Friday, March 10, 2006

Former D.C. Cop Makes Authorial Debut

18 Seconds is not George Shuman’s first book. It’s just his first to be published.

He’d written another book a few years ago. It attracted an agent’s interest, but found no takers when it was auctioned to the various New York publishing houses. Shuman put it away and kept writing.

He’s currently on tour to promote 18 Seconds. His publisher, Simon & Schuster, has teamed him with best-selling author Robert Crais, a clever marketing move to build early interest in Shuman’s debut novel. Shuman signed a contract with Simon & Schuster just this week for a sequel.

18 Seconds features Sherry Moore, a blind woman who has the unique ability to “see” a deceased person’s last 18 seconds by touching the corpse; a serial killer, who is serving prison time, not for the murders he’s committed, but a deadly traffic accident; and a New Jersey policewoman investigating a young woman’s disappearance that recalls similar unsolved cases from the seventies.

The mystery novel is set in Wildwood, New Jersey. “I start with location. Draw characters into and see where it goes.” Shuman choose Wildwood because he has pleasant memories of visiting there with his parents as a child.

Shuman is a 20-year veteran of the D.C. police force. He career includes serving as an undercover narcotics detective and as a sergeant in Internal Affairs.

During an appearance, with Crais, at a Smithsonian-sponsored program on crime novels, Shuman was asked if he had ever used a psychic, like Sherry Moore, during his career in law enforcement. “Never,” he said. Would he? “Never.”

Shuman researched both memory and mediums before setting down to write 18 Seconds.

A binge writer, Shuman might write for days without stopping, only to come to halt because he’s suddenly caught up in the research. When he starts to write, he has no outline or plan about where the book is heading. Instead, he lets his characters take him where they want to go.

Crime novels enjoy an enduring popularity, Shuman said, because “they are the place where heroes are born.”

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