Edmonds Police Sgt. Alan Hardwick recently published his first novel, “Never Been This Close To Crazy.” Hardwick, 51, the father of five children, previously worked in counter-terrorism with the FBI. Not coincidentally, his novel is about a cop on a top-secret FBI task force raising five kids. Hardwick was a music teacher before taking his first job in law enforcement when he was 23. He continues his love of music as a member of the group, One Love Bridge, which will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at 190 Sunset, 190 Sunset Ave. in Edmonds.
You have a busy life, working as an Edmonds Police officer, being a musician, a husband and father of five. When did you start writing?
It was sort of like organizing your own to-do list. It forced me to get organized. And when you have so much going on, organization is certainly key.
Had writing been a part of your life before you wrote your book?
In my professional life I’ve been writing 28 years. I learned early on the value of good writing. It culminated in my time with the FBI when I was writing affidavits on national security matters.
Could you talk more about that?
I was an Edmonds Police detective assigned as lead investigator to the FBI through the Joint Terrorism Task Force with members from state and local law enforcement from 2002 to 2009. I had a great compliment from the agent in charge after I submitted one of my applications for a warrant. It was a major case that had White House-level attention. She said, ‘This is the best writing I’ve ever seen.’ Weaving those facts into an understandable narrative is not easy.
Has your interest in writing been lifelong?
It all really began with Sally Dahl, my teacher in seventh grade in Centralia, who pushed me into advanced placement classes and a creative writing course. I didn’t know how important that would be until much later.
How long have you been married?
Since 2011. My wife, Kristen Martin, was really encouraging that writing a book would be healthy for me. Her writing in the book (as co-creator) was more along the lines of content editing and rewriting some things. She had an ability to keep track of a lot of moving parts. She brought order to my chaos.
And you have five children?
I do. Kristen had no kids. And then she got the Polaroid family.
The five children were from a previous marriage?
Yes. It doesn’t escape me that the plot and the characters in the book do have some similarity to my own life experience. But that’s true with any author. You draw from your own experience.
How long were you a single dad?
For about four years. And during that time I was working counter-terrorism at the FBI. We started shortly after 9/11. All that was going on while I was being a single dad and trying to navigate all that.
What were the age ranges of the kids?
At that time between 8 and 16.
So you had a lot of single parent issues?
Yes. It was a daily struggle. The real needs of the kids at the time were significant. And the real needs of the country were significant. Our participation in helping meet that need was very significant on a national scale. Add in the dynamic of kind of working through the ex-wife was a challenge as well.
How long did it take to write the book?
Kristen and I probably worked on it six to seven years off and on. That was back in the idea phase, just assembling ideas, chapter names, things we could write about. Then when it got down to really writing a little over two years.
How did that progress?
About six months into that, I was trying to determine how to set a deadline. (Last year) I was in Issaquah sitting on a bench. I saw a sign: Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. They told me about a conference coming up. I met Robert Dugoni, (Seattle author of “My Sister’s Grave”) at the conference. He was very interested in the book I was writing. He was the first person to read my manuscript.
What was his reaction?
He called me after finishing the book late at night and asked if the ending was a cruel joke. So I fixed it the next day. That ending is the current ending to the book. I liked it a lot better, too.
Why did you choose that title?
For several reasons. My own juggling of so many spheres at the same time was probably not all that healthy. The running joke (at the FBI office) was counter-terrorism is a piece of cake compared to Alan’s life on a Thursday.
How did you get into police work?
I’m a musician for crying out loud. I had no intention ever of being a police officer. I just needed a job. I saw a job for a deputy in Latah County, around Moscow, Idaho. I had a child, was married and knew my job as a music teacher at a private school was not going to pay for the needs facing me. I applied for that job when I was 23. But I fell in love with it.
How old are you children now?
The youngest is 19 and oldest is 27, three boys and two girls. Wonderful people, all of them. I’m so thankful for that. They went through a lot. Any child going through divorce is going to suffer. And our children were no exception. No one enters a marriage thinking divorce is an option. I was so determined not to be the typical cop married multiple times and all that. But you can’t plan on everything, nor should you probably.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go:
Alan Hardwick will discuss his book “Never Been This Close to Crazy” at 7 p.m. Sept.5 at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park. More at: tinyurl.com/hardwickevent