This Week’s Featured Author Interview with
Hi Anita Dickason, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website. Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what do you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
Hi, I’m Anita Dickason, a retired Dallas Police officer with a total of twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience. I had an amazing career. I worked patrol, was an undercover narcotics officer, spent several years on the Dallas Swat Team and was a unit sniper, and rounded out the last few years as an Advanced Accident Investigator. For many years, I shot rifles in competitions and managed to acquire a few national records along the way. It is an activity that I still enjoy, though I have shifted to a shotgun and trap competitions. I still live in Texas, and my books all have a connection to Texas.
When did you start writing and why?
It wasn’t until after I retired. I initially started a vehicle accident reconstruction service. A California film company was looking for an accident investigator in the Dallas area and found my website. They were launching a new TV series that dealt with unsolved mysteries. The first episode had a segment on a witness to the Kennedy assassination who was killed in a car crash south of Dallas in 1966. Conspiracy theorists over the years had claimed Lee Bowers was killed because of what he saw the day Kennedy was shot. The project sounded interesting and having worked security for Walker, Texas Ranger, the Chuck Norris series, I was familiar with TV productions which was an added benefit.
The materials I received included the location where the filming would take place, a bridge on a highway south of Midlothian, TX. A date for filming had already been set and the company had obtained the permits to shut down the southbound lanes. I also received a video of a Geraldo Rivera episode that aired in the middle 90’s, and he used the same bridge. It didn’t take long to realize everybody had the wrong bridge. It didn’t exist in 1966. The Texas Department of Transportation didn’t buy the land for the new highway expansion until after Bowers was killed. All that remained of the original two-lane road was a section the state used for the east service road. After researching state records, I found the right bridge on the service road. Net result was the production company moved to the new location. During this process, I became more and more intrigued with the events surrounding Bowers death. Was it possible to reconstruct a 1966 accident? Once the filming was finished, I started on the research. What was difficult was that every element of the investigation had to be based on what existed in 1966. Even the ambulances back then were owned by funeral homes. The vehicles were hearses that did double duty. There was little to no medical training. Anyway, the result was my first book: JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy.
In my research on how to publish it, I came across a short story contest with a unique twist. Each month, a photo would be posted on the contest’s website, and everyone had to use the photo as the basis for their short story, and it couldn’t be more than 500 words. As I had found an unexpected enjoyment in writing the Bowers’ book, I thought, why not. I submitted a story and to my amazement won third place. That was all it took, I was hooked, and as the saying goes: the rest is history.
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
Oh, that would be a hard one to decide. Each is unique. I think I might leave that up to a reader to choose. I write the type of books I like to read, paranormal, suspense thrillers. Sentinels of the Night is my debut novel for the Trackers: an elite FBI unit and each agent has a paranormal ability. Going Gone! is the second Trackers novel.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Ah, titles. One of the fun parts of writing. I have yet to start a book or short story that has a title. For me, it comes from writing the story. A phrase or word will pop, and there’s my title. I am about 10,000 words into the third Tracker novel, and inspiration hasn’t hit yet, so the file label is still ‘no name.’
Who helped you with the cover? Or did you design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
When I retired, I didn’t believe I would find anything that I enjoyed more than being a cop. I loved the job and would do it again in a heartbeat. But amazingly, I did. Once I had written the Bowers book, I reached the same point that every author reaches. I’ve written it, now what do I do? Answering that question has become a new career, one that I have wholeheartedly embraced. I used a subsidy company to publish the Bowers book, and it was a very real learning curve. I soon realized there was nothing the company did that I couldn’t do myself. I have spent the last five years learning not only the craft of writing but also the publishing field. I shut down my reconstruction company and started a new business: Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. I provide manuscript services and cover designs.
So, to answer your questions, the cover designs are mine. I would be hard pressed to say which I enjoy more—writing or designing. I have spent hours and hours researching sites that provide free images. When I spot one that I think would make a great cover, I download it for future reference and now have an extensive file of images. Whenever I hit a bump in my writing, I’ll break away and work on cover designs. It almost borders on addiction. I recently added a page to my website for my pre-made cover designs that are for sale. I also design bookplates, and that has also turned into an addiction.
As for the inspiration for the cover of my books, it is the same as the title. The design is driven by how the plot develops. For Sentinels of the Night, I wanted to create the mystic of the owls. Going Gone! is a digital timer. A custom designed cover evolves, the same way the book evolves. The first draft won’t be the same as the last. The initial design for Sentinels is completely different from the cover that is on the book. I use the same technique when I design a cover for another author. I try to connect to their book as well as their perception of the design. Each one I have completed has presented a unique challenge and can be viewed on the portfolio page of my website.
In this process, I have learned how to create a paperback, eBook and hardback cover. Hardbacks are another challenge as the template is different from the paperback. Sentinels of the Night is available in a laminated hardback, and Going Gone! is a dust cover hardback.
What are some of the themes of your story?
Crime and can someone save the day. An advantage of my law enforcement experience is that I have an endless supply of plots. There are also elements in the stories that are based on actual events. At the start of Sentinels, the lead character is chasing a serial killer in a railroad yard. This actually happened, except it wasn’t a serial killer that I was chasing.
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book? Do you have a system?
It’s similar to conducting an investigation, follow the leads and connect the dots. I apply the same concept to the plot. I work the story as if it were an actual investigation and try to make the events as real as possible in my mind. Sometimes, I have to go back and rearrange the dots, but that’s what makes it fun. I like working with multiple points of view, more than just a shift between two characters. I used the technique in Sentinels of the Night and expanded it in Going Gone! To me, it adds depth to the story, but it can be tricky in keeping track of who knew what and when. I keep a notepad by the keyboard and makes notes of the byplay as I type. I have found that helps to keep me on track and not miss a detail. If I don’t, some sharp-eyed reader will spot the mistake.
How do you create your characters?
I’ve always been intrigued by characters that had an extra edge, an ability to overcome adversity and danger. Then add in my infatuation with Native American myths and legends, and Irish and Scottish folklore, and you have the backdrop for my characters.
Tracker Cat Morgan takes center stage in Sentinels of the Night, and I pulled her paranormal ability from a Native American myth about owls. In my research, I came across a woman, Alice C. Fletcher. She was born in 1838 and died in 1923. She was an ethnologist, anthropologist, and social scientist who studied and documented American Indian culture. A woman who was ahead of her time in a man’s world. She lived with an Indian tribe for several months and translated many of the chants, then wrote a book. The quote I use at the start of Sentinels of the Night is taken from one of the chants.
In Going Gone! I pulled in a paranormal ability from Irish mythology.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Without a doubt, Sir Conan Doyle and Earle Stanley Gardner are at the top of the list. Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason, it doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to solving crimes. Modern day authors would include Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter.
You mentioned your next book. When will it be ready for publication?
I hope to have it ready by October. My latest project is an illustrated children’s book which was another fun learning curve. I am waiting for the hardback proof to arrive. If it passes inspection, the author will be able to hit the publish button, and I’ll have a lot more time to spend on ‘No Name.’ I really do have to come up with a title.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview. Take a minute and check Anita Dickason out on the links below. Anita Dickason’s book, Going Gone: A Tracker’s Novel, is available for purchase HERE.
Anita Dickason Author Website
Anita Dickason Twitter Account
Anita Dickason Facebook Page
Anita Dickason Goodreads Author Page
Anita Dickason Amazon Author Central