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Prolific Retired-ATF Official Bernie La Forest Cranks Out His Third Novel

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
Ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest is at it again.

The prolific La Forest has just knocked out his third mystery novel, “A Matter of Lex Talionis,” the story of a Lt. Andre de Avilés, who heads the Detroit Police Department’s Intel Squad.

Described as a forty-somethin’, ‘balls-to-the-wall” detective known for fighting organized crimes, the lieutenant gets tied up in a probe involving a bombing in Detroit’s Mexican Town that appears to be an act of terrorism.

He joins up with ATF and eventually some retired associates.

La Forest headed up ATF offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Phoenix, and was a former Detroit cop. He retired from ATF in 1998.

I asked La Forest a few questions about his writing.

Here’s how he responded:

What kind of discipline does it take to write three books? Do you write everyday at a certain time?

I do not prepare an outline or chapter guide. However, I do spend a few months rolling potential plots around in my head. The first day that I begin writing is the most difficult. But, once I type the first paragraph . . . it’s off to the races. As you probably know, my novels are based loosely on a series format. I do not have one single hero or heroine, but rather, I lean on what I always believed. Most large law enforcement agencies . . . federal state or local . . . have many characters working on complex investigations. There may be one or two “case writers” or “lead detective or special agent,” but many more are involved in the day-to-day operation. For example, these are just a few tasks that might break the case wide open: Forensics, intelligence gathering, informants, surveillance, undercover, investigators on multi-agency task forces, timing of arrests or raids, etc. So in the end, on many investigations there are usually many heroes or heroines. Which in the end, allows an author using my style and POV . . . to spread the credit around instead of picking one standout.

The bottom line, while working in two DPD precincts and being an original member of the expanded TMU . . . followed by my thirteen moves around the country with ATF, I have come in contact with hundreds of cops, deputies, troopers, and specialized investigators. Stories are not a problem . . . the well is deep and the water is constantly refreshed by memories of partners, friends and associates who toiled on The Job.

How long did it take you to write this one?

I get up around 6 a.m. every day and take the mountain bike into the desert behind our place. After four or five miles on the dirt trails on the backside of the McDowell Mountains, sometimes more, I clean up, watch the news, check out Stratfor.com, WSJ, AZCentral.com for local news, and the Detroit News and the Freep for hometown “stuff.” Then I station my self next to a twenty-four cup coffee urn with a free flowing spigot . . . around Ten o’clock. Then I begin—after opening pages in Wikipedia, Google Maps and others that will provide definitions or descriptive material . . . and, most importantly Dictionary/Thesaurus.com. I began writing A Matter of Lex Talionis on October 6th of last year. I finished in May of 2012. Review and editing took us . . . my two editors and me, another three months . . . including the galley which contains errors caused by the printing setup at the publisher.

Here’s a hint, almost every street, highway, business address, and location mentioned, e.g., surveillance routes . . . is viewed by me on Google street image program . . . in every country where the trucks have uploaded images. I usually wrap up a session around 4:00 p.m., although, sometimes I will continue until dark. There are occasions where I may spend two or three hours working an one or two pages . . . or, start moving sections back toward the beginning or further into the story. That can be a dangerous proposition if I’m not careful . . . lots of copies of what is, what was, what might be, and what looks best.

Does  it get easier or harder?

It gets easier with every book, and hopefully, a much improved product.

To find out more about the book click here. 


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