Christopher Flory - Gritty, Engrossing Mystery
Christopher (Chris) Flory was raised in Indiana and now lives in Northern Virginia. He spent ten years with various correctional departments as a probation and parole officer, specializing in the supervision of sexually based offenders and criminal street gang members. He is currently employed as a contractor for the federal government as an intelligence analyst. As our Author of the Day, he tells us about his book, Trust Misplaced.
Please give us a short introduction to what Trust Misplaced is about.
Trust Misplaced is my first Paul Dodge novel. Dodge, as people call him, is a Parole Agent who specializes in dealing with sexual predators. He is called upon by the local Sex Crimes Task Force when a photo of a judge’s daughter is found at a crime scene. Things escalate quickly, and bodies begin to pile up, as Dodge hunts for the killer in a mad race against time to save the girl and uncover the truth.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
The inspiration for Paul Dodge was easy. I worked as a Probation and Parole agent for ten years and I specialized in the supervision of sex offenders and criminal gang members. After leaving the job to pursue other opportunities, I found that people were fascinated by my old life and always asked me questions about my old job. So, I wrote Trust Misplaced as a screenplay. Then COVID hit, and with extra time on my hands, I turned the idea into a series of novels based loosely on my experiences.
Tell us more about Paul Dodge. What makes him tick?
Paul Dodge is a complicated simple man. If that makes sense? His Moral compass points North, most of the time, but he isn’t afraid to dabble in the gray area to find justice for the victims, which is always his drive. Dodge has a partner, but often chooses to work alone as he doesn’t trust many people. He struggles with past trauma from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan and self-medicates with bourbon to fight off the demons from his past and present. Overall, Dodge is a good man, albeit heavily flawed.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
My other secret skill is baking! My grandma taught us to bake at an early age and it’s something I have always enjoyed doing.
What did you have the most fun with when writing Trust Misplaced?
I think the most exciting thing about writing Trust Misplaced was being able to unpack some of the things I dealt with on the job. Of course, I added a lot of flair to make it more interesting, but the root of the story is true and is loosely based on several cases I combined to make one book.
The book has quite a few twists and turns. Did you plan it all out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
I am a Pantser all the way! No outlines. I just started writing and let the characters push the story forward. The one constant is all my books start out from the POV of the antagonist.
Interesting cover. Please tell us more about it.
The cover was designed by Elizabeth Turnbull of Torchflame Books. It represents the ominous feeling of looking up from the ground at the approaching storm. I had a choice of five covers. I took pictures of them to Barnes and Noble in Fairfax, VA and asked the staff to pick the one they liked best only knowing the genre. This is the one that garnered the most attention.
Readers say Trust Misplaced kept them at the edge of their seats throughout the story. How did you pull this off?
I’m humbled if anyone reads my stories and it’s an honor to have people pay such compliments to something I’ve created. For me, the key is to start fast and keep the pace up. Don’t let the reader catch their breath. Even when there is a mundane scene, like Dodge making dinner, I want the reader to wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Make them believe that even cooking a steak is just a prelude to something bad about to happen.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Dodge can be the worst character for this at times! He is unpredictable and reactionary (because he is in part, me). Those qualities lead to re-writes of entire chapters sometimes, which can make editing a dreadful process. But my motto is, embrace the suck and the story will be better for it.
What are you working on right now?
My writing calendar is full. I have completed the fourth book in the Paul Dodge series and I am writing book five now. I have also completed a spin-off of Dodge’s partner on the task force, Detective Renquest, and am currently in the editing phase. I am also working on a thriller that is not Paul Dodge-related and will be my first novel written in the first person. So, I have plenty to keep me busy for a long while.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I am on all social media platforms under the handle “AuthorFlory”. You can learn more about my books on my website https://www.christopherflorybooks.com/ and at my publisher’s website https://www.torchflamebooks.com/. I also have a YouTube channel where I review books and pair them with a beverage. And I have recently begun doing author interviews as well. The show is called Books and Booze and can be seen at www.youtube.com/@librarylibations8095
Paul Dodge is no stranger to the dark side of crime. As a parole agent and a member of the local Sex Crimes Task Force, he knows what depravity lies in the shadows. In the most dangerous case of his career, Dodge races to detangle a growing web of lies and corruption. His life and career are both on the line in this high-stakes case, and a single misstep could end them both.