Robin Acton has spent over three decades as a print journalist.
The work has taken her from crime scenes and courtrooms in western Pennsylvania to the mountains of Idaho, the Arizona desert, the sunny Caribbean, the streets of New York and the courtrooms. Washington, DC Marbled Congress
She incorporated knowledge of these scary, sometimes incredible, stories into a much larger piece of writing – her first book, “The Taker”.
âIt’s really exciting,â said Acton, an award-winning reporter for the Herald-Standard in Uniontown and the Tribune-Review. âI have covered the courts and crime most of my career. So, for this book, I took some information and experiences from here and some from there, and added some more.
Acton, 63, of Mt. Pleasant Township, describes the novel as “a thriller about a Pittsburgh-based criminal reporter who risks her life and career while covering the kidnapping of the preteen daughter of her former police detective boyfriend. “.
The book is fictional, but she took inspiration from the cases and stories she covered, which helped her develop characters and ideas.
While writing “The Taker,” Acton met bestselling author Steven James, who was the keynote speaker at the Killer Nashville International Writer’s Conference. James and New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni organize “New Intensive Writing Retreats.” Acton was accepted into one of the retreats in 2018. It’s like a training camp for published and budding writers, Acton said. She submitted pages of her manuscript for criticism.
âThey praised my writing and offered some great suggestions that helped improve it,â she said. âThey said that how you choose to publish your book, submitting it to agents or doing it yourself, is a personal decision. They recommended anyone who self-publishes to work with professional editors.
Acton self-published and collaborated with editors Beth Terrell, based in Nashville, TN, and Linda Rettstatt of Moon, whom she knew from Brownsville, where they grew up.
Rettstatt said Acton’s writing experience shines through. A story like this, she said, usually requires extensive research to delve into the characters, but not for Acton, as she lived it.
âShe has the skills to write a book,â Rettstatt said. âRobin succeeded. There is suspense and it’s a very, very good story. I told him to stay on the treadmill and continue writing the next one. Don’t come down.
A second book is in the works and is due out in the fall of 2022. âThe Takerâ is a work in progress – six years to be exact. She really wanted to finish it now because she wanted her dad to read it.
Acton’s 84-year-old father Robert Emmett Acton of Windham, NH, has recently had a number of major medical issues, including several heart attacks and covid-19.
She gave her name to one of the characters, a policeman, Bob Emmett. The character is “all cut and muscular and impatient and way too young to handle this business,” Acton said.
âMy father’s dream was for me to write a book,â Acton said. âAnd now he’s got a copy in his hands. He is delighted.
Her father introduced her to newspapers from an early age. She remembered Saturday mornings at the Herald-Standard with her father, who was the publicity manager. She took calls for classifieds.
When moving from the advertising department to the news department, she often listened to the police scanner. That’s when she fell in love with the news.
Others have noticed his passion for reporting difficult stories.
A judge, William Franks, told her she should go to law school. But Acton decided that his passion was to continue covering the law.
âThe best thing about my job as a court reporter is that no two days are the same,â she said. “It’s a gift to have a job like this.”
She appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” to talk about an unsolved case she wrote about.
âThey tell you to write down what you know,â said Acton, who retired in 2010 and is married to Merle Harr, a retired Marine. âI knew what a district judge’s courtroom looked like because I was there, and I knew the behavior of a judge. I just closed my eyes and imagined it. These images were definitely clear in my mind, and I hope they come out loud and clear in the book. I want people to feel like they are there.