"i come from a long line of criminals...
Moonshiners and rumrunners. Horse thieves and carjackers. Bank robbers and burglars. Pickpockets and con artists. And then there’s the occasional killer. You name it, whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor; somewhere along the line, a member of the Shatner family has done it.
As far back as the Shatner family can be traced – from the highlands of Scotland, to the mountains of western North Carolina, and now to the Piney Woods of East Texas – we’ve been breaking the law. And running from it, too.
It’s a family tradition.
You see, the Shatners don’t swim in the baby pool of life. We’re out in the deep end, and we jump in headfirst.
As for me, every morning I wake up and fight my genetic predisposition to break the law. Some days I’m more successful than others. For the past three years I’ve had to fight even harder. I can’t break the law when I’m supposed to be upholding it.
I work as a crime scene technician for the Wyatt County Sheriff’s Department. This would put my degree in forensic science to good use except there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of serious crime in Wyatt County. I mainly sit behind my desk all day, twiddling my thumbs, playing Sudoku, and keeping up with my various social media accounts. My job title of “detective” is honorary and I suspect that my badge came from a cereal box.
My main job at the sheriff’s department is to cover up my family’s criminal misdeeds and keep them out of jail. I’ll be the first to admit that what I’m doing isn’t ethical. It’s probably also criminal. I try not to think about that too much. To be honest, I try not to think about any of it too much. Most days I feel like quitting my job. Family obligation prevents that.
When you get down to it, the majority of the bad things that the Shatners do are just plain dumb. And, as far as I know, being stupid isn’t illegal. We’d be in serious trouble otherwise.
I don’t want you to go into this thinking that all of the Shatners are bad people. Most of them are just a little misguided.
At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
Until I found the body."
- Excerpt from the prologue of Criminal Misdeeds
I first came up with the Carrie Shatner character back in 2005 when I was a senior in high school. At that time, I was reading a lot of mystery novels starring strong, female sleuths, and I decided I was going to attempt creating one of my own.
Over the years, Carrie Shatner has gone through many transformations. In every version, she was in some form of law enforcement, but her job and place of employment changed more times than Cher would change outfits during her shows. Carrie has also bounced all around Texas before she finally found a home in the Piney Woods of East Texas, and a job at the sheriff’s department in the made up Wyatt County. At this point, the only thing about Carrie that hasn't changed is her name.
As the years progressed, and Carrie Shatner’s character continued to change and develop, I realized I had to provide her with something that made her unique. Something that made her stand out from all of the other female characters who were solving all sorts of crimes in between the book pages. I started out by giving Carrie a small family of eccentric individuals to act as a foil to her no-nonsense attitude, and also to provide some comic relief. That eccentric family soon began to grow, and they slowly became a band of criminals whom Carrie felt obligated to keep out of jail. Carrie’s desire to do the right thing clashes with her responsibility to protect her family members not only from the crimes they commit, but from themselves.
It was in January 2011, while I was working on a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, that I began to write the novel that would become Criminal Misdeeds.