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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Forbidden Article

I’ve been censored.

I had a terrific article to share with all of you about characters we often see in mysteries but usually overlook. Who am I talking about?

Court security officers. CSOs. Think Bruce Van Axel on “Judging Amy.”

In mysteries with courtroom scenes, they’re sort of like the footmen in regency romances—always there, but seldom noticed and often underrated.

I found a real, live CSO to interview, and it was great! I was tickled to think I would bring you something different that would inspire you to write intriguing stories about these valiant men and women and give you a new perspective on courtroom drama.

But, as I said above, I can’t.

See, my interviewee told me last week that he needed to run it by his boss before I posted the article. That would be the ... oops, can’t tell you who the boss is.

And he said no.

Actually, I got the impression he said some other rather colorful things, but the upshot was, no WAY could I post an article on the Internet telling the world at large what CSOs do to make courtrooms secure and safe. Not even in a general way. Apparently just talking about it would make courtrooms less secure and give bad guys ideas about how to circumvent all those security procedures. Not only that, I couldn’t identify my interviewee, the courthouse he worked in, or the area where he lived. Period.

That sort of took the starch out of my article.

I did try writing a “toned down” version not giving away any particulars, but it still didn’t pass muster.

My next step was to apologize and tell the CSO I hoped I hadn’t caused him any friction with his boss. He didn’t say much, so I’m not really sure. But I haven’t heard that he’s been fired. Yet.

Ouch. I hate thinking I may have gotten someone in trouble.

And it truly WAS a fun article.

It’s kind of cool to be censored, though. I mean, I must have been writing something important for the big boss to care so much, right?

So I hope all of you mystery writers out there will do your own research on this topic and find out what the CSOs REALLY do, so you can make them a fascinating part of your next story. These guys are true heroes. And just talking about them should give you ideas, shouldn’t it?

You’re at least as smart as the bad guys they protect us from.

Happy writing! Susan


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