Isabella Maldonado

Isabella Maldonado wore a gun and badge in real life before turning to crime writing. The first Latina to attain the rank of captain in her police department, she retired as the Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. During more than two decades on the force, her assignments included hostage negotiator, department spokesperson, and precinct commander.

Selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, she uses her law enforcement background to bring a realistic edge to her writing.

THE CIPHER, the first book in her new series featuring FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera, was published in November 2020 and the sequel, A DIFFERENT DAWN, will be published in August 2021.

She lives in Arizona with her family and is hard at work on the third Nina Gurrera novel which will be published in 2022.

Isabella Maldonado is one of my favorite new authors who writes gripping serial killer thrillers which, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you’ll know, is one of my favorite crime thriller genres.

I enjoyed talking with Isabella about her law enforcement career, her writing process, writing about dark crimes, and a lot more.

Connect with Isabella Maldonado: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Isabella Maldonado’s Latest Book

Other Books by Isabella Maldonado

The Cipher by Isababella Maldonado
Book 1 in the Nina Guerrera Series
Veranda Cruz series by Isabella Maldonado.
Veranda Cruz Series

Show Notes & Links

A Wrinkle in Time – a book that influneced Isabella Maldonado growing up.

Other authors mentioned: Michael Connelly, J.A. Jance

Writing organizations: Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, International Society of Latino Authors

Deadline article about Jennifer Lopez set to star as Nina Guerrera in the Netflix movie version of THE CIPHER.


Please note, transcripts are generated by an automated program called Happy Scribe not a human and only lightly edited.

Welcome to the podcast, Isabella.

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

I found your book The Cipher last year, and I read it. And this thought of such a great book. And we’ll get into that here in a little bit. But your background is so incredible. You spent over two decades in law enforcement. So if you tell us a little bit about your law enforcement background, when I first got into law enforcement, it was the Dark Ages, a.k.a. the nineteen eighties. Of course, it was the late 80s.

So, you know, but still the 1980s. So at that point, I was one of the few women that were in law enforcement. There were some I wasn’t like the first, but there just weren’t that many. Also I was like one of the one of the even fewer Latinas on my department. So it was it was definitely very interesting. And a lot of it was a challenge going into a career like that. But it was something I had a big passion to want to serve my community.

That was really kind of what what drove me. It may sound altruistic. And I realized that I couldn’t change the world, but I thought, well, maybe I could just change my little teeny corner of the world, you know, maybe I can help someone. And and there were certainly a lot of opportunities to do that. Started off as a patrol officer. It isn’t like the military. You can’t just come in as a lieutenant. If you go through officer candidate school, it doesn’t work like that.

Everyone starts off as a slick sleep private. So you start off at the very beginning and then you have to work your way up. And so I over the years, I was promoted to sergeant and then second lieutenant and then first lieutenant and then captain. And that was the rank at which I retired and I retired. Twenty two years later, I was the commander of Special Investigations and Forensics.

Wow. So does it matter the education? You have a whole bunch of degrees. If you want to become a police officer, you have to start on the street like a patrol officer.

That’s correct. So it doesn’t matter who you are in that sense. It’s different from the military. But we do actively seek people who have degrees and things like that. I mean, that really kind of is it’s almost a prerequisite at this point. It’s very hard to get hired without a degree, at least one. And so therefore, it’s you just have to be willing to sort of say, I’m going to put in my time and, you know, and do what you need to do.

But in another sense, it’s good because it gives everybody on the department the experience and understanding of what it is to work patrol, because whether you become a detective or whether you go into a specialty operation like SWAT or canine or whether you do the supervisory route like I did, you always have that connection to patrol and you understand what that job is and you can speak to that. And that actually was very helpful for me. At one point, one of my positions when I was the lieutenant, I was the department spokesperson.

I was in charge of actually the office, what we called it. I think it was public affairs at the time. So it was really important that I had an understanding of what it was to work patrol because I would have to answer reporters questions about what the officers were doing in the street. So that was important.

And did you always wanted to be a writer? Was it always like the back of your mind or that come later?

No, I always wanted to be a writer. From the time I was quite young, I was just on fire to write. And it’s kind of like I can I can tell you the book. It was A Wrinkle in Time, that wonderful book that so many. People read as a young person, and I read it as a kid, and I was so amazed at the author’s ability to take me to a totally different place, and I could learn things and understand things in a different way.

