Boosting Creativity for Writing Crime Thrillers

Author Jennifer Chase

I thought I’d lighten things up today with a break from crime scenes, serial killers, fiction thrillers, and forensic breakthroughs.  I love to share all of this information.  I forget sometimes that I find all of these things fascinating and maybe it might be a little depressing at times.

So hang in there, I’m switching gears today…

Writing is tough work, but at the same time it’s a bug that I can’t seem to shake.  It’s get into your bones and you seem to live, eat and breathe it.  I can’t imagine my life without it even with all of its challenges.  I budget my time for writing projects, clients, and studying crime trends.  Sometimes it’s a difficult life to balance and I find that I need to have some other creative outlets to calm and balance my mind.

I haven’t experienced the infamous and sometimes taboo condition of “writer’s…

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Women Have Contributed to Law Enforcement for More than a Century

Author Jennifer Chase

In my crime fiction Emily Stone Thriller Series, the main character is an ex-police officer where she had to go toe to toe with a male dominated profession.  Certain situations (don’t want to give away any spoilers) dictated that she had to quit her post, but she more than made up for it being a stealthy, vigilante detective hunting down serial killers and anonymously emailing the information to the local detectives in charge of the cases.

In 1811, Francois Vidocq actually gave women their first show at police work when he employed them as paid undercover operatives.  Also around the same time in Paris, Edmond Locard was establishing the first private crime lab.  It is his principle (Locard Exchange Principle) that crime scene investigation uses today where with any contact between two items, there will be an exchange.

“In 1845, six women were hired by the New York City…

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Why Write about Serial Killers?

Author Jennifer Chase

manwithmaskOne of the most common questions that I receive from readers is, “What made you want to write about serial killers?”

To answer that question, I must first answer the question of what made me study and obtain degrees in police forensics and criminology. I have a fascination with forensic science and how it is applied in order to solve a crime. Over the past ten years, there has been an incredible amount of scientific breakthroughs in DNA profiling and fingerprint identification to name a few. The other areas in forensic science must not be overlooked, such as voice analysis, impression evidence, and criminal profiling. All of these areas of forensic science are important tools for identifying and locating the “bad guy”.

A quote from Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer’s book Crime Science, Methods of Forensic Detection sums up the importance of forensics in my mind. It puts forensics…

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Vigilante Detective Emily Stone Answers 5 Questions #NewRelease #Thriller

Author Jennifer Chase

closeupEmilyI receive many questions about the heroine in my Emily Stone Thriller Series.  I thought it might be fun to ask her a few questions.  She was my inspiration and creation after a personal experience with a real psychopath.  But enough about me, let us ask Emily Stone a few questions.

(Interview reposted by permission from Emily Stone)

* * *

Jennifer Chase:  Thank you Ms. Stone for taking the time to stop by to answer five questions.  I know that you have never given an interview because you work covertly and wish to remain anonymous.  First, tell us a little bit about your working background.

Emily Stone:  I was a police deputy sheriff for almost eight years in Indiana.  I worked patrol, special investigations and was overlooked for SWAT.  My primary interest was to work child cases.  I felt it was where I could make a difference. …

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Vigilante Detective Emily Stone in DARK PURSUIT #FREE #Amazon



International award-winning DARK PURSUIT will be FREE Wednesday (6/8), Thursday (6/9), and Friday (6/10) on Amazon Worldwide.

No need to worry or feel like you need to read book #1 first because ALL of the EMILY STONE THRILLERS are Stand-Alone Books.

AWARD WINNER for ACTION – 2015 International Book Awards Readers’ Favorite
SECOND PLACE AWARD WINNER – 2015 East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards


Vigilante detective Emily Stone has covertly hunted down killers and closed more serial cases than most seasoned homicide cops combined. Her exceptional profiling skills and forensic techniques, along with deductive crime scene investigations, have made her a compelling force that cannot be beat. She has reached her ultimate breaking point and now must face her toughest opponent yet – her biggest fears.

