|FBI Speak||Behind the Series: The Profiler Series||Behind the Scenes: The Research|
|Behind the Series: The Lawmen Series||Author Q&A|
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
The short answer? Yes! I honestly can’t remember a time I wasn’t buried in books – either reading or writing them. Before I could write, I was telling stories (and asking for stories to be told to me). In high school, I co-wrote my first completed manuscript (a young-adult action-adventure story) with the author who’s my critique partner to this day. Now, I’m thrilled to see my stories in bookstores, and I hope to never stop!
What’s your process like for writing a book?
Because I write in more than one genre, and I sometimes have multiple releases a year, I am always multi-tasking. Generally, I’m writing one book, researching the next one, and editing the previous one at any given time.
I’m a plotter – I like to know my characters and big plot points before I begin the actual writing. Some people talk about stories being either character-driven or plot-driven, but I think the strongest books are both. So, I spend time developing my characters (their backstories, what scares them, what they want, how they’ll change over the course of the story) as well as the plot (I begin with a bullet-point list of all the major plot points, twists and red herrings).
Once the prep work is complete, I sit down and start the actual writing. Depending on the length of the book, I might spend four to six months writing (but that doesn’t include research, plotting or editing time). I edit as I go, re-reading what I wrote the day before on each new day. And I’m writing most days until the book is complete and I’m ready to brainstorm the next one!
Where do you get your ideas?
Every book is different, and everything is potential inspiration. And no book is the result of a single idea – it all usually begins with a compelling what if? question that drives the rest of the plot forward, but to really have all the twists and turns of a suspense book that will surprise readers, it’s going to have to blossom into something much bigger than that first idea.
Still, every story starts somewhere. The idea for my Profiler series came after reading about a real-life profiler’s decades at the FBI. The idea of having a character who didn’t use the normal investigative methods to solve crimes, but instead relied on behavioral evidence, fascinated me. But it didn’t bloom into a full-blown series character idea until I came up with the motivation for Evelyn Baine. I asked myself, what kind of person could look at the country’s worst crimes day after day and search for the perpetrators? And I realized I needed someone with a very personal reason for being a profiler (enter Evelyn Baine, whose best friend disappeared when she was twelve).
The idea for my Lawmen series came as I was trying to develop a compelling title for a new trilogy of romantic suspense books (you can read more about that in my Behind the Series: The Lawmen Series. When I wrote those first three books, I created a secondary character I could use to spin off more books, and I knew he was going to have two foster brothers who could make up part of the third trilogy. But when the time came to write those books, I still had to ponder the premise of the next books!
How does the process of getting a book published work?
There are a lot more options now than there used to be, but I’m traditionally published, so the process I’m talking about is selling a book to a traditional publisher. It all starts with writing the strongest book you can (I highly recommend working with a trusted critique partner and entering contests or finding other ways to get impartial feedback before beginning to submit. With rare exceptions, if you want to be traditionally published, first you need an agent.
A good agent is your best advocate and it’s important to remember that although the process can be challenging, when you do receive an offer of representation, you want to make sure the agent is right for you. Good ways to search for agents who might work for you is to look at authors you think you write like and see who their agents are; try querying them (or junior agents at the same agency who might be growing their lists). Always vet the agencies and when you do have an offer, make sure you know what you want and if that agent matches it (think about long-term career goals and how your agent plans to help you reach them).
After you find an agent, that person may work with you to tweak your book even further, and then it will go out on submission. A good agent knows what editors will be a good fit for your book and once you agree on a submission list, out the book goes! Hopefully, the next step is a publishing contract, but if not, then you write a new book and begin again, because rejection is part of the business, and perseverance is the best way to sell and keep selling.
How do your books connect, and can they be read out of order?
You can find the order for the books in my psychological suspense series, The Profiler series, as well as my romantic suspense series, The Lawmen series, over on my Book Series List Page page. Reading them in order lets you follow along as the characters grow and change; however, all of my books can also be read as standalones or out of order!
What’s the best way to reach you?
I love chatting with readers! You can email me, follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or join my newsletter, which goes out periodically with news of new releases, sales and giveaways.
When I decided to write a proposal for a romantic suspense series, I knew I wanted to write about more FBI characters. I knew that just like my Profiler series, these stories would still have complex mysteries and loads of suspense, but that they’d need a much heavier dose of romance.
And I knew I wanted a compelling backstory.