And I just thought, this is magic. This is really magic, being able to write a story and to show the reader a different way of thinking and seeing the world and a different place. And I just thought, man, one day I would like to do that. Now, I didn’t end up writing fantasy. But it doesn’t matter really what your genre is. You’re still your job is still the same that you’re transporting the reader to a different place that is just is just the best kind of magic that there is.

And when did you decide to sit down and say, OK, I’m going to write a book?

Well, actually, it really I couldn’t do it when I was on the job. I was constantly on call. It started fairly early in my in my career. They needed people who could translate. And so I back in the ancient days of a beeper, they gave me a beeper. And so I would get called out to translate because again, I was one of the few people and I was really like there were hardly any females who spoke Spanish.

So especially when they had like sexual assault victims and doing death notifications and other things where they thought a woman would be more sympathetic or whatever they would call me. And I was like on call twenty four, seven. And then not long after that I became hostage negotiator. And so I was constantly on call for that assignment. And even though I still working patrol, I was doing those other things. In addition to that all the way up until my even at the very end of my career as a as a captain, you’re also always on call and always ready to go out and manage and supervise a scene or an incident.

So for that reason, I really I just couldn’t get couldn’t get it done with with the writing and whatever with this crazy schedule that I had. So what happened is I ended up taking a slightly early retirement instead of retiring with twenty five years old and I retired with twenty two years on. I had my son. So I decided that when I had a child later in life because I was too busy to have a kid to do so since I had a child later in life, I took an early retirement and decided that that’s what I was going to focus on.

And it was then that I decided that, OK, now I can write. And so I spent five years just doing a deep dove on research in the art and craft of writing. I literally read probably more than one hundred books, attended conferences, joined writers organizations, listened to speakers and read a ton of books in the genre, which was mystery thriller that I wanted to write and police procedural in particular. And so I just really and then I wrote several short stories that did get published to sort of figure out how to put all that learning into place before I wrote my first novel.

So that is that is kind of the way it worked. But it took like five years of really hard work because police writing is just about the antithesis of creative writing. At least you hope it is.

And I think it’s so great with your book or the two, because like for writers who don’t have the the law enforcement background, is that hard for you to because you have to entertain. But then you know what it’s like. Look at a balance that you do like you have to be detaining, but you want to make it realistic.

That is. Absolutely. You’ve hit the nail on the head. And that is a challenge. And the the problem is that, of course, in reality, law enforcement is nowhere near as exciting as it seems in TV movies and books. Let’s just face it. But that’s true of a lot of a lot of careers. You read a medical thriller and, you know, the daily grind of being a doctor is not as exciting as the medical thriller or the legal thriller.

You know that your average attorney probably just sits there and reads and pours through briefs and notes. And so the same thing is true with with police. You know, you spent a lot of time doing paperwork. And even even when you’re out there in patrol, you write so many reports and detectives, oh, my gosh, they write so many reports. So there’s a lot of your time is spent doing that. So it’s not as exciting. In addition to that, when you use force, like when you get involved in a shooting, there is so much that goes on, legally speaking, that in reality it would just drag.

You write a thriller and the whole point of a thriller is like it’s fast paced edge of your seat. Exciting. I can’t wait to turn the page and see what happens next. But in reality, if a police officer’s involved in a shooting, the first thing they do is they take your gun so that they can run it. Ballistics evidence, and then you immediately go into internal affairs and they do two kinds of investigations, once a criminal investigation, one’s an administrative investigation and you’re sitting there being interviewed for hours on end over and over and over the story again and again and again.

I mean, it’s just it would be mind numbingly boring. So you have to kind of cut through all that. My challenge is to make it believable, at least to let the reader suspend disbelief, at least a little bit, to think that, OK, this officer really could be back out on the street the next day after a shooting. In reality, it wouldn’t happen. But I try to write it so that I explain why it is that maybe the rules were sort of skirted a little bit, that there was an administrative or investigative reason for that to happen.

And so usually the way I write it is for whatever reason, the detective is pulled back into the case while the investigation is kind of going on in the background is kind of how I do it, because there still has to be an investigation into something like a shooting.

