Guest Author Robin Burcell

Now that the holidays are over and we settle into the long, cold days of winter, what better way to spend them, than to read a great book!  That’s why when Anne, from Kaye Publicity, emailed me, I wanted to meet today’s guest.  So, with your help, please help me give a warm winter welcome to Ms. Robin Burcell!


Robin Burcell, an FBI-trained forensic artist, has worked in law enforcement for over two decades as a police officer, detective and hostage negotiator. She is the author of the Anthony Award winning author of the Kate Gillespie novels.
Visit Robin at her website here.


-Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both.  I was a police officer and investigator for nearly three decades, so I tend to use a lot of my experience on the job to bring some of that authenticity to my books.  My main character, Sydney Fitzpatrick, is an FBI agent and a forensic artist. She becomes involved in cases that have worldwide implications. Granted, I have never had to save the world, much less the country or thousands of people from being killed due to a terrorist plot, but I figure the day-to-day stuff of being a police officer can add some exciting details and give the reader an experience of what it might really be like to actually investigate a crime or experience the rush of adrenalin when one’s life is flashing before one’s eyes!

-Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I definitely start from the beginning and see where it takes me.  Quite often I find that my beginning is actually more midway through the book, and I have to keep changing things around, as the scenes get shifted.  I think that officially makes me a “panster,” as I’m writing from the seat of my pants.  In other words, the frame of my story is constantly shifting.  It’s a lot of fun to write this way (and frustrating at times, come to think of it), as I am constantly surprised by the turns the story takes.

-Your routine when writing?  Any idiosyncrasies?
My routine is very unroutine-ish.  I sit down to coffee and email in the morning, then write, then get distracted and check Facebook, then check the fluff news pieces on Yahoo!, then look at my manuscript some more.  Even though I sit down early in the morning to work, I usually get most of my writing done in the evening.  I should probably have my biorhythms analyzed to find out when is the best time to write. I have a feeling that I would be classified as a night owl.  Must have been all those graveyard shifts I used to work!

-Is writing your full time job?  If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I now write full time.  Or rather, that’s what I tell my husband.  Hoping he won’t see the above paragraph!  I used to be a police officer and spent 27 years on the force.  My experiences runs the gamut from patrol to detectives. I was a hostage negotiator, fingerprint examiner, and an FBI-trained forensic artist.  Mostly the sketches I did were of suspects in crimes (robbery, homicide, etc.), but every now and then the surrounding agencies would come up with a corpse and not know who it was, and that was the forensic aspect. I’d have to do a sketch of the dead person, so that the body could hopefully be identified.

-Who are some of your favorite authors?
It depends on my mood. Just looking at one shelf in my office, random order: Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Laurie King, James Rollins, SJ Rozan, Dennis Lehane, Jan Burke. And then I have lighter mysteries on the shelf above, and a lot of wonderful science fiction and fantasy on the shelf beneath it. And that’s just my keeper shelves!

-What are you reading now?
No time to read, since I’m on deadline, and down to the wire. But as soon as I finish up my first draft (soon!), I’ll be reading: LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry.

-Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?
As a matter of fact, yes!  Even though I write a series, each book is standalone. However, I always like to weave in something that remains unsolved, a thread of a case that binds everything together. I’m writing those threads into my current book.  If one were to start this series at the beginning, they would know that FBI Special Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick finds a bank pouch filled with numbers toward the end of FACE OF A KILLER. (Don’t worry! Not a spoiler!) She solves the crime in that book, but she doesn’t know what those numbers belong to.  They’re lightly touched on in each successive book, and in the novel I’m currently writing, #5 in the series, we get to find out what they are for!

Fun questions:
-Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?
I rather like Stana Katic on Castle. She’d make a pretty good Sydney Fitzpatrick. But so would Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU, and then there’s Gillian Anderson, who played FBI Agent Dana Scully on The X Files. As for the male lead… I need someone quiet, who doesn’t seem too threatening on first glance, but dang, watch out if anyone gets in his way!  (My husband suggested Jim Caviezal of Person of Interest, but he might be a bit older than Griffin, the covert agent that Sydney works with…  I really like Timothy Oliphant on Justified, but I think he’d make a better Tex Dalton, than Zachary Griffin…  I don’t know!  We’re obviously going to have to hold a casting call!

-Would you rather read or watch TV/movie?
Read! But there are times when a movie on the big screen is just so awesome!!!

-Favorite food?
For a meal: Thai—green curry with chicken and vegetables.
For dessert: Chocolate, preferably dark!

-Favorite beverage?
Cappuccino – if it’s made right. Half the time you order one and they give you a latte!  But once a year during the holidays, I love, love, love Cranberry whiskey freeze punch. Here’s the recipe:
32 oz. Cranberry juice
1 lg can pink lemonade concentrate frozen
1 liter ginger ale
1-2 cups whiskey
{put all in large container to freeze. Leave room at top as it will expand. Scoop out like a snow cone, into glass.}
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

A high-profile killing has brought FBI Special Agent and forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick to Amsterdam-even as the assassination of a prominent U.S. senator rocks the political world. Two seemingly unrelated murders are leading Sydney to the threshold of a shocking conspiracy to spread a plague of death across the globe, especially when her sketch of a killer-and possible conspirator-reveals the face of a female CIA agent believed to be dead.

The murder of a witness and the disappearance of the missing agent’s husband, covert government operative Zachary Griffin, has Sydney racing against the clock to prevent a biological nightmare of astronomical proportions. For the dark hour is rapidly approaching when all secrets will be revealed…and the lives of countless millions will hang in the balance.

The next novel in the series, THE BLACK LIST launched December 26th 2012.



No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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