The past few weeks have brought the real world colliding with my fiction one. I’ve been following the growing drama surrounding the FBI with dismay and at times, anger.
I’ll say right from the beginning that my fiction FBI is not perfect. It has its problems and corruption, but overall it is staffed by people of integrity who are dedicated to the people they serve. The real FBI has, to me, existed in a similar way – imperfect, but with genuine intent to serve well.
The building campaign over the past year or more to discredit the real FBI has interested, and then alarmed me. The questioning of investigations, sackings, negative comments, and blatant attempts to discredit the FBI has tainted my fictional organisation. The two no longer run side by side in their real/fictional states in harmony. One still is as I make it, the other is under attack. It’s a hard thing to reconcile.
The problem comes from my genuine attachment to the real FBI. When I wrote Roses I spent a lot of time researching the FBI from its structure, its mission, they way it operates, the roles within it, processes – you name it, I read about it. And I still do. Each time I write a White Rose book I revisit and learn new things about the FBI. I’m fond of them, I have a connection with them. I imagine most of you are well aware of this. My trip to the US last October had seeing the FBI headquarters as the highlight.
It’s was tough reading about the Nunes memo, and the vitriol of many subsequent comments directed at the FBI, really stung. And then I read the responses from some current and past FBI personnel, and was comforted. The dignity and determination to keep the work of the real FBI going, regardless of attack, confirmed my faith in them as an organisation. Still not perfect, but trying hard. The article I quote below resonated with me as I felt the actions of Josh Campbell was something one of my characters would do. At the very least it echoes their sentiments.
And it reconciled my two FBIs once more.
Excerpt from ‘Why I Am Leaving the FBI’, by Josh Campbell, 2/2/2018, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/opinion/leaving-the-fbi.html
“After more than a decade of service, which included investigating terrorism, working to rescue kidnapping victims overseas and being special assistant to the director, I am reluctantly turning in my badge and leaving an organization I love. Why? So I can join the growing chorus of people who believe that the relentless attacks on the bureau undermine not just America’s premier law enforcement agency but also the nation’s security. My resignation is painful, but the alternative of remaining quiet while the bureau is tarnished for political gain is impossible.
A small number of my current and retired colleagues have said that we should simply keep our heads down until the storm passes. I say this with the greatest respect: They are wrong. If those who know the agency best remain silent, it will be defined by those with partisan agendas.”
I don’t know what the future holds in regards to the real FBI. I imagine there will be more times when reality impacts on fiction, but I will continue to have faith and find ways to find peace with my two FBIs.
For 2018 I’m setting myself something other than the number of books I want to read—I’m adding conditions (so to speak) to encourage me to pick up books I might not otherwise choose. I’ve come up with a list of 30 variants and my goal is to tick off at least 20 of them.
Here’s my challenge:
Do you want to join me?
The list has been drawn up in such a way that you can stick to your preferred genres, or branch out into something new. There is a PDF of the list you can print here.
I’ll be updating my progress monthly here on the blog and on Facebook, so feel free to share you own progress, and/or pass on any recommendations.
I look forward to hearing about your reading choices for 2018!
The day has finally come and Bombshell is now available!
Join Warren and Beth in another exciting story!
While Beth relishes her career as a forensic botanist with the FBI, Warren is fed up with the endless round of meetings his management role requires. He wants to be hands-on with investigations, but that’s not something an executive assistant director with the FBI does.
Warren is tempted by a job offer from his best friend, but must reconsider when Beth is given a life-changing diagnosis which will impact their future.
A bank robbery gone wrong leaves an innocent man dead, sparking an FBI investigation. The thieves believe they are safe from discovery, but a crucial piece of evidence is left behind. Beth uses the evidence to narrow the search, leading to an arrest.
The robbery investigation takes a turn when the man they have in custody dies while awaiting trial.
Then a suspect in the case is killed by a bomb.
And then another.
Is a vigilante killer on the loose, or is a grieving family member seeking revenge?
And who is next on the list?
A special thank you goes to: my first editors/beta readers, SS and MM; my professional editor Sally Odgers; my amazing writing buddy, Jen Redmile; and my wonderful, supportive family.
I couldn't do what I do without you!
