Q: Have you always had an interest in writing?
A: No. I've always liked to read but I actually couldn't stand English class as a kid. I was into US history and political science.
Q: Who were some of your favorite writers growing up?
A: The nod for my all time favorite goes to Joseph Wambaugh - he's the master! I grew up watching Adam-12 and Dragnet, so his LAPD niche fit right into my interests at the time. I remember devouring each of his books as they came onto the market and quickly read them cover to cover. I also love Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Their books make great movies too!
Q: Have you ever had a chance to meet any of your favorites?
A: Yes. Several. Joe Wambaugh is a good friend now but I have to admit I was scared to death the first time I met him. Here I was a scrub at writing and I was shaking hands with the world's best selling police author. One thing about Joe is he has such a mind for writing. A few years ago I wrote a Crime Files article about a medical condition called apotemnophilia - a syndrome where people have an amputation fetish. Some time later I get a call from Joe's best friend telling me, "Hey Steve. Apparently you inspired Joe to write a book." I had no idea what the hell he was talking about until I got my signed copy of Harbor Nocturn and opened up to page one. I burst out laughing.
Q: Any other connection to Wambaugh books?
A: Yeah. In the book Hollywood Station I'm a drug dealer selling X on Hollywood Blvd. There's only one reference to me so I guess that's my fifteen minutes of fame.
Q: Speaking of movies, what's your all time favorite?
A: Hands down L.A. Confidential. I've seen the movie more times than I can remember but have also read the book multiple times. The print version is significantly different than the screen play but both are masterpieces in my opinion. L.A. Confidential introduced me to James Ellroy and I've been a fan of his ever since. I'd consider him one of the most interesting people I've ever met.
Q: So what got you started with writing true crime?
A: I've always been a history geek. So when I joined the police department in 1985, one of my first thoughts was to learn more about the place I worked. Then I found out how hard I'd have to work just to make probation so that got thrown onto the back burner. It wasn't until 1997 that I became a board member of the San Diego Police Museum. In 2005 they were gracious enough to allow me to use their archival photos for my first book, Images of America, San Diego Police. I must have done ok. Ten years and two books later, that first one is still selling in book stores!
Q: You've done three books on SDPD history. What else do you have planned?
A: I've been toying with a ficitional account of a 1927 San Diego police murder. The project is called "No Statutes for Murder." The case was never solved but I've always been tantalized as to why. So I took the story and added some real life characters, my own twist and brought some life to the story. I'm looking to sell the project now.
Q: Tell us about your poetic side. You haven't mentioned the book Harm that was released in 2007.
A: Sorry to disapoint you but other than "Roses are red, violets are blue, I really have nothing poetic to share with you." All kidding aside, I didn't write that book. Strangely enough I do get people commenting to me on the book as the author and I have the same name. Even stranger is that he also lives in San Diego. Other than being able to say the man has great taste in where to reside, I know nothing else about him.
Q: Any other writing talent in the family?
A: My brother is also a writer - a dang good one I might add. He's just released his 4th book and it's doing very well. Since we write different genres I can promote his stuff without risking my own fan base.