Nobody's Heroes — A Q&A with Lt. Dan Marcou
As most PoliceOne members already know, Lt. Dan Marcou is among our more prolific columnists. Dan has written dozens of columns in the past year, among them are popular items like: Is Mumbai a call to arms for police around the world?, Justin Garner, the "Standing Hero" of Carthage, and most recently, Active shooter's release leaves community speechless . What some folks may not know is that Dan is also an accomplished novelist.
His first novel, The Calling: the Making of a Veteran Cop was published by Thunder Bay Press in 2007 and has been read by cops worldwide. It’s made the best seller list at Barnes and Noble and has achieved a five-star rating there. Dan’s second novel, S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, was released in 2008 and was among our suggestions for Holiday presents for police officers last December. We’ve also featured a number of excerpts from that excellent book here on PoliceOne. Check out the links in the sidebar to the right for some of those excerpts.
We recently caught up with Dan while he was on the road (Dan remains an active, nationally-recognized, police trainer) to talk about the release of his third book, Nobody’s Heroes.
PoliceOne: Dan, it’s always a great pleasure to talk with you, and today we get to talk a little about your new book. I haven’t yet read it — I’ve just ordered my copy — can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dan Marcou: Thanks Doug, sure thing. It’s a police thriller. A serial killer who has killed nearly two dozen victim happens into La Claire, Wisconsin and is about to claim his next victim. He’s thwarted by a patrol officer named Dan McCarthy, who arrests the victim right out from under the killer’s nose. The killer is thrilled by the close encounter and decides to fly closer to the flame. The novel follows the paths of the police and the killer to a conclusion that should keep the reader on the edge of their seat and ultimately glad they picked up the book.
P1: You just mentioned Dan McCarthy, who I know from reading Blue Knigts last year. I take it this story picks up with the characters in that book? Maybe you should tell us a little about the two books that came before this one.
Marcou: My first book introduced readers to the characters in all my novels — Dan McCarthy, Randy Stammos, Dave Compton, Gary Carpenter, Stanley Brockman and the rest of Sgt. David Compton’s night shift. The first novel had the reader follow McCarthy’s quest to become a veteran.
My second novel utilized the same characters and followed them not only on the night shift calls, but also rode along with them on call-outs since they were all members of the department’s SWAT Team.
P1: Do you have to read them in order for things to make sense?
Marcou: No. They are each written so that each novel is stand alone, but they occur chronologically in Dan McCarthy’s career.
P1: Did you plan on writing novels when you retired from Law Enforcement?
Marcou: No, I planned on being a police trainer — which I still do constantly. Initially I wrote The Calling to use in my academy classes. I wrote it so that my students could pick up a short novel, read it, and understand what they were about to embark upon. I thought it would give their academy training another perspective. Because I spent my whole adult life as a police officer I was able to breathe realism into the story so that they were reading about calls they would be going on, and officers they would be working with as well as challenges they would face on the street.
P1: So after the success of the first book you decided to keep going?
Marcou: Actually no, not right away. Not until I was contacted by an Officer from the West Australian Police. The guy’s name is Grant O’Neil, and he said that he and his mates loved the book and wanted to see what happens to McCarthy, Compton, and Brockman next. I could hardly believe that my stories were being read on the other side of the world. That inspired me to continue, so I sat down and wrote Blue Knights in Black Armor, and now Nobody’s Heroes.
P1: Do you hear from readers — more to the point, do you hear from the cops who read your books?
Marcou: Yeah I do. I’m told that the books not only help younger officers, but make veterans feel good again about what they are doing. I’ve been contacted by several officers who have been involved in shootings and they said the books helped them through the aftermath. One officer said he printed up a passage from one of the books and hung it up and read it every day for 21 days straight after his shooting.
There have also been some recruits, who have decided not to pursue law enforcement, because they suddenly realized what they would be doing and it was not for them. Academy directors that use the book have described it as an excellent teaching tool and gives clear cut role models for their students to emulate and generates a tremendous amount of classroom discussions.
P1: What has been the response from civilians? Do they like your books?
Marcou: Those who find it, pick it up and read it seem to love it. But you know, my books have not been widely discovered outside law enforcement. I think that will happen eventually. I have to believe that if police officers like a police novel then so will the general public, who are looking to read a good police novel. Word of mouth does not sell books as fast as a million dollar marketing campaign, but slowly but surely people seem to be catching on.
P1: Okay so speaking of marketing, if somebody cornered you into describing your style in one or two sentences so people could quickly grasp what you’re all about, what would you say?
Marcou: I call my writing ‘realistic fiction.’ I take the pieces and scraps of memories that I have from the thousands and thousands of calls over my 33 years in law enforcement and put them into one cohesive fictional story. It’s nothing like those movies “Training Day,” or “The Departed,” both of which literally made me nauseous. I know what a fight is like, one-on-one on the street, when no back-up is coming. I know what goes through your mind when someone shoots at you or when your partner goes down. I know what it feels like to be four blocks into a foot pursuit, wearing 22 pounds of equipment. I also know what real cops are like and what great human beings they are. I tell the truth about police, the courts, the criminals, and the victims of crime. I fold that truth and realism into fictional novels, and I think that’s why my stories feel so real to the readers.
P1: I like to end all my interviews with this question: Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have, or anything you’d like to add before we go?
Marcou: I’d like to just say thank you to PoliceOne for all that you do to keep the walls bare. I would also like to say to all officers out there that I’ve written these books for you. They serve to give notice that what you do is so important and is not just a job or a career, but a CALLING. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay positive. God bless all of you and keep you safe.
P1: Thanks Dan, for everything you do to help keep cops safe out there on the street. I’ll mention here that all of your books — including Nobody’s Heroes — are available through Barnes and Noble and at Amazon.com. If someone wants a personally dedicated copy for themselves or someone else they can contact you personally via the e-mail on Dan’s columnist page.