TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine always looks for authors to present to our readers. Many of these authors derive their work from life’s experiences. One such writer is author John M. Wills. John, we understand that you originally started your career as a police officer after leaving the military service. Please tell our readers about this episode in your life.
JMW- Gladly, and thank you for this opportunity. Serving in the Army for two years gave me an insight into what I refer to as a “structured life.” I fit comfortably into the military, finding the rules and regulations in the Army left me with no doubt as to what was expected of me.
When my two years of service were up, I looked for that same type of structure. I found it with the Chicago Police Department. It proved to be an easy transition, going from the military to the police. I enjoyed the excitement and the camaraderie, and discovered that being a cop was more a vocation than a job.
TAEM- Tell us about the awards and recognitions that you received from the Chicago Police Department.
JMW- As the years passed and I gained more experience, I transferred into more specialized assignments, which meant working exclusively in high-crime areas. I eventually received dozens of Honorable Mentions, several Department Commendations and a Unit Citation. I was also awarded the Blue Star Award and Award of Valor, the highest recognition the department confers.
TAEM- Upon leaving the Chicago Police Force, you became a special agent for the FBI. How was this career move for you, and tell us about some of the interesting assignments that you went on.
JMW- After serving twelve years with Chicago P.D., I was in my early thirties and began thinking seriously about the future. The FBI had been on my mind for some time, and as I grew older, I knew the door to becoming an agent was closing—thirty-five was the maximum age to become an FBI agent. I decided to fill out an application, and a year later, I found myself at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA as a new agent trainee.
After graduation, I was assigned to a three-man office in Manassas, VA, where I was responsible for all the criminal work in two counties. This was a huge departure from police work in Chicago. My areas of responsibilities encompassed miles and miles of rolling countryside. Sometimes it took me the better part of a morning just to drive and meet with someone to conduct an interview.
Two years later, I was transferred back to a more familiar and comfortable environment: Detroit, MI. I spent ten years in that division, and for several of those years I worked undercover assignments as a drug dealer selling steroids, and as a bodyguard protecting a money launderer involved in public corruption cases
I was transferred to the Houston, TX Division where I worked mostly drug cases. Illegal drugs flowed like water across the border, and we had our hands full of violent crime, which is always a by-product of the drug trade.
During my career as an agent, I also served as a SWAT team member, firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor and several other disciplines. Eventually, an opening developed at the FBI Academy for a Street Survival Instructor. I applied, and several months later I transferred to Quantico, where I served the remainder of my career, to include travelling internationally to conduct street survival schools for police.
During the tragic events of 9/11, I worked at the Pentagon and Pennsylvania crash sites. After those assignments, I was temporarily assigned to FBI Headquarters in a unit where we established a nexus for the Middle East connection, and eventually identified those responsible for the terror plot.
TAEM- What made you choose writing as your next career?
JMW- Because of my Catholic school education, sixteen years worth, writing came naturally. The FBI involved more paper work than police work—conducting interviews and interrogations and then putting the information on paper in the form of a story that leads to a prosecution. Thus, my previous life in law enforcement was the best preparation possible for becoming a writer.
TAEM- How did your work in law enforcement lend credence to your writing?
JMW- After twenty-one years of FBI experience, and twelve years with Chicago P.D., I had a plethora of stories floating in my head. Once I started writing them, it was like rehashing my career. The realism comes from having walked the walk . . . having actually done the things I write about.
JMW– I’ve published more than 130 articles in various publications, Officer.com, LawOfficer.com and Police & Security News. I write about police training, ethics, fitness and officer survival. I’ve assemble many of my articles in a book: Lessons From The Street, Officer Survival & Training, Volumes I & II.
TAEM- Your next works were with the trilogy of books known as The Chicago Warriors Thriller Series. Please describe these works and the themes behind them.
JMW- I created that series because of my love for the city of Chicago. I was born and raised there, spending thirty-three wonderful years as a resident and employee. Most of my family still lives in Chicago: mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.
The Warriors series focuses on Detectives Marilyn Benson and Pete Shannon, who become partners after Shannon loses his original partner in a gun battle with a murderous pimp. The partners battle the forces of evil on the streets of the Windy City, and show their human side as they face challenges in their private lives as well.
The third book in the series, TARGETED, is a mystery/thriller involving two simultaneous stories. A Catholic priest is arrested and flees Chicago, and a sniper is killing Chicago cops. The two unrelated stories come together in a surprising action-packed conclusion. TARGETED won 1st Place Fiction Award at the Public Safety Writers Association Conference in Las Vegas.
JMW- TotalRecall Publications, Inc. was founded in 1998. TRP morphed from a publishing company specializing in educational textbooks, into general publishing in 2009. Works span from self-help to poetry, history to tourism, and include several bestsellers. TRP titles are distributed worldwide through bookstores, book wholesalers, and online resellers.
TAEM- Describe your newest work Women Warriors: Stories from the Thin Blue Line.
JMW- Women Warriors is a labor of love. I’ve written a number stories that appear in several fantastic law enforcement anthologies. And while there are a handful of stories by females in these same collections, I have never seen an anthology consisting entirely of stories by women in law enforcement, until now.
Collecting and editing the stories took more than a year. The process was sometimes painful, the back and forth between the contributors and myself took time. To be honest, I rejected a few stories that didn’t quite fit, but most of the stories are compelling and filled with passion.
As you might expect, the collection includes gunfights and street battles. But there are also tales from dispatchers, chaplains and corrections officers, some that will move readers to tears.
TAEM- How does this differ from your past series?
JMW- Women Warriors is a departure from my novels. The book is a work of non-fiction, and proudly displays how women handle a job once considered a male only profession. Readers can visit the book’s website: www.womenwarriorsbook.com and read updates, news and interviews with many of the women who contributed stories.
JMW- The book is set for a 9/11 release. The first story features a Chicago cop, Arlene Ajello, a native New Yorker. She led a crew of fellow Chicago officers, in full uniform, to NY where they labored for weeks, digging body parts from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Heart-wrenching.
TAEM- John, I am surely proud of the work all law enforcement officers perform and it was certainly an honor to be able to have this interview with you. I know that our readership will look forward to reading your work and I personally want to wish you the best of luck in all that you do.