The Craft of Writing — July 2022
THE CRAFT OF WRITING – JULY 2022
With Garry Rodgers
I am thrilled to welcome Garry Rodgers to the Craft of Writing blog today as we continue our year-long interviews of mystery, suspense, thriller, and fantasy authors. A Canadian living in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC, Garry is a former detective with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He’s currently in the midst of writing a twelve-book series of true-crime thrillers.
Meet Garry Rodgers
Garry Rodgers is a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police serious crimes detective who went on to a second stint doing sudden and unexplained death investigations for the Province of British Columbia Coroners Service. In his younger years, Garry served as a marksman (sniper) on British Special Air Services (SAS) trained RCMP Emergency Response Teams. He’s also a recognized expert witness in Canadian courts on the identification and operation of firearms.
The Craft of Writing blog welcomes former Canadian Mounted Police detective Garry Rodgers. Click To Tweet
Welcome Garry Rodgers, and thank you for joining us!
Pleasure’s all mine, Kay. Thanks so much for hosting me.
Your background in law enforcement sounds fascinating. Can you give us any additional details that aren’t in the bio?
I’ve spent over three decades being the guy no one wanted an appointment with. I was Dr. Death. My first twenty years were with the RCMP’s Serious Crimes Section where we spent 90+ percent of our time on homicide cases. Once I had enough of the injustice system, I retired and took a position as a coroner. And once I tired of body snatching, I reincarnated as a crime writer which has served me well (so far). One little detail of my policing background, I spent fourteen of those twenty years attached to the Emergency Response Team (SWAT in US terms). This was a volunteer role as an addition to regular duties. It kept me in shape.
What made you decide you wanted to write about some of your own true-crime experiences?
I’ve always been an avid reader and writer. As a detective, over half of the time was spent on paperwork. Report writing, drafting search warrant applications, wiretap authorizations, and prosecutor guidelines. Because I was okay with written words, I got a lot of critical work sent my way. Legal stuff has to be letter perfect or it gets tossed. And as a coroner, there’s an equal amount of paper. I liked writing, and I thought in my later years (I’m now sixty-five) I could pass-on some of the true stories I encountered and tell it the way it really is—unlike some of the phoniness that’s out there.
Tell us about your twelve-book Based on True Crime Series.
I have eight books in this series written and published; In The Attic, Under The Ground, From The Shadows, Beside The Road, On The Floor, Between The Bikers, Beyond The Limits, and At The Cabin. I was about to start the ninth when I suddenly got sidetracked to develop a different series concept for a netstreaming company which is titled City Of Danger. While I was in the research phase for City Of Danger, I was approached by a different producer who optioned the film rights for my Based on True Crime Series. So, I’m back to that again and working on adopting the book manuscripts into screenplays. BTW, the true crime series has expanded from an initial twelve to now thirty storylines.
You’ve also written other titles. Can you tell us a little about those?
My first novel was No Witnesses To Nothing with a sequel No Life Until Death. I think they’re my best work but, then, who am I to judge? I did one historical non-fiction on the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the real reason Custer lost it. Then, I’ve done a few sidelines like writing guides and one spiritual piece called Interconnect—Finding Your Place, Purpose, and Meaning in the Universe. I wrote that more to myself in trying to make sense of the big picture. I also did a screenplay called The Fatal Shot which is based on a true case I investigated where a woman killed her sleeping husband and used the Battered Woman Syndrome as her defense. It was much like The Burning Bed that Farrah Fawcett starred in years ago.
What’s your writing process? Do you start with plot or characters or some combination?
I’ve gone full circle with my writing process, Kay. My first go, No Witnesses To Nothing, was planned out like the Invasion of Normandy—a true plotter. I loosened up a bit as I progressed and did the Based on True Crime Series as a pantster. I was introduced to the Writing Into the Dark method (Dean Wesley Smith) which I found to be liberating—allowing me to get right into the zone and let the words flow at over 1,000 per hour. That style worked well for the true crime stuff because I knew the stories inside and out. I just had to get them down on paper. However, with City Of Danger I’m back to outlining because this is pure fiction and it has to make sense whereas many true crime stories make no sense at all. They just are. As for character vs plot, the more I do of this the more I see how crucial characterization is. Here’s a quote taped to my writing desk, “Audiences purchase your work because of your concept, but they embrace it because of your characters”.
What are your plans for future books after you finish your current series?
For the foreseeable future, I’m committed to producing content for the film industry. In fact, I just formed a support company called Twenty-Second Century Entertainment which is separate from my indie publishing business, DyingWords Digital and Print Media. Currently, I have four film projects underway, City Of Danger, Occam’s Razor (which is the working title for the true crime series), The Fatal Shot, and a co-produced screenplay titled Lightning Man.
What advice would you give an aspiring author of thrillers?
I’ll pass this on from my writing friend and mentor, Adam Croft, who says, “Butt in chair. Fingers on keys. Write more books.” And this one from Stephen King, “Read a lot. Write a lot.” And from me. “Be a life-long learner.” I feel every aspiring author should absorb these books; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, On Writing by Stephen King, Elements of Style by Strunk & White, Wired For Story by Lisa Cron, Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us by Jessica Page Morrell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My website is DyingWords.net where I have most of my books linked. I have an active blog where I post fresh meat every second Saturday morning at 8:00 am PST precisely. I also have a page on the site with many links to writing and forensic resources. I’m not much for social media. Facebook has hugely gone downhill. I have a Twitter handle @GarryRodgers1 and an Amazon Author page. Oh, and I’m a regular contributor to the Kill Zone blog.
