The Fallen – Suburban Journal Article:
Mike Force and Chris DiGiuseppi don’t anticipate jettisoning their day jobs anytime soon to jet off to Hollywood on the tail of their published novels.
Instead, they said their books’ purpose is to help people cope with tragedy and issues surrounding good and evil.
Force, 60, is the chief of police in Lake Saint Louis. DiGiuseppi, 45, is the assistant chief. While both have seen tragedy in their line of work, they also have seen how compassion can help others.
“We felt that’s really important to note and get that word out to people,” Force said last week. “We chose to write the trilogy to do that.”
Their first novel, “The Light Bringer,” was published in 2011, made the top 10 list of local best sellers list and was nominated for a literary achievement award by the Missouri Humanities Council. Their second novel, “The Fallen,” was scheduled for release Feb. 5, and the entire trilogy will be known as “The Light Bringer Trilogy.”
They describe the books as supernatural suspense fiction that includes journeys into the afterlife, but the books are grounded in what both know best — police work and the everyday issues and victims police officers have to confront.
DiGiuseppi said the novels are based on incidents from their careers and personal lives. “It revolves around two main questions — why do people die, and why do bad things happen to good people.”
Force said they wanted a main character who is compassionate and cares about people.
“Amazingly, people have this image of a cop as this lock-jawed kind of Joe Friday type of guy — ‘just the facts, ma’am’ — but nothing could be further from the truth,” Force said. “Police officers are very compassionate people. They’re real job is to help people, not necessarily to get in trouble.”
As in the first book, the main character in “The Fallen” is Alan Crane, a former Marine who has been promoted to lieutenant from sergeant and tries to make sense of a series of catastrophic events that led to four untimely deaths. Crane and his supernatural companion, Michael Simmons, search for the truth in supernatural realms.
In both novels, fictional incidents and settings were taken from real-life events that occurred in Lake Saint Louis or elsewhere in St. Charles County area and often involved both officers.
The books came out of discussions Force and DiGiuseppi had through the years about tragic events they witnessed.
“Contrary to popular belief, that really weighs heavy on a person after a while,” Force said. “Specifically we’d talk about this question of why, why me, why my husband, why my son, why my daughter. It’s tough as you hold a person in your arms and you can’t answer that question. So we would talk about this for about 10 years and said we could write these things down to help somebody.”
They came up with a concept, only to be rejected by about 30 publishers. DiGiuseppi said Tom Hill, a local author and friend, finally read the first book and sent them to a literary agent. Eventually they found a publisher, Health Communications Inc.
Learning how to write a novel wasn’t easy; both met with local authors’ groups to develop their skills.
“For the first book, the writing was hard, but the editing was grueling,” DiGiuseppi said. That editing took a year and a half. “In the end, it was ‘ah, just have the publisher turn it down so we can stop,’” he said. The second book was easier.
Becoming a novelist doesn’t necessarily mean getting rich. Even though they received a small advance to write their first book, DiGiuseppi said it was more like a loan, paid back by the number of books sold.
Have they made any money? “We don’t know yet, we’re still waiting to break even,” Force said.
A Los Angeles-based production company, Undergo Entertainment, acquired the film rights to their novels last April and is working on possibly developing a television series. What will come from that remains unclear, the authors said.
Force said the books have helped them look at the purpose and direction of their lives. They are establishing a nonprofit foundation to recognize people who do good things, something society tends to ignore these days, Force said.
Rewards sometimes come from readers. Force said he received a call from a woman who as a child was locked in a car on a hot day with the windows shut, a situation similar to one portrayed in the first book. The woman said she eventually was put in foster care and hated her mother for 30 years. After reading the book, she called her mother and forgave her.
“If no one ever buys this book, if just that one woman bought that book, it makes all that effort worthwhile,” Force said. “That’s a person that carried that burden all of her life, that could finally be released from that burden and get on with her life. What a great thing.”
A book launch party for “The Fallen” is set for 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Spencer Road Branch Library, 427 Spencer Road in St. Peters. Book signing events are planned for 1 to 3 p.m. March 2 at Barnes & Noble, 320 Mid Rivers Center in St. Peters, and 1 to 3 p.m. March 23 at All on the Same Page book store, 11052 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur.