Alan Hardwick is something of a Renaissance man: Edmonds police officer, professional musician, hands-on dad to five children ages 19 to 27, and now, published author of his first novel, Never Been This Close To Crazy, which he describes as “a love story with a whole lot of crazy going on.”
Hired by the Edmonds Police Department during the momentous week of 9/11, Hardwick had a background in criminal intelligence, most notably from work on the Boise police force in the ‘90s. Shortly after he began working in Edmonds, he was one of a few local detectives assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes local, state and federal agencies. “I always thought of myself as a friendly fellow, and then I found this ability, this doggedness to do that kind of work.” He notes the job didn’t normally involve interrogating “the bomb throwers but rather their supporters, the people who communicated with terrorists or gave them housing, training or money.”
Before policing, the Washington native studied math and music at Washington State University, “until second-year calculus caught up with me,” at which time he switched his major to music.
That’s how he came to be a saxophone-playing cop on the Edmonds force (oh and he also plays guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, trombone, flute, oboe and cello — and does vocals). He performs regularly with the band One Love Bridge, a cryptic name that demands an explanation: It seems that in the sleepy Hawaiian town of Hanalei, there are several one-lane bridges crossing rivers in the area with warning signs that read One Lane Bridge. “Nobody regulates it,” he said, “but people take turns, five cars at a time from one side then five from the other.”
One day, he noticed somebody had put a heart sticker over the word ”lane” on one of the signs. “One Love Bridge. I thought that said it all — the aloha, the kindness they have there,” Hardwick recalled. “Love is a universal thing and the band members want to be ambassadors for that.”
Expanding his artistic expression to literature followed a long period of turmoil at home. “I went through a difficult divorce after being married for 20 years and having five kids together. I didn’t understand why it was happening. Then, in 2008, I was left alone to raise the kids,” Hardwick said.
A year later he met a woman named Kristen Martin and married her in 2011. Soon after, he began the novel, a story about “a guitar-playing cop, with a bunch of kids and an unstable ex-wife, who meets a human resources professional with a short to-do list,” said Hardwick. “Sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected places.”
Never having written a book before, he was grateful for the guidance offered by Seattle-based novelist Robert Dugoni, author of the bestselling Tracy Crosswhiteseries, as well as for his wife’s input, who’s listed as a co-creator of the book.
Hardwick noted that there was something cathartic about writing the book but said it is presented as a work of fiction, based in part on his own imagination. “As is the case for most writers, there are elements from my personal and professional experience.”
The book is fun but takes a serious look at mental health issues, he said. “As an officer, I see it every day. I want people to know about the impact that mental health has on the families of those struggling with it. We need to take the stigma out of mental illness and speak more openly and more compassionately about it,” Hardwick said. “My own therapist put it bluntly to me: The crazy side of me is just like the crazy side of you. We’re all a little bit crazy in some way.”
Hardwick will be signing books at the Edmonds Bookshop during the monthly Art Walk on Aug. 15, 5-8 p.m., and he will make an appearance at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5.
— By Connie McDougall