Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Life as a Police Volunteer and Mystery Writer by Carole Price

Carole Price is a Buckeye. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, she attended Ohio State University. She worked for a national laboratory in northern California before turning to writing mysteries. She graduated from Livermore’s Citizens Police Academy and is a volunteer for the Livermore Police Department. 

Carole frequents the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland where she fell in love with the Bard. Twisted Vines is the first in her Shakespeare in the Vineyard mystery series and takes place in Livermore, CA. 

Carole is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area in the middle of wine country.


My Life as a Police Volunteer and Mystery Writer by Carole Price

Murder never entered my mind when I retired. But then I went to a book signing and met a popular mystery writer. She invited me to join her critique group. How could I refuse? A lot has happened since that day. I wrote my first mystery. Research for that book took me to one of my favorite places, Martha’s Vineyard (somehow my mind tapped into vineyards way back then), London and Edinburgh. After my share of rejects from agents, I retired that book to a file drawer.

When our daughter moved to Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, my husband and I attended many performances. I fell in love with the Bard and the theater, and after a behind-the-scene tour and later a sit-down with someone from the festival, I was hooked. Why not write a mystery about Shakespeare in Livermore wine country?

I still belong to a critique group, but I signed up for Livermore’s Citizens’ Police Academy and became a volunteer with the Livermore Police Department—after their daunting clearance process of fingerprinting, drug testing, and even a polygraph test. Fortunately, I passed the tests or I would have been denied access to the station. My Top Secret clearance at Sandia Labs may have hurried the process along a bit.

I work a lot of events: the wine festival, rodeo, and role-play with the SWAT team. I’ve been shot at with rubber bullets and paint guns, handcuffed, and tossed to the ground. Who said research wasn’t fun?

For the past six years my assignment has been in the traffic department. Every Monday, dressed in my navy and khaki uniform, I pick up a radio and keys and hop into a volunteer police car. I cover two beats (isn’t that kick?) and head out to tag abandoned vehicles. I’m sure you’ve seen those nasty orange stickers on windshields (orange in Livermore anyway). While covering my beats, I’m the eyes and ears for the police department (as my mind thinks up plots for books). I’ve only had to radio Dispatch a few times for officer assistance, but I learned how fast they respond to a volunteer’s call when four cruisers arrived on the scene. The LPD has been very supportive of my writing and generous in answering my many inquiries about police procedures.

Last year, Five Star Publishing offered me a contract for Twisted Vines, the first in my Shakespeare in the Vineyard mystery series. It takes place in Livermore, with a couple of scenes in an interview room inside the Livermore Police station (just talk, no murders). Five Star has specific rules when using an authentic town or city. A real name, as part of a scene where there’s action, requires written permission. Consequently, after I consulted with Livermore’s police chief, he contacted the City attorney and asked him to address a letter to my publisher granting me permission to use one of their rooms in my book, as long as I didn’t say anything that would portray the police department or Livermore in a negative light.

Here’s a short synopsis about Twisted Vines:

Crime Analyst Caitlyn Tilson Pepper inherits a vineyard and two Shakespearean theaters in a northern Californian town from a mysterious aunt and becomes a target for murder. Twisted Vines unveils deceit, betrayal, and cold-blooded murder. Cait’s investigation into the life and death of her aunt, a famous Shakespearean actress, forces her down an ever-darkening road paved with familial lies, devastating secrets, and multiple murders.

Twisted Vines will be released August 15, 2012. It’s available for pre-order on and also Barnes and Noble.

Patricia, thank you for giving me this opportunity to blog on your website. I hope it provides some insight into how volunteering for the LPD has given me a better understanding of police procedures.


Thank you for being here, Carole. Some of my writer friends in Colorado have participated in their community Citizens’ Police Academies and highly recommend the experience.

You can learn more about Carole and the Shakespeare in the Vineyard mystery series at her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Carole.

Carole - You are so fortunate that you've got such good contacts for getting the facts about police procedure. And your Shakespeare in the Vineyard series sounds like an interesting series, too. How cool! I wish you much success with it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a cool experience!

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Patricia,

As always, your blog is a fun place to visit.

Hi Carole,

What an inspiration! How wonderful it is that you have turned your retirement years into amazingly productive years.

Donna V.

Alice Duncan said...

Wow, I had no idea how much training you've been through. Handcuffed, shot with rubber bullets. Yikes! Good going, Carole! Love TWISTED VINES.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, I'm enjoying my visiting mystery writers so much!

Alex, I think so too.

Thanks, Donna! Stop by for coffee anytime.

Hi Alice -- Yeah, I'm not sure I'd enjoy the rubber bullets part...

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Your training certainly brings authenticity to your novel!
Congrats, Carole!

Maryann Miller said...

So nice to meet you here, Carole. What a great opportunity for research to be a police volunteer. I wish they had that program where I live. I did do ride-alongs and lots of interviews before starting my mystery series, but that was a long time ago. Staying closely involved with a department allows you to keep up with what is current in procedures, etc.

Love the cover of your book. Good luck.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for the excellent post, Carole. I'm looking forward to reading Twisted Vines.

Pat Tillett said...

Great post and it sure sounds like a good book! Thanks to both of you!

Jemi Fraser said...

That's so cool - what a great way to get insights into your writing! :)

Lynn Proctor said...

this sounds amazing--i love stories about actors and mysteries!

Rosalind Adam said...

What an exciting way to research for a novel!

Carole Price said...

Thank you everyone for your comments on my article and my many experiences as a police volunteer. The police academy was so much fun and I gained a world of information. It also gave me a better understanding of police procedures and the passion the men and women have for their job, and the pride they have for their city.

I highly recommend signing on for an academy if one is available in your town. The instructors' enthusiasm for their work is contagious. My academy lasted eighteen weeks. We spent one day at the sheriff's shooting range and scenario village. I got a little trigger happy and shot a police officer's jeans, turning them pink. We had a great graduation and received a CD of pictures taken during those weeks.

Pat, thank you! I appreciate this opportunity to help promote the academy and my book, Twisted Vines. If anyone has question about the academy, feel free to ask.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia and Carole - what an interesting guest review/post .. I always love reading these sorts of backauthor snippets ... and I bet the book is an excellent read - Twisted Vines ..

Good luck with its release tomorrow .. cheers Hilary

Sally Shield said...

Glad to see your article and that you were successful at writing a novel. I too was a volunteer police officer prior to pursuing police work and investigation as my career. I really miss it now that I am retired. I now write a blog and have started writing a novel Thanks for being someone I can look up to and know its possible.