On September 5th-8th, I attended and volunteered at the Writers’ Police Academy. This is an event like no other for writers. There are no writing workshops, no agents, and no publishers. Instead, it’s a weekend of hands-on workshops about all things cops and robbers. We get to do things like fingerprinting, evidence collection (even underwater!), room searches, firearms simulation training, and handcuffing. There are lectures by medical examiners, microbiologists, sociologists, police detectives, sheriffs, and paramedics. For most writers, it’s not easy to get access to police and fire personnel or to find out what a police car or an ambulance really looks and feels like inside. There are wonderful opportunities to improve the realism of our writing and to talk to professionals in the field. The special guest speaker this year was Kathy Reichs, who was both informative and hilarious. The keynote speaker was Lisa Gardner who gave an interesting and moving speech on the ups and downs of her writing career. As with the last WPA I attended, I couldn’t fit in everything I wanted to do. In case you think this was because I was volunteering so much, alas, that’s not it. I really didn’t do that much work. I watched over the free coffee and donuts for a little while and was supposed to sell coffee cups. I didn’t sell any, but in my defense, it was the last day and anyone who wanted one had already bought it. Later that night, I announced the winners of the silent auction and the raffle baskets, which didn’t really count as work, because I had such a good time doing it. I know that the Writers’ Police Academy is a tremendous amount of work, especially for Lee Lofland, as well as Nancy Metzner, Jo Williamson, and Megan Bowers of the High Point Public Library, and the entire public safety staff of Guilford Technical Community College. So many people are involved in making this happen, I couldn’t name them all, but I really appreciate the opportunity for learning that they’ve created for all of us writers. It’s also so much fun to see friends I don’t normally get to see like April Henry, who I met at the first WPA, who comes every year. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends like Marco Conelli and his fabulous wife, Mary Grace, pictured below enjoying the after-party in the hotel bar with Lee Lofland. Marco is a YA author as well as a former undercover police detective. He gives a great presentation that I was lucky enough to attend this year.
This a great event and I really hope there is a Writers’ Police Academy 2014 in the works.