Today I have award-winning thriller author on Jennifer Chase. Not only does she write crime novels but actually is a criminologist. She holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s in criminology. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She’s a member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.
Jennifer has authored four crime fiction, thriller novels: Compulsion, Dead Game, Silent Partner, and Dark Mind. She has also written a non-fiction book How to Write a Screenplay incorporating a step-by-step process to write a screenplay. She currently assists clients in publishing, ghostwriting, book reviews, blogs, articles, screenwriting, editing, and research.
Jennifers academic background prepares her to write in the thriller and true crime genres, and expertly show us the varied connections between the actual crime and the criminal mind.
What was your inspiration behind writing the Emily Stone thriller series?
My inspiration to write the series actually came from a bad experience of living next door to a “real” psychopath that threatened my life on a regular basis for more than two years. From a terrible experience came something positive for me. For one thing, it piqued my interest in the criminal justice system, police investigations, forensics, and of course, the criminal mind. I went back to school to earn my degrees in forensics and criminology. I also learned a few things about myself in the ways I had to handle a volatile situation. All of these firsthand experiences gave me some priceless research for my first book. The process of writing the Emily Stone series was then set in motion.
I love all types mysteries and thrillers in general, whether a movie or a book. I wanted to bring a character to life that works behind the scenes, like a phantom detective helping police investigations. It was a tricky and challenging writing project. I knew that this character had to be a strong woman, but also smart and self-educated in the areas of forensics and criminal psychology. I didn’t have anyone in mind to inspire this character, but rather, she was created from a need to solve more police investigations and catch serial killers.
You also write standalone novels. In Silent Partner -One K9 Cop, One Serial Killer you give an inside view on the police K9 unit. Are there more books on K9 units in the future? Another series perhaps?
Silent Partner was originally a screenplay. It was tied up with two production companies for quite a while, but in the end they decided that they didn’t have the budget. So I decided to write the novel. I had my own dog that I trained with the local police K9 units and it was such a wonderful experience. It is truly amazing to watch the relationship between cop and canine as they bond and train. I learned so much being a part of the training process. As far as a series, it’s definitely an idea simmering on the back burner for me to have a series based on different K9 units and their adventures.
You also published the non-fiction work How to Write a Screenplay. How did you get into screenwriting as well? Have any of your plays come to life?
I have been writing screenplays for a while because of my love for movies. I wanted to learn how to create this type of writing endeavor. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing any of my scripts come to life — yet. My first novel Compulsion was originally going to be a screenplay, but it diverted me in another direction of writing. I fell in love with writing crime fiction and my screenwriting has taken a backseat for now.
Your academic background and certifications in criminology serves you well for writing crime and thrillers. How much research is also involved in writing your books?
I have a solid academic background in police forensics, profiling, and criminology. However, there still is a certain amount of research needed for any novel. Good thing I love to conduct research. Many times I’m digging further into a particular area (interrogation, behavioral patterns, etc.) to give readers more of an insight into the criminal mind and some of the ways investigators work. And of course, weaving the creative aspect into the story too. I love to find little nuggets of interesting information that might prove to elevate the story.
How did you become fascinated with forensics and criminology?
It didn’t take long during my ordeal with the violent neighbor for me to look for some type of answers and information about criminal investigations and basically, what makes some people want to commit crimes. At that time, there weren’t all of the CSI shows on television as there are now. One show I remember would air on Tuesday evenings about catching killers through various techniques of forensic science. I was hooked on forensics and criminology from that point on.
Do you find it difficult to write about horrific crimes involving serial killers and pedophiles and what’s your process for creating these characters?
It is very difficult at times to write about these types of killers and pedophiles. It’s especially difficult when there are news stories highlighting the newest serial killer or child murderer. The reality really sets in.
I have a comprehensive outline of my book project before I begin writing the actual book. It enables me to see the story progression, plotline, subplots, and suspense level for my novel. I know when I have to write a difficult scene and I usually plan ahead a little bit to make sure that I will balance the day of difficult writing with something fun. I make an extra effort to balance my work and life the best possible way I can.
Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
My novels are all thrillers and are designed to encompass suspenseful entertainment, but I do incorporate the real aspects of investigations with forensics and profiling. It is my hope that readers will learn something they didn’t know before about these topics and actually make them more curious about it. In addition, I would love to be able to bring more awareness to the safety of children not only at home, but in the community as well.
How do you balance work as a writer and work as a criminologist?
Since I’m a freelance writer and consultant, I’m able to balance my workload with my discretion. I pick my criminology work carefully and I’m able to coordinate various writing projects around it. Generally, my days are divided into two parts, mornings for appointments, errands, and consulting, and the afternoons for writing. Of course, some days are really crazy!
If you had to choose, which is your favorite book written and why?
That is not fair! Seriously, what a tough question. I would want a long book that has everything including love, good versus evil, drama, suspense, etc. The book that comes to my mind is Gone with the Wind. Ask me again tomorrow, my answer might be different.
Can you tell us about any challenges in getting your first book published?
When you complete a book, you’re faced with the task of either finding a publisher or self-publishing. I felt that I had a story and I wanted to test the waters to see if there was an interest in my stories. Basically, I was impatient and I wanted to publish right away. However, there was a huge learning curve to publishing. So many questions needed to be answered. It was a long process of rewrites, cover art, and then the arduous task of marketing and promotion. It’s an ongoing process of learning everything you can about the fast world of publishing today.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genres?
The Internet and social networking cannot be overstated in today’s new publishing frenzy. The basic “big 3” that I find work well are Facebook, Twitter, and an active blog. Having a blog is an excellent way for any writer to show what they have to offer in their books, insight into their writing, and incorporating interesting articles that highlight your work and genre. For my crime thrillers, I’ve joined such sites as crimespace.ning.com, booktown.ning.com, and triberr. All of these types of sites have combined great ways to market my work with a wonderful group of networking friends.
Tell us about your upcoming book.
I’ve just released Dark Mind and I’m in the process of writing the next book with a working title of Dead Burn. The new book is still in the extensive outlining stage and it is scheduled for release by fall of this year.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love this question! My most interesting writing quirk is that I have to write barefooted. Yep, even when it’s winter. Not sure why, but I’ve always done this and it feels the most comfortable for me. I’m not sure what I would create if I were wearing heavy socks and a pair of boots.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat about my writing and books today!
Visit Jennifer at her blog AuthorJenniferChase.com