With preciseness, the Tick-Tock Killer has taken his next child victim and promised to dump the body precisely four days later, mocking police and the community. Stone struggles to balance her inner demons and ghosts from the past, against the wits of a brutal and cunning serial killer in an all-out battle of psychological warfare.

Can Stone save the next child in time? Dark Pursuit is an action-packed cat and mouse game that will take you to dark places rarely explored.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU


Be sure to watch Emily Stone in action with this 5 minute film short. Don’t forget to turn up the volume!


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 Author Blog:

Book & Crime Talk:
Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Dark Pursuit Silent Partner  Screenwriting

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Forensic Scientist: A New Kind of Superhero in BODY OF THE CRIME


The definition of a hero is a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. What immediately comes to mind are those who keep us safe like soldiers, police officers, and emergency personnel, but a hero can be someone closer to home, like a mentor or someone within a community who accomplishes something noteworthy, such as with charity work or fighting for an important cause to help others.

I could go on because there are all types of heroes out there. Most of us have known or read about these heroes. Of course, there are the bigger than life fictional type of heroes—superheroes.

Why do we gravitate toward the superhero phenomenon, such as with entertainment?  Is it because we see a part of ourselves in these individuals, whether fictional or not?

From a psychological standpoint, do we secretly have an alter-ego screaming to get out to do fantastic tings? Do we actually learn more about ourselves from the villains? This would be an interesting subject to venture into further.

What about the unsung heroes, cold case detectives and forensic scientists for example, that continues to work for the same goal to find the perpetrator that committed the crime. Couldn’t they be categorized as a hero, or maybe even a superhero? I think so.

I have been pondering this angle for a while, and I developed a new series with a forensic scientist as the hero. Well, he’s not the ordinary forensic scientist, but rather an expert forensic witness and criminal profiler. Meet Dr. Chip Palmer who lives like recluse, no one knows exactly where he lives because of the death threats from his court testimonies, and his unusually astute approach to crime scenes. My new series debut with Body of the Crime.



A Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery



Three grisly murders linked to five cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction. Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—passionate and deadly.

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?

Available at Amazon for 99 cents for June only.


On June 15th, you will find Body of the Crime making some blog guest appearances.



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 Author Blog:

Book & Crime Talk:
Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Dark Pursuit Silent Partner  Screenwriting
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Emily Stone’s Weaponry: Knife or Gun?

writing fiction weapons guns knives tips guide

Gun or knife? One is not necessarily better or worse than the other. (Shutterstock photo)

I love asking Benjamin Sobieck questions about weapons–he is an incredible resource for weapons as well as a great writer. As I begin outlining the next two Emily Stone Thrillers, I have some decisions to make as far as her “what if” scenarios. The above photo reminds me of what is inside Emily Stone’s goodie bag. Check out this awesome guest post from Sobieck and see what he has to say.


Emily Stone’s Weaponry: Knife or Gun?

Guest Post by Benjamin Sobieck

Jennifer Chase’s Emily Stone character often finds herself in tight spots while putting the hurt on the bad guys. Chase recently asked me to provide insight on one such scenario, and as always I was happy to oblige the request as I have before. I hope readers enjoy these “what if” scenarios as much as I do.

Here’s the setup, per Chase:

Stone is alone and cornered at a remote location (as usual), and she’s lost contact with her partner. Stone always has at least one gun and a knife as she tracks down the trail of a killer. She is also trained in defensive as well as offensive moves. The killer has a victim with him, but is also alone. Stone is low on ammo but not hurt. However, the killer is an ex-Marine. Can she save the victim and get out alive using the right weapons?

Knife or Gun: Which is Better in Close Quarters?

This is a hypothetical scenario (although it may wind up in a future Stone installment, wink wink) so I’ll make my own assumptions about what’s happening here.

  • Stone is using some sort of semi-auto pistol and already has it drawn.
  • Stone will come across the bad guy by surprise. She’ll turn a corner and find him.
  • The bad guy will not leave the victim, suggesting to me the bad guy is also using a handgun of some sort.
  • The distances between them are relatively short. I’m thinking 20 feet or so.

