Today I’m interviewing Pete Klismet who is the author of three books, with more to follow. Here’s a pic of the book covers:
Pete, tell us a little about yourself… where you grew up etc.
While I was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, my folks moved to Colorado (Denver area) when I was about 3. Consequently, I consider myself to be a Colorado ‘native.’ Good enough for the girls I go out with! My wife, the estimable Miss Nancy knows the latter wouldn’t happen. I went to Catholic schools (yes, the ones with nuns and Christian Brothers) and received a partial football scholarship to an all-boy’s Catholic high school in the area. Regrettably, while I had been a 2nd team All-City quarterback , the guy who was 1st team was my competition. He eventually went on to be a 2nd team All-America QB at the Univ. of Wyo., leading them to the Sugar Bowl and an unbeaten season! He was a little bit better than me. I wound up at a public high school, but eventually quit in the 11th grade. More on that later, but believe-it-or-not, it turned out to be one of the best decisions in my life.
How about your family life etc. – brothers, sisters, what your dad did.
I have 3 sisters and 1 brother, all younger than me. Three of my siblings either attended or graduated from college. Impressive when one considers we grew up in a lower-middle income home. We essentially grew up in Englewood, CO, a Denver suburb. My dad was a skilled brick mason and part-time contractor who completed the 8th grade. That was the standard for the time he was in school, then he immediately went to work on the family farm in Wisconsin. Mom completed high school in Superior, WI, and eventually attended Tulane University. That alone was enough to impress me and tell me I needed to go to college. Odd when you consider I didn’t make it through high school!
How about your education….what did you do after high school?
Two months after I turned 17, my best buddy and I enlisted in the Navy. We went our separate ways after boot camp, he onto aircraft carriers, me onto something much smaller – submarines…..the old type….diesel/electric boats of WWII vintage. They were called “Pig Boats” for a reason. But I didn’t care. The sub service was highly selective and, at that time, the best in the Navy. SEALS had barely been invented then. Plus, we got ‘hazardous duty pay’ and serving on those boats, we deserved it.
No sooner had I finished boot camp and went to sub school in New London, CT, than I took my GED tests. Thanks to a great early education, I finished in the 90th percentile in each dimension. When I got out of the Navy, I submitted my scores to the State of Colorado, and was awarded a high school equivalency diploma.
The Navy began what someone once characterized as a ‘very colorful’ life. We were the 1st sub in the Tonkin Gulf (proud member of the ‘Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club’!!) after the conflict seriously heated up in 1964. I got to visit quite a few foreign countries *(Japan, Australia, Philippines, Thailand) which began my life-long quest for more travel.
I’ll assume you didn’t make the Navy a career?
Heavens no. I wasn’t the ‘military type.’ They threw some nice inducements at me such as a pretty fair sized re-enlistment bonus. While that was a decent amount of money, I turned it down. The next offer was the U.S. Naval Academy, (one year of prep school and then the academy). I had saved quite a bit of money while in the Navy with the intention of going to college when I got out. And that’s exactly what I did.
So you got out of the Navy and went right into college?
Yup. I had to wait a few months, but I worked for my dad and made pretty good money providing his bricklayers with brick and mortar all day. Pretty hard work, but I was young and making triple the minimum wage, so I was doing just fine. I worked for him on weekends and summers while I was in college. With what I’d saved and made working, it was no problem making payments for tuition and books. But at that time, the state college I attended was on the quarter system and cost $95 per term. Or about $400 if one attended during summer. Which I did and finished in 3 years.
What was your major in college?
By a strange stroke of luck, I registered late and there were some ‘Police Science’ classes available. So I took the ‘Intro’ class and added several more general ed classes to fill out my schedule. I found the first Police Science class interesting, so I claimed that as my major with minors in both Psychology and Sociology. The latter turned out to be a wise decision about 15 years later, as I’ll explain.
And after college, what happened?
The Ventura Police Dep’t in California was recruiting 4-year colleges for people majoring in Police Science or something related. At the time they were the only police department in the country (and perhaps the world) which required a Bachelor’s Degree. I did the testing they wanted and did pretty well I suppose. During a Christmas break I drove out there and interviewed. Plus looked over the department. The town was beautiful, about 60 miles north of L.A. and right on the coast. Great place to live and work it seemed. They were hiring seven officers in June of that year, right after I finished school. Since my testing had put me on top of the list, I got an offer before I graduated. So that worked out well. When I was in the Navy I liked California, so it wasn’t hard to go back. I was married by then and my wife, who was a teacher, was pregnant, so having a job locked up was perfect timing.
So how did that part of your career go?
Pretty well I suppose. I finished 1st in my police academy class and was promoted to detective after 1 ½ years on patrol, and to sergeant in 2 ½ years. All record times. I started working on a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Calif. Lutheran University, completed that and went to work on a 2nd one. I finished that one in Public Administration at the Univ. of Southern Calif. My intent was to eventually be the police chief in Ventura or elsewhere. While going to school at USC, I was in classes with some guys from the LAFBI office. They encouraged me to apply and eventually I tested 4th of about 10,000 people in the USA. That got me an appointment as a Special Agent. So I spent about 9 years as a cop and just over 20 as an agent. It all worked out fairly well.
My 2nd book, FBI Quantico (The real story of the FBI Academy) by ‘Agent X,’ is about my experience and training as a new agent. No one has ever written such a book. Just as a clue – the training was extremely inadequate. But the In-service schools the FBI offered were great. I was trained as a Firearms Instructor, Hostage Negotiator/Trainer, a few others, most importantly I was selected to be one of the FBI’s first group of field agent/profilers. That formed the basis for my 1st book “FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil.”
