Guest Blogger — S. Connell Vondrak
Welcome to our newest guest, S. Connell Vondrak, whose new book “No Evidence of a Crime” will soon be released.
Today, Ms. Vondrak describes her journey to this moment.
I started in forensics when forensics wasn’t cool. Of course, forensics has always had its fans and it pops up in mysteries from time to time; a brilliant deduction by Sherlock Holmes or the one-two punch in a Perry Mason trial, but the heart of forensics has only recently been spotlighted as the pivotal resource to solving the crime; at least from a writer’s standpoint.
I began my career in forensics in the mid-eighties. It was a time when DNA was only being whispered as the hot new technique. ABO blood typing was the primary test on body fluids. The amount of blood needed for the early DNA tests compared to today’s techniques is equivalent to comparing a bathtub full of water to a drop of water. Today, a few cells swabbed off a licked envelope or the lip of a soda can harbors a bounty of evidence. Touching an object can potentially leave enough cells to identify a suspect. But, DNA is not the only section that has had major changes through new advances. Twenty years ago, fingerprints were stored in file cabinets not in computer databases. Rows of 10-print cards were organized by the primary traits of each finger and pulled by staff to fax to laboratories. Today, thousands of prints per second are searched through AFIS using the patterns of primary points on each print.
I feel fortunate to have worked as a forensic scientist during a time when there have been so many advances and new things to learn. But, one might ask how a career in forensics led me down the path of becoming an author? Unbeknownst to me, the seeds to my writing career were planted in 2003, when I became the director of training, supervising the teaching of people in the art of forensic science. It is a wonderful job, watching individuals just starting their career develop into forensic scientists, but the one large downside to being the director of training (or so I thought at the time) was the amount of travel I had to do, driving to off-site labs. I supervised training in six laboratories around the state of Illinois. Routinely, I would be traveling a minimum of seven hours on the road and often, much more.
When the radio became too annoying and of course there are no CD players in a state-owned cars, I would turn off the radio and let my imagination wander; making up stories to entertain me. From those travels came my first book, No Evidence of a Crime, a story of two Washington, D.C. detectives who realized results reported by the crime lab cannot possibly be true.
In this book, I hope I have been true to the essence of forensics and its role in crime solving but also maintained the spirit of a juicy-want to read more-mystery. Oak Tree Press is the publisher and it should be out within the next month or two. It was fun to write and hopefully fun to read.
To find out more, visit Crime Lab Mysteries, Ms. Vondrak’s website.