Given those factors, would Stone’s gun or knife be the better option?

Use the Gun

Stone should use the gun. Even at close distances, and despite the 21-foot rule about handguns’ effectiveness at that range during surprise attacks, Stone’s skill set should allow her to pop the bad guy between the eyes and/or dodge anything that comes her way. She’ll have to act rather than react, but that’s where the fun part of high stakes fiction comes into play.

It could be different, though, and that brings to mind a topic worth considering.

The Myth of the Hierarchy of Weapons

myth of hierarchy of weapons

(Shutterstock image)

There’s an idea out there in fiction, as well as the real world, that weapons exist within a hierarchy. I’ll call this the Myth of the Hierarchy of Weapons. The “not so deadly” weapons are over here, the “mostly deadly” fall into this box and the “definitely deadly” sit at the top of both.

I imagine it looks something like this, arranged from most to least dangerous:

  1. Explosives
  2. Machine/submachine guns
  3. Rifles
  4. Shotguns
  5. Handguns
  6. Knives and other edged instruments
  7. Melee weapons
  8. Household/mundane items
  9. Rocks
  10. Sticks

This kind of thinking supposes the world is like a role playing game, where certain weapons are assigned hit points and scored against the resistance of their targets.

But the real world isn’t a game. The hierarchy looks more like this:

  1. Explosives, machine/submachine guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives and other edged instruments, melee weapons, household/mundane items, rocks, sticks

The hierarchy doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.

Weapons are at their root tools. Knives split one thing into two things. Firearms direct projectiles from point A to point B. Explosives rapidly deconstruct other objects. Like any other tool, weapons are designed to suit a particular purpose.

In the same way Confucius (supposedly) suggested using something other than a hatchet to remove a fly from your forehead, a handgun shouldn’t be graded on its ability to cut. The right tool for the job is better than any other tool. That doesn’t mean it’s also better than all tools for all jobs.

Here’s an example of what I mean from Massad Ayoob, who wrote about this concept for Gun Digest, where I work:

A knife never jams. A knife never runs out of ammunition; you rarely see a gunshot murder victim who has been shot more than a few times, but any homicide investigator can tell you how common it is for the victim of a knife murder to bear twenty, thirty, or more stab and/or slash wounds. A knife comes with a built-in silencer. Knives are cheap, and can be bought anywhere; there used to be a cutlery store at LaGuardia Airport, not far outside the security gates. There is no prohibition against a knife being sold to a convicted felon. Knives can be small and flat and amazingly easy to conceal.

Does that mean knives are more deadly than guns? It depends on the situation. I don’t spread jam on my toast with an ax, but I don’t slaughter zombies with a butter knife, either.

What this means for scenarios like Stone’s is that it isn’t a question of which weapon is better or more deadly. It’s a question of which one is better suited for the scenario.

For writers, that means thinking in reverse when assigning weapons to characters. Figure everything else out first, from the traits of the characters to the weather to geography, and then make the call on the weapon(s) involved should the choice be available to the story in the first place.

The Verdict

I think Stone’s pistol is the best bet, but that could change. A knife certainly has its advantages. A remote, secluded area could include other useful items, such as rocks or broken glass.

As a matter of fact, I deployed the ol’ speeding-rock-to-the-face trick in Chase Baker & the Vikings’ Secret when the titular character lost access to his .45. It doesn’t mean rocks are better than .45 caliber handguns, or vice versa, but it did get the job done.

And that, no matter the scenario, is what counts.

sobieck small mugBenjamin Sobieck is the author of The Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books). He also blogs about weapons in fiction at His fictional work includes Chase Baker & the Humanzees from Hell, Chase Baker & the Vikings’ Secret, Chase Baker & the Apocalypse Bomb, Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective, 8 Funny Detective Stories with Maynard Soloman, The Invisible Hand and many others. His website is

Sobieck will be presenting about weapons in fiction at the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference this August in New York City. See details about the conference here.

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