As you said when you first wrote your first book, we sat down and wrote that. Is that that ended up getting published or.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it got published and it’s called Bloods Echo and it won an award for best first novel. It won America’s Award. It was published and it did well. And as a matter of fact, we have some exciting news today. Today is the audio book version just was released today of that first book. It’s been out for a while, but there hasn’t been an audio book. Tanta Media put out an audio book version of it.

And because, yeah, it’s doing well, people are really enjoying it. And it’s been it was a lot of fun. But, yeah, I was very blessed that the very first book ended up getting published and that I got a three book deal. And so there’s there’s three books in that in that series. The first series.

That’s awesome. And that’s what the great timing for the for the interview, the audio book.

So yeah. Yeah. I think anybody who likes listening to a podcast would probably love listening to an audio exactly as the audio book Audible Response all the way. So I was I was a big fan of the cipher and I got an advance copy of a different done from Thomas and Mercer. So that was great. And I love it. It’s it’s so suspenseful and creepy and everything. Just kind of wondering how you came up with the whole idea for the series and then the grid and all that.

I mean, how did that come together for you?

I had finished I had already finished sort of the Detective Cruz series. And so I wanted to have a new lead character and with a new publisher and big publisher and do something different regarding that. And I thought to myself, I what I wanted to really explore with this series was the quality of resilience. And in my career in law enforcement, I saw obviously some horrific crimes and I saw the absolute wreckage that is left behind in the wake of murders and other kinds of really violent crimes.

And it was terrible to see how it affected people. But also I saw that sometimes people would emerge from things like that, the survivors, and they would be completely devastated and they couldn’t go on and their life just sort of took a downward spiral. Other times I saw people emerge and they really went into such an upward positive trajectory and they kind of changed their life purpose and they ended up doing so many amazing things. Talking to survivors. We had a homicide survivors group that would meet with people on our department and you would hear these families and some of them did amazing things to go on and help other people, other survivors.

And it just it was fascinating to me to see how crime affected people in different ways. And I thought about that a lot. And I thought, what if the victim of a crime ended up because of what happened to them? They decided to go into law enforcement and decided to make it their mission to protect others to instead of being a victim to to be like a warrior for peace or justice or a guardian of others. And so that is the kind of character I wanted to create.

And then to make it extra challenging, I made her small in stature because she’s small but fierce and I. I’ve also discovered that I’ve run across that, too, that sometimes it’s the small ones you don’t expect. Oh, yeah, they can be. They sneak up on you. You don’t expect that. But she is incredibly fierce. And so I wanted to explore that. And and I thought that the cipher really, really did delve into that.

And then in the follow up, a different dawn. Then I just wanted to to do a deeper dove on her life and everything that happened to her and kind of without any spoilers, but to kind of share everything that happened and kind of put it into some sort of perspective of how she came to be, where she was and everything that happened. So.

Yeah, yeah. And then I have to ask, because you were like one of the you mentioned before you were on I believe you were the first Latina captains in your police department. And it is a is a Latina FBI special agent. I have to ask if the similarities in your life are you are you know, she’s she’s not me, but I do definitely draw from my experience. There is no question. I think every author draws from their personal experience, either their life or other people’s lives that they have witnessed or things that they’ve heard in the in the news or whatever you always draw.

But I that was another thing I want to sort of bring to the table is being a Latina in law enforcement. And my other series also features a Latina lead character, Detective Cruz and I. I wanted to sort of share a little bit about what that’s like without hitting it too hard, but to to give some insight into into that. And the main thing that I think that people can take away is that it really doesn’t matter who you are, who you are inside your heart, your soul and everything else, your your outer surface and your cultural background, it it has a role in what you do and how you think and how you approach things.

But in reality, it’s all about where your heart is and what you’re going to bring to the table and what you do.

And most curious, because like a lot of the protagonist out there, when you were pitching this these books, where did you get any like, well, I don’t know that’s going to sell. Did you get any of that or.

Oh, my gosh. OK, so here’s the story. I can’t name names now. We’re going back several years and this is back to Before Blood Zakho was published. And again, that was my first novel. It was twenty fifteen. And I was I was trying to find an agent and I went to I went somewhere where they had agents who were accepting pitches. And there was a very well known agent there. And I spoke to him about it and sort of pitched the story and whatever.

