MA: Jennifer Chase is an author, freelance writer, and criminologist. She has authored two thriller novels, Compulsion and Dead Game. She holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology. She also has certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She lives in California where she is at work on her next book.
Given your academic background – forensics and criminology, criminal profiling, is it safe to assume you’ve worked professionally in some aspect of law enforcement?
JC: My working background has been primarily in the corporate world of accounting and business management. I’ve had experience in screenwriting and article writing in the past, but I’ve really wanted to write novels for some time now. My interest in forensics and criminal psychology drove me to go back to school to earn a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology. I felt that going back to school helped me to begin a writing career in crime fiction.
MA: I’m surprised to hear you have worked in the corporate world and not in some dimly-lit police department, in a stale interrogation room trying to sweat out confessions. It sounds like your academic interests intersect more with your writing, as opposed to your other career interests.
JC: I’ve loved writing and books for as long as I can remember. Reading novels has always been a big part of my life. I’m a fan of thriller, mystery, and suspense stories. It wasn’t until a personal experience of living next door to a violent sociopathic individual that I decided to write my first novel. It seemed to be a perfect time for me to write my first novel. With the academic background along with some much needed confidence helped to propel me through my book projects.
MA: Tell us about your stories.
JC: I have two thriller novels out, Compulsion and Dead Game. In Compulsion, Emily Stone doesn’t have a badge. But that hasn’t stopped her from tracking down some of the West’s most dangerous child-killers. Armed with a digital SLR camera, laptop computer and her trusty Beretta, Stone uses her innate gift for detective work to identify the perps — and then anonymously e-mail the evidence to the cops.
Now, the hunt for two brazen serial killers on the loose right in her own coastal California town threatens to expose Stone’s identity — unraveling her carefully constructed cover and jeopardizing her life’s work. But when she gets too close to the action, this razor-sharp hunter becomes the hunted. Cooperating with the handsome local police detective could be the only hope for stopping the rampage directed at unsuspecting young women — and saving herself. Can they piece together the clues in time?
Compulsion mixes CSI-style investigation with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot and a dose of romance for a keeps-you-guessing, fast-paced and savvy thriller, right up until the shocking finale.
Dead Game is another Emily Stone Novel. In her independent efforts to catch child killers, Emily Stone discovers the evidence that the cops can’t—or won’t—uncover. Now, this covert investigator is back on the hunt for the world’s most sick and twisted murderers. But even with help from ex-police detective Rick Lopez, this time she’s facing her most dangerous opponent yet.
The headlines in the San Jose Mercury News blare updates on a serial killer who seems able to slaughter with impunity. Men, women—it doesn’t matter; the victims serve only to satisfy a perverted need to kill. The killer watches the moment of death on multiple computer screens, over and over again. The only connection is that they’re all devotees of the latest video-game craze—a sophisticated brain-puzzler called EagleEye.
When the killer goes after Lopez’s law-enforcement mentor, Lopez and Stone decide to give the cops a little extra, unsolicited help. What follows takes them deep inside a shocking high-tech world, a kind of social-networking community for serial killers. But when they start getting too close to the truth, all hell’s going to break loose.
Now, Stone and Lopez become the killer’s next target as Stone must make a difficult decision to leave the ones she loves in an all-or-nothing effort for survival. Can they stay alive long enough to blow the whistle on this unlikely perpetrator?
MA: EagleEye? That sent a chill down my spine. When I was a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, we had a special program called Eagle Eye. Too coincidental! How did you create Emily’s character?
JC: I wanted to create a character that would hunt down serial killers and child abductors in a way where she would be completely anonymous. After I saw the startling statistics on missing children in the US every year, I decided to make her more proactive in tracking down child abductors. This is what drives her character. My heroine Emily Stone evolved from this concept and I wanted to up the stakes by having her as a petite, clever, and capable woman hunting the most hideous criminals in our society – alone.
I know that many police departments are overworked, understaffed, and underfunded, so I thought that creating this fictional character would help to assist the police behind the scenes and would create some suspense with a thrill quality to it. She is a type of phantom detective helping the police without their knowledge and then she emails the information directly to the detective in charge. However, she does get into some scary situations along the way, while catching these killers before they are able to strike again.
MA: Emily sounds like a tough woman. What else should we know about her?
JC: Emily Stone is a strong and noble character. She gets things done and uses her natural ability and instincts to catch killers and pedophiles. She knows the psychology of criminals and uses it to her advantage. Her weaknesses are her vulnerabilities of being alone in her quest as well as her drive to push her abilities to the limits tracking killers. She wavers between justice and vigilantism.
MA: Sounds like you have a full cast of antagonists for Ms. Stone to go toe-to-toe with. Are there any in particular that seem to give her a greater challenge than others?
JC: Dead Game has a high-tech serial killer stalking victims through the video games they play on computers and cell phones. He’s a bit of a unique serial killer because he craves the images of his victim’s deaths on video over and over again. He doesn’t get his hands dirty, but can relive their deaths any time he wants. He hasn’t had to meet up with Emily Stone yet and that’s when everything changes in this story.
MA: I’m almost afraid to ask if you had any personal experiences that helped shape your writing, especially since your professional life has been in the corporate world.
JC: I can’t say that I’ve had any experiences with serial killers, but I did have a neighbor who was definitely a violent sociopath that threatened my life for several years. It was bad enough for me to have to move. This experience made my writer’s imagination kick into full gear and that’s how Emily Stone was created.
MA: That had to be creepy, and I’m glad you were able to get away from him. Do you have any more Emily Stone Novels planned, or perhaps a whole new line of mysteries?
JC: I’m currently in the process of writing a suspense thriller with a working title, Silent Partner, from a screenplay I wrote about a K-9 cop that becomes involved with an agoraphobic woman accused of murdering her sister. He finds himself caught in a web of lies and deception that leaves him wondering if he can protect her from her fears, both real and imagined, before it’s too late.
I’m having a great time writing the Emily Stone series and I will continue with this character for other books. Also, a character from Dead Game by the name of Jordan Smith seems to be receiving quite a bit of attention. I’m toying with the idea of writing a book with him as the main character.
Finally, I’m outlining and researching the third Emily Stone Novel that I will begin writing before summer. She will be tracking down a serial killer on the beautiful garden island of Kauai. The story will answer the question of how Emily will stop a diabolical serial killer on the quiet island paradise.
MA: Sounds like that will require some field research in Hawaii…to get the setting just right for the plot, of course! Thanks for visiting with us today. Please visit Jennifer Chase’s website to learn more about her and the Emily Stone Novel series: http://jenniferchase.vpweb.com/default.html