Katrina: Recently, I’ve completed Fierce Hearted by Holly Gerth, And We Are Changed by Priscilla Shrier and Still Waiting by Ann Swindell.

Claire: Nice! Priscillar Shrier’s book is so raw, real, it is tear-provoking. And Holly Gerth reminds me of a 21st century Brother Lawrence, in Practicing the Presence of God. Great choices! So now, what do you do in your downtime?

Katrina: Ha, downtime! When I can steal a moment from mommy life, I love getting dinner with my friends! I love getting dressed up, going into the city and having a great meal with extra giggles! For family time, Jarrett, my husband and I, enjoy doing quiet things, like walks in the park or visiting a museum before dinner. Any time spent with him is great!

Claire: You definitely deserve rest! What sort of research did you do to write this book?

Katrina: I studied the scriptures, particularly Romans and James. I wanted to be sure that the words I spoke aligned with God’s Word. I believe, just as the human heart is flawed, so are human opinions. If my writing doesn’t line up with God’s Word, then I don’t want to risk being at fault in giving untruthful information.

Claire: Agreed. Too many opinions not backed by Scripture, and so many people fall for it, not testing the scriptures What are you working on now? Any chance of a follow up?

Katrina: Right now, I am working on carrying my baby girl, full term! She’s due in July Also, I am focused on sharing my book, loving my family and being available to my readers who reach out to me.

Claire: Oh, groan and excitement! I bet you are counting the minutes. Congratulations coming in July– and congratulations on your very well-received book.

I have so many more questions for Katrina, that we are going to follow up with more interviews on living for God’s glory, fully in His grace. Thank you, Katrina

*If you want to purchase Katrina McCain’s book, it’s available through Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Being-Good-Perfection-Imperfect/dp/1595557598/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1524007800&sr=1-1&keywords=beyond+being+good

*Katrina lives in North Carolina and blogs every Sunday on relationships, faith and her personal life lessons. To connect with Katrina and learn more about her, please visit http://www.KatrinaMcCain.com

 

Forensics… Boys and Girls, Get Ready…

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Last time I wrote, it was about fingerprinting old school. I promised to write about processing in the lab.

No. No. No. I am old and female, giving me the right, no, two rights… to change my mind. We are talking a bit about blood and guts today. The autopsy. This is for writers who want more realism (not CSI — fake, not NCIS, fake) in their fiction.

leroy jethro gibbs hitting dinozzo

So … you may ask. Go ahead. Fine by me. ‘Where do you get off thinking you are an expert?’ Well… okay, cool, be rude. Oh wait, that was my question, ahem. I’ve amassed over time search/rescue techniques useful; volunteer forensics with sheriff’s department, webinars, seminars, anatomy classes with gross dissection classes, and thorough training & bucks (and I mean a lot–spent a gazillion clams for FBI and National Forensic Science Training Institute).

In the medical field for 30+ years, I know the lingo, and writing about procedures in the hospital/trauma/office, I also have down. But, yes I was a CSI / NCIS junkie… but found out they had a lot of fakery going on in their shenanigans, and since I write fiction … I turned to the real world.

shocked

This information will give you a full autopsy — not you personally, but the lowdown. You’ll see procedures here that are real.

So, let’s begin … My main character, Catherine Cade (amnesiac) in How to Steal a Romance works as a volunteer (long story) and finds she has skills (again, long story). The first visit to the morgue (here, called the Dead Room), she performs an autopsy under the strict supervision of the medical examiner for legal reasons. Prior to this autopsy, he asked her to direct his every move on a Jane Doe. I left names and character interactions out:

I started. “Who have we here?”

“Unknown Hispanic male, found off the parkway, no ID. No tattoos.”

“In the big homeless campground?” I pointed at his hair and fingers. “He’s clean cut. Did you scrub under his nails?”

“Of course not.”

“His crew cut and clean nails don’t scream homeless to me. Who found him, and where?”

“Under the bridge by another homeless man. His clothes were filthy, torn up.”

I checked his hands. “It’s not conclusive. Callouses on his hands, some arthritic changes, consistent with manual labor. Musculature to upper and lower extremities are well-developed. What about trace evidence? Any dirt or grass from a different area under the bridge?”

