Thursday, August 4, 2011

From Trooper to Author: Guest-post by Mike Kincaid


Thanks and welcome to Mike Kincaid, who answered the call for a new August featured author, willing to share his thoughts on writing and publishing as we all enjoy this final month of summer.

"This is gonna hurt." Funny, but that’s the first thing that goes through my mind as the store-keep’s finger tightens on the rifle he’s holding three inches away from my chest. His knuckle gets whiter and whiter as he increases pressure on the trigger. Then he pulls it.

Times like these make one wonder if the right career path has been chosen. As a city kid, I never imagined I’d someday live in Bush Alaska, much less with a career in law enforcement. But here I am in Platinum, Alaska with a mad man intent on ending my career, and my life.

Like other Alaskans, I traveled North for a short visit—a summer vacation from college that turned into a job and a 26-year adventure. I lucked into a position at Denali, working at the old hotel and living in the campground 27 miles down the most beautiful road I’d ever driven. I was ready to return to college in the fall, but another ideal job came along, this time at Alyeska Ski Resort.

After a couple of years working, I’d saved enough to follow a dream I’d developed from reading a stack of books about northern adventures. With the help of bush pilot Don Sheldon, I staked out some land in the Talkeetna Mountains, bought a chainsaw and a dogteam and headed for the woods to “live off the land.” Living off the land turned into living off my savings, but it provided plenty of time to focus on what to do for the rest of my life. Although it was a great experience, I decided the rest of life wasn’t to be holed-up in a 12 x 17 cabin in the wilderness.

Wanting to continue my outdoor life, I applied for a “Game Warden” job with the State of Alaska. It wasn’t until I got to the Sitka Academy that it became very, very, clear that Game Wardens are actually Wildlife Troopers. It wasn’t until I got to my first assignment, King Salmon, that I learned the lines between Wildlife Troopers and regular Troopers bleed from brown to blue in the bush. It was almost 12 hours until I got my first call—a bar fight—and a few months until my first homicide response, with non-stop excitement in between. My job description included city cop, jail guard, trooper, game warden, and sometimes prosecutor (when the assistant D.A. didn’t want to travel to the bush— but for misdemeanors only, and without the right to cross-examine).

In my career as an Alaska Trooper, there were those days when the work was so great I thought I shouldn’t be paid. Then there were the days they couldn’t pay me enough for what I had to do.

Response to mass shoot-outs in McCarthy and Manley, pulling bodies from plane wrecks, seeing tons of wasted wildlife, getting in scrapes with humans and bears, and even some bush humor, led me to want to write about the unique job of an Alaska State Trooper. After retirement, I did my best to change my style of writing from a police report format to something a little more appealing to readers. I began writing for outdoor magazines, and then got a great gig with a newspaper with an editor patient enough to put up with my very limited experience.

My first two novels are Alaska Justice and Alaska and Beyond. I use real cases and actual on-the-job events, “novelizing” them into adventure books to keep the flow, establish a real nasty antagonist, and to keep from getting sued. Trooper Jack Blake chases the bad guys using bush planes, boats, and even dog teams to bring about the unique justice in the Last Frontier. I’m working on the third in the series, but that has taken a back burner to my summer seaplane flying and writing magazine articles. That’s one thing about winter—not so many distractions to keep use from writing.

Oh, by the way, if you’re interested in the outcome of the real-life event of the first paragraph of this blog, you’ll have read Alaska Justice. My books are available from our website, http://www.adventurousbooks.com/ , at Amazon, and at bookstores across Alaska.


Mike Kincaid was a city boy from the Lower 48 who accidently spent a 26-year vacation in Alaska, residing in Denali Park, Girdwood, King Salmon, Copper Center, Fairbanks, Bethel, Palmer and somewhere near Talkeetna. He survived an exciting career with the Alaska Department of Public Safety as a Trooper/Pilot with the majority of his time in the Bush. Mike now operates a seasonal seaplane business in which he is an instructor and Designated FAA Examiner. Mike writes for IDAHO Magazine and various aviation publications and continues the tell the story of the Alaska State Trooper in his Jack Blake adventure series.

1 comment:

Matt Shields said...

Great intro Mike!

I spent some time as asst. chief at Girdwood fire and really appreciated working with many of the troopers on rescues etc. Many of us (fire/ems/ast) were always saying the work would make for a good book, but the reality of making a story accessible for the general public is a definite skill.

Look forward to checking out your work!
Matt