Denise: Not only do you write about crime, you know first-hand what people are capable of doing. What were your experiences like as a police officer?
John: Wow, Denise, that’s a question that could fill a book . . . or several, for that matter. Having been a Chicago cop for more than 12 years and an FBI agent for 21 years, I’ve seen the best and worst of people in situations both real and a few, unimaginable. I think the one thing that caused me the most consternation and constant sadness, was seeing how evil some people can be toward their fellow human beings. Man’s inhumanity is inexplicable; there is no excuse for the pure hatred and depravity that some people possess. I think it demonstrates that Satan is alive and well, and that he walks among us.
On a lighter note, I witnessed some of the funniest moments ever, particularly among people who had too much to drink.
Denise: What inspired you to become a FBI agent? Was there any one case that stands out above the others?
John: I was approaching an age when I would no longer be eligible for federal jobs (35), so I was thinking ahead. I was also looking at future possibilities for advancement and the ability to work complex cases. Luckily, the Bureau accepted me and I was able to work undercover on several big cases as an undercover agent. One case in particular lasted almost three years. Contrary to what most people think, being undercover is not thrilling and exciting—it’s dangerous and nerve-wracking. It ages you quickly and steals time from loved ones.
Denise: You also write articles that focus on officer training, street survival, fitness and ethics. Have police throughout the United States purchased your informational books?
John: I have sold my books, non-fiction of course, that contain information relating to officer survival. Additionally, I have been writing a monthly column about officer survival and training since 2004. I’ve written more than 150 articles. With more than 30 years in law enforcement, my experience is such that I am a subject matter expert in many areas. I taught at the FBI Academy my last six years before retiring. Two of those years I taught street survival internationally. While language and customs differ around the world, cops are pretty much the same all over. All of us want to catch bad guys and go home at the end of the day.
Denise: Do you write genre based or non-fiction book reviews for the New York Journal?
John: Mostly mystery and suspense, but I’ve reviewed non-fiction and other literary fiction. I enjoy Christian fiction. One of my favorite authors is Dan Walsh, but I also enjoy Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans.
Denise: Your latest novella is Dancer, which tells the story of a young woman who gets wrapped up in the adult entertainment business. Is she forced into the job or does she think it’s an easy way to earn a living?
John: She is persuaded to audition by a friend already in the business. Her sales job is not paying the bills—she needs to make more money. The gentlemen’s club route seems to be the vehicle that will take her to the bank. Dancer is a story with a moral: Be careful what you wish for. Much of the behind-the-scenes descriptions I gleaned from my time working undercover. The people I was helping to investigate used to frequent these establishments, so my time spent in these places allowed me to learn quite a bit about them.
Denise: What does she quickly learn?
John: She quickly learns that there are no limits on how much money one can earn if one’s morals and scruples are lacking. Unfortunately, she also learns too late that trusting people is something that can lead to huge problems.
Denise: Is this based on what you’ve learned about the industry?
John: Yes, many of the adult entertainment clubs are rife with unscrupulous types who make their money by taking advantage of naïve types. Drugs, sex, and organized crime are generally heavily involved in these establishments.
Denise: Is there a way out for these women?
John: Yes, but it’s never easy and very dangerous.
Denise: Can you tell us about your other novels?
John: I had two releases in 2013. Dancer was one of them, and incidentally, it is a novella. I did have a novel published in 2013 titled: The Year Without Christmas. It won a fiction award at the 2013 Public Safety Writers Association Annual Convention in Las Vegas. The story is about a small town family whose peace is shattered when a tragic accident sends them plunging into the darkest times they’ve ever known. They struggle with their new reality when the husband disappears and his grandson faces a life-threatening disease. A tale about loss and unwavering hope, The Year Without Christmas demonstrates the power of love, faith, and a family’s will to survive. A gritty story that features homelessness, alcoholism and PTSD, it is nevertheless, a tear-jerker.
In 2012, I released a collection of true stories about women in law enforcement. Women Warriors: Stories From The Thin Blue Line contains stories about patrol officers, detectives, chaplains, corrections officers, and dispatchers. What’s unique about this anthology is that each of the true stories are written by the women who lived them. This compelling read is also sold at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Gift Shop in Washington, D.C.
I have also published a trilogy: Chicago Warriors, Midnight Battles in the Windy City. The books follow the exploits of Chicago Police detectives Pete Shannon and Marilyn Benson. The third book in the series, TARGETED, won a fiction award. Each title is a standalone story.
Denise: What are you currently working on?
John: I’m working on a novel that I hope will be published in 2014. Healer is the story of a 16-year-old boy who receives the gift of healing and must decide how to use it.