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Gresham cop sees new book published

"Return Fire" is the sequel to "Sniper Shot" published in 2005


As a Gresham police officer, Barry W. Ozeroff Sr. does his share of writing. Police reports, traffic tickets, even press releases when he served as the department's spokesman a few years back.

But in his off hours, he sits at home in his easy chair and writes novels on his iPad.

Ozeroff's newest book, “Return Fire,” is now available through online book sellers and on Kindle. It's his third published book and is the sequel to his first book, “Sniper Shot,” published in 2005.

“People were asking me about the sequel when 'Sniper Shot' came out,” Ozeroff said over clam chowder at Red Lobster in Gresham. And at the time, he already was hard at work on it. But his publisher, iBooks Inc., came under new ownership, and the economy tanked. The sequel — along with books across the globe — sat in limbo.

In the meantime, L & L Dreamspell published Ozeroff's book “The Dying of Mortimer Post” in 2010. An introspective novel, it was a departure from his police dramas. The book also came out the same time as his brother Mark Ozeroff's debut novel. They teamed up for a national book tour, covering 9,000 miles in a month.

In his most recently published book, Ozeroff said the characters surprised him. “They went off in places I didn't expect them to,” he said. “I was halfway through writing it, and I didn't know where it was going.”

He also toned down the salty language that some “Sniper Shot” readers found rather shocking.

“That's how cops talk,” Ozeroff said, but readers might not necessarily want that level of realism, he said.

Ozeroff began his career in La Mesa, Calif., and after six years moved to the Gresham Police Department 20 years ago. He is the department's lead hostage negotiator, and after six years as a traffic cop, he recently traded his motorcycle for a patrol car.

But don't expect your speeding ticket to inspire any scenes or characters. “Usually I will be in the middle of writing when I think, 'This reminds me of a situation I was in,'” he said. Then he'll draw upon his experience to make it more emotive. For example, while writing about a fatal crash scene, he recalled being at a similar crash in which a baby survived. “I found myself very emotionally attached to this child,” he recalled. “And I drew back onto that experience for the book.”

Ozeroff's books are character driven. And his cops are real people. “I write about regular dudes,” he said. “Nobody walks through walls or bites trees in half.”

This not only makes for characters who are unique, it also dispels any misconceptions that police officers are superheroes.

His characters also take on lives of their own over the course of a book. Someone who might start out in a minor role could become a pivotal character by the book's end. “I am enthralled with where it's going to go, what's going to happen next,” Ozeroff said. On the flip side, “Sometimes my characters disappoint me. But I'm kind of godlike — I can kill them in the end.”

Between the economic collapse and the move away from print in favor of e-readers, “It has become increasingly difficult to be published,” he said.

But Ozeroff plans to keep writing. He's finishing up a new book that he's enjoyed writing so much, he'll be disappointed when he's done.

He is also flirting with an agent about publishing another book, a mystery/thriller set on the Oregon Coast. “That's what I really hope to see in print next,” he said.

Ozeroff would like to move to a larger publishing house. Not to make more money, although he'd love to strike it rich. No, he just would like his books to be better read and more widely distributed. “My reward is from reader feedback,” he said.

If the stock market holds up, Ozeroff, 53, plans to retire in the next year or two.

The house he shares with his wife, Cyndi, has grown quiet as their blended family of six children has grown. Two sons, ages 18 and 21, remain at home. Ozeroff also has three grandchildren, ages 3, 6 and 7.

“I've learned how to write in quietude,” he said.

Now he listens to music, an even split of classical and classic rock, while writing.

“Mozart or Zeppelin,” Ozeroff said.

It all depends on the book, scene and character.

If you go

What: Author Barry Ozeroff will sign copies of his latest book, "Return Fire," the sequel to "Sniper Shot."

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10.

Where: Murder by the Book, 3210 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland.




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