Between the Chalk Lines: Perspective of a Female Detective

20

August 1, 2012 by msashtonwriter

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time—to be able to talk with a female detective. I first got to chat with her during #cclivechat on Twitter and now she is here with us on Criminal Lines.

Her name is Suzie Ivy and she is the author of Bad Luck Cadet and Bad Luck Officer. I’ve read the reviews and can’t wait to get a copy of it once it’s in print.  Hope I can get her to autograph it.

Here’s Suzie:

1.  I want to say thank you for stopping by. We appreciate your time.

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest. I love talking about blogging, writing, and being a cop.

2.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work as a police detective in a rural Arizona community. I specialize in sex crimes although I work everything from fraud to homicide.                                   

3.  When did you decide that being in law enforcement is what you wanted?

Originally when I was 14-years-old but life and family delayed my dream, although I wouldn’t change a thing. My dream continued when I was 45-years-old and took the leap.

4.  Are there cases that are more difficult to handle than others?

Child molestation cases are my primary specialty and they are sad, challenging, and often devastating. I practice meditation along with bending the ear of an excellent therapist. It took me a couple of years to realize I needed the release of a counselor. We laugh that she must seek out her own therapist after my visits.

5.  Is the “CSI Factor” an irritant to you as an LEO?

Ten time YES. It’s what juries know and we must gently re-educate them. I want to say, “Look, only an idiot would store evidence in a plastic bag. The oils from plastic contaminate everything.” What I say is, “Take for example plastic being used on a show such as CSI. It looks great for the cameras but unfortunately they ruin all their evidence due to the contaminating oils in plastic.” I then laugh while shaking my head up and down so they can laugh and nod their heads with me.   

6.  What TV series has impressed you with their accuracy in detailing crime scenes?

I haven’t fallen in love or been impressed with a cop/CSI TV series since Hill Street Blues. I will shamefully admit to enjoying Sons of Anarchy.

7.  I enjoy reading your blog, The Bad Luck Detective: From Midlife Crisis to Police Detective. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and I’ve cheered. Your posts are fun and upfront. Can you explain your reason for starting the blog?

Again this goes back to therapy. I needed an outlet to remember why I became an officer. I needed to show the lighter side of the job and I also wanted people to see cops as human beings. We make mistakes, we laugh and we cry.

8.  You have over 4,000 readers. Did you ever dream that your content would interest so many?

No, I remember that first comment from someone I didn’t know. I pinched myself and grinned from ear to ear. If the bruises lasted, I would have nowhere else to pinch. I also think with all the turmoil in the world, people are looking for laughter. Nothing delights me more than those LOL and ROTFLMAO comments.

Some of my posts get carried away in the comments and they are more fun than what I originally wrote. I love when that happens.

9.  Now, you’ve written two books. Bad Luck Cadet and Bad Luck Officer. Please tell us about them.

Bad Luck Cadet began my entire blog career. A friend told me about blogging so I posted the first chapter of BLC and then another. The series was picked up by NoQuarter USA, a political blog and ran as a serial novel. Things just kind of went from there as I retold the story of my experiences at the police academy at the age of 45.

Bad Luck Officer was written as a book and not a blog. The writing is much better, shows what I’ve learned about writing, and it’s told more as a story about my first two years as a cop.

10.  Is there another book in the works?

I am currently working on Bad Luck in Small Town about a true-life homicide investigation. I’m known to have very odd cases and this is one of those. It’s actually a novella (about 35,000 words) and it’s a holdover for Bad Luck Detective which will be out next year.

11.   What do you do to find your muse?

Nature. I am very spiritual; I have a healing garden with a pond and large goldfish. I encourage wildlife including, birds, rabbits, bees & wasps, snakes, lizards, spiders, etc. to join me. Sitting in my garden helps me to focus and develop ideas.  

12.   Do you use a prop while writing?

Music is my MUST. Right now I’m listening to native flute though I’m known to crank up the hard rock-n-roll just as often. I also like sexy, naughty, dirty blues.

13.   Who is your favorite author?

There are so many and it’s always changing. This is my top ten list for today: Stephen King, Ilona Andrews, Lavyrle Spencer, Robert Crais, Lee Child, JK Rowling, Thomas B. Constain, Og Mandino, Janet Evanovich, and Patricia Briggs. I’m very eclectic and there are hundreds more.

14.   What advice would you give women considering going into law enforcement?

Full steam ahead. We must attract more women to law enforcement. You are needed at every level. If you’re heading to the police academy start 100 push-ups a day now!

15.   Name three people that have inspired you and why.

Amelia Earhart: I discovered I was born on her birthday when I was eight-years-old. I’ve read every book written about her life. She was and continues to be amazing.