And then I assume you retired from the FBI?
That’s correct. Nearly 30 years in law enforcement was enough fun for me. I’d always wanted to use my degrees and experience to teach. Not long after I retired I was hired as a full-time instructor at a small community college here in Colorado. A few years later, Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs offered me a position as Criminal Justice Dep’t Chair and Associate Professor. In a lot of ways, that was the best job I ever had. Yes, including THAT other one!
As you look back at your life – is there any one thing you’d change?
For a kid who grew up in a lower-middle income home and quit high school, I guess I’d have to say I acquitted myself pretty well. Some have called my life ‘colorful,’ and indeed it was. Had I not been so bored in high school and applied myself, I suppose I could have been a doctor or lawyer, or some other high-level position. However, I think when people find out what I did with my life, particularly having been in the FBI, they’re probably more impressed with that. It’s a pretty mysterious job with more than its share of mystique. People have all sorts of pre-conceived ideas from TV, but none of that is close to accurate. As I look back, I think I did all right in the final analysis.
Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t. My mom used to read Robert Lewis Stevenson books to me and she said I could recite some passages when I was about 2 years old. That probably doesn’t count. My guess would be the first book I read was a sports biography of some famous baseball player. I loved biographies, learning about other people’s lives fascinated me. In fact, when we were forced to read “A Tale of Two Cities,” in high school, I hated it because I wanted to read what I liked.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Even as a kid I loved to write. If told in school to write a sentence, I’d write a paragraph. If told to write a paragraph, I’d write a mini-short story. I never minded doing term papers or writing in English classes. I’m one of those rare critters who loves both English and Math. I did plenty of writing in college and graduate school and loved it. Some of my reports from the police department, I’ve been told, are legendary. I once arrested a Catholic priest for drunk driving. Thinking I might be up against the Vatican lawyers in court, I wrote the longest report in the history of VPD! He pled guilty. With the experiences I had as a cop and agent, I kept notes, thinking that I would eventually write a book. I’m up to three now and there isn’t any end in sight. And, they’re all non-fiction. I really admire and respect all of you out there who can and do write fiction. I don’t have to make stuff up. The truth is much stranger than fiction. If you read “FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil,” and/or “FBI Diary: Home Grown Terror,” you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
For 30 years I did what I was cut out to do. The writing I do is for fun and I really don’t make that much money from it. There are some good tax write-offs though, because there is a lot of research necessary to write books.
The only other thing I would have liked to have done as a career was to be a sports broadcaster. However, at the time I was finishing college, sports hadn’t exploded as it has today. Thus, even though I was given an opportunity to attend a broadcasting school, I had a job in hand with VPD, and made the smart decision to take the bird in the hand.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The first two cop-related books I ever read were “The New Centurions,” and “The Onion Field,” both by Joseph Wambaugh who had been a sergeant on LAPD. After I read ‘em I remember thinking to myself, “I can do that.” Thus, the idea was fomented in my middle 20’s. Had to go through a whole lot of career stuff and work as a college professor before I finally got published. The wait was worth it.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write like I am – silly and irreverent. I see humor in most situations, but I’m not stupid about it. “Home Grown Terror” is the first of my three books that is more serious than silly.
If there would be any advice I’d give to new authors, that would be – write like you are. Don’t try to copy someone else’s writing style. It won’t work, and besides your style may be better than theirs. Be yourself. Things will then flow a whole lot better.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Right now it’s probably Nelson DeMille. Some of the reason for that is he’s like me – uses appropriate humor and doesn’t throw ‘f-bombs’ all over the place. That’s a word I refuse to use in my books. Just don’t see a point in it.
Another no-no for mystery or crime writers is using the term ‘vic’ when talking about a victim. If someone close to me was killed and an officer referred to them in that way, I’d knock ‘em on their butt!
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Being part of a writing community (or ‘tribe’), I know a whole lot of writers and have read some of their books. It’s really hard to single anyone in particular out, but a woman in Utah by the name of Karla Jay is simply terrific and the more she writes the more of a favorite she will become. She’s coming out with a new book, and I’ll probably rob the FedEx truck on the way to the bookstore to get it! I am constantly bugging her to get another one published after I read her 1st book, “Speaking in Tongues.” (I hope that’s the name or Karla will kill me)!!!
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m now writing a college textbook on “Criminal Profiling” – don’t have the exact title yet. Because of the way I am, it will be anything but a ‘traditional’ college text. It’s going to be something more interesting and challenging than the garden-variety texts we all read in college. I’m going to do it exactly as I did my classes……give them the theory, then a case study and have them apply the theory in trying to ‘profile’ the case. I also think many members in the public will enjoy it. So that’s my current project. I have others waiting in the wings.
If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead role?
Denzel Washington would be good in “Profiles of Evil.” Chris Pine would be another candidate. I love him. He should be the next James Bond. Jeremy Renner would also be good in “Home Grown Terror.” As to the middle book, which is being remodeled with new cover and back page, it would have to be someone fairly young to replicate the age of New Agent trainees at the academy.
Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
No blog. Too busy writing and doing other things to devote time to running one.
My website is: www.criminalprofilingassociates.com
I’m on Facebook as Pete Klismet and “Pete Klismet Author FBI Series of Books.” Stop by and say whattup!