HARRISON, N.Y. -- Former Harrison police detective Marc DiGiacomo has gone from writing police reports to writing award-winning novels based on his experiences with the Harrison Police Department.
DiGiacomo's first novel, "In a Small Town," won the award for Best Thriller at the 2013 Orangeberry Book Expo Hall of Fame. The book tells the story of Det. Matthew Longo, who investigates crimes in the fictional town of Hutchville, N.Y., a town based on Harrison.
He joined the force in 1998 as a patrol officer, and became a detective in 2004. He said that was the year things started changing in town, and he found himself investigating some very violent crimes.
"That was a momentous year. We had home invasions, a double homicide, a shooting," he said. "The place basically changed, everything seemed to get more violent for such a small town."
After retiring in 2011 following an injury, he began to write about his experiences as a police detective. It started off as a memoir, which he wasn't even sure at first that he would publish. It gradually changed into a fictional crime thriller, drawing on real cases that he investigated during his career. He decided to self-publish the book, which came out in October 2012, and he is currently finishing up the sequel, "Back in Town."
"I wanted to show readers that all the crimes you see in cities can happen right here," he said. He also wanted to depict a police department that cares about its residents and works to crack down on crime.
"The residents of Harrison are so lucky to have a police department that really wants to protect people, and actively work to catch the people who target our town."
DiGiacomo was born and raised in Harrison, and now lives in South Salem with his family. In addition to incidents from Harrison that he drew upon to write the book, he also based other elements of the fictional Hutchville on his hometown.
"If a true Harrisonite is reading this book, there will definitely be things that will pop out," he said.
Some aspects of his main character's personality and sense of humor are based on DiGiacomo. The character's relationship with his brother is based on DiGiacomo's relationship with his own brother, who was also an officer with the Harrison police department.
DiGiacomo said he is astounded by the success the book has had, both in print and in e-book format.
"It's a great feeling to open up the box, see your book with your name on it. There's just an overwhelming feeling of pride," he said. He did not expect to win the Best Thriller award this year, especially since he was up against some bestselling authors with strong followings. "That was just the icing on the cake. It validated everything I did."
He is hoping his second book will be out by the end of the year, and he anticipates he will write a third book in the series.