MA: Today’s guest is award-winning writer Quintin Peterson. Quintin had once been a police officer, but after eighteen years of police work, he returned to writing. Now, with almost twenty-five years of police service under his belt, he’s penned two successful crime novels, SIN and The Wages of SIN, and contributed to Akashic Books’ critically acclaimed crime fiction anthology, D.C. Noir, edited by George Pelecanos.
Welcome, Quintin! Tell us more about you.
QP: Well, I’ve been writing for a long time. I got my first copyright when I was 13. I was writing science fiction then. In the mid-70s when I was in high school, I was honored with the University of Wisconsin’s Science Fiction Writing Award, the National Council of Teachers of English Writing Award, and the Wisconsin Junior Academy’s Writing Achievement Award. As an undergraduate communications major at the University of Wisconsin, I wrote and performed in two plays and received a Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation grant for my play project, Change. In 1978, I received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in playwriting, followed by a playwriting grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Subsequently, two of my radio plays were aired on WPFW-FM Pacifica Radio as productions of the Minority Arts Ensemble’s Radio Drama Workshop ’79.
In 1981, I gave up creative writing and became a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, where I am currently assigned to the Public Information Office as its Media and Motion Picture and Television Liaison Officer. I’ve assisted writers, costumers, and prop masters for The X-Files, The District, The Wire, Bones, Jericho, Seasons 6 and 7 of 24, and Lie to Me, as well as a number of major motion pictures, including No Way Out, Suspect, Timecop, The Pelican Brief, In the Line of Fire, Absolute Power, Random Hearts, Kiss the Girls, Along Came a Spider, Naked Gun 2 ½, Deep Impact, The Jackal, Minority Report, Murder at 1600, True Lies, Dave, Dick, The Distinguished Gentleman, Enemy of the State, National Treasure, X-Men III, The Invasion, Breach, National Treasure II: Book of Secrets, Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard, Body of Lies, and State of Play.
MA: Oh my goodness, I think I’ve seen every one of those. I’m truly impressed. Go on.
QP: In 1996, I returned to writing and started in on my novel SIN, which is acronym for Special Investigations Network. It took me two years to complete it in my spare time, which I didn’t have much of…and still don’t. After two years with no success in getting it published with the “assistance” of a literary agent, I self-published it in 2000 via 1st Books Library, now known as AuthorHouse.
MA: I can understand your gravitation toward fiction given your professional and writing careers. Did you have any special encouragement along the way?
QP: My English professor, the late, great Barbara Ranes Segnitz had always encouraged me to write a novel. I was resistant because I found playwriting and screenwriting easier. You know? Just describe the settings and tell the stories through dialogue. I don’t know, I just finally decided to give it a shot. I wish I had started working on novels sooner. The work is very satisfying.
MA: I have to agree. Hard work, but very fulfilling. What style of crime fiction do you write? Cozy mysteries? Crime-noir?
QP: My preferred style of writing at this time is hard-boiled crime fiction, noir. The plots of SIN and its sequel, The Wages of SIN, are dark, maze-like and convoluted. My short stories are more straightforward, but the darkness, the foreboding remain. I’ve always enjoyed this style of storytelling. Wes Lukowsky described this genre best: “If Jazz is America’s contribution to music, then hard-boiled crime is its literary equivalent.”
MA: Indeed! So who are the main characters in the SIN series?
QP: The protagonist of the SIN novels and all of my short stories, are composites of actual people I know. I combined characteristics of two or three people I know to create a single fictitious character. The strengths of Jacob “Doc” Holloway, the protagonist of the SIN novels, are decency, courage, loyalty, and intelligence, but, because of the people the world of the people he interacts with as an undercover operative, his decency is his greatest weakness.
MA: And a bad guy or girl?
QP: I would have to say my most unique antagonist to date appears in my short story Cold as Ice: Isaiah “Ice” Hamilton. The protagonist, Rodney Grimes, who witnesses Ice commit a double murder and comes forth as a witness, describes Ice as having long dreadlocks and very dark skin with unsettling bluish gray eyes. Ice is known for intimidating witnesses into silence or killing them if he fails to scare them off.
MA: What other writing projects are you working on?
QP: I’m enjoying writing short stories at this time while plots for novels are still percolating. I’m a part of a new crime fiction anthology, which features several members of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA): Bad Cop, No Donut: Tales of Police Behaving Badly. It’s edited by John L. French, and features Michael A. Black, Michael Berish, Austin S. Camacho, and James Grady, to name but a few. David Black, writer for CSI Miami and Law & Order, calls it, “A ride-around with some of the best cops and cop writing in the business!”
Bad Cop is due out this April and will be in bookstores everywhere. Pick up a copy. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
MA: I have heard a lot about Bad Cop. In fact, I interviewed Michael Berish just a few weeks back, and folks can read his guest-post here: Michael Berish — A Real Miami Vice Detective — Makes An “Arresting” Visit With Mike Angley
Folks, check out all the books written by Quintin Petersen which you will find featured on his Amazon Profile page. Thanks, Quintin, for visiting with the Child Finder Trilogy today!