So you want to be a bounty hunter . . . what about this interested me, and what did I do to learn about it?
When I started developing ideas for Murder Once Seen, I knew I wanted to write a mystery/suspense novel that was also a gay romance. For me, that meant I needed to develop characters that could have the skills and access to be able to solve crimes. I chose bounty hunting as one of the skillsets because I didn’t want the characters to be inside of the police but more of a rogue force. I already enjoyed another mystery series featuring bounty hunters (the Stephanie Plum series) and I also enjoyed watching things like Dog the Bounty Hunter on TV.
Bounty hunters sound very intriguing—they catch fugitives running from the law, and yet they’re not always squarely inside the law themselves. It takes an independent spirit, someone who is crafty and quick to make a good bounty hunter. They have to find people who don’t want to be found, so this gives them an edge in investigative skills. However, they work with the police in turning in fugitives with warrants out on them, so bounty hunters must know the legal system. Because they often work alone with desperate, dangerous criminals, they have to be resourceful and not afraid to face danger over and over again.
On top of this, I planned to include demons in the world that could be hunted as well. This would add the paranormal elements and even more danger.
Thus the character of Derwin Bryant was born.
Of course, having created this bounty hunter, I needed to find out how bond agents actually work, and I didn’t want to rely on some television show for my answers.
Google was first in my research process, not surprisingly. I read the Wikipedia article, which didn’t give many details other than to state that “bond enforcement agents” have been outlawed or heavily restricted in several states. I did some further research into the type of gear that a typical bounty hunter uses as well as some of the laws they must typically follow, including the laws regarding breaking and entering and civil arrest.
In my research, I read several books, including Police Procedure & Investigation, Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America’s Bloodiest Asian Gang, The Everything Private Investigation Book, and checked out the website that bond enforcement agents depend on including fugitiverecovery.com.
Lots of interesting stuff! Things like:
- If you have a private investigator’s license, you can get access to databases full of information like tracersinfo.com, which includes things like residence information, collections and other financial records, criminal and court records, and more.
- Tips on how to conduct surveillance and how to handle the police if you’re caught; also tricks like placing masking tape on the tail light of the vehicle you’re following so that it’s easier to distinguish at night.
- How to subpoena police to get cell phone records or a cell phone trace.
- How police process a crime scene, and the most current methods for gathering evidence. (Apparently they don’t use plastic baggies anymore because it can mess up the evidence. They use paper bags instead.)
So yes, research can be fun, and it gave me lots of ideas for things to include not only in this book, but for future books in the series. I plan to showcase Derwin chasing a fugitive at least once in each book, and I plan to put a little humor into these scenes. After all, fugitives are interesting in their own right. They’re kind of like Bugs Bunny, trying to evade Elmer Fudd. Or the roadrunner.
You’ll see what I mean.
About Murder Once Seen
In the city of Nis, things often aren’t what they seem.
Derwin is a bounty hunter gifted with the Oddity of superhuman strength and agility—perfect for hunting down fugitives and demons who roam the streets. One killed his boyfriend two years ago, and Derwin won’t stop until he finds out who. Police suspect it was someone he sent to prison, but he can’t shake the idea that they’re missing something.
Elliot is a rentboy who’s been living on the streets since his parents disowned him. He mistrusts everyone and, given his uncontrolled ability to Read Objects and a client list that includes a major gang boss, despairs of ever having a normal life.
Derwin and Elliot meet in a storm of lust. Derwin’s Oddity is fed by the pain of others, but he only wants what’s freely given. Elliot loves pain, but needs safety and a way off the streets before he can allow it. They may be able to solve each other’s problems . . . if they can survive long enough to work together.
Available now at Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/murder-once-seen
About JT Hall
J.T. Hall has been writing for many years under this name and others, and has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and online books. She earned her BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, her master’s in education from Argosy University, and works as an independent technical writer for state and federal programs. In her free time, she volunteers for the LGBT community and is active in the leather scene. She has a teenage daughter and a partner of over ten years. They live in sunny Arizona with three adorably cute dogs, three black cats, and a hamster who loves peanuts.
Connect with J.T.:
- Blog: jthallwriting.wordpress.com
- Twitter: @JTHall7
- Tumblr: www.tumblr.com/blog/jthallwriting
To celebrate the release of Murder Once Seen, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!