Katherine Swynford: This most beloved and most romantic heroine defied everything and everyone for her love of John of Gaunt in 14th century England. Again, I’ve read every account of the two written, but my favorite remains Katherine by Anya Seton.

My mother: I’ve told so many stories about her. My favorite is her insistence that in my lifetime there will be a female president and there is no reason it cannot be me. I was probably 5-years-old the first time she recited those words and I grew up with them.

She has always encouraged bravery, honesty, and love.  She had never stopped believing in me and she is my biggest hero.

16.   One last thing, can you please suggest to aspiring crime writers what they can do to make their books more believable?

Police officers love to feel special. Call your local law enforcement (especially detectives) ask procedural questions. Ask if they would read an excerpt that you’re not sure about. Get their email address. I think writers feel too intimidated to ask but so many would rather you get it right for a change and would love to help.

 

It all began when I was forty-five years old and decided to lose weight, get in shape and attend the police academy. I became the first female officer in my small town and two years later a detective.

When I’m not working on my next big case, you can find me writing, gardening, taking care of my horse and dogs or playing dominoes with my husband.

I write about the humorous side of my career in law enforcement as I stumble through my mid-life adventure.

Best Wishes, Suzie Ivy

To learn more about Suzie, please visit her blog at www.badluckdetective.com.

If you’re interested in purchasing her books, you can find them at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Other links in the Between the Chalk Lines Series

Between the Chalk Lines: Forensically Speaking

Between the Chalk Lines: The Anatomy of Investigation

Between the Chalk Lines: Warming Up to Cold Cases

20 thoughts on “Between the Chalk Lines: Perspective of a Female Detective

  1. Ashley says:

    First, I want to say congratulations on your book. I think you’re brave to put your life on the line on a daily basis.
    I couldn’t handle it. I cried during the Casey Anthony Trial and now I’m frustrated about the missing Iowa cousins.

    On to my questions:
    How do you handle the emotional side of informing parents about their children?
    And..
    I’m writing a novel that has a lead female detective. At first I had her in stiletto heels. Then I rewrote it so she wore more comfy shoes. What is the reality of a female detective’s dress?

  2. Donna M says:

    Hello Ms. Ivy,
    You said a good way to get information about police procedurals is to call our local law enforcement. What about books?

    • Suzie Ivy says:

      Michael Connelly is wonderful. He has a female detective (she’s an alcoholic & haunted) which I love. She appears in several of his books and his procedural is dead on and his cops are too real by being far from perfect. I just read Drawn in Blood by N.P. Statham. This book should be studied for it’s police procedural and cop thinking. It takes a lot to impress me and I read few detective stories because it’s hard to get right.

      Shameless plug here: My next Bad Luck book is total procedural and I’m trying to keep it from being boring. Detective work is 10% excitement and 90% steady methodical legwork. That’s why this book will only be a novella. It does have humor because quite frankly it was just plain odd.

      • Ashley says:

        Thank you. I have never read Michael Connelly and will work on that one too. 🙂
        Thx Donna.
        Just one more ?.
        Does body temperature vary in areas where it’s hotter. Like determining the time of death?

      • Suzie Ivy says:

        Ashley, no limit to questions 🙂 I replied to your first and you’ll find it below. I hit the wrong button so this is not seamless.

        I’ve only had my ME come to one crime scene and that was to verify the buried body was indeed human. Mostly it’s investigation (lividity, rigor, when they were last seen or spoken to, etc.) that determines the actual, or speculated time of death. Our ME will pronounce over the phone once I give him the info and that will be the time of record but is different from the actual time the person was murdered. A larger city detective might do it differently but for us in rural communities this is pretty standard. If you find a body, say a week old, the temp won’t matter and yes, outside temps play a huge part in dead body temperatures.

  3. Suzie Ivy says:

    Informing parents is so hard. I’ve had two really bad ones, the first a 12-year-old that was killed with her aunt in a car accident. I sat and cried with her parents. Quite unprofessional but the last thing I would want is a sterile cop standing there with a sad look. My other was the murder of a 16-year-old and it will live with me forever. At the end of each day I have a wonderful husband who lets me cry on his shoulder if needed. I believe a strong support team is the answer.

    Pet peeve here sorry. I stop reading (unless paranormal urban fantasy book) when a female detective has stilettos or breasts hanging out. Comfort is the answer. And, how would I put on paper booties over high heels, it would not work. I wear comfy boots with a 3/4 inch heel and a slight tread on the bottom. They’re feminine but do the job. I have three different pairs, one black and two brown. I like pants which come up a little higher than my hips because if the pants are hip huggers it doesn’t matter how tight my belt, my gun pulls them down. I will usually wear a skintight undershirt (rayon, nylon, or cotton) and then a blouse to hang a little and just barely cover my gun. As a detective I don’t like to advertise COP when talking to people, I like them to feel comfortable.