As I was trying to come up with that backstory, I came up with a title I loved: “Catch and Release.” It was originally going to be the name of the third book in this series (it’s now SWAT SECRET ADMIRER), but that failed title was the impetus for the series. All of a sudden, I had my backstory: a serial rapist who abducts one woman a year, brands her, and then lets her go.
Ten years ago, that woman was Maggie Delacorte, the first victim of the Fishhook Rapist. But Maggie didn’t let that day destroy her; instead, she made a pact with her older brother, Scott, and their best friend, Ella Cortez. Throw away their plans for the future and instead join the FBI. Stop things like this from happening to others.
From that, The Lawmen series was born! In DISARMING DETECTIVE, homicide detective Logan Greer brings FBI profiler Ella Cortez a case she can’t refuse – one that could be connected to her friend’s attacker – but as she travels to the Florida coast to hunt him down, she finds herself baited by killer willing to do whatever it takes to hide a deadly secret. In SEDUCED BY THE SNIPER, FBI negotiator Chelsie Russell’s search for the truth about a massacre sends her into the arms of Hostage Rescue Team sniper Scott Delacorte, and into the crosshairs of two very powerful men. In SWAT SECRET ADMIRER, FBI SWAT agent Maggie Delacorte’s hunt for the rapist who attacked her puts both her and the teammate who can’t resist her (Grant Larkin) into the net of a cunning predator.
The stories will continue with a second trilogy in the Lawmen series, beginning with Scott Delacorte's partner at the Hostage Rescue Team, Andre Diaz. Andre and his two foster brothers were torn apart as children, ripped from the home where they'd finally formed a brotherhood. Years later, Andre and his brothers, Cole Walker (a police detective) and Marcos Costa (a DEA agent) discover the secret that separated them and find love stories of their own.
You can learn more about my Lawmen series over on my Books page!
ADIC – Assistant Director in Charge. Most FBI field offices are run by an SAC (Special Agent in Charge), but the biggest field offices are run by ADICs.
ASAC – Assistant Special Agent in Charge. Working directly under the SACs (Special Agents in Charge) who run divisions or field offices, the ASACs run programs.
BAU – Behavioral Analysis Unit. The BAU is where FBI “profilers” (the official name is Criminal Investigative Analysts) work. BAU is a part of CIRG (Critical Incident Response Group) and is located at Aquia. BAU agents provide behavioral-based support to the FBI, as well as other federal, and state, local and international law enforcement agencies, including profiles of unknown subjects (UNSUBs).
CARD – Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team. These teams are located across the country, and consist of experienced child abuse investigators at the FBI.
CIRG – Critical Incident Response Group. CIRG provides rapid response for crisis situations around the country and integrates tactical, negotiations, behavioral analysis, and crisis management resources. BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) and HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) are part of CIRG.
CNU – Crisis Negotiation Unit. Also part of CIRG (Critical Incident Response Group), CNU trains the FBI’s field office negotiators and deploys with HRT to domestic crises. CNU’s motto is Pax Per Conloquium (Resolution Through Dialog).
ERT – Evidence Response Team. ERT agents are specially trained FBI agents who collect evidence at crime scenes. Being on ERT is a secondary position, so these agents also work regular Special Agent duties.
HRT – Hostage Rescue Team. Also part of CIRG (Critical Incident Response Group), HRT is part of the FBI’s tactical response for crises. Unlike SWAT, their members work full-time as HRT agents and respond to incidents involving hostage rescue, barricaded subjects, and high-risk arrests. Their motto is Servare Vitas (To Save Lives).
LEGAT – Legal Attache. The FBI has approximately 67 LEGATS, who work overseas in Embassies. LEGATS work with law enforcement and security agencies in their host countries to coordinate investigations.
NCAVC – National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. The NCAVC consists of all the units of BAU, plus the Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit. They also run ViCAP (the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, a database to link crimes across the country).
OPA – Office of Public Affairs. The FBI has an OPA at every field office, which is in charge of managing the portrayal of the FBI and handling community outreach, media inquiries, and press releases.
OPR – Office of Professional Responsibility. OPR reports directly to the Deputy Director of the FBI. Its role is to identify misconduct within the FBI and manage investigations and discipline related to misconduct.
RA – Resident Agency. The FBI has 56 field offices across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, and approximately 380 Resident Agencies, smaller FBI offices spread across the country.
SA – Special Agent. Special Agents investigate violations of federal laws, and assist state and local law enforcement. There are more than 13,000 Special Agents (as part of more than 35,000 FBI employees).
