By Julie, decking the halls in Somerville
I’d delighted to welcome Alec Peche to the blog today! Alec and I met because of her work on the Sisters in Crime national board–she is the chapter liaison, which is a huge job. She also writes several books a year, and is here to tell us about her Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist series. Welcome Alec!
Two years ago, I was fortunate to take a vacation to Australia and New Zealand. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was near the top of my bucket list or would be if I had one. I knew from the time I landed Down Under that I wanted to set one of my Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist series in one or both countries.
The trouble was I had a wonderful vacation, and no one irritated me for seventeen straight days. Who could I kill in a future story? So I came away without a premise for a book. However, my back fence neighbor is an Australian fingerprint expert that works for my California County Sheriff. So I had this Australian echo coming over the fence, urging me to find a story premise. Then my neighbor was a guest speaker at my local Sisters in Crime chapter meeting. He was part of a forensic team sent by Australia to help New Zealand identify the 181 people killed in the Christchurch 2011 earthquake. He had amazing stories (and pictures) of how they identified the remains of people crushed by collapsed buildings. He also spoke of the two countries’ forensic society, and an idea was born in my head. What would a crime scene expert do to cover up his nefarious behavior? That idea cooked inside my brain until FORENSIC MURDER was born.
Other authors have discussed what’s it’s like to drop down the research rabbit hole. This book required my understanding of the organization of law enforcement in both countries. New Zealand has one police force for the country, the coroner is a lawyer, and hospital-based pathologists (in between their clinical duties) perform autopsies. There are no medical examiners with extensive experience performing autopsies on crime victims.
Australia has police forces by States as well as a Federal group. Their coroners are also attorneys as they conduct an inquest into a death. A forensic pathologist or a hospital-based pathologist will perform the autopsy, depending on the deceased’s location.
I’ve set my Jill Quint, MD series in the UK, the USA, Canada, Europe, and the South Pacific. As my stories have moved to each country, I’ve studied how law enforcement works and each country’s quirks. Australia has a deep sense of individualism, and it’s citizens object to being spied upon, so there are few road cameras. That fact hampered my ability as a writer to collect clues for Jill Quint to solve the case.
As for my writing process, when I start a book (I have 15 published novels), I love the first 1,000 words. It’s a new story and a new adventure in my mind. Then I get bogged down in the middle, wondering how I’ll solve the case, and my writing slows. The final 3-5 chapters fly by as I see how the story will end. If this sounds weird, it’s because I write by the seat of pants and start my story without knowing where it’s going. Writers who outline will shudder at my process, but I use it to complete 2-3 novels a year.
Question – Have you noticed any quirks ascribed to a city, region, or another country that changes how law enforcement solves cases? I have one signed copy of FORENSIC MURDER to giveaway.
Alec Peche is the California author of fifteen books. Eleven releases in the Jill Quint, MD, Forensic Pathologist series feature a part-time PI, part-time vintner. Four books in the Damian Green series follow a modern-day MacGyver solving cold cases with a retired detective. I live in Northern California with my rescue dog and cat. AlecPeche.com
About Forsensic Murder
Forensic Murder takes place in Australia and New Zealand. Jill is a guest speaker at the Forensic Society Convention. She, Nathan, and Angela build some vacation time around her speaking engagement. However, from Auckland to Wellington and onto Sydney and all the cities she visits, there are people that die or become very ill. What’s going on?