In Pierz, a small Christian town in rural Minnesota, Frank F. Weber grew up as one of 10 children. They were named in alphabetical order, making him the sixth child. His career has taken him in various directions from teaching to becoming a forensic psychologist and then to becoming an author.
“Even killers are the heroes in their own stories,” Weber said to the audience at the Maple Plain Library on Tuesday, March 10.
With 25 years of forensic psychology under his belt, Weber created CORE Professional Services, where his work ranges from providing therapy to assessing murderers chained to a prison floor. CORE expanded throughout Minnesota and is currently used by 65 counties. Discussing the details of his job was not something Weber wanted to share with his family at the end of each day.
Weber turned to fiction writing as a way to vent and relieve stress he encountered during his forensic career. He is the author of three Minnesota true-crime novels - “Murder Book” was released in 2017, “The I-94 Murders” was released in 2018 and his most recent book, “Last Call,” was released in 2019. His fourth book “Lying Close” is set for release in September.
The mysteries are filled with humor, romance and chapters are written as first-person perspectives of offenders, victims and investigators. Weber uses his decades of experience as a forensic psychologist to give him insight into human behavior, which he believes brings a thriller aspect to his writing. He also includes real tactics used out in the field, including how to get a shoe print out of the snow.
Adding romance and humor into his books give the readers a break from the thrilling scenes to create tension. Weber explains he thinks of it like a thrilling television show - if the characters are constantly going around trying to solve the mystery frantically, viewers get bored.
“There’s no balance. It’s less exciting and less interesting,” he said.
Weber then shared his tips for those who want to finally start writing that book with the Maple Plain audience.
Start writing in the middle he said. Often, writers will go from the beginning and not move past the initial details. For Weber, his process is a little different. Weber said he writes scenes as they come to him and works the book around that.
“I found that that’s an easier way to write. In the beginning of the book, you’re introducing the story and at the end of it, you’re pulling everything together. Sometimes if you start in the middle you can find your way to both directions,” Weber said.
While his books do not take place in the real towns the crimes were committed, he does base them off real Minnesota towns and communities, adding in real businesses, community quirks and personalities of real people.
Weber thought of a mechanic he knows who repeats his words twice and an impatient bar customer who would bet others in the bar he could finish their beer in one sip for a quarter. He can’t, but drinks a beer for only a quarter.
He also thought of a gas station he visited that included a tanning salon, so customers can fill up their cars and get a tan.
“I love Minnesota. I love all the weird things we have in our communities. When I’m writing my books, I love to go and talk with people in the community,” he said.