Isabella Maldonado moved to Arizona nine years ago after retiring from a career as a police captain in D.C. to write her first police novel that would become a series, “Blood’s Echo.”
Other than being a Latina in a white, male-dominated profession, Maldonado doesn’t have too much in common with her protagonist, Veranda Cruz. Cruz works in the Phoenix Police Department dealing with narcotics. She is also of Mexican descent, whereas Maldonado is Puerto Rican.
“I thought a lot of the other authors were writing about New York, Chicago, L.A.,” Maldonado says. “I wanted to write about Phoenix. It’s a major city, there’s a lot going on. It seems like it’s not getting the kind of coverage it needs, and I wanted to feature that.”
The novel makes it clear in the beginning that Cruz has a vendetta against a particular cartel which has impacted her life and her family’s life in different ways. Maldonado says she knew she wanted to write a police procedural story. While Cruz is not like Maldonado, the author says she was able to glean a lot from her own career to make what she was writing as accurate as possible.
“I wanted to feature the Phoenix Police Department,” Maldonado says. “I wanted the reader to be pulled in and feel exactly what it’s like to walk through the halls and how their procedures work and how their radio traffic works. Ever department is a little bit different. Each department has its own culture.”
It was important to Maldonado to have a Latina protagonist because it’s something she rarely saw. At first it was a concern of whether it would make the publisher uninterested, but the publisher ended up enjoying it. The author says she was tired of seeing Latino characters portrayed as either the bad guys or the sidekicks, if they were even portrayed at all.
“I thought of the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding,'” Maldonado says. “I thought that became a huge smash success not because all the Greek people enjoyed it, it’s because everyone enjoyed it. There’s this universal immigrant experience that we all have in this nation of immigrants.”
“Blood’s Echo” is the first book of the Veranda Cruz series. The sequel, “Phoenix Burning,” will be available in March, and Maldonado is currently working on book three. For more information on the series go here.