We're celebrating Strong Women in Literature this week with Dallas police officer, turned detective novelist, Anita Dickason. Anita writes the Code Name-Trackers book series.
*Don't forget to enter the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway at the bottom of this post!
I had the pleasure of chatting with Anita recently about her law enforcement background and about her wonderful book series. Anita had some interesting and impressive things to say, so let's get started!
Please tell readers a bit about Sentinels of the Night.
With my law enforcement background, deciding on the type of books I wanted to write was easy. I would write about what I know – crime and cops. Developing the characters was more difficult. I have always enjoyed reading about characters that had an extra edge, a special ability that lets them overcome adversity and danger. How could I add that mystique and make it unique? Since I also love reading the myths and legends of the Native Americans, Scots, and the Irish, I turned to those ancient tales to find my inspiration.
In Sentinels of the Night, I created a new FBI team, Code Name – Trackers. Each of the agents has a different ability, a secret that defies logic and reason. While the novel is a standalone, I use a popular technique of creating a group of characters to provide continuity. In my subsequent books, another character takes center stage. I like this style of writing as it allows me to add depth to the characters.
Where did the story come from?
The plot is based on an incident from my law enforcement career. I crossed paths with a serial killer. He was ultimately convicted on multiple counts of murder, but he was a suspect in several others, though it couldn’t be proved. I have never forgotten the dead look in his eyes. It was if nothing was alive, no feeling or emotion. That memory became the basis for the character of the serial killer.
The paranormal ability is drawn from a Native American myth. I came across a woman, Alice C Fletcher (1838-1923). She was an American ethnologist, anthropologist, and social scientist who studied and documented American Indian culture. This was a woman who was ahead of her time in a man’s world. She lived with the Indians and translated the chants used in their ceremonies as well as their stories, and then wrote a book about it. That is where I found my paranormal element.
Owls are considered the guardians of the night and the messenger of death. Dying is crossing over the owl’s bridge to the other side. I used one of her translations at the beginning of the book:
“The night season is mine. I wake when others sleep. I can see in the darkness and discern coming danger. I have power to help the people to be watchful against enemies while darkness is on the earth. I have power…(Alice C. Fletcher, 1900)
The book trailer I created highlights the eerie nature of Cat’s talents.
Is there a little bit of Anita in Cat’s character?
OMG-not just a little bit. How about a whole lot! In the opening scene in the book, Cat is chasing a serial killer in a railroad yard. That happened, but I wasn’t chasing a killer. A thief bailed out of a stolen car and decided that racing over and around railroad cars was a good place to try to ditch the cops who were chasing him. We caught him.
I was a unit sniper on the Dallas SWAT team. For many years, I competed in rifle competitions and managed to set eight national records along the way. Cat is a sniper. As a cop, she battles her inner demons as she second-guesses her actions as I did on many occasions. It would be difficult for me to separate my thoughts, feelings, and experiences of twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience from my characters.
What made you make the switch from Marketing Manager to Dallas PD?
Even as a child, I wanted to be a police officer. It wasn’t possible as that was the era when women were denied access to many jobs. Even in the middle 70’s, I was working for the Bell system in Omaha, Nebraska and tried to change my career path. I applied to the Nebraska highway patrol. I got an interview, but the recruiter told me I’d never get the job. The reason is the male officers would refuse to ride with me because their wife wouldn’t like their husband working with another woman.
It wasn’t until the middle 80’s that I got a chance. The county sheriffs’ department had a reserve deputy program who were volunteers. I applied and was accepted. My experiences during the five years I was with the department is another long story, but I found a love and passion for the job. I took a leap of faith, one that was both a financial and physical risk. At age 43, I applied to the Dallas Police Department. It was one of the few departments that didn’t have an upper age limit. I was accepted and had the dubious honor of being the oldest woman to graduate the academy. Twenty-two years later, I retired. I had a phenomenal career that included patrol, undercover narcotics, the Dallas SWAT team, and advanced accident investigator. I never regretted the decision or the sacrifices it entailed. I would do it again in a heartbeat if that were possible.
Is there another book in your immediate future?
Going Gone! is the second novel and was recently published. Tracker Ryan Barr is the lead character along with Kerry Branson. She is an ex-homicide detective turned private investigator. They are pitted against a psychopathic mastermind whose obsession involves an intricate scheme to kidnap the children of high-ranking politicians on Capitol Hill.
I am working on the third novel, still unnamed. I find the inspiration in my titles from words or phrases in the book. So far, inspiration hasn’t hit. The plot involves an ATF agent who has disappeared, and the Trackers are on the hunt.
For more information on Anita Dickason and her FBI tracker series please visit her website and her Amazon author page.