And he did tell me, he said, you know what he said, a lot of a lot of publishers will tell me that they want diverse lead characters. And she said or he said, every time I’ve tried to sell them a story that features a diverse lead character, they don’t buy it. The libraries tell me they’re interested. And then when it comes time, they don’t buy it. And he said, you know what, this is never going to sell.

You should just make this like a white male or maybe a white female. But especially like if it’s police, it’s a police procedural, very heavy on the police procedure because of your background. Obviously, there’s a lot of accurate police procedural stuff. A lot of those readers they’re going to be expecting like a white male detective. And if it was really disheartening, you know, and it was like, yeah, but I didn’t want to do that.

And quite frankly, I had a couple of different takes on it after sort of after sort of leaving that that conference. And I thought, I’m not going to let this get me down. But one of the takes I had was, first of all, I felt like other writers who were much better than I had had done this so beautifully, I couldn’t do that. How could I compete with Michael Connelly’s? Harry Bosch? I mean, come on.

He’s he’s like he’s done it perfectly. Or Jancis JP Bowmont. It’s like that. I can’t do it better. It has been done so beautifully and so perfectly. That’s I need to bring something different and fresh and new. And the other thing to it was my first series was set in Phenix. I deliberately did that instead of going in New York, L.A., Chicago, Miami, OK, everyone has done that beautifully and they’ve done that so perfectly.

Let me bring something to. Slightly different phenixes It’s a big it’s the sixth largest city in the United States. It’s a big city. It has a lot going on, but not a lot of books have been written about it. The best selling books or so I thought. I’m going to stick to my guns and I’m going to keep this in Phenix and I’m going to keep it with a female lead. I’m going to keep it with a Latina.

Even though it is a police procedural, though, I’m just I’m going to go with it. So as it turns out, I was able to get a three book deal for that. And then it really things have totally the landscape has changed now. I mean, now it’s like it’s six years later, everything is completely different. But back then it was not a book. Did get that exact book, did get published. It came out in twenty seventeen because, you know, things always get picked up before big.

It actually hit the shelves. But yeah, it was, it was definitely different. And I’m very pleased to see that, that everybody is embracing diverse characters because that was something after hearing that from the agent who I thought the age. I mean the agent had been around for a long time and he had decades under his belt. And I thought, well, he really knows what he’s talking about. And he just told me there’s no audience for this.

It turns out that there is and that people are. At first I was I was thinking no one’s going to read it. Oh, no, what am I going to do? But people totally read it. And they and they really relate to the character, even if the character is not of their own ethnic background. And I kind of I kind of like that a little bit, too. To you remember the movie that came out in nineteen ninety two, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Oh yeah. A huge movie. Huge, big success. And I thought about that too. And I said, you know what, that movie did not become a runaway success because all of the Greek Americans went to the movie, you know what I mean? It became a huge success because people enjoyed two reasons. First, people enjoy hearing about a different culture. And then second of all, because everybody except except the Native Americans, everybody else in this country is an immigrant of some sort.

And so many families have their own ethnic sort of traits and traditions and funny things that happen in different ways of doing it. And everybody it was funny because I remember when that movie first came out, my my my friends, I had a friend who was of Polish descent who was like, oh, my gosh, that’s just like my Polish family. They act the same way my Cuban friend would be like that’s just like my Cuban family. They do exactly the same thing, just like my Italian family.

They’re just like that. And I realized that was sort of another point where I thought it’s the immigrant experience. And that’s kind of what I was embracing with the with the first series. It’s the first series has a lot more cultural touch points in it than the native Guerrero series does with the Nina Guerrero series. I wanted to do something different because I sort of removed her from her entire family by making her basically orphaned and a foster child. So I totally took her away from all of that, but had her try to get in touch with her ethnic roots, which is kind of an exploration of what she goes about doing.

So yeah.

Yeah, yeah. I just I think that’s great because I think probably far more of lipservice or maybe not. Publishers are taking a little more seriously about the own voices and all that stuff. Yeah. So I really love the yeah. I don’t want to be spoilers on, on the different done but with the crimes that were so horrific really did that based on a true story. Or I guess first would we say can you tell us a little bit about a different than maybe catch up losers.

