Lindy Gligorijevic – Investigating the Art of Writing
When a career in law enforcement includes pulling body parts out of a recycling center and the closeness that develops between partners sharing such elemental experiences, a creative cop’s imagination can readily begin fashioning characters and plots out of her experiences.
Lindy Gligorijevic is currently the Chief of Investigations for the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. Throughout her 20 years as a police officer and a detective in Los Angeles, she investigated homicides, rapes, child abuse, domestic violence, and robbery.
And she is writing what she hopes to be a 12-book series of novels about a pair of homicide detectives, fictionalizing events that she has kept notes on during her career.
“Like most writers, there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t been writing,” said Lindy. “Over my entire career, I was diarying and journaling, writing down scenes, knowing that at some point I was going to write this series.”
The first novel, Hold Fast, is written from the point of view of Shea Reed, a single woman. Her partner, Jack Rainier, is married with two little girls. The story opens with a body of a woman found outside a restaurant where LAPD officers are celebrating Christmas. Photos of nude police officers found in the victim’s locker implicate the department. Shea and Jack must find out if the perpetrator is in their own homicide unit.
Like Shea, Lindy was single when she started working for the police department in 1985, but she was also a mom, at a time when being a woman cop meant facing extra hurdles. The Hollywood Division, where she started at 23 years old, did not even have a female locker room.
Lindy is a native of Norwalk in Orange County. During her childhood, her family bounced back and forth between the Los Angeles area and Minnesota, as a compromise between her parents’ choice of a place to call home.
Lindy was always interested in writing and in art. In high school, she was editor of the school paper and she started college as an art major. But while there, she took a course on criminal justice and decided that would be a better way to support her family.
Once she was out on her own, Lindy stayed in the L.A. area. Besides her journals and notes, her writing at the time was mostly confined to police work.
“Being a police detective, you’re writing all the time,” she said. “You’re writing very detailed reports. I tell people all the time, you’ve got a pen in your hand far more often than you have a gun in your hand. Throughout my entire career, I’ve had assignments that require a little more writing than usual. I’m always tasked with whatever the additional writing is.”
She met her husband, a fire captain, at the 1992 Rodney King riots. When he retired, they moved to Nevada.
“That’s when I did my writing, sunup to sundown, seven days a week,” she said. “So, the lion’s share of the novels were actually written 10 years ago. Two are currently available. Then I have two more completed, and I’m in the finishing stages of the fifth one.”
Her second novel, Bell Lap, is from Jack’s point of view. She said Jack is as devoted to his job as Shea, and she really enjoys writing in his head.
Lindy became frustrated attempting to go through traditional publishing houses, so her books are self-published.
“I was doing the usual things,” she said. “I went to all the San Francisco writing conferences. I actually had two agents over the years, but I couldn’t get farther in the publishing part of it.”
She calculated that attempting to get a publisher had cost her about $10,000 over the years for professional editing, all the conferences and related expenses. She began to feel that spending all this money on a project that wasn’t for her family was just folly.
“I can’t articulate how frustrating it is,” she said. “So, I stopped writing. I stopped pursuing everything for three years.”
By this time, she and her husband had moved back to California – this time to the foothills of Elderwood, near Woodlake. Living on an acre or so, next to a cattle ranch and dealing with rattle snakes is quite a switch for Lindy.
“To me it’s the wilderness, because I’m from Los Angeles,” she said. “But it’s absolutely lovely where we live.”
In making the move, she also returned to her career in law enforcement, joining the County D.A.’s office as an investigator. During the three years of her disenchantment with publishing, she concentrated on her career.
“And it did work out, because I’m now the chief investigator,” she said.
She also found a way around her weariness with writing when she spoke with a woman who was self-published.
“She said I am an author no matter how small the audience,” Lindy said. “And that resonated with me, but I said I’m not going to put any more money into it. Self-publishing costs more money. And she said go on CreateSpace. It doesn’t cost you anything.”
Lindy said her book was already formatted for presentation to publishers so she had little to do to get it ready for self-publishing. Unfortunately, she made some mistakes on her first attempt and the publication turned out to be what she calls “a garbled mess.” However, since the CreateSpace books are printed on demand, not much was lost and she was able to make corrections for the next release.
“What it did do for me is it no longer had me waiting around for someone else to do something about this,” she said. “I can put books in people’s hands. They can like it or not like it. They can talk to me about my characters, which is probably the biggest blessing about this whole thing. My characters exist in other people’s imaginations. That’s one of the biggest delights of my life – having people come up to me and talk about my characters.”
Members of book clubs have insisted that Shea is Lindy, but she disagrees. Shea does have some of the same experiences, but Lindy believes she is an entirely different person. In fact, she feels Jack more closely represents her world view.
She is pleased with her sales results as well. They have spread word-of-mouth within the Visalia area and the Los Angeles police community.
She describes her style as a cross between Michael Connelly and Joseph Wambaugh. She writes police procedurals. She strives for realism using her experience as a detective. For example, while there is one main murder for the characters to solve, they have many cases going at once, showing how much detectives have hanging over them.
She said the biggest difference between writing about police work and living it, is time to reflect. When you are living it, she said, “you’re hanging on by the seat of your pants.” When writing it, she can look at the situation from many different perspectives.
“I am transported when I’m writing,” she said. “To me, it’s the most natural, most wonderful sense in my life. I love everything about writing. I love the idea that I can create characters that will mean something to someone else.”