Dr. Charles Toftoy, native Arlingtonian, decorated Vietnam veteran, and professor.
Dr. Charles Toftoy, native Arlingtonian, decorated Vietnam veteran, and professor emeritus of George Washington University’s business school, spoke to us about his most recent novel, a realistic crime-thriller, “Eyes of Cold Case Killers,” that centers around the Northern Virginia area.
By Colleen Callery
On why he decided to try fiction writing:
“I wanted to challenge myself with something brand new. I was self-taught in writing novels and in criminal justice. I was so impressed by the dedication of cold case detectives.”
On his research:
“I met with all four police chiefs [in the region], almost half the homicide detectives, the K9 department and the cold case detectives. You don’t want a cop to pick up your book and start laughing because the language is wrong. I read a lot of books, studied serial killers all over the world and read stacks of psychology books.”
On his writing process:
“It took nine years to write my first book and two years for the second, doing what you call ‘patchwork.’ You get an idea, start writing, then put it away. For this one, I knew the beginning, but I didn’t know the end. I let my characters take me there.”
“Most people in self-publishing aren’t necessarily making their living by it … they are doing this because they love to write. I’m not in it to make profits; I’m in it to get the book out to as many people as possible. It doesn’t do any good in the bottom drawer of your desk for 20 years.”
On his next book:
“My next book will be a shorter book on the soul. Still fiction, but a series of short stories exploring faith. My wife thinks I’ve done enough on the murders.”
On writing about psychopathic serial killers:
“When you are writing about something like this, you can’t let it warp your mind. You realize these are real people, these serial killers. In the book, you actually kind of feel for [the killer]. You don’t necessarily want him to win, but I try to make them real people, too.”