OK, OK. And yeah, you’re right. I mean that is definitely yeah. There’s some dark crimes and actually in a way, yes, it is based on not any one true story, but the experience that that I have in my background where I know that it does happen and we’ve seen it on the news. We’ve all seen it on the news where you have a mother who ends up killing her family or her or children, usually in particular, and then killing herself.

We have seen it time and again. And it’s such a it’s such an extreme thing to do. And it makes you wonder what what drives someone to do that? Because and I make sure to emphasize this in the book that that is one of the most horrifying crimes because it is the antithesis of everything that motherhood is about. And especially being a mother myself. It’s like I just the thought of it is is just so abhorrent that I think that’s why a lot of those kind of.

Cases do make the news because we just can’t believe it as a society, as a as a culture, as a species, it’s it’s the antithesis of everything. But it happens. It really does. And so, as it turns out, though, it turns out that in this case, those kind of those kind of cases may not be what it is. And I think that it’s OK to say this is not a spoiler because it’s kind of it’s in the description of the book that really it’s about a serial killer who is so cunning that his his murders have been flying below the radar for almost 30 years.

And so, yeah, I think that it’s OK to say that it’s set up to look like that, but it’s really not if it’s a serial killer at work who is unbelievably clever. And I thought about that a lot, too, because also there have been cases that my department investigated and things like that where it was you have a a suicide that is set up to look like a murder and that is done for a variety of reasons. And it can be very tricky and very difficult to unravel that and to get to the truth of was it a suicide or was it a murder?

If you are extremely clever, you can make it very difficult to tell.

Yeah, that’s what makes it so scary, too, because, yeah, like like it’s probably happening, people have gotten away with it, you know, you just don’t know. It’s just it’s just so surreal to think to think that that could happen. Yes. Yeah, yeah. And then I also like you because I grew up in Costa Rica and. Yeah. So that’s I’m originally from the other states and I’ve been living in the States for like 30 years.

But but my mom and my brother sister also live in Costa Rica and like Girona is something that doesn’t matter what part of Latin America you’re from. Yeah, it terrifies me as a little kid. I mean, it’s hard to explain. I don’t like the boogeyman, but times, you know, so when I saw this girl like, oh, yes, I was very excited to read that. And I think it’s starting to become more popular now in the States.

Were you excited about to write about that, too, with your growing up as a Latina?

Yes. Yeah, it was. It was really. Yeah, I had to think about that very carefully, because if you really stop to think about it and this is this is great and. Well, first of all, now I know why you’re pronouncing Nina Garena correctly. I get it. OK, perfect. And so the other thing that I was thinking about is. It’s such a creepy story, the legend of love, Your Honor, that I was thinking that your average non Latina Latino reader might be like, OK, why would anyone tell this story to their kids?

But yet it happens like it is. It’s definitely like a Latin cultural thing. And so that’s why. But I wanted to I wanted to convey that creepiness. And that’s why in the very opening chapter, I have her as a young girl and she’s got like all the kids are around and they’re being told the spooky story of Jordana, because first of all, it’s important for the reader to to understand in case they haven’t heard the tale. And then secondly, if I wanted to convey that creepiness of it and how scary it is for the little ones to hear it.

And so I hope that I conveyed that. And then to think about how much that would have tortured the family involved to be accused of of doing something so horrific, of being like my Urana and then in a place like Phenix, where there’s such a large Latin American population where they might nickname the case, that it makes total sense to me at the time.

So, yeah, it’s good to see it in the mainstream there. So it’s kind of funny. It’s a curious thing about your writing process. Do you do you outline or do you just kind of write for the seat of your pants? What’s your writing process like?

It’s a sort of a hybrid of the two. I always start out with an outline in my story. I always sort of joke around about, yeah, of course I outline because what else would I deviate from? I never end up sticking to my outline ever, but I feel like I have to at least have an idea of what I’ve gotten to do is instead of like a very, very meticulous, detailed 50 page outline, like I’ve heard some authors do, I just set up some plot points, like some major plot points.

