Interviews

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Character Interview of Carole Johnson – Retired Private Investigator

(11 a.m. E.S.T. on 9/21/2019 – Pittsburgh, PA – United States)

(Background: Carol Johnson is a character originally introduced in the short story Woman Off Guard from Papier-mâché Dreams: Eclectic Flash & Short Fiction published in 2019 by R.H.W. Dorsey. Carole Johnson is a retired private investigator being interviewed about a book series where she’s the main character. The cozy-type mystery series’ timeline spans over thirty-five years of Carole’s life. Book number one takes place when the main character Carole is in her mid-twenties. The interview below is done near the end of Carole’s career and semi-retirement.)

  • How are you today?
  • I won’t complain at all. I’m quite well today.
  • This is your hometown. Have you lived here all your life?
  • Most of my life, yes. I lived in Europe for a while years ago. I always come back to Pittsburgh.
  • Where’d you live in Europe, and when?
  • I was working on a case back in the nineties. A lead caused me to travel to Belgium. I didn’t move back to the states for five years.
  • Did you stay in Europe by choice or necessity?
  • It was a little of both. I stayed to work on the case and keep my family safe. I eventually grew to love it and stayed.
  • What case were you working on? Can I assume since you returned home, the danger was no longer an issue?
  • Yes and No. The case wasn’t completely solved, but let’s just say a major player is no longer in the picture. I can’t talk much about the case, but it was the first case where I knew I’d found my calling.
  • Along those lines, can you talk about some of the stranger or funny cases you’ve worked over the years?
  • Hmmm. Let’s see, there are quite a few odd ones. I worked a case early in my career where my client suspected her housekeeper of stealing items from her home. It turned out one of her neighbors was taking personal items from her home on weekly game night events my client hosted. The case was solved and my client didn’t press charges against the neighbor. The odd thing about it all was the neighbor was subsequently arrested for shoplifting. In his mugshot, he wore a wig like my client’s hair. He was dressed in my client’s clothes, shoes, and even underwear!
  • Oh my! Do any others come to mind?
  • Once I was hired to find a missing elderly man who constantly disappeared for hours and sometimes overnight. His wife suspected he had Alzheimer’s or was having an affair. He consistently told his wife he couldn’t remember where he’d gone and appeared confused. I tailed the man and found he’d take a city bus to an apartment on the other side of town when he was missing. He’d apparently rented an apartment for himself to get away from his wife at opportune times. The wife gave him an ultimatum to give up the apartment or leave. He chose the apartment across town and his dog. They’re both happy now. The wife is still miserable.
  • Oh, that’s good stuff. I’ll bet you have lots more. What was your most rewarding case?
  • A. Most rewarding? I’d have to say a case which fell into my lap not long ago where a con artist preyed on a group of senior citizens. A middle-aged woman befriended a group of seniors at a local community center. The woman volunteered as an activities instructor the seniors would meet with a couple of times a week. After gaining their trust, the woman got more than a handful of seniors to invest in an endeavor she explained would double their investment in a short time. She’d planned to have the seniors sign over their next Social Security check to her for investment. They were told returns on their money would come in a few days, so they’d have no worries about paying their monthly bills. My cousin, one of the seniors, mentioned the investment opportunity to me. I did some digging and found the woman was wanted in connection with similar scams in other states. The authorities were notified and found the woman had a plane ticket booked out of town on the day she’d planned to collect the Social Security checks. The woman volunteered at two other senior centers around town. She pulled the same scam at the other locations. Apparently, she was looking for a big payday all at once. Luckily, most of the seniors on fixed incomes got to keep their checks and dignity.
  • Wow, how lucky for you and especially the people who didn’t lose their money!
  • I’d say it was part luck, and part Karma. People who cheat good people usually get what they deserve in the end.
  • Let me change gears here and go back to the beginning. What made you choose Private Investigating as a career?
  • Oh, it chose me.
  • How so?
  • My father started a private investigations agency when I was a young child. He’d work there part-time while he ran our family laundry and dry-cleaning business with my uncle. I’d help him on some of the cases as I got older. After his death, I kept the agency open and worked part-time on non-complex cases. My cousin and I inherited the laundry business together. I befriended a man who I started to trust. I was considering a closer relationship with him when everything hit the fan. (Carole pauses)
  • Please go on.
  • I’ll make a long story short. You can read most of it in the book coming out. The man appeared at my laundry business one day as a delivery man for one of our long-term clients. I’d spent half the night before on the phone with the man and wondered why he hadn’t mentioned changing jobs. This man told a nonsensical lie to my cousin on the same day which fueled my suspicions. He came back to the shop later in the day around closing hours. A few things happened and I ended up locking myself in a storage room and fearing for my life as the man banged on the other side of the door. Thankfully, I was rescued by law enforcement. I found out the man was wanted in a few states for murder. After the debacle was over, I made up my mind I wouldn’t be a victim again. I felt I’d lost some of the detecting skills I’d learned over the years from my dad. The man fell way under my radar. I beat myself up about not recognizing warning signs he was a fraud. I revitalized the investigations agency and devoted more time to the practice. After a while, private investigating became my full-time career.
  • That’s some experience! What became of the man? Was he caught?
  • Sorry, you’ll have to read the book. (Carole smiles)
  • Ok. I read the name of the book will be The Carole Johnson Mysteries: Book 1: Case of the Missing Princess. What’s book number one about and how many sequels are planned?
  • There are three books planned. The author, R.H.W. Dorsey may expand the series in the future. Book one of the series picks up on the night I’m rescued from the storage room by federal authorities. In the aftermath of my near abduction or worse, I’m interrogated by the FBI. I’m told the man I’d met was wanted in connection with violent crimes in other states. The book details the events of the night I used the storage room as a safe haven up until my rescue by the FBI. You’ll read how I transitioned back to my normal life with a few surprises and pitfalls along the way. The diverse group of characters includes a couple of close family members, law enforcement and neighbors. I even solve a case during the book in the aftermath of the main event.
  • Ah, The Case of the Missing Princess. What’s the case about?
  • A. You’ll have to read the book for the answer. (Carole winks)
  • I read you were in the military. When did you serve?
  • I served in the Air Force for four years after college.
  • Is there anything you haven’t done in your life you’d want to do now?
  • I’m fascinated by archaeology. It would be cool to go on a dig. Hey, does anyone say ‘cool’ anymore?
  • Are you retired from Private Investigative work?
  • I thought I was, but they keep pulling me back in as they say. (Carole chuckles)
  • (Interviewer laughs) What’s the book release date?
  • No date yet. It’s still in the editing process. Hopefully, by the end of the year.
  • Thanks for the interview, Miss Carole Johnson.
  • A. You’re welcome. No problem.

The Carole Johnson Mystery Series is a current Work in Progress. Subscribe to the blog for first details of its future release. If the interview of Carole Johnson peaked your interest, are there questions you’d have for the character, or about the upcoming book? Comment your reply below.

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