Thank you, Garry, for being with us today.
Again. Pleasure’s all mine. Thanks for hosting me, Kay!
The Craft of Writing blog welcomes former Canadian Mounted Police detective Garry Rodgers. Click To Tweet
Soo interesting! I will be checking out his books. Thanks for the must-read list for writers also
Good morning, Marion! Thanks for stopping by. I like Garry’s list of writing craft books, too. I especially like Self-editing for Fiction Writers.
Have a great day.
Hi Marion. Nice to hear you found this piece interesting!
Very interesting. Can’t wait to read his books
Good morning, Jackie! Thanks for stopping in.
Hello, Jackie. I try to write what I find interesting and hope others feel the same.
Good morning, Kay and Garry. Great interview and information. Good luck with all those projects. I don’t know how you keep all those plates spinning at the same time. Good luck with the screenplays.
Good morning, Steve. I’m also amazed at the number of projects Garry keeps going. (I wonder if they have more than 24 hours in a day up there in Vancouver. 🙂 )
Hi Steve – Nice to see you outside of the Kill Zone 🙂 For me, writing and content producing isn’t work. It’s a labor of love.
Garry’s books are terrific–well-written, compelling, and vivid. Dying Words is full of fascinating stories from the insider’s POV. He’s Joseph Wambaugh for the 21st century.
Good morning, Debbie! I also love Garry’s Dying Words blog. He’s in a unique position to give us insight into things that are outside our own frame of reference.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week.
Hey there, Debbie! I was fortunate to have a piece by Joseph Wambaugh on my blog. He originally wrote it for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) internal magazine called The Quarterly. Mr. Wambaugh, who I highly respect, was generous enough to give me sharing permission. http://dyingwords.net/joseph-wambaugh-interviewing-crime-writings-master-of-characters/
Thanks so much for hosting me and the exposure, Kay. One good deed deserves another 😉
Thank *you* Garry, for being my guest today.
One further question: Does Vancouver has some kind of time warp that gives you more than 24 hours in a day? It’s the only way I can figure that you can do everything that you do! 🙂
Thanks again for being here.
I have mastered the fine art of self-cloning 🙂
Good morning (still) Garry & Kay! Garry, you LOOK like a nice guy. Wow, what a career in law enforcement. And in such a beautiful part of the world as BC.
Your comment, “Once I had enough of the injustice system, I retired…” could’ve been a quote from a friend, a retired detective who worked child trafficking. He was afraid I would be put off or alarmed by his stories.
I bought IN THE ATTIC (thank you for nice price on the Kindle edition). The title alone creeped me out, and I can’t wait to be thrilled. Thank you so much for doing the interview with Kay and exposing us to your work.
I have a question. Looks like you’re an indie author. Me too. Can you share your thoughts about indie vs. the agent/publisher route? Why you’ve chosen the path you have?
I am a nice guy, Lisa. Just ask those who are still in jail because of my LE career. I’m indie in the book department but collaborative with producers and production companies in the film world.
I started writing commercially 12 years ago and tried the agent/traditional publishing query route. No one would have me, so my only path forward was becoming an indie. This was just as the KIndle process was taking off and I got tangled up with a starting-out group – four of which are over the million-seller mark as indies. We all sort of fed off each other and figured this thing out.
What I love about being an indie is having total control over every part of the writing and publishing process. Plus getting 70% royalties as opposed to the 8-10% as a TP author. If I were approached by a traditional publisher to gain the rights to my backlist, it’d have to be a substantial offer which isn’t going to happen.
I hope In The Attic freaks you out. It’s a true story and the thoughts from the perpetrator, Billy Ray, are based on 21 hours of recorded conversation I had with him.
When I laid aside my many rejections and published as an indie author, I had the thought that Jesus didn’t go to the Sanhedrin before He started preaching. He put what He had to say out to the people. The only thing I envy about traditional publishing is the reach a big house has. They can spread a book around to so many people. But it does come with a price, doesn’t it.
Well, I’m already scared and I haven’t even opened the book. Looking forward to a great ride and more beyond. I’ll keep in mind the perpetrator’s mind is very close to an actual mind. That’s even worse.
Thank you again, sir. Happy writing!
Hello Lisa! I’m so glad you picked up a copy of In the Attic. Let me know what you think!
I like your analogy. I know you spend a lot of time polishing your work before it’s released, and it shows.
have a great week!
Lisa, Jesus wasn’t just rejected for preaching God’s truth – he was crucified for it. His messages were slowly spread, over time, by word of mouth and later by print. Today, we have word of mouse, and the internet is doing an exponential job of spreading Jesus’s teachings despite the fake news and false prophets. This analogy pertains to indie authors – if you have something you feel worthwhile saying to the world, then go to work and get it out there. There has never been an opportunity to reach the masses like there is today with the internet’s indie publishing platforms.
Prolific. Sounds so interesting and I like the fact that he said his writing is based on how crime solving “really is and not that phony stuff out there. We should read one of his books for our book club
Great idea, Vicki!
Wow, what an informative and interesting post! Thank you, Garry and Kay!!
Hi Barbara! Thank you for stopping by. Garry’s real-life experiences in law enforcement make him a wonderful resource.
Nice to hear you found it informative and interesting, Barbara. Comments like yours go ahead and make my day. 😉
Fascinating! Amazing LEO background.
Thanks for stopping by, Jguenther!