Want to keep up with what is going on in my writing life, have exclusive access to short stories, character interviews, competitions, and more?
Sign up here for Writing Roundup, my monthly newsletter!
The first edition goes out on December 31st.
A short, short story, aka flash fiction. Enjoy!
I can’t believe I let myself be talked into doing this.
It had seemed like a simple, and safe, bit of fun. A challenge from my colleagues. But now I’m up here I’m not so sure. Okay, so I have a rope attached to me, but what if I fall and it doesn’t hold?
Splat. That’s what.
The boards quiver and seem to sway as I shuffle out a few more centimetres. The muscles have constricted in my throat and around my lungs, my gasps for air amusing my colleagues on safe ground.
“Get moving! You’ll still be there this time tomorrow at that rate!”
A deep breath and I move a few more centimetres. You can do this.
Sweat trickles down my face as I shuffle forward again.
“Are you chicken? I thought you said you weren’t afraid!”
“All talk and no action!”
The city moves beneath my feet—it’s a long way down. I’m going to chuck.
“Just do it!”
I swallow—no mean feat when your throat is clenched as tight as your butt—and look up.
Slide your feet…one at a time…ignore the tremble…you’ll be fine…
The far side didn’t seem to be getting much closer.
Another bead of sweat follows the first. The strain of keeping balanced burns in my thighs. I have to finish this.
I can hear the shouts from behind, but can’t make out the words. My heart pounds, drumming in my ears.
Okay, you’re steady. Breathe…slide…slide…
Hang on; the end is only a metre away!
Breathe…slide…breathe…slide…wobble…to heck with it…
A quick step and I reach solid ground. Or concrete. I don’t care—I’m safe. I untie the rope and send it swinging.
“Now you have to come back,” someone called.
I don’t think so. There is a door on this side, and it’s ajar.
“Nah, I’m heading down the stairs. I’ll see you at the bar. Unless you want to join me over here?”
They laugh. Until they see me hold up the key
I’ve locked the door on their side. They can’t get off the roof unless…
There’s been a bit happening in my writing world at the moment so I thought I'd fill you in.
The next book for release has been critiqued by my beta readers and is now with my editor. The image for the cover has been chosen, the blurb has been drafted, and I’m hoping to be able to announce a release date soon!
It’s now only two months until the big trip! So many of the destinations are wrapped up in my stories that it will be an emotional time, and an exciting one. I plan to post on my blog while I’m away, and there will be heaps of story-related photos too. I’ll be putting an itinerary of the book related places I’ll be visiting up on my blog before I leave.
Work on a new book is progressing sporadically. It’s frustrating – I get a load of words down and then something happens (like getting a head cold) that stops me from being productive. It is coming along though – I’m about a third the way through writing it. I’m loving taking my characters through an adventure. Some of them are showing me new things about themselves, and some are pushing their way forward for more attention. It’s a wonderful process and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
While I’m working on that story, I’ve also started planning the first book of a new series. At the moment I think there will be three books in total. Early days yet. I hope to start writing the first book over Christmas. That’s always assuming I don’t choose to do one of the many others I want to write. So many ideas!
That’s it for now. Don’t forget – if you want to hear the big announcements before anyone else, sign up to get them delivered to your email.
I was asked a question a month or so ago about my choice of organisations—namely the FBI and the US Navy—that I have set my books around. It’s not something I’ve ever asked myself, because to me the answer is obvious.
Like many others of my generation, my parents lived through WWII and we had many relatives in the (mainly British) defence forces. My dad did National Service after the war, so the military has always hovered in my past. When my brother turned 17, he joined the Australian Army as an apprentice. He loved it, and his enthusiasm infected me and after experiencing a week of work experience at the Army Apprentice Barracks, I eventually went on to join the Australian Army Reserve at the start of my final year of high school.
I loved it! I loved it so much that at the end of that year I applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force as an Education Assistant (similar to being a library technician). What a great life! I worked in a variety of areas including a training unit, base support wing, and a pilot training squadron. I volunteered for ceremonial parades and was picked to be colour orderly for two different units, and also the Queens Colours when they were brought out to Australia. I got a kick out of having to work at my desk wearing ear-muffs because the FA-18s were outside doing hot refuels (refuelling with engines going). Hubby joined the same time I did—that’s how we met. Yes, a rookie’s romance! He went on to be a police-dog handler, and our lives centred on the RAAF.
