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Thriller writer George D. Shuman talks about 18 Seconds

Thriller writer George D. Shuman talks about some of his previous jobs, like working in Internal Affairs and being an undercover detective in Washington D.C., and working in the hotel business in Nantucket.

READERSVOICE.COM: Do most of the police procedural details come easy for you? What things did you consult people in the police force about for 18 Seconds?

GEORGE D. SHUMAN: Yes, and I don’t consult anyone. Fortunately what I can still remember seems to have been enough for me so far.

RV: What kinds of cases and situations did you come across when you were an undercover detective investigating heroin trafficking in Washington D.C.?

GS: I could go on too long, but suffice to say amidst the handful of exciting cases I had too many hundreds if not thousands of unglamorous hours of dark alley meetings with informants, rooftop observations, prison interview rooms and the like.

RV: When you were working in Internal Affairs, did this work have similarities with being a novelist, because Internal Affairs officers, in movies at least, seem to be outsiders in the world in which they live and work?

GS: I never looked at it that way before but yes, we were a very small minority in the department.

The unit I worked in was a microcosm of Internal Affairs itself and was called the Special Assignment’s Branch, which reported only to the Chief of Police. We mainly investigated public corruption cases in the DC Government including Mayor Barry smoking crack cocaine in a DC hotel.

Yes, we were outsiders even though we only worked police cases that involved murder or bribery. I did lose some friends taking the appointment; but not my best friends, only the lunkheads that might believe a bad cop is still a cop.

RV: How did you get started in the hotel industry in 1992 on Long Island?

GS: I was initially hired as the Director of Security for the Montauk Yacht Club in Long Island. Later, when ownership changed hands, I was asked to be the Director of Human Resources; and still later the management company I was working for at the time, asked me to move to Nantucket and take over Human Resources for several hotels there. New owners in Nantucket promoted me to Director of Operations.

RV: What did you do as Director of Operations when working later in luxury hotels in Nantucket, and what did you like about this?

GS: I had oversight of two hotels (each having their own General Manager) and sat on the executive committee of two other hotels and a world-class marina for luxury boats and yachts. What can you say about Nantucket except that it was wonderful for someone who loves the ocean like I do. I had a small boat, hopped local islands with my friends, scuba dived, gathered clams and scallops and oysters, kayaked the ocean with my dog… all good good memories.

RV: Were you always keeping your novelist’s eyes and ears open, when meeting the variety of people in police and hotel work, maybe even keeping a diary, or did you have to totally focus on work, maybe just remembering people later when writing?

GS: I never kept a diary and I must say I never really thought about what I was seeing, conscious that I might one day write about any of it. On the other hand you can’t but help collect thoughts, ideas and intelligence along the way.

RV: A lot of crime and thriller novelists aim to portray society in their works with a view to putting in a bit of social commentary — some even having political agendas. Do you try to avoid this, generally?

GS: Yes, and in my opinion there is no good place in a story for the author’s thoughts or convictions unrelated to plot.

If a character starts going on for more than a paragraph about anything of the kind, I get the feeling I’m being preached to and I don’t let it go on too much longer.

RV: What was it like moving back to Pennsylvania, having grown up in the coal and steel country in the Allegheny Mountains, before joining the police in Washington D.C, and now living in the Laurel Mountains of Pennsylvania?

GS: I’m back in PA for a number of reasons, most having to do with family.

There are conflicting emotions about coming home. I had no other desire as a teenager than to leave these mountains and see the world. Not many people did back then, but thank God I did. Coming home I see the land, the mountains in a very different light than when a child. I didn’t know it was so beautiful here, the people so very good.

I live in a very small community now and enjoy the remoteness thoroughly, but I’m looking for that next home at the ocean as we speak. I fully intend to divide my time between the mountains and sea.

RV: What’s your daily routine?

GS: I’d like to tell a lie here and say that I had one, but I don’t. I’m all over the place and never seem to stick with a routine. It’s a curse.

RV: What are some of your plans?

GS: I’m sitting on a stand alone book called Rattleman that I’m anxious to get published and I’m looking forward to writing historical fiction and perhaps a few more Sherry Moore novels. I’m also looking forward to getting back to the ocean and diving again.

– To read more about George D. Shuman visit http:georgedshuman.com.