Crime writers gain skill and inspiration in the Fox Valley

Fingerprinting 101 for writers at the academy.

GREENVILLE - With fake guns in hand, a traffic stop scenario is underway.

The four-day "Writers' Police Academy" at Fox Valley Tech is used to spark the interest of crime novelists and help writers before their books are published.

"There are so many questions that I have. I have a list yay, long of questions for the corner, for the EMS people, for the fingerprint, for the crime lab," said C.J. Prince.

Prince is one of 280 writers getting the chance to talk to instructors and gain hands-on experience.

She says when it comes to writing, even if its fiction, accuracy is important.

"You're asking readers to accompany you on this journey and if they get a whiff that you're not the expert you pretend to be or things are not real, then it breaks the spell of this imaginary world," Prince said.

The authors say it's their job to make the words on paper come to life.

"I was just on a skid pad driving and doing serpentines in patrol cars. You're just not going to have access to people," said Lynn McCall.

Best-selling author Karin Slaughter writes thrillers.

"Like my readers, I'm interested in this kind of thing, the procedures behind policing. So, to be here on a basic level is a lot of fun," said Slaughter.

From analyzing a fingerprint to firing a weapon, Slaughter says the academy is more than the experience.

"I'm very aware that this is something real, that it happens, and I need to honor that and I also need to talk about how it affects people who investigate those crimes," she said.

After a few hours at the academy, one author realized her story needs to change.

"I was going to have a homicide painted to look like a suicide. The method I was going to us after this morning session is completely unrealistic," Prince said.

Like many authors before her, it takes a few tries before the final draft is perfect.

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