An Interview with Ingrid Thoft
BRUTALITY begins with soccer mom, Liz Barone, attacked in her kitchen, where she eventually dies from her injuries. Private investigator Fina Ludlow is hired by Liz’s mother to find the attacker. Through her investigation Ludlow finds out that Liz is suing her alma mater for a mild cognitive impairment head injury incurred while she was a player for New England University. Carl Ludlow, Fina’s father, decides to take the civil case as Fina tries to narrow the list of suspects.
Elise Cooper: Can you talk about ABC’s option to make a TV series of your Fina Ludlow books?
Ingrid Thoft: Last August I was approached and I signed it in the fall. If it moves forward the first two books will be made and then they can add additional storylines. If they don’t move forward then the option goes back to me. I will not be involved with the specifics for the series and frankly I don’t know if I want to get that involved since I am kept quite busy writing the actual books. My feeling is that in this day and age if you have the potential to get additional readers, even if it’s not exactly as I crafted it, that is a good thing. I am curious whom they will cast, but I would love if someone new will come on the scene that is not already associated with something.
EC: How did you come up with the profession of a private investigator?
IT: At first I made her an amateur sleuth but changed course to write a professional investigator. I enrolled in a course at the University of Washington about private investigations. It gave a terrific overview. We reviewed police reports and had a whole range of guest speakers. I learned that defense attorneys, insurance companies, and some citizens use them. The two women who taught the class were investigators, one civil and the other criminal.
EC: Since some of your supporting characters are police officers did you consult with any?
IT: Since it is not unusual for a retired police officer to be a private investigator, I made contact with some in the Seattle Police Department. They let me do a ride along. It was really interesting since there were a huge variety of calls: a possible bank robbery, a detox, and someone who threw a hamburger at someone else. It gave me a real appreciation for the work a patrol officer must do. They are social workers, mediators, and have to work with a varied and difficult population. I saw the other side of the police that is rarely seen on the news today.
EC: How did you come up with the story line for BRUTALITY?
IT: When I begin a book, I have questions about a specific topic or concept. I began writing Brutality a year and a half ago. At that time, there were accounts of NFL football players suffering from cognitive impairment and other brain issues. I changed it from football to soccer. People assume its only in football and hockey but in reality the lower contact sports have a high incidence of concussions. Also, people historically think that girls do not play as hard as men so they don’t suffer from these injuries. I see it as involving the intersection of money, entertainment, identity, and what it means to be macho in our culture. I thought it had many interesting facets, making it porous on many levels.
EC: Is Fina the type of person who says what she is thinking?
IT: Yes. She is people’s alter ego, which makes her popular with readers. That’s a big part of her appeal. She does and says what many people, including myself, would like to, but don’t, because we are more politely measured in our responses. I think that holds great appeal to readers. She also struggles with balancing what she feels is right, against her family’s demands, and those of the larger community. It’s a universal conflict: people struggling to keep the balance between different life issues, each with its own pressures and agendas.
EC: Why the tidbits for the college and high school students?
IT: You are probably talking about the quote from the book, “People who thought that their appearance didn’t have any bearing on the opportunities afforded by life were kidding themselves.” Or maybe it’s the scenes about driving and talking. As I watch my nieces and nephews grow up with social media they have to contend with a prospective boss searching their Facebook page. They need a handle on how to do things. I remember my parents made us get dressed up to travel. I am glad I can relate to my nieces and nephews regarding the new technology, but I am also old school. For instance, I like writing personal thank you notes and mailing them.
EC: Do you think Lt. Pitney and Fina have a love-hate relationship?
IT: I think they have respect for one another. They are two women who operate in what is considered a man’s world. Pitney is a character whose backstory I would like to explore in a future book.