SAC – Special Agent in Charge. SACs run field offices (with the exception of the largest offices – LA, NY, and DC, which are run by ADICs because of their size). Within the bigger offices, SACs run divisions under the ADIC. SACs also lead special groups, such as HRT.
SSA – Supervisory Special Agent. SSAs run squads. Each field office of the FBI has numerous squads, broken up by type of investigation (white collar, intelligence, counter-terror, violent crime, etc.).
SWAT – Special Weapons and Tactics. All of the FBI field offices have SWAT teams and Special Agents who are SWAT members do so as an ancillary duty (in addition to work on a regular squad). SWAT agents handle high-risk tactical operations.
UNSUB – Unknown Subject. UNSUBs are targets of investigations where the person who committed the crime is not known by name.
ViCAP – The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program is a special database used to link crimes that are geographically dispersed. Local and state law enforcement can enter crimes into the database and it is searchable by terms, so crimes can be connected by details. ViCAP has been used to link many serial crimes since its inception. It also lists missing and unidentified persons databases.
Motive. Means. Opportunity. They are the key components of most murder investigations. But what happens when a crime has no apparent motive? No logical suspects? A crime that’s connected to other seemingly motiveless crimes?
This is where a profiler comes in. A profiler can look at the crime scene – at clues to the perpetrator’s identity he doesn’t even know he left behind – and provide all kinds of details to help catch him. Details like what kind of car the perpetrator drives, what sort of job he works, what kind of personality he has. And maybe most importantly: how to catch him.
The heroine of my Profiler series, Evelyn Baine, is a profiler for the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit. It’s a job she picked when she was twelve years old, when her best friend disappeared. She was never found and the dream of uncovering what happened to her has been the driving force in Evelyn’s life.
In the first book in the series, HUNTED, Evelyn gets what looks like a typical serial killer case to profile. Except when she arrives at the crime scene, the behavioral evidence seems contradictory. But it does tell her the killer has struck before, and unless they stop him, he’ll strike again. As she digs deeper into the case, the serial killer she’s tracking begins to track her too. This time, it may be Evelyn’s turn to disappear…
You can learn more about my Profiler series over on my Books page!
I love researching new books. I love learning details I wasn’t even looking for when I started. And when I had the opportunity to visit the FBI Academy at Quantico, I learned that I shouldn’t have worn a skirt and heels. Why? Because they let me shoot on their firing range. And although it turns out I can hit a target just fine wearing heels, it’s probably easier to brace yourself against the kick of a shotgun in flats!
The trip to Quantico provided great hands-on research, and had the bonus of being the site where the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is located. In The Profiler series, HRT agents play key roles in the stories, and they are a fascinating, unique group – they are the FBI’s counterpart to military special operations groups. Their motto is servare vitas (to save lives) and they are trained to operate in extreme situations. HRT operators practice helicopter rappelling, SCUBA diving, and close quarters battle (CQB) as part of their regular routine. When HUNTED, the first book in The Profiler series, hit shelves in 2014, HRT was in its thirty-first year of operations.
In The Profiler series, HRT agent Kyle “Mac” McKenzie and his partner Gabe “Fonz” Fontaine were an interesting pair to create. Kyle is charming and confident on the outside, but getting into his head reveals a different, more complex side. His partner Gabe is a jokester, the kind of guy who can’t help but come into a room filled with serious profilers and tack a computer-generated picture of their boss with the heading “Predator Still at Large” on their community board.
In that room full of profilers is Evelyn Baine, the protagonist of The Profiler series. She’s a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), and she spends her days getting into the heads of terrorists, serial killers, arsonists, and child abductors. Her job is to use their own thought processes to track them down and bring them to justice.
Once upon a time, the job Evelyn did was handled by the Behavioral Science Unit, which was located in a windowless room sixty feet below ground at the National Academy at Quantico. What a place to analyze killers! Now, the BAU has moved to nearby Aquia and the agents see daylight during their working hours!
Learning about Evelyn’s job meant understanding the seemingly incomprehensible motives of the criminals she tracks. It meant learning about how to analyze a crime scene for the behavioral evidence, and then use that to construct a criminal personality profile that would lead investigators to the perpetrator.
What kind of person can do that job? In The Profiler series, Evelyn is a highly-driven agent who always knew she wanted a spot on the BAU’s elite team. She’s haunted by the unsolved disappearance of her best friend when she was twelve years old and she’s searching for a way to fit in, both at BAU and in the world around her. Since she’s joined BAU, she’s always been the one tracking down the killers, so it was interesting to turn the tables on her.
You can learn more about my Profiler series over on my Books page!