I’ve drawn on personal experiences as a child in the course of crafting the Mike Montego series. I’ve done so to give the books’ main character a realistic past. But what Mike experienced is not exactly the same as what I experienced. I’ve judiciously added to his background, and given him martial arts abilities that I could only dream of as a kid—not that I haven’t practiced some of it in my later years.
When I began writing off-and-on some twenty years ago, it was a hobby. I like to think it still is, although I spend many more hours at my desk today than I did back then. Writing has kept me young in some ways, at least mentally, as I relive memories of my law enforcement days on the streets of Los Angeles.
Plotting my stories takes me back, so far back that I have to pause and ask myself, was that really the way it happened?! Today’s law enforcement officer has so much more at his/her fingertips than we did back in the ‘60s — things my partners and I could scarcely have fantasized about. I’m not sure we ever considered Dick Tracy’s 2-way wristwatch would ever become reality, and now, technology has blown by it!
On patrol when making a stop back in the day, we seldom knew what we would be facing. I’m sure that’s still true, but today’s patrol officers have more information at their disposal, and get it quicker, much of it in real time, thanks to on-board computers.
I also know patrol officers don’t wait as long these days for returns on their wants and warrants checks. Boy, do I remember those too-long minutes ticking by as I hovered by the radio receiver, wanting to be within earshot of the radio when the response to my request finally came in.
When a Code Six Charles came over the air, meaning I had stopped a wanted felon, I instantly wondered: am I vulnerable? After cuffing the suspect and breathing more easily, I would run through every step I’d taken from the vehicle stop to the moment of receiving the information.
Too often I second-guessed myself . . . but I obviously survived.
And now I write about it. What a wonderful world.