When former undercover cop Derrick Levasseur sat down to write a book, he knew he didn’t want his short stint on reality television to be the focus.
“Honestly, I didn’t wanna write a book about how to win a reality TV show,” the father of two, 34, who won season 16 of CBS’s Big Brother tells Us Weekly exclusively about his first tome, The Undercover Edge (out now via Source Books). “If I’m gonna write something, I want it to have substance for people outside of Big Brother, and it can be applicable in any environment.”
The Rhode Island native quickly realized that skills he acquired during years of training and experience as a police officer — namely “adaptation, observation and communication,” all of which helped him run circles around his fellow BB contestants in summer 2014 — were also pertinent in everyday life. “What I realized is, if I took my business background and coupled that together, I could develop an approach that can be used by anyone, whether you’re a college student getting ready to interview for jobs, whether you’re an entry-level employee who’s building relationships with colleagues, whether you’re a manager trying to better understand the people that you are responsible for, it works at every tier,” he explains.
At the same time, as a new author, he was careful not to dedicate nearly two years of his life to something that was comparable to any other communication book on the market. Referring to his 288 pages of work as “very unconventional,” Levasseur knew he had to share some of his own obstacles to build credibility with readers. “Although I’ve been successful in a lot of the stuff I’ve done, it wasn’t without it’s hurdles. I’ve grown through adversity, and had mistakes happen, and I talk about some of the experiences I had, like in my own personal shooting that I was in, and the type of mindset I was in at that point,” he shares, referencing an incident in which he had to use his weapon in a fatal shooting. “But the book is a progression. It’s like a conversation. The first four to six chapters are more about fundamentals. So, I break down advanced interview and interrogation techniques, how to read people’s body language through microexpressions, both verbal and nonverbal, how to interpret their behavior and categorize it by their motives and agendas.”
Levasseur, who is working on a new show with Investigation Discovery titled The Unsolved (premiering this spring), after the success of his docuseries Hard Evidence: Is OJ Innocent, goes on to provide practical examples and advice. “You’re put in situations in life where you’re forced to observe behavior, adapt to your surroundings, and then communicate in a way that’s effective on an individual basis,” he says. “So, although it sounds fundamental, a lot of people overlook that and they don’t see how important and significant that can be in, ultimately, accomplishing whatever you’re trying to accomplish.”
Calling the writing process “cathartic,” Levasseur, who has since retired from the force, says fans who solely knew him from television didn’t know the real story of his upbringing, or the shooting. “They saw the awards that I got, they didn’t see the fact that I was drinking heavily and I wanted to quit being a cop, and how I basically made a decision one night to take what had happened to me and turn it into something to make me stronger as a person,” he shares with Us. “Because, if I knew I could get through that, then there was nothing that I couldn’t get through. So, it really was a process that I think will help other people, but it has helped me, as well, because now I’m more open about the things I’ve been through, and I think that allows people to be more open to listening to me, because they know it’s coming from a genuine place.”
“You can’t fear failure, you have to embrace it, because failure is where the lessons are,” he continues. “It’s how you evolve, it’s how you grow and figure out your capabilities, and ultimately, it’s what’s gonna give you to confidence to go into any situation, regardless of who you’re surrounded by, and observe their behavior, adapt to the situation, and communicate with them in a way that they’ll be receptive of what you have to say.”
The Undercover Edge is available on Amazon and anywhere books are sold.