The television or movie screen is the closest most people will ever come to witnessing the forensic world. But I actually lived it. As a daughter of a medical examiner whose office was in our home, I investigated my first fatality, an airplane crash, when I was 8 years old. Picking up pieces of skull and brain matter, my father simply saw this as a hands-on anatomy lesson. This would be the first of many coroner lessons I experienced over two decades.
After careers in journalism and teaching, I turned seriously to screenwriting where I began to connect my coroner world to my writing world. I sought out a degree at the Forensic Science Academy in Los Angeles to gain more forensic training and earn the friendship of LA’s top CSIs, fingerprint specialists, DNA scientists, and detectives. Through this experience, I authored Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, used by not only showrunners and writers but also law enforcement.
Today, I work as a screenwriter, author, speaker and forensic specialist.
As a screenwriter… I’ve developed film and TV projects with Lifetime TV, Enspire, Echo Lake, Wolper Productions, Red Kimono, David Janolari Entertainment, Hoplite, and a host of others. I wrote the theatrically released film and novel, God Bless the Broken Road, a Netflix top 10 Faith-based Movie.
As an author… my mystery book series, The Coroner’s Daughter, first released in 2018; with The Coroner, and followed by Secret Remains. Last One Alive in 2023. Books 4 and 5 are slated for publication in 2024 and 2025. My true crime thriller, Hole in the Woods released in 2020 and optioned for TV.
I am a contributing author in a three book Murder, Music and Mystery anthology series from Blackstone Publishing: Hotel California, 2022; Thriller, 2023; and the pre-published, Back In Black, 2024.
In pre-publication are a true crime memoir, Raised By The Ice Man, that chronicles the lives of Merrick and Christin Kuklinksi, daughters of mafia killer, Richard Kuklinski. And an historical crime fiction novel, The Locard Principle, inspired by the doctor who instituted the world’s first crime lab.
I am also currently working on a YA mystery dramedy for publication and TV series.
As a speaker… I frequently speak internationally on crime fiction and forensics. And I host regular webinars through Writer’s Digest, The Writers Store and Script Magazine and dozens of others. I also teach for several universities and mentor aspiring writers from around the world.
As a forensic specialist… I’ve consulted with TV writers on shows such as: Bull, Conviction, Hawaii Five-O, Leverage, Suits, and Rectify.)
My mission is to shed light & hope into the dark recesses of human experience. I believe this was born in me before I even knew how to express it in words. And I’m sure it’s because I grew up around death. A lot of it.
My childhood experiences gave me a front row seat to the sadness and depravity of humanity. But it didn’t depress me. Instead, it inspired in me a deep urgency to live each day as if I was just one step away from my grave (because I might be).
I also learned to take nothing for granted. Not to burn bridges. And to be quick to forgive and remove bitterness. I strive to take up everything that happens, every suffering, and find the meaning and purpose in it. Because doing this opens the path to hope and light, not just for my sake, but for the sake of everyone around me.
Above all, I believe that we belong in community with one other. This is the only true joy. We are saved by belonging and serving one another. This is also what storytelling does. And I am a happy servant of it.
Jennifer teaches for several universities and mentors aspiring writers from around the world. Jennifer is a member of the Writers’ Guild of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, the Crime Writers Association (UK) and the FBI Citizen’s Academy Alumni.
This or That
When I’m not telling stories, I’m living my own adventures with family, friends, travel, pets, and the great outdoors. I split my time between the deserts of Arizona and the lakes of Michigan.
I was born with wanderlust, an appetite for curiosity, and an insatiable desire to always be learning. Travel satisfies all that for me!
Even my Barbie had a body bag… one day a body bag vendor came knocking at my dad’s door and left this sample. As soon as he was gone, my sisters and I asked if we could have it for our Barbie collection. And so, it came to be.
I support The Cold Case Foundation (CCF) as a fundraiser and victim advocacy ambassador. The CCF is a support arm for law enforcement agencies that takes on the hardest to solve, least funded cases by providing expert consulting, training, networking, forensic testing and victim support. The CCF is currently run by an all-volunteer board and staff of law enforcement experts from the FBI, police branches, and investigators and forensic experts from across the country and around the world. They offer top notch, free investigative services from seasoned professionals.