The fun I had in the Army Reserves and the RAAF has stuck with me, and when I joined it with a love of police dramas and detective books, it seemed natural to base my writing around military and law enforcement. I have a general understanding of how organisations such as these operate, and with the vast amounts of information available on the internet, or by simply emailing with a question, the rest falls into place.
Okay, so I may not get everything right, but most of it is. I’ll admit to a degree of creative licence, too.
One of the most often quoted pieces of writing advice is ‘write what you know’. With the internet holding such a large amount of information on every topic you could think of, I’m not sure that advice holds much weight. I certainly haven’t paid attention to it. Do I write what I know? I prefer to think I write what I’m passionate about, what grabs my attention and fascinates me. Why else would I do it?
One thing that worries me from time to time is how many books I still have waiting to be written. It’s not a complaint—I’m lucky to have such a fertile imagination that allows for a never-ending stream of stories. My worry is that the stream will never stop and some stories won’t get written. I don’t let it bother me for long, instead I get writing!
In the spirit of sharing more stories, I am now in a position to send the next manuscript to my wonderful beta readers for their feedback. Yes, there’s another book on its way! This one will be the fourth of the White Rose books, and while the title is pretty much set, I won’t be revealing it yet.
Tick, another story done bar final tweaks.
That then brought me to a dilemma. I have no less than three books I want to write next, but three at once isn’t a good idea. Can you imagine it? Three plots getting tangled, characters appearing in the wrong story, and the whole thing ending up a huge mess! In typical me style I decided on a story that had to be next and then promptly changed my mind. I think it helped that the one I changed to was already partially written—it gives me a direction to head towards.
Research has begun and plotlines are suggesting themselves, so it's all go here.
I hope your lives are moving in the direction you want, too.
Espionage – the stealing of confidential information to pass on to another entity, country, organisation.
Espionage is a favourite topic amongst crime writers. There is considerable scope for spy stories of all kinds – from the James Bond’s of this world, to a PI following a suspected cheating spouse. Spying no longer relies on an agent doing a drop of plans, or a secret pass-off – quite often spying is done electronically, but the old-school stuff still applies and still thrills.
I chose espionage as the crime in Secrets Within because of an article I read about a civilian engineer selling the plans for the US Navy’s latest aircraft carrier to someone he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer. The article sparked an idea and Secrets Within is the result.
So why do people spy? There are many reasons – here are seven of the main ones.
Contact is made, an offer accepted, information passed on, and hey-presto, suddenly you can afford a nice holiday in France. Recent statistics show that while this was a leading reason for spying in the past, the number of people doing it purely for financial gain is dropping rapidly.
This is something we see a lot of these days. People will do crazy things in the name of whatever ideology rocks their boat. Fanatics gather and pass on sensitive information ‘for the cause’.
Some people put on a uniform or join a government agency to show their patriotism. Some spy on other governments and organisations and pass important information back to their own leaders.
Sex and Relationships
Some people will do anything to get the, er, affection they crave, including spying on their country. Also, there could be a family connection, or they could be drawn into it by someone close.
If your partner and children were being threatened, would you spy? I know I probably would – mind you I’d also get caught before I even got close. Another technique used to get people to spy is blackmail. It plays on fears and drives the victim to do what is demanded to stop the dreaded revelation of their secrets.
The act of stealing and passing on information can give the person an inflated sense of self-worth. A clerk working in a busy office might see spying as a way to become important, not an insignificant clerk in a large organisation.
Not a common reason, but it has been known to drive a person to spy. The thrill of outwitting the opponent and living a secret life can entice someone who is bored with their life. How many of us played at being a spy when we were kids? It was exciting, right?
Espionage occurs every day, all around the world. Real spies seek out and pass on information for whatever reason motivates them. It’s a dangerous business, and one that will never go away.
What's it about?
All about my writing life: news, research, books I've read, and more.
Subscribe to get new blog posts, including all the news, sent to your inbox.