Writing about what she knows best, Texas author Anita Dickason entertains audience during book signing event at Tolstoy & Co. Bookstore in Clifton
CLIFTON – If the reader of Anita Dickason’s novel “Not Dead,” knows anything about Central Texas, an eerie fog lasting for several days should straight away alert them to the fact that something is definitely not normal. There are no day-long fogs in Central Texas, ever. In this paranormal suspense thriller, haunted by memories of a similar case, a small-town police chief with strange forebodings strives to retrieve a four-year-old girl from her kidnappers, as her aunt, the local newspaper editor risks going to jail and then her life to save her niece.
At an entertaining and informative presentation at Tolstoy & Co. Bookstore in Clifton Aug. 27, Dickason explained to her audience how she became a writer after retirement in 2013, where she gets her inspiration for her much-appreciated novels and the general process of publishing books. Dickason writes crime fiction to entertain.
Working with the Dallas Police Department for 22 years, but having a total of 27 years of law enforcement experience provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots, and many incidents and characters are based on her experiences. Dickason served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.
“I write about what I know, cops and crime,” Dickason said. “There is a lot of me in my books.” And with that said, with each book, the detective in Dickason kicks in, because each new main plot line requires a lot of research to get the details just right.
Dickason did not expect to become a writer, but a collaboration with a television show ended in a book. The show needed an advanced accident investigator to reinvestigate Lee Bowers’ automobile accident on Highway 67, near Midlothian. Bowers was an important witness of the Dealey Plaza assassination of President John F. Kennedy and conspiracy theorists say foul play was involved in his death a few years after the assassination.
When Dickason found several questionable things in the show’s background material, she was drawn to solve the mystery. Her non-fiction book “The Real Facts of Lee Bowers’ Death” is her analysis and conclusion of the 1966 vehicle crash reconstruction.
Her fiction writing started with a short story submitted in contest about an enchanted doll, winning her a third place. The acclaim she received for the short story propelled her new career, starting with writing classes and culminating in six fiction novels.
There is no stopping her now. Her mind is constantly abuzz with ideas, details, plot lines and characters. And it is the characters that Dickason loves to write about the most, saying “I never know where they will take me.”
But there is sure to be a love interest “which adds a lighter touch and some spice,” and there is always something out of the ordinary in her stories – for example an investigator’s psychic powers which gives them “a bit of an extra edge” or a doll with inexplicable communication with its owner. Dickason loves legends, myths and symbolism of the Scots, the Irish and the Native Indians, which she weaves into her stories whenever she can.
This is especially true for her most popular book “Not Dead,” where the paranormal gives an unusual twist to the story set in Meridian. Because of the story’s location, Dickason wrote “The library needs this book” in the signed copy ChisholmCountry.com donated to the Meridian Public Library.
In her debut fiction novel “Sentinels of the Night” in 2017, besides introducing owls as sentinels of death and the crossing the Owl’s Bridge on death, Dickason ushers in a new Federal Bureau of Investigations Trackers unit – the elite of the elite. And one of the elite is a woman who stumbles across and ends up investigating bodies with a bizarre symbol on their foreheads. This elite Tracker team comes back in “Going, Gone,” “Operation Navajo,” and “Au79.” In each novel, a different FBI Tracker takes center stage. Because of its popularity, Dickason has two more novels in the Tracker Series lined up after she finishes the “Deadly Keepsakes” series.
With the following two books, Dickason stepped away from the Tracker novels – “Not Dead” being a paranormal suspense thriller and “Deadly Business” a suspense thriller about Special Rangers who investigate agricultural crimes like horse and cattle rustling.
Her seventh novel “Deadly Keepsakes” is the start of a series called “A Tori Winters Mystery,” featuring an impressive, fictitious mansion in nearby Granbury, supposedly once owned by casino boss Lester Ben Binion. All it took to inspire the novel were seemingly simple vintage casino chips from Binion’s gambling empire and a short article written by “The Chip Detective” Edward Hertel.
Binion was an American gambling icon, career criminal, and convicted murderer who established illegal gambling operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area. He would later relocate to Nevada, and open the successful Binion's Horseshoe casino in downtown Las Vegas. Together with Hertel, Dickason wrote a three-part column “The Poker Chip Detective,” for the Mystery Review Crew website, which offers a fascinating glimpse into this special era in Dallas’ history including the gambling wars.
With this new five-book series, Dickason diverts from all her other books where the focus was on the crime and how law enforcement eventually arrests the criminals. The focus in the new series is the characters, and how the crime affects them, allowing Dickason to create more in depth portraits of her protagonist, antagonist and supporting characters.
Most people will lay down a book, when the story itself concludes, not bothering with an epilogue. But in Dickason’s case, “The Story Behind the Fiction” at the end of her books gives interesting insights into her inspirations and the facts on which her stories are based, which are well worth the read.
In the end, the whole purpose of publishing books is to eventually sell them, and authors/writers need to learn how to market the products of their imagination. Dickason immersed herself in graphic design, so she can design her own – and other authors’ -- book covers. This marketing evolved into videos for two YouTube channels, artwork, a gift shop, social media banners, book swag, and digital art calendars; she is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin, and her books and E-books sell all over the globe through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“I am not sure which I enjoy more, writing or designing,” Dickason said. Besides the fun she has with her writing and designing, Dickason is pleased with the phenomenal response her books get from book review bloggers. Their comments are usually in the vein of “Couldn’t put it down,” and “Love the suspense and characters.”
In Tolstoy’s intimate setting, the audience – while enjoying a lovely cup of tea or freshly brewed coffee -- was able to ask questions about Dickason’s law enforcement career, her most interesting cases, her achievements as the first female sniper on the Dallas Police Force, movie rights, her biggest writing challenge – transforming the 500-word short story that started her fiction writing career into her most popular novel of approximately 80,000 word “Not Dead;, why she adds the “out of the ordinary realm of things” in her articles; how long it takes her to write a book – not including the editing stage, upcoming books – even suggesting an autobiography because of her interesting and diverse life’s journey.
“My brain never shuts down,” Dickason said, when asked if she ever sleeps with all the different projects she juggles. “What a great turnout for my book event at the Tolstoy & Co. Bookshop in Clifton, Texas this past weekend. It was so rewarding to hear the support and interest from individuals who had read my books. It doesn't get any better than that. To everyone who attended, and Paula Perschke and her family, my heartfelt appreciation for making my day truly memorable.”
One of the gentlemen in the audience at Tolstoy’s started with reading one of Dickason’s books, and consequently came back every 10 days to purchase the next. With Dickason’s promise of several Tori Winters Mystery series books, he will be able to quench his thirst for thrillers.
Find out more about Anita Dickason on http://www.anitadickason.com.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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