By Laurie Fagen
International traveler Jacinda Power of Chandler, who has lived abroad for a number of years, says being “obsessed” with mystery novels as a child in Kansas makes writing mysteries an integral part of who she is.
“I frequently ran around the back yard with a magnifying glass pretending to be Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown,” she quips.
Her interest in law enforcement also began very early. At 16, she was selected to participate in the Kansas Highway Patrol Cadet Academy and later won a Fraternal Order of Police college scholarship.
By high school graduation, she had decided the forensic sciences would be an excellent career path, despite no degrees offered in the field at that time. A Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent advised her to “get the most unconventional and broad experience you can to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicants.”
While attending Wichita State University, working on a BS in Biology/minor in Chemistry, she was employed with their Administration of Justice Department, where she met well-known law enforcement professionals, assisted her criminalistics/firearm professor in trajectory re-enactments and had enough credits for a second minor in Administration of Justice. She learned the basics of forensic anthropology from Dr. Peer Moore-Jansen and Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, both of whom instilled her passion for the subject.
She holds a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Sheffield (UK) in Biomolecular Archaeology, which is the scientific analysis of biological materials from ancient source material.
That was the start of her interest in bones, and after getting married, she and her husband moved to Ireland where she analyzed skeletal remains in sites that were anticipating construction.
“I would clean and reconstruct the skeletons, and assess sex, age, height and any health issue that might have left its signature in the bones or teeth of the individual.”
A return to the U.S. took her to Virginia Commonwealth University to be part of a team that sequenced bacterial genomes, and later, research regarding cancer “suicide” pathways. Her research has been published in several medical/scientific journals and one in a European archaeological journal.
Fast forward nearly eight years and three children later, Power has been working on a manuscript that includes a postdoc anthropologist protagonist, also trained in biomolecular archaeology, who will get involved in archaeological and current investigations.
Favorite mystery authors include Matthew Cox, Matthew Pearl, Thomas Harris, Michael Gruber, Deborah J Ledford, Alan Bradley and Jasper Fforde.
She calls meeting Desert Sleuths “serendipity,” and has jumped in to help co-chair the Nuts & Bolts writing conference in April.
“I hope to make lifelong friendships here, as well as look forward to learning the craft from all of you.”
Laurie Fagen, 2014 president of Desert Sleuths/SinC, is working on a crime fiction manuscript with a young radio reporter protagonist. She has short stories published in the past two Desert Sleuths’ anthologies, and is an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine honorable mention winner. A former community newspaper publisher, Fagen is also an artist, art promoter and jazz singer.