Guest Post: Emma Kavanagh on Writing Police

Friday 7 November 2014
A brilliant debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist. Perfect for fans of Nicci French, Tana French and S. J. Watson.

A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.

Jim is a retired police officer, and worried father. His beloved daughter has disappeared and he knows something is wrong.

Tom has woken up to discover that his wife was on the plane and must break the news to their only son.

Cecilia had packed up and left her family. Now she has survived a tragedy, and sees no way out.

Freya is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. But as she delves into his past, she may not like what she finds.

'Before the plane crash, after the plane crash, such a short amount of time for the world to turn on its head…'

I write about police officers. I write about police officer A LOT. It is a job that fascinates people and it enables me to put my characters into situations that they would never normally go. But for me it is about more than that. I have been privileged over the course of my career to spend an inordinate amount of time with this extraordinary group of people. I spent many years as a police and military psychologist, working with specialist police teams (firearms, hostage negotiators, counter terrorist, body recovery, etc.) all over the country. Whilst this obviously helps fuel my writing, it has also taught me a huge amount about the need for restraint. I have heard some incredible stories from people in these roles. It is, however, fair to say that I would never use them in my writing. They were entrusted to me and cost the officer something to tell. To use what they have given me in a book would feel like a cheap shot.

The other thing that I have learnt is how important it is to show respect to this role. Policing is an incredibly tough job. Front line officers work long hours in tough conditions. They are sworn at, spat at, attacked more often than one would believe. Then there are the specialist units: CID, where the hours are unbelievably long and the pressures beyond exhausting; firearms, where a single mistake could see you not just lose your career but also your freedom. The list goes on and on.

I have described myself as an accuracy addict. When I am writing, I do everything within my power to make sure that the events I am describing are both accurate and plausible. I am fortunate to have a large number of police officers around me to help me get the details right. But beyond that, I see it as my responsibility. I am, in essence, using their role to help drive my story forward. If I’m going to do that, the least I can do is represent that role as accurately and fairly as possible.

There is a reason people like to read about the police. They are a group of people who risk themselves in order to protect others. What they do requires courage and self-sacrifice. And, in all honesty, what could be more interesting than that?

Falling by Emma Kavanagh, published by Arrow (November 6th), at £6.99.

Emma Kavanagh was born and raised in South Wales. After graduating with a PhD in Psychology from Cardiff University, she spent many years working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe. Now she is lucky enough to be able to write for a living. She lives in South Wales with her husband and young son.

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