I know how I want to open it. I know how I want to end it, although that that can change and the opening can also do anything to change. But before I start writing, I know how I want to open and how I want to end it. I know what I want to I know that there’s usually going to be like a big sort of turning point at about the twenty five percent work. There’s going to be a major, major reveal at the halfway point and then there’s going to be like a really big turning point, you know, at about the seventy five percent mark.

And then there’s a big climax close to the end. I kind of have that much and then that’s really it. And then after that I just I start writing and then those those plot points to me are like signposts, signposts between D.C. and L.A. Those are little signposts. But I may go through Texas or I may go through North Dakota or whatever, but eventually I’ll get to those sign points. I have no idea how I’m going to get there, but that is kind of how I have it in my mind.

And then and then sometimes I will change those plot points, too.

And the tools of the trade you use like word or some other something else or.

I do. I actually I do a combination. I started using Scrivner a few years ago, like two books ago, I think three books ago. Anyway, I haven’t been able to write the whole thing in Scrivner, but I have the Scrivner thing set up and then I, I actually write it in word, but I import things from Scrivner. So I do find it. It helps me just because when you’re dealing with like a ninety thousand word document, it’s so massive and unwieldy in word that it helps to have something else that you can just sort of see, like more of like an overview of where you’re going with it.

And so I was excited to see on your website that the first best option for a movie is a Netflix with the Jaylo Jennifer Lopez as Nina. How exciting is that? We can tell us about that. I’m sure it’s all hush hush right now, but.

Oh, yeah, I cannot believe I mean, Jaylo, honestly, one of one of the most gorgeous women on the planet and one of the most talented I mean, she can sing, she can dance, she can act, she can do it all. And I just I was so excited that she wanted this role. And she was really she and her production company, Niharika Productions, they were really behind it as far as they really drove the the the desire for this.

And it was just stunning because there were other production companies and stuff that we’re interested. Did other producers were interested in. They were just an option, but she really brought her a game and she came in strong and she got Netflix involved and they. We’re ready to go, and they just they really, really made it clear that they wanted this and I’m so thrilled I cannot be more happy. I was just I was incredibly excited and blessed. It really is every writer’s dream to to write something and then have a major studio like Netflix and then a an international superstar like Jaylo take on the story and bring it to the public.

It’s just incredible.

Yeah, let’s get bigger than that with that star power.

Yes. Yeah.

So so what’s next for you? I thought I just thought there’s a third book coming out and I work so excited about that.

I am writing it right now even as we speak. And it has got a title now. It’s called the Phalcon. And it is going to be actually I’m I’m on deadline August 1st. It’s due into my publisher and then that’s the first draft. And then obviously they’re going to we work we go editing back and forth and everything else. But that’s going to be published next June. So the third in the series will be coming out in June. So less than a year.

And it’s very exciting. And it’s kind of fun to see what else is going to happen with Nina. I mean, now you’ve you’ve read, obviously, an advance copy of a different gone. So I’m sure you’re thinking, man, what else could happen now? So, yeah, it’s definitely a challenge and lots of fun to think of what to do with her. And the team is exciting.

So before I let you go, I always like to ask because I have aspiring writers listening to this podcast. Any advice for aspiring writers out there trying to book them to do?

Well, it depends. I mean, if you if you haven’t if you haven’t written the first book, then absolutely the first thing to do is to do that deep dove where you just you really, really have to study the art and craft. There is absolutely an art to it and there’s a craft to it writing, creative writing, because it isn’t just enough to have a story. An interesting story, but you have to tell it in a way that is compelling, that will draw the reader in and keep them there.

And you have to get out of your own way, sort of learn how to do that again. For me, I would I spent a lot of time reading books and and things like that. But also what was invaluable was joining writers groups like I’m a member of several national groups. And then there are local chapters like Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, International Society of Latino Authors, Sisters in Crime. And by the way, men are allowed in sisters in crime.

We jokingly crawl Kalakala selves, sisters and mister’s. But but yeah, men are allowed to. But so there’s a lot of writing groups. And if you’re not writing mystery thrillers, there’s all there’s writing groups for romance and for sci fi fantasy, children’s books, whatever. You just have to Google it and find your local chapter. But that that kind of networking is so incredibly important because not only does it teach you how to write, it teaches you things about the business of writing.

