By Winter Austin, author of Relentless
As I write this it’s snowing outside here in my little piece of the world. Here in the mid-west snow reminds us of the holidays, and for us romantics Valentine’s Day is one of our favorites. And had I followed my intense interest of being a police officer I wouldn’t have enjoyed the holiday as much, nor Christmas or New Year’s and countless others.
Why, you ask? Well, for police officers and detectives it means you don’t get to spend those holidays with your families. And you miss out on many other things, like anniversaries and birthdays. The advice of a state trooper at a career fair I attended as a high school student was that one really had to want to be an officer and willing to make those sacrifices for the greater good of those you protect. The introvert in me rebelled. Who wants to miss out on Christmas to stand in snow drifts at a car accident? Not me.
But my interest in the police and their workings never died. I was a writer and well, if I couldn’t stomach being one, then I’d write about them. I read almost every mystery book that had a police officer or detective as the lead character. And many of those books always had a love interest of some kind, but their romance took a back seat to the mystery or angst of the main character. Not enough to satisfy this romantic’s heart. Everyone falls in love, even detectives, and I wanted to read more of that along with the bad guy getting his just desserts.
Thus spawned the creation of my detective hero, Remy LeBeau. Now, he wasn’t always a detective. No, his first beginnings were as a cowboy, but that profile didn’t fit him. I needed an opposite to my cowgirl heroine, something that took her out of her comfort zone, a career that only a special kind of woman could handle. With time and years of gleaning and learning, Remy eventually evolved into what other characters in my book Relentless call him, Iceman. He approaches every murder investigation with a heart of ice, because if he got too invested in the case, he’d suffer. Until the heroine, Cody Lewis walked onto the scene.
I’m a stickler for realism. Yet on occasion I do take author license and make my police characters do things that in reality would never, ever happen. I used to have Remy wear a shoulder holster for his weapon, but it became evident that if he were a real detective he’d never wear one. Not after wearing it on his hip for many years as a patrol officer. The training would have been entrenched that he’d wear his sidearm on his hip. On the advice of one of my police consultants, I removed it. And you know what, I like it there. It’s downright sexy writing scenes where I have him push back his jacket and reveal that gun butt with his badge.
In my quest to convey the reality of being a detective, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some helpful people, from sheriff’s deputies to more recently an active police sniper to a former undercover FBI agent. Each person has added layers to my characters and their chosen professions. And the beauty of it all, each of them are writers, authors, and readers, so they know just what I can do to make the reader enjoy the ride.
What did you want to be when you “grew up”? Did your dreams come to fruition or did you change course along the way? Share in the comments!