As a voracious reader, I've read a lot of romantic suspense and thriller novels. One thing I've noticed is that there seems to be a formula. Stories usually began with a dead body and the rest of the book took the reader on a journey to find out how the body got that way. And it's a formula that works and has worked for years with good reason. But when plotting my upcoming J.J. McCall series, I had to figure out something different because I discovered an aversion that would make the usual formula difficult for me to follow.

When I first started working at the FBI in 1991 (right before the what could be termed "The Decade of the Spy" in which the likes of convicted spies Ames, Hanssen, Nicholson, and others were arrested), I served a short stint in the unit that covered a potpourri of jurisdictions--everything from air plane crashes to violations under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. If you Google RICO and La Cosa Nostra you will see that it was a very powerful tool in bringing a lot of mafia-types to justice.

In both types of investigations, the files contained lots of pictures from the various crime scenes. Of course in air plane crashes, you can imagine the gruesome pictures. And in RICO, well, lets just say they didn't get much better. It was then I realized I have an aversion to death, especially gruesome ones. I hated to see people die horrible deaths. I didn't want to explore that or think about it. It's even tough for me to read or see in movies. I really internalize deaths  (real or imagined) far more than a normal person should. I couldn't even imagine working in units conducted murder investigations. Ugh.

So, I went in search of a kinder gentler kind of crime, where people didn't much.

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