The Zen Man is available at Amazon, Nook and Smashwords

Gerald So — poet, editor, teacher and private-eye aficionado — interviews Colleen at his blog Chatterrific, where she answers questions about similarities between her private-investigator world and those depicted in private-eye fiction, what common mistakes she sees in private eye stories and her own writing life. Excerpt of interview below, with link to full interview.


Gerald So: Describe each of your ebooks in your own words.

Colleen Collins: How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths: After fielding numerous writers’ questions about private investigations, we started teaching classes (both our own, and classes for regional and national writers’ organizations/conferences) about private investigations. We used this material, as well as narrative on other investigative topics, for this book. Sampling of subjects: investigative specializations (yes, there really are pet detectives); techniques PIs use to find people, conduct trash hits, orchestrate stationary/mobile surveillances; when and why a PI might be retained to investigate a crime scene; how PIs work with private forensic labs, etc.

How Do Private Eyes Do That?: A compendium of articles about private investigations, culled from pieces I’ve written for Professional Investigator Magazine, Pursuit Magazine (online trade journal for private investigators), various writers’ publications/organizations, as well as my blog Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes. Articles are for a more general audience, although there are articles geared to writers, too.

The Zen Man: A medium-boiled PI-team novel I sometimes refer to as a “21st-century Nick and Nora” story. The book isn’t only about witty banter and cocktails though, it offers love, death and lawyers gone bad.

Gerald: The introduction to How Do Private Eyes Do That? touches on how you unexpectedly went from being a fan of private eye TV shows/fiction to becoming a real private investigator. Tell me a little more about how that happened.

Colleen: Back in 2003, I was writing novels full time for Harlequin when several of those lines closed. My then-boyfriend’s (now husband’s) job was downsized that same week. Because he was a former trial attorney who’d trained numerous PIs, I said, “Let’s start an investigations agency.” And we did.

Gerald: Your books mention that the majority of today’s PIs are specialists, not Jacks-of-All-Trades. What led to your specialties — witness locates and interviews, surveillance, and infidelity investigations?

To read the rest of the interview, click here.