Thursday, 1 March 2012

Author Spotlight - Melanie Atkins visits the Writer's Police Academy

One of my favorite conferences is The Writers' Police Academy, a weekend trip into law enforcement land put on by my Castle blog buddy Lee Lofland and friends in North Carolina each September. It's so much fun, and is so informative. Just the ticket for folks who write mystery or suspense. I've been twice, and loved it both times. Can't wait for the 2012 version!

Last year, I attended sessions on Crime Scene Investigation (outside, in the pouring rain), Blood Spatter, Self Defense, Fingerprinting (a phenomenal hands on class), Alternate Light Sources, and Cold Cases, just to name a few. I also tried the driving simulator, but the screens on either side angled to simulate the side windows of an ambulance made me sick as a dog. I got so queasy, I literally had to jump up and run to the restroom. Luckily I didn't throw up, but I almost did. I won't try that again.

My favorite part of the weekend was the FATS simulator training… a video screen that simulates actual police calls, making me the cop. I had a gun, too. It fired nothing but air, of course, but I still took my share of bad guys -- including a grandma at an airport coming at me with knitting needles. I kid you not! I did a lot better this year than last year. What a treat. This year, I hope to also do a ride-along with a sheriff's deputy. I've done that here three times when I attended various citizens' police academies (another total blast), but would love to do it again.

Conferences like this are great for suspense and mystery writers. Writers must do research, and I can't think of a better way to learn about law enforcement. I invite everyone to check out the new WPA website as soon as it's up and running. I'll post the address on my blog the day I get it.

To buy Quest for Justice:


  1. Gosh, I wish we had something like that where I live. No such luck, so I'll live vicariously through you.

  2. Pepper Phillips1 March 2012 at 06:41

    Sounds wonderful except for their name..F.A.T.S.

    If I told anyone I went to that training, they would wonder why...I'm already chunky enough!

  3. It does sound like great fun! And, hey, knitting needles can be lethal weapons.

    I did a very short FATS simulator training at an open house a local police station had years ago. I can't remember how bad or good I did. I just remember how much fun it was.

  4. What a great idea for mystery writers. I've never considered going that route, but if I change genres, it's good to know something like FATS exists. (outside of desserts)

  5. I am so jealous! this sounds so like so much fun. Educational but fun!

  6. It is fun! I've been twice and can't wait to go again.

    And F.A.T.S. isn't the name of the conference; it's the simulator. The conference is the Writers' Police Academy (WPA).

  7. I did a re-enactment at a Sisters in Crime workshop but have never done a full conference.

    Sounds like it's a lot of fun and offers a lot of good info.