And that is a huge thing. I mean, it really, really is how to get an agent, how to market your book if you’re self publishing. There’s all kinds of information about that, too. So it really is it really is important to learn. And then the other thing is to go to conference and says, I cannot tell you how valuable that is. Every time I go to the conference, I know it’s expensive and you have to just sort of scrape the money together and work out some time on your calendar.

And even if you can just go to one every two years, if that’s all you can afford, whatever it takes. But to get yourself to a big writer’s conference and if you can’t do that, then maybe a smaller one that’s closer to your area, whatever you can manage to do. But going to writers conferences is so critical to to networking, to learning the craft and to sort of forwarding your career. And that is actually that’s how I found my publisher.

That’s how I found my agent. Was it writers conferences? Both times they accept pitches and I got myself the most amazing agent. And I would never have gotten her if I hadn’t gone to this, if I hadn’t gone to the International Thriller Writers Conference in Manhattan, in New York, that cost a lot of money to to fly and then stay in Manhattan. And that’s not a cheap city. But it was obviously it paid. Back in spades because I got the most incredible agent and then my career took off after that, but I had to be willing to believe in myself, to invest in myself.

And that’s good advice. And it’s good to see that they’re all coming back after Love the year, the pandemic. So that’s kind of exciting.

Yes, yeah. Yeah, they did the virtual kitchen before, but I think it’s it’s so much better to be able to do it in person. But, you know, I will be back myself next year at international thriller writers. I will absolutely be back. And so I’ll be there.

Yeah. Yeah. I love the. That’s definitely one of my on my list. So we’ll try to get the get to that one as well because everyone just raves about it. How great it is.

It is great. Yeah.

It’s great. Right. It’s so nice. Talk to you working with readers. What’s your website. So the listeners to find you.

Yes. My website is Izabella Maldonado dot com. So that that makes it easier when you when you get on there, you can see right up front there’s all the stuff about the cipher and then there’s bio stuff about me and it talks about my law enforcement career. And actually it mentions and I didn’t mention this earlier, that one of the things that I thought helped me with writing the cipher since Nina Guerrero is an FBI agent, is that I did go to the FBI National Academy in Quantico and spent you spend about three months there on campus.

I did the obstacle course. You remember seeing Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs? I did not look as pretty as Jodie Foster, but I ran through the obstacle course I did that. It was like really, really are one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But but, yeah, I did go through that, made a lot of contacts with the FBI and used a lot of that background information to write about the FBI. Again, that’s just another part of doing your background, your due diligence to make sure that you’re you’re trying your best to portray the agency, whichever agency it is that you’re writing about.

Yeah, they’re pretty open about talking to writers I found surprised me that there would be a little standoffish, but they seemed to be willing to cooperate sometimes, if you could ask, right?

Yes. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. They’re a little busy right now. But, you know, in between that they have a they have a public affairs that anyone can contact and ask questions and whatever. You just have to be respectful of their time and not ask them simple questions that you could just look up yourself, you know, that’s all. You just have to make sure that you’re that you’re honing it down and being very specific. And the same thing would be true.

If you’re writing about any given police agency, you don’t just show up at their public affairs office and start asking random questions that are very basic that you could you could research. So you have to you have to do that. You have to do whatever as much research as you possibly can. And then then you approach the people who are on the job.

All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really enjoyed talking to you. But your books and your work and your background does a lot of fun.

Thank you. It was so much fun talking to you, too. And I hope to see you with Thriller Fest or one of the other conferences coming up.

Thank you for listening to meet the theater author. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with one of your favorite writers of mysteries and thrillers or of this episode. The guest is new to you. I hope you give their books a chance. Helping listeners discover new authors and books is one of the coolest outcomes of doing this podcast. As always, you can head over to Thriller authors dot com to sign up to my thrilling reads email list. That way you won’t miss out on any great deals in Thriller and mystery books.

You can also check out all the links and resources in the show notes for this episode over at Thriller Authors dot com. And also please do subscribe to this podcast if you haven’t done so already and leave a reading and review wherever it is that you’re listening to this show. If you have done that already, I think you really do appreciate your support for my other links to my other website, social media sites and more. Check out through the week’s dot com Faustus links.

All my links will be on that page. So that’s it for this episode. See you next time and stay safe out there.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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