Five questions for a local crime writer
Santa Rosa crime writer Thonie Hevron (Courtesy of the Hevron family)
By MELODY KARPINSKI / Santa Rosa Correspondent
Local author Thonie Hevron spent 35 years working in public safety before turning to crime writing. Her new book, By Force or Fear, is currently available as an e-book on Amazon.com and a print copy will be released in spring 2013. Hevron took a moment this week to answer a few questions about her work.
1. What inspired you to write the book?
I’ve written since I could first hold a pencil. It was natural for me to morph into writing thrillers because that’s what I read. However the real inspiration for the book came from two sources. First, I read a really bad book-poorly edited, inaccuracies in the portrayal of cops, flat characters with stunted dialog and I thought I could do better. During he last 20 years of my career, I asked myself a lot of, “what if’s?” I was in the middle of one of the world’s truly exciting professions. Why not write about it?
2. As an ex-cop, what is something you often find missing or inaccurate in the portrayal of public safety employees in Hollywood/TV portrayals?
That’s one of the reasons I wrote this book, and I also blog about it. With my varied experience, I catch things that any cop (but not necessarily the public) would notice. That speaks to a lack of research on the part of the production people. I understand that police procedures vary in different parts of the country, but it doesn’t take that long to check the facts. Even entertainment needs to be accurate or they lose credibility.
TV has generated something in the public called the “CSI factor.” Citizens expect a level of service that they see on TV. The technology is accurate, but the price tag insures it isn’t found in most crime labs. Only a high profile case or major felony could justify the budget-bending expense of machines, technicians and scientists.
I am retired as a civilian dispatcher, but I’ve also held many different positions within law enforcement. I started as a meter maid, then a community service officer (a non-sworn report car), worked for Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department in the ’90s as a records supervisor and then spent the balance of my career as a dispatcher.
3. Why did you choose Sonoma County as a setting? How long have you lived in SR?
I initially wrote this book while living in the Eastern Sierras. I missed the Santa Rosa area (my husband and I lived here for 20 years) so much that it seemed the logical place to set it. I guess you could say it helped me be at home. Additionally, the winter weather and flooding in the Russian River area have always held my interest. I worked several floods, the first on patrol, directing traffic and staffing a road block to keep people away from the Payran Street area in Petaluma. Unless you’ve seen how water and mud react, most people underestimate the elements.
The weather and setting have become their own characters in the book. The other two floods were inside a nice, warm, dry dispatch center. When we moved back to Sonoma County in 2004 after being away for 10 years, I resurrected my story, re-wrote it, hashed it over with my critique group and finally decided to publish it in the e-book format last spring.
4. Do you have any advice for fellow writers who are looking to e-publish their work?
Yes, join a writers club of some kind. I belong to Redwood Writers Club here in Santa Rosa and it has been invaluable to motivate, craft, polish and then publish my book. I think of it as a clearing house for ideas and resources as well as a center of immeasurable support.
5. How and when did you transition from public safety work to writing?
I retired in 2011 and decided to just go for it. My husband suggested that I write like it was my job. Working fueled the research, stories, characters and so on. When I retired, it was time to finish it. Now, I can’t stop!