Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview with Criminologist, Author, and Blogger Garry Rodgers


Today I'm interviewing Garry Rodgers. I met Garry on twitter, where his profile announces that he is a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman homocide detective and forensic coroner. Naturally, I had to meet him! Below is some insight that extends far beyond 140 characters. 

Hi Garry, thank you for joining us on Murder Lab. Homicide detective AND forensic coroner? I had envisioned those as two completely separate professions. Are they? Please tell our readers about your work.

Hi Kris. It’s nice to be here.

The two disciplines have a common denominator – death investigation. But homicide cops and forensic coroners have two distinct differences in the outcome of death investigations. Coroners find fact – the Who, What, When, Where, Why & By What Means the person died by examining the forensic evidence and then make recommendations to prevent it from reoccurring. Homicide cops simply find fault – they prove who did it and put them in jail for life. I’ve done both. My forensic experience in death investigation as a homicide cop was a natural fit to being appointed as a coroner.

What kind of job training and education did you have, besides "on-the-job" training?

My CV is extensive and was ongoing in both fields as well as developing an expertise to train others. I’m not a PhD or an MD, though. I’m more of a technician – right from crime scene examination - to interrogation - to forensic analysis – to grief counselor. There’s so, so much to this. I should clarify that coroners are technical judges of the death circumstances, whereas medical examiners (MEs) deal with the direct autopsy and toxicology evidence. Coroners incorporate the MEs’ findings into their judgements.

You've also been a sniper on British SAS-trained Emergency Response Teams. Whoa! I'm envisioning a British version of SWAT - am I wrong? What can you tell us about this organization?

Best experience of my life. Back in the 80’s the British Special Air Service – The SAS and arguably the world’s best commandos – were contracted to train the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s Federal Protective Force, in counter-terrorism tactics. I was a young Mountie back then in the Emergency Response Team program (ERT or SWAT), looking for adventure, and the Brits taught me how to shoot.

How long did you work in your field (or fields, as I'm still not convinced that they are only one...) before retiring?

Never looked at it as working - would’ve done it for nothing. I started in 1978 and am still slipping in and out of it today. Old cops & coroners never retire, because we know what’s going to happen after retirement. We’ll die, so that makes us terrified to quit.

In addition to your interesting choice of career (careers?) you also happen to be an AMAZON TOP 10 BEST SELLING crime writer! Please tell us about your books. I can only assume they are influenced by your work?

I wrote a ghost story. A true ghost story that happened to me and my partner. It’s based on one of the highest profile murder cases in Canadian history and there’s never been a scientific explanation for what happened. So I did a ‘What-If?’ the supernatural aspect were true. It made it to #5 on the Amazon horror/occult list. Now I’m doing 2 sequels and I just posted a free PDF with 95 Tips on Writing Deadly Crime Fiction. It’s a great resource for all writers, not just the crime/thriller genre. You can download it on my website: http://dyingwords.net

What are you writing anything now? Care to share what you're working on?

A look at the evidence in the JFK Assassination. I’ve been a student of the assassination all my life and once believed in a conspiracy. But over the years I’ve become satisfied that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The 50th anniversary is coming up and I’m doing a simple guide to the case facts; scientific and circumstantial. Most of the existing books are conspiracy promoters, completely off base, and the few ‘Lone-Nut’ publications are rather complicated. I’m in a unique position to write this from my background in homicide investigation, autopsy experience, and ballistic expertise.

And in case that's not enough, you've also got a really cool blog. Please tell our readers about dying words.net.

The tag-line is ‘Provoking Thoughts on Life, Death & Writing’. It’s a light hearted approach to some serious subjects and meant to make readers think. I balance posts between forensic information, writing tips, and life & death issues.

Please tell our readers anything about yourself or your books that you'd like them to know.

I had a near-death experience and I’m not nuts. It convinced me that there are many levels in our consciousness. I think that a scientific understanding of consciousness will be the next breakthrough in human evolution.

Last, but not least, please provide our readers with links to any other info you'd like them to have.

Here’s five of the best resources any writer can tap, regardless of genre.

On Writing – Stephen King
Elements Of Style – Strunk & White
Wired For Story – Lisa Cron
Think And Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
The Creative Penn Website – Joanna Penn
I’m most willing to help other writers with anything I can. Just Twitter me @GarryRodgers1 or Email me at garry@dyingwords.net.

And of course, I will be featuring Garry on our Find an Expert page. If you're writing a crime thriller and have a question, direct it to the pro!

4 comments:

  1. Garry sounds like a real-life Dominic Da Vinci (from the Canadian TV series Da Vinci's Inquest). It would be interesting to hear what he thinks of that series -- called one of the best cop shows ever made -- and if there are any authors or TV series he thinks do a particularly good job portraying police or forensic work.

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  2. Hi Lance,

    I've never watched Da Vinci's Inquest even though I'm Canadian, it was filmed here in Vancouver, and one of my Colleagues from the BC Coroners Service was their technical adviser. From everything I've heard, though, it was well done and very realistic.

    It's funny that over the years I've never watched the CSI & Police Procedural shows. I guess it's like a carpenter who comes home but never works on his own house. I'm more of a reader. I think Joseph Wambaugh and Ian Rankin get their characters bang-on and forensic writers like Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell definitely get their facts accurate. Ann Rule is an excellent true crime writer and there's no one like Stephen King when it comes to pure storytelling.

    One common trait in real-life death investigators is their sense of humor. It's not a cliche - some of the best lines I've ever heard were in the company of a dead body. You just have to be careful who's around when you say them :)

    Garry

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  3. Kris,

    I am wondering where you find wonderful people like Garry. What a career, I am not surprised he can write because men like this can do anything.

    Way cool, I will drop over to Garry's side of the internet and say hi.

    rob

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  4. Hi Rob,

    I'm flattered :) I'm also enjoying our chat over on my side of the internet!

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