    If you have more questions (these were great) here’s my email: suzieivy at ymail dot com

  4. mark says:

    Are all CSI shows unrealistic, or are some better than others?

  5. NP Statham says:

    What a wonderful interview! Both my husband and I became shameless fans of Suzie Ivy since reading her books – one right after the other, they’re so good!

    Most of all I’ve come to admire her as a person. Mom, wife, detective, writer (not just of procedural books, she also has a cool vampire series), active blogger, has one of the toughest jobs in the world and is always in high spirits with a great sense of humor. Not to mention handling stubborn old-ladies and the odd wild-animal call – everything from bulls, snakes and spiders. Seriously, how do you keep it up?? I feel challenged just by the 100 push-ups! 🙂

    I’m still pinching myself that this class A detective thinks I got my police procedural right! Thank you so much!! That alone makes it worth having written it.

    @ Suzie – when can we have an interview of you and your mom? She sounds like such a great lady! Would love to see a post about her in your blog 😉

    • Suzie Ivy says:

      I actually write quite a bit about my mother. Here’s my favorite post http://badluckdetective.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/footprints-i-strive-to-follow/

      And then if you have a great sense of humor (if not don’t read) I’ve written about our weird humor on my vamp site. The latest post is titled “Killing Off Mom” which gives you a clue. http://fangchronicles.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/killing-off-mom/

      • NP Statham says:

        Aha, I hadn’t seen those, thanks! Vegan, keeps a mountain lion, and a single mom in the sixties; do I see a biography coming in the future? 😉

        Out of curiosity, if the ME rarely makes it to your crime scenes, who transports the body back to the morgue? Does the Officer in charge make any kind of physical examination on site, like liver temp and examining the eyes?

        Hope we get to find out about your serial killer case in the next book, I’m really curious about that one!

        Best,
        /NP

      • Suzie Ivy says:

        My mom does a bit of writing here and there though she should do more. Mostly she gets the first look at my work and then makes it better.

        After my pics are taken (by me) I will look over the body. Nope I don’t check liver but I have examined eyes for signs of strangulation and other goodies. Our suspicious bodies are transferred to Tucson by our local mortuary and he also picks up the body from the scene. He has locked cabinets for storage that I can seal. I will sometimes meet our local ME at the mortuary so we can discuss issues. He’s wonderful at teaching me about death in English and not medical jargon. I talk about all this in my next book as I go step by step though a homicide investigation. Now I just need to finish writing it.

        On a side note…my ME is also my primary care physician and doubles as my OBGYN. We are quite close. Only in a small town 🙂

    • msashtonwriter says:

      Hello, NP,
      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It has been a joy getting to know Suzie.
      I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and commenting. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. Jazzy101 says:

    You say the CSI shows annoy you because it’s basically not realistic, what about it… Like is it because the clues come together so easily most of the time and they always solve it after one or two episodes?

    • Suzie Ivy says:

      You’ve named two of the problems but there are so many. Evidence collection itself is quite different than they portray. I am my own CSI specialist and juries have trouble accepting that I do all the collection myself. They want a team of specialists and high-tech gear. What they get is post-it notes collecting small hair fibers. I kid you not, post-it notes are a must in evidence collection. My list goes on and on. I’ll refer you to the link on a comment above and my CSI rant post for further outrage.

      Please, don’t get me wrong and if you enjoy the show watch it but remember it’s fiction. And, don’t think I don’t envy the pretty faces when mine cannot come close to the Hollywood beauties.

  7. Suzie Ivy says:

    Marguerite, thank you so much for having me here today. This was a wonderful interview and I will be checking back to see who your next guests will be. I followed your blog so I won’t miss anything. {hugs}

    • msashtonwriter says:

      Suzie,
      It was my pleasure. I think you’ve got some lady power here on the blog 🙂 Between the blog and working on my manuscript I was a busy girl yesterday.
      You know that means, you’ll have to come back again sometime!

      Thanks for following and hugs back Please take care.

  8. ron says:

    What genre does your books fall under?

    • Suzie Ivy says:

      Hi Ron, I call them true-life adventure but they are classified as biography/memoir I do change gender, age, and small bits of info to protect my victims but each case (book II) comes from the experiences I’ve had as an officer.

  9. Loved this interview with Suzie. I’ve had the distinct privilege of visiting her and seeing her healing garden/pond. The biggest treat was doing a ride-along with her. This woman is GOOD at what she does; loved her first book and am looking forward to the others. Go get ’em, Suzie.

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