I want to welcome fellow Louis L’Amour fan and multi-published author John Foxjohn. John is a former Army Ranger, police officer and homicide detective. His latest novel Killer Nurse, published by Berkley releases today.
John welcomes your comments and questions about his expertise in law enforcement or writing. Writers, he can help you develop realistic interrogations, interviews or crime scenes.
1. What first led to your interest in writing Killer Nurse?
This case first popped up at the end of April in 2008. At first it was reported in the paper and TV as basically an aggravated assault of two DaVita patients. Angelina County residents were shocked when the details came out. Two patients while undergoing dialysis treatments claimed to see a nurse inject two others with bleach.
The reason this was an aggravated assault was because the two patients who turned out to be injected with bleach actually lived through it.
When murder charges were finally filed against Kimberly Clark Saenz I knew that I had to write this book.
2. What was the most difficult part about writing this book?
Without a doubt it was interviewing and talking to the victims and the family members. I’ve found that most people concentrate on the five people Saenz was accused of killing, and they forget that she was accused of basically trying to kill five others—five that survived.
These and the family of the dead was tough to interview.
3. How did your background as a former homicide detective help you in your research for this novel?
It helped me in three important ways. First, because I was once in the brotherhood, I got access to the investigators that others writers probably would not have gotten to talk to. The same is true with the prosecutors.
Second, I interviewed 237 people for information in the book. Because of my background, I knew what to ask, how to ask, and more importantly, when to shut up and let them talk.
Third, because of my background I understood what and why the investigators did what they did, and why they didn’t do things. I was able to give insight into the investigative part.
4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned as writer?
Some writers like to write sequels, and I started my writing career off with one—one that did very well. However, I haven’t written a sequel in quite a while because I discovered that I really like creating new characters.
I think it is one of the most challenging aspects of writing, but also the most interesting.
5. The most difficult lesson you’ve learned as a writer.
Not everyone is going to like what I write.
6. You also speak at writing groups. What’s the take-away advice you give writers who hear you speak?
Yes, I speak to a lot of writers group, and one thing I like to emphasize is no one can tell the individual writer how to do something that will guarantee they’ll become published.
There are guidelines but really there is only one rule in writing. If you write something so well that people can’t put it down, you are going to go a long way.
Writers never progress if they try to do exactly what others have done in the past—learn from them, but mold it into their own.
7. What’s the next project coming up for you?
I have a completed fiction manuscript I need to do something with, plus, I need to write the sequel to it. I have also outlined and have the beginning of a novel about a murder abroad a cruise ship.
Of course I will be on the lookout for another true crime.