I published my anti-Trump satire Freedom City back in December, after about a year of being on a sabbatical from my private investigations business. The buzz over the book has been amazing, the reviews phenomenal. Just in the past few weeks, bloggers have written:
“… a truly unique and one of a kind novel…” – Anthony Avina
“… following in the footsteps of giants…” – Michael Jay Tucker
“Richly descriptive, blunt, poignant, funny, complex, beautifully textured, and brilliantly scripted. How many more adjectives can I throw at this fine novel?!” – Bradley Knox
Despite these amazing accolades, sales haven’t yet afforded me the luxury of prolonging my sabbatical indefinitely, which means it’s back to the grindstone until this book or the next one takes off. In the meantime, I figured it might be fun for fans of Freedom City to know a bit more about what I do when I’m not writing fiction.
I began working as a private investigator in 1999, the year I graduated from college. At that time, I mainly worked court appointed cases for indigent criminal defendants under the Criminal Justice Act. That work primarily involves finding and interviewing witnesses. You meet lots of interesting characters and there is a ton of writing too, as everything must be meticulously documented.
As I gained experience, I stopped accepting court appointed cases and over the next decade or so worked as an investigator on civil cases, primarily plaintiff-side employment litigation and qui tam (whistleblower) claims under the False Claims Act. These cases are fundamentally the same from an investigator’s standpoint: find people, interview them, write reports. I formed a partnership with some other great investigators in 2004, and my little business grew into perhaps the most esteemed private investigations firm in Washington, D.C.
Over the past several years, I returned to working court appointed cases, specifically death penalty defense in Virginia. After nearly 20 years as a private investigator, I know I’m well suited for these high-stakes cases, which are both extremely challenging and also very rewarding. I’m at the top of my game, and I love the work.
But I won’t lie. I’d rather write books and pass my company onto my more junior investigators. I’ve worked on more murder cases than I can remember, not to mention countless other cases involving people doing shitty things to each other. It’s taxing on the soul.
So, I’m hoping that enough people will love my book, review it kindly, tell their friends, and that ultimately I can turn this writing gig into something of a livable wage.
Until then, I’ll continue investigating. There are certainly worse ways to make a living.