“Tech is going over clothing and particulates. We obtained samples from the scene to compare.”

“X-rays? Did you get prints to send to IAFIS, swab for DNA?”

“All done.” He pointed to the films.

I stood at the old-fashioned x-ray box. “He’s had dental work.” I pointed. “Here’s a fracture of the nasal bone, some tissue swelling here, suggests fall or altercation.” I stepped to another light box and viewed the vertebrae. “Cervical fracture, thoracic and lumbar fractures. What’s this?” I examined an image of his leg. “Spiral fracture.”

“Good.”

“Not for this poor guy. Grab the mic and turn it on when I tell you to. Lower the table a bit, if you would.”

“Comin’ down.” He lowered the table and winked.

Gonna be a long autopsy.

He held the mic.

I turned to face my patient. “Talk to me John Doe. Tell me why you died. Okay, turn the microphone on. Adult, well-nourished Hispanic male, appears to be in his mid-thirties. External exam shows multiple bruising, over right posterior to anterior neck, right. Multiple abrasions right lower leg. Mic off.” I took more pictures and my eyes drifted past the medical examiner as I contemplated what I found.

“What?” He asked.

“I’ve seen this before. The fracture with the abrasion. I could be wrong, but I think he caught his leg in something like a chair or ladder, fell, causing a spiral fracture and fractures to his back and neck.”

You’ve seen this before?”

I didn’t know when and hesitated. “Sometime back. Here’s the x-ray—fractured nose and the surrounding tissue engorged with blood visible even on plain film. Cervical fracture is different. Any wood, plant particulates I want collected.”

“What do you think?”

Silent, except for recording the procedure, I made an incision from the mastoid process behind the ear, extending coronally to the opposite mastoid, reflecting skin and muscle away, one centimeter above the eyebrows. After evaluating, I exposed the occipital protuberance, and used the vibrating bone saw to cut horizontally on both sides from the center of the forehead to the base of the mastoid process. Further cuts and notches allowed me to remove the cranium, evaluate, and lift out the brain for closer inspection.

“Mic on. No traumatic injury noted to base of skull, despite fracture to cervical vertebrae three and four. Absence of bleeding to the brain and interstitial tissues are inconsistent with a fall. Bruising to neck, lateral, sternocleidomastoid to posterior. Mic off.”

“Well? Any ideas?”

“Yeah, music would drown out your voice.”

“Wow. Boss lady is snippy.”

I didn’t miss a beat. “Gee, wonder how many times I’ve heard that one. Mic on.”

I made the Y-incision from collarbone left to right, past the sternum to the pelvis. “Clip the sternum for me. I need you to grab the enterome above you, hand it to me when I ask.”

I snapped my gloved fingers, held my hand out, and weighed the organs. I used the enterome to shear them open. “Taking samples for biopsy of mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, trachea, lungs, heart, bladder, spleen. Mic off.” I handed the samples to the medical examiner after I weighed the organs and he put the samples in paraffin wax.

I asked, “What did homicide say about the scene?”

We both put a new pair of gloves on. “They wait for me to tell them.”

“What do you think?”

“Undetermined. Possible scuffle out of hand.”

“Microphone on. John Doe’s liver normal. No sign of cirrhosis, no enlargement.” I added what the m.e. told me. “Alcohol negative, awaiting other toxicology. Mic off.”

“Correct.”

“Mic on. He has a postmortem fracture to the base of his skull. Bruising on his neck, premortem. Blunt force trauma after death. Mic off. Why? Maybe a chokehold. Spit balling. It’s possible John Doe fell from a ladder and caught his leg, or someone helped him fall. Someone busted his nose and held him in a chokehold until he died. Then, a killer fractured his neck—but after death, there’s no blood associated with the trauma.” I hesitated. “We deal with the evidence, but my gut says this man was murdered.”

“You think the victim knew his killer, if you’re right?”

I paused. “Impossible to say. The fractured neck could mean anything.”

“We’ll toss it back to homicide.

 

I tossed my gloves into the hazardous waste trash, left the Dead Room and showered.

That, without the interactions and names is an authentic autopsy. Remember, a dissection is far different than autopsy, so if you are going for what a med student deals with, let me know. Got that, too.

