Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interview with Zach Fortier

Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, do you feel where you live influences how or what you write? 

I grew up in the town I worked in.  That town is a blue collar, crime infested city that has been internally broken since WWII.  That is the culture that I was raised in. It shaped who I am and how I see the world.  The realities of growing up in that city made me want to make a difference and come back to be a cop there.  I have since moved to Colorado and I really like it here.  There is no place like Colorado.  I have been very fortunate.  I am finally married to an amazing and patient woman who makes all the difference in my life.

What sort of expectations did you have when being published was on the horizon?

I had very low expectations.  I had done quite a bit of research and I had no illusions about how difficult it was to self publish, and then promote your own writing.  I was expecting a lot of criticism, and a lot of backlash.  I am really surprised at the positive response to the books and their rate of sales.

What is your biggest pet peeve ?

My biggest pet peeve(s)? …being late, being lazy and being around racism. All three make me pissed off beyond belief.

Your first two books have been about your time on the police force, and your third as well.  In your second book, you start to really delve into how your job got to you.  (to put it mildly) Have you found it cathartic to write about your experiences?  

Initially it was not cathartic at all.  Picture shaking up a carbonated drink and trying to open it carefully, slowly and not make a mess. Pretty much impossible to do and you can see that there is no way to contain it.  That is what it was like at first.  Once I started to write about the years I spent on the street as a cop.  I could not stop and I could not contain it.  I wrote, cried and paced the room, angry at the things I remembered and the price I had paid personally for choosing to work this job.  The memories were definitely under pressure and came out at a frightening pace.  Now a year and a half later; three books later.  I do see that it has helped me a lot.  I think clearer, write clearer and I am less angry.  Not to say I am not angry.  I am still angry, just less angry.

Also you don't always portray your fellow co-workers in a very positive light.  Have you gotten backlash from any of your former colleagues regarding this? I know that you use fake names but they have to realize they are being written about. 

The funny thing to me is I have had people who are not in the book at all accuse me of painting them in a negative light.  I guess they have something they have done that bothers them.  I did not write about anyone to slam them or paint them in a negative light.  I just wrote how they were and how I was, neither of us is painted in a positive light.  Nothing about this job is pretty, ever.  It is brutal and ugly.  You see the worst that people can be and do to each other and it affects you.

Do you feel that modern technological advancements aside, have the general perceptions of members of law enforcement changed any since your time there? 

The perceptions of cops and police work change almost daily now.  The reality is technology has changed police work in ways the public cannot grasp.  I think the changes are for the most part for the worse.  The reality is the more technology advances police work the less cops are in touch with the people and the street.  This job is all about people-- all people.  Your work is to enforce laws written by people for people.  You need to learn talk to people and more importantly listen to people.  That is lost by the “bean counters” that have infested the profession trying to come in and make you more efficient.  Efficiency in police work is not measured in numbers produced, in crime rate drops or ticket quotas.  That is an easy gauge for the small minded to use, to show they have the magic answer to crime.  Reality is there is no magic answer.  Cops have very little affect on crime rates.  We are rarely proactive in this job. We are reactive 99% of the time.  Now the culture is to call the cops, call 911, and expect an answer to all your problems.  It is not realistic to expect a cop to come into a situation and resolve it; making choices that are going to undo anything that has taken years to develop; do anything meaningful.  It takes years for the conditions that create a murder to occur.  How does a cop change that?  Yet on TV that is what people are shown.  Cops are shown to solve all of societies ills in an hour or less and people love it.  Very Stupid Idea! 

Is there a genre you prefer to write? What about to read?

I like to write what I know.  It is gritty and shocking to those who are not aware of the street.  For those who are, they nod and acknowledge the reality of the experience.  It rings true for all of us who have been there.
 I prefer to read Sci Fi and Biographies… Greg Bear is my favorite Sci Fi author.  I prefer Bios that get you into the person’s head that the book is about. I want to learn what makes them tick, their dark side, their motivations.  The skeletons in their closet.  The good and the bad.

Care to give us a peek at what your latest writing project is? 

My latest project is a dark look at meth addiction and crime.  It is told from the perspective of a woman I know who has been through a lot; sexual abuse as a child, dysfunctional family, broken marriages, a health issue that caused her to gain weight, the frustration with dealing with her doctors concerning the weight gain made her desperate.  She turned to meth and spiraled out of control.  Meth use, manufacturing and distribution; crimes she committed and the entire life style surrounding drug culture will all be looked at.  She ran with motorcycle gangs and ended up a convicted felon, doing prison time.  She is now trying to rebuild her life one day at a time.  It will be a look at crime and drugs from the other side…  The inside.  I am really excited about this book.  Showing the inside of a culture that very few people have survived.  It should be fascinating to write.  I hope I can do it justice.

Just because I can, will you be wearing green on St. Patty's day?

I hate the color green.  I will not be wearing green!  I love St Patrick’s day but I hate green anything.

Want to find out more about Zach? You can find him here:

***Want to win a copy of Curb CheK?  Zach is being kind enough to offer a signed print copy to one lucky follower of my blog! PLUS this giveaway will be open INTERNATIONALLY! So no matter what country you are in be sure to come back between March 17th through March 22nd to enter this awesome giveaway!***


  1. Racism is a hot button topic for me as well. I hate being around it.

    Great interview. I can see you have a lot of experience to write from!

  2. Thanks for the comments, checked out your blog as well. Very well done. Let me know if you have any questions. Z

  3. I can't imagine the harshness faced in this line of work, which is why I've always steered clear of reading material on the policing profession and watching crime TV shows. I guess it's my way of protecting myself from the harsh reality out there. It changes a person and changes a person's outlook on life. Maybe some day I'll be able to pick up your book and read it to inform myself, because it's ridiculous to expect to go through life avoiding these realities.

    Thanks for this lovely post:)

    Sarah Bibi Setar

  4. It can be very harsh and the realities can sometimes change the way you see the world for sure. That is what I think is the really cool thing about writing about what I witnessed and did-the reader can see it learn about it but not be scarred by it...At least that is my hope. I remember once I was talking to this guy on a call. He said that we cops did not have any idea what it was like to like in the inner hard it was. I thought about it, he was right. We left and went home. However on the other side of the coin the time we are there is totally immersed in the absolute worst the city had to offer. There are no calls where you are asked to respond to a birthday party to blow out never see anything good. 40-50+ hours a week you are going from the worst this person will experience that week.... to the next person and the worst they will experience and so on... that is why I think the books have merit. You can learn from my experiences and not have to drown in them. Z