Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview with Author & Retired Police Officer Chris Rudy

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book? My name is Chris Rudy; I am 53 years old, a retired police officer currently working for an international security company that partner with the United States Marshal Service for protection of Federal Judges at United States Court Houses. Over half of my law enforcement career was spent in investigations where I investigated any and all crimes imaginable. I am married with 2 grown children and a wife who works in the steel industry. I still carry an active law enforcement commission through the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

What inspired you to write your first book? I had been retired for about 2 years when I received a phone call from Melissa Brown. She was a victim of a serial rapist whom I had caught. The rapist, William Edward Griffith Jr., was scheduled for his first parole hearing in the next month (March of 2009). She wanted me to go with her to the hearing and I readily agreed. While I attended and observed the hearing I was blown away by the victims reliving their horror’s right before my eyes. I was moved to tell the story and make a push with the Ohio legislature to enact Civil Commitment law in Ohio as it relates to violent sexual predators. 
Do you have a specific writing style? Not that I’m aware of or I’ve been told. This was my first foray into writing. I don’t know I’d do another true crime story but may try fictional crime based on what I’ve experienced firsthand.

How did you come up with the title? To me it was a natural. Melissa was the last victim of William Griffith and, metaphorically, I wanted to make her the last victim of these types of crimes with my push with the Ohio legislature.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Yes. I want them to become advocates in their states/communities for the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act in their state and in particular the Civil Commitment component that allows for lifetime incarceration of violent sexual predators after the completion of their criminal sentence. 
How much of the book is realistic? Obviously, all of it. Everything is backed up with actual reports and my own investigative file from when I tracked Griffith across the country.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? This is all true and I lived every bit of it. After I started writing and looking at the old reports everything came flooding back to me as if a dam had burst. It was a lot of fun going back and gathering the information and talking with some of the people involved in the case. I recall talking with my mother after I came back from the parole hearing and feeling a little misty eyed I told my mother if I never do anything else the rest of my life, I did something really good and meaningful here that helped a lot of people.

What books have most influenced your life most? I’m unsure who wrote them, however, they were children stories. My parents bought them when my four brothers and I were very young. They were color coordinated with a profession, i.e. the white book was about being a milk man, and the green book was about being a farmer, the brown book about construction, the red book about being a fireman, the blue book about being a policeman. My mother used to tell me before she had to catch the bus to go to work every day at 2:30p.m. I could grab a book and she would read to me before I had to go to the neighbor’s house and wait for my brothers to come home from school. Well, as you’ve probably guessed, she said every day I picked the blue book. That’s all I ever wanted to be. I have also loved and can relate to everything written by Joseph Wambaugh.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Definitely, Joseph Wambaugh. He’s written true crime stories and fictional stories based on life experiences he has had as a police officer in Los Angeles. I plan on the fiction part next.

What book are you reading now? The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly.

What are your current projects? I’m trying to put together my first fictional story based on some of my actual cases as a police officer.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members? Friends and police officers I’ve worked with on this case. They agreed the story should be told.

Do you see writing as a career? For awhile, I thought it could be, however, I don’t believe so. I write in my spare time and really enjoy it. This being my first attempt at it, it hasn’t brought in any money to speak of. I like to eat, and eating takes money so I’d probably starve.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Going through drafts, and including description of everyday events we all take for granted. The editing and re-editing. Capturing the mood and keeping it going.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? There are two actually, Michael Connelly and James Patterson. How they consistently churn out stories for Harry Bosch and Alex Cross is amazing to me. They are all very good and keep your attention to the end.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book? Not as of yet. I would be open to it though. I’ve traveled with my county and some neighboring ones for book signings and public speaking on the topic. I find that part very fulfilling.

Who designed the covers? I did. I took several different pictures to try and come up with something ‘eye-catching’ to put on the front. The back cover was easy in that the piece of evidence that tied the serial rapist to the crimes was the sole’s of his tennis shoes. So we put the picture of his tennis shoe print on the back cover in the background and then wrote excerpts from the book over the top of it.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Waiting to get back critiques from people who agreed to read it and offer suggestions. I was really into it and couldn’t wait to get to the next step.

Do you have any advice for other writers? If you have an idea to write a book, do it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it or belittle the idea. It was very fulfilling for me. When you are complete you have a real feeling of accomplishment. If you don’t try you’ll always wonder, what if?