From my second novel, Nobody Girl, I introduce my main character who as a cop, has never had a dead body in her rural town, nor seen a autopsy just like this. I’ve left names out at this point. This is with my agent:

The coroner unlocked the door to the cold morgue room, and pulled one of the three refrigerated body boxes toward us on a wheeled rack, revealing the victim’s remains. The putrefaction almost overwhelmed me. I gagged, and he handed me the peppermint. Tempted to stick the bottle up my nose, I instead put a small dot under my nostrils.

“Take a look at the x-rays. No other fracture except her right occipital lobe—and whatever tore through her.” (The coroner) pointed. “Let me show you what I found—beside the obvious.”

He walked to the table and uncovered the body.

Oh, no, I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing this. He had cut through the skin and skull and pulled her face and skin down over her neck. My knees wobbled. (My partner) stepped behind me and grasped me by the back of my jeans. He pushed his right knee between my legs. No doubt he’d bend his knees if a human chair became a necessity, or if I slid down and fainted.

(He) whispered, “Are you okay with me keeping you upright? I can let you drop, if you want. Toss you outside?”

“Whatever you do, do not let go.”

I prayed, hoping (my new detective’s) professionalism would carry me through this awkward and uncomfortable autopsy evaluation.

(The coroner) said, “I took the liberty of removing the connective tissue to show you this. I found small pieces of wood imbedded in the skin, not the bone, consistent with where we found her. More for my practice than needed. This happened premortem or perimortem, but I am sure that’s not the reason she is dead.”

“No?” I wanted to leave. I averted my eyes. The victim’s feet were visible, and if I could just keep my eyes there …. Her toenails, painted an off-white French nail-style, had otherwise clear glitter. The dirt cleaned away, her feet were something I would expect of her—perfect, but very dead—and thanks to our coroner, she was faceless. I shouldn’t have compared her feet to mine, but she didn’t have funky-looking runner’s feet. This mental exercise did keep me from looking at the degloved head.

(The coroner) pulled the sheet down to her torso. “This puncture wound. Perforated her saline breast implant. Whatever did this spiraled and decompressed and tore tissue, coring through. Nothing else except some tiny bits of metal. Didn’t see them until I re-examined the x-ray. I’ll let Duluth handle that. Looking at the entrance wound, I’m guessing a diameter of 6 inches.”

“What’s the ammo that could produce this?”

(The homicide detective) crossed his arms. “The JDJ .950 can produce an entry hole that large. Has a two-hundred pound kick. Small cannon. Largest rifle caliber out there. If that was the rifle used, it would leave bruises on the killer’s chest.”

(The coroner) shook his head. “The other conundrum is the wound tract, it has a pattern, just an uneven pattern. After the fatal wound, she fell, hit her head and fractured it, the tissue swelling said she didn’t die instantly. Someone took a rock to her face as she bled out. Poor girl suffered.” He glanced at me. “Check the edges of this wound, here. There was no surviving this. I estimated the exit wound is much smaller.”

(Detective) shifted. “Have you seen this before?”

(Coroner) removed his gloves, washed his hands, and rubbed his balding dome. “Son, I’m a family doctor and volunteer coroner. First time to deglove a head, too. So, no, I haven’t. It’ll take me some time to figure this one out.”

 

Next up … a visit to the Body Farm, including some scenes from How to Steal a Romance. Which will be disgusting.

Aren’t you excited?

And as always, please visit Kristen Lamb’s blog for writers: 13 Ways Writers are Mistaken for Serial Killers — Kristen Lamb’s Blog   http://authorkristenlamb.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Surprise!

Featured

Giving a shout out to WritersDetective Q&A on Facebook (and Twitter). Received through their email a surprise mention to the group regarding forensic science, and I certainly hope to live up to the status!

I also finished a novel that has nothing (or very little) to do with romance or faith– a gritty (violence and colorful language) military and medical (kinda gory) based on a true happening.

So, if you have any fun and interesting questions for me, find me at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorClaire1/ or here and I will research what I don’t know, or give you info on what I do know.

This is what I picture the finished product to look like (the book not the disaster…)

 

AIR