Dr. Kirschman is a member of the psychological services section of the International Association of Police Chiefs, the police, public safety subdivision of Division 18 of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, the International Law Enforcement Trainers Association, the Public Safety Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America. She has published more than a dozen articles and book chapters about police stress, the psychology of recovering from critical incidents, and strategies for consultation to organizational issues in law enforcement. Her essay “Bare Butts and Bare Souls” was included in the anthology What Would Sipowicz Do? Race, Rights and Redemption in NYPD Blue (Ben Bella, 2004). She and Dr. Lorraine Greene are co-developers of www.policefamilies.com, named web site of the month by the American Psychological Association.
She provides psychological consultation and peer support training to many local and federal public safety agencies, police, fire and probation. She was co-facilitator of the Trauma Team Training Institute for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from1996-2008.
Dr. Kirschman has appeared on a number of national radio and television programs. She has been an invited guest at four national conferences on police psychology sponsored by the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Women and was once named Woman of Distinction by the Police Chief’s Spouses Worldwide.
Dr. Kirschman currently devotes her time to training and public speaking, including guest lectures at the Hong Kong Police Department and the Singapore Police Force. She volunteers at the West Coast Post Trauma Retreat, a peer-driven, clinically guided retreat for first responders with PTSD.
You certainly have some extensive credentials with respect to the behavioral science aspects of the law enforcement community. I tend to focus my blog on fiction authors, and I understand you’ve got a novel WIP right now. But I’d like to hear more about your work with law enforcement and the non-fiction books you’ve authored.
EK: I’ve been a working police psychologist for most of my career – long before I had any gray hair. These days I spend my time giving workshops worldwide and locally, writing, and volunteering at the West Coast Post trauma Retreat for first responders with work related traumatic stress. I wrote I Love a Co because it was clear to me that officers and their families were unprepared for how much police work would spillover to their personal lives.
I wrote I Love a Fire Fighter and revised I Love a Cop after September 11th when the world changed dramatically for all of us, but especially for first responders. Writing self-help books is tough work involving a lot of research. The easy part was filling the book with real life stories from my files. The hard part was separating good science from junk science and condensing complex ideas into comprehensible, practical information. That’s when I became delusional and thought that making stuff up had to be easier. It isn’t. It’s taken me longer to write the first draft of my mystery than it did to write both books and the revision.
MA: Fiction can be tough! Tell us about your story.
EK: My mystery, working title Burying Ben, is still unpublished and in search of an agent. It features, Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, a police psychologist, whose job is a lot more dangerous than mine. Dot’s on the job one month when Ben Gomez, a rookie she is counseling, commits suicide and everyone blames her. At stake is her job, her reputation, her license to practice, and her already battered sense of self-worth. Refusing to be a scapegoat, she resolves to find out, not just what led this odd young man to commit suicide, but why her psychologist ex-husband, the man she most wants to avoid, recommended that he be hired in the first place. Ben’s surviving family and everyone else connected to him are just as determined to keep Ben’s story a secret, by any means necessary. As she pursues the truth, Dot discovers that no one is who they seem to be. Even Ben, from the grave, has secrets to keep.
MA: How did you develop your heroine’s character?
EK: Through trial and error. The more autobiographical I was, the harder it was to tell the story. I kept thinking “this wouldn’t have happened this way” or ” I would have reacted differently.” The transition from adhering to the truth as a non-fiction writer to creating a compelling story was a big shift for me.
MA: Tell us more about Dot’s personality and about the real “bad guys” in the story.
EK: She’s pretty funny and plenty gutsy, although her reckless pursuit of the truth gets her in big trouble. She has several antagonists, including her ex-husband and his new wife. It’s hard for her to tell who’s on her side and who’s trying to destroy her.
MA: Considering your background, is there a little bit of your personal and/or professional life in the story?
EK: There are bits and pieces of my clients and colleagues in every character. Even my family pops up in surprising ways.
MA: Is this mystery going to be your only venture into fiction, and do you have any plans for more non-fiction works?
EK: I’m in discussion with my first publisher regarding another non-fiction book about treating police officers and their families. My files are full of amazing stories. Burying Ben is only the first in a series of Dot Meyerhoff mysteries. Some of the characters will migrate to future books, some will have dropped out of sight, and some will be lurking in the shadows.
MA: I love things that lurk in shadows – in the fictional world, of course. Thanks for stopping by the Child Finder Trilogy. To learn more about Dr. Kirschman’s books and her workshops or to contact her, visit her website: www.ellenkirschman.com.