Police officer and author are two professions on opposite ends of the spectrum. But Downingtown resident Sergeant Martin Malloy has found a way to blend them into rewarding careers.
For 30 years and counting, Malloy has worked in law enforcement. He decided early in high school that he wanted to make a difference in society, and after college he began his career as a police officer.
“I always felt strongly about law enforcement and like most people, I got into the profession to make society better,” said Malloy.
Over the years Sergeant Malloy’s career has taken him in many directions, but one of the most unpredictable is the release of his first book That Which We Are.
“I had been thinking about it for a long time … but in September 2009 I decided this has to be done.”
A career as a police officer seldom includes journalistic-type work. Malloy mentions that his job did require him to compose newsletters and reports but he also enjoyed writing articles and poetry over the years. Ten years ago, he began the footwork for what eventually would become That Which We Are.
“For years I started writing notes and an outline for the book, but one day I decided to sit down and revise the outline with short police stories that became one big story,” said Malloy. “Writing became easier because I was intimately connected to all of these stories.”
Using real-life scenarios as his guide, Malloy converted his experiences into prose. Writing all morning before his night shifts, chapter by chapter, Malloy completed his book in four short months.
“I would take a chapter at a time and never look ahead and I would make that my goal each week,” said Malloy.
Channeling his favorite author Ernest Hemmingway, Malloy makes use of short sentences with detailed descriptions that engage the reader. By blending the characteristics of individuals he has met while on the job, Sergeant Nick Caulfield, the main character was born.
Sergeant Nick Caulfield is an idealistic officer who routinely patrols a resort town known as Yarmouth Beach. After seeing his partner murdered years before, Caulfield tries to cope by focusing on work and watching over the younger officers entrusted to his command. Once a young girl goes missing and her body is discovered, Caulfield becomes determined to find what happened and who is responsible. Along the way he finds love and his reason for being.
“All of the things that occur in the novel are from cases I have seen in the last 30 years; I just changed the names and some outcomes to make it more interesting,” said Malloy. “I have blended together about 10 people I have met in my work to create the main character Caulfield.”
The popularity of crime shows such as CSI, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds shows that a large majority of people enjoy watching police investigations. These shows create false images of what police work is really like, and Malloy aims to portray a more accurate account in That Which We Are.
“I want people to see all of the hard work that goes into being a police officer,” said Malloy. “It’s a lot of interviews, late nights, and processing. Sometimes it’s a tragedy and other times the results are great. Police officers are human, they make mistakes, cry and laugh, we are human all the way around.”
Somehow between spending time with his family, teaching courses at local colleges and his career, Malloy has found time to take his title as an author a step further. He is now working on a second book that strays away from the police investigation plot. Still making use of real life events, Malloy is putting the finishing touches on a historical fictional novel.
Like many authors, writing is Malloy’s favorite part of the job. But after completing his first book, he quickly found that creating a book entails more than just writing.
“I never guessed in a million years, writing is so much easier than publishing,” said Malloy. “The writing was the fun part.”
After sending out countless emails and making phone calls to publishers, Malloy realized getting his book published and noticed in the media would be more difficult than he anticipated.
“Even after finding a publisher, first-time authors don’t get an advance or even marketing help,” said Malloy. “It is up to you to get your book on the shelves, and it takes away from your writing, which is unfortunate.”
Determined to have his work recognized, Malloy donated five copies of his book to the Chester County Library. He is proud to admit that each time he checks, all five copies are always off the shelves.
“Once you put so much time [into a book] you just don’t want it to die,” said Malloy. “I knew in my heart that this book was good and that’s what drove me.”