Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and seventy-fourth, is of murder mystery author and private investigator Colleen Collins.
Colleen Collins is an award-winning author who’s written 22 novels and anthologies for Harlequin and Dorchester. She had also indie-published a murder mystery, The Zen Man, and two nonfiction books on private investigations. Her novels have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests.
After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager at the RAND Corporation, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.
She’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) and Sisters in Crime.
And now from the author herself:
Is It Dangerous to Be a Female Private Investigator?
Thank you to Morgen Bailey for hosting this author spotlight. Because my current book release, The Next Right Thing, features a private eye heroine, and because besides being a writer I’m also a private investigator in real life, I thought I would answer a question people often ask me: Is it dangerous to be a female private investigator?
I suppose people read and see fictional private eyes doing all kinds of dangerous, risk-taking actions in books and film so they assume that’s how it is in real life, too. My general response is that, like many things in life, it’s wise to practice common sense and take precautions when necessary. For example, when you go to a store at night, don’t park in a dark, isolated area–better yet, go during the daylight hours. That kind of common sense guideline.
However saying that, private investigations can be dangerous at times if the person isn’t paying attention and taking precautions in certain situations. I’ll discuss two of these potentially dangerous situations below.
Process Services: Get In, Get Out
When my husband and I started our investigations business nearly a decade ago, we would sometimes talk to the people to whom we were serving legal papers. The person might ask, “What are these papers? What am I supposed to do?” And we’d take the time to explain that the attorney’s name and contact information was listed on the papers and they should contact him/her to discuss it.
Then a male private investigator (PI) in our state was murdered while serving legal papers. Why? He got overly involved with the people to whom he was serving the papers. He went inside their home to try and pacify an angry situation, which resulted from the service of the papers, and the PI was killed.
Therefore, I now limit my conversation to verifying the person’s identity and to briefly explaining that I’m serving business or legal papers to them. Then I leave. In other words, I get in and get out. No dawdling. If they say, “What are these papers about?” I might say over my shoulder as I’m walking away, “Contact the attorney listed on the papers.”
But I don’t hang around to chat.
This past year, I’ve had two women go ballistic on me after serving them legal papers. Both times, the women followed me to my car, yelling and screaming and calling me a few colorful names.
Did the danger level differ because I was a female versus a male PI? It is conceivable that people might stereotype a female PI as being more vulnerable, but to my mind, it wouldn’t have mattered if a man or woman served papers to these two women. What was important was for me to not engage in a verbal confrontation, and to leave immediately.
Surveillances in Bad Neighborhoods
In the past, I’ve conducted surveillances in some bad neighborhoods, and yes, I have felt more vulnerable being a female PI in those instances. My safety precautions have included:
- Ensuring that all my doors are locked
- Parking in an area that isn’t isolated
- Not moving around a lot (or conducting other activities, such as turning on the motor or the inside lights) that draw attention to my being in the car
- Leaving if the situation feels dicey.
In my current book, The Next Right Thing (Harlequin Super Romance, release date March 2013), the heroine-private investigator (Cammie Copello) gets into a dicey situation serving legal papers and conducts some hair-raising surveillances. When you read the book you’ll know, from my author spotlight, what real-life experiences I used in the story!
You can find more about Colleen and her writing via…
- Colleen Collins Books, her writing blog site: http://colleencollinsbooks.com.
- Colleen’s current release, The Next Right Thing, on Amazon, available in print and ebook:
- Colleen’s Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Colleen-Collins/e/B001H6SFP8
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, co-authored by Colleen, which has been noted in Ellery Queen Magazine as being one of he top three true crime blogs, ranked by PINowcom as #8 in the top 44 private investigator blogs throughout the U.S. in 2012, and chosen in 2012 by the American Library Association’s Booklist Online to be “Web Crush of the Week” during its Mystery Month. Link to Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: http://writingpis.wordpress.com.
And more about her current novel, The Next Right Thing:
Tough-minded private investigator Cammie Copello always gets results, even if it means stepping into a gray area where rules are broken. That gray area is what caused the breach between her and high-profile attorney Marc Hamilton. But when his career is on the line, and the only one who can save it is Cammie, she has to make a choice that will either redeem or shatter both their worlds, and hearts, for the rest of their lives…for Cammie, what’s the next right thing?
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog or email me for details.
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