Canadian author Dwayne Clayden gleans inspiration for his crime novels from over 40 years as a police officer and paramedic in Calgary, Alberta. Read his interview below!
- Your first novel, Crisis Point, introduces Calgary police officer Brad Coulter. How much does this main character mirror his creator, Dwayne Clayden?
The premise of the Brad Coulter series was, “What could my career have looked like if I stayed a police officer.” The options were unlimited. So in the early drafts of Crisis Point, there was a lot of me, and situations I had been in. As I attended writing classes, and learned the craft of fiction writing, an interesting thing happened. Brad stopped being me and became Brad Coulter, his own character. There were times I felt that Brad was leading the story, that he knew where the plot was headed. I was there to write the words. In the second two novels, Brad is very much his own person.
2. Crisis Point was a finalist in the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. Do you anticipate entering more competitions?
This year I will enter the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards in the best novel category. There are so many awesome Canadian writers that I will up against some incredible competition. But who knows, I think Wolfman is Back is a great novel.
3. Congratulations on the November 7 release of your third novel, Wolfman is Back. What can we expect for Brad Coulter in future installments?
The response from readers has been overwhelming. They love Brad and the series. While I was writing Wolfman, I received emails and texts from readers wanting to know when Wolfman would be released. Immediately after it was released, I received more emails wanting to know when Brad Coulter 4 would be out. The pressure is on to get writing! I have started novel 4. The working title is Sniper. As long as readers want more of Brad, I’ll keep writing. I have general ideas for at least ten more.
I am editing a novel in a new series, Speargrass-Opioid. This novel takes place in Montana and deals with the Opioid crisis in Great Falls and a fictional Indian Reserve. (US terminology) or First Nation (Canadian Terminology).
4. You also speak at writers’ conferences about police, medical and paramedic procedures. What do you enjoy most about sharing your wisdom and experience on these subjects?
I love speaking to groups or at conferences. As a paramedic I spoke at EMS conferences across North America. I’m at ease in front of a group and very passionate about both careers. TV and Movies get so much wrong in police procedurals, so I wanted to present what really happens. To me, the interesting thing is both careers were very exciting (some of the time) and the embellishment on TV and movies isn’t usually needed. In my talks, I focus on the relationship between partners in both police and EMS. You are with your partner ten hours or more, and over time you know a lot about each other, including the buttons to push. And boy do you push them!
The main reason I give these talks, is because if you are a writer, and you don’t have police or paramedic experience, your only reference is what you have seen on TV or movies, or read. So you might think that is the way it really is, so that’s what you write.
A couple of examples from my talks would be the TV detectives about to execute a search warrant wearing a ballistic vest and carrying a pistol. They enter the house before the completely armored SWAT who have long guns and practice every day for this type of entry. The other eye rolling TV theme is that the police rush in the front door, and the criminal rushes out the back door. Its like the police have no clue there is another exit! Actually, being at the back can be great, the suspect literally runs into your arms and you get the arrest. After a talk I gave, an author came up and said he needed to change part of a chapter, because he had the suspect run out the back door with no police to apprehend him.
Paramedic procedures are seldom shown on TV or movies. I have paramedics as characters in my novels and you read about what they do on the scene, on the way to the hospital, and what happens in the hospital. There’s not enough space here to talk about what TV hospital shows get wrong!
Although I do yell at the TV when a medical procedure is shown wrong, especially when it is dangerous. A prime example is the inaccurate use of an EpiPen for allergic reactions. Hundreds of thousands of people have them, and they may administer the drug based on what they saw on TV, and that could have serious consequences. Another is breathing into a brown paper bag for someone hyperventilating. That practice has been out of medicine for a decade or more. Depriving someone of oxygen and ‘rebreathing their expired air’ can be very dangerous.