I hope everyone is enjoying Hunted so far!
Ms. Elizabeth Heiter, has been kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding her first published book.
Thanks Elizabeth, for taking the time to talk with me today!
Your main character, Evelyn Baine is a FBI criminal profiler. What first drew you to the FBI and criminal profiling?
I’ve always been intrigued by law enforcement characters (they’re perfect protagonists for mystery series, because there’s only so many times you can have someone not in law enforcement stumble upon a mystery to solve!). About a decade ago (wow, as I’m writing this, I can’t believe it was so long ago!), I picked up a book by a former FBI profiler about his experiences tracking down serial killers and other criminals. I was fascinated – and I knew a profiler would make for a unique character, someone who would approach a case in a totally different way. Instead of following typical investigative methods, my character would get to come in and look at the behavioral evidence – things about the crime that told my profiler how the perpetrator thought, and from that, how to find him (or her).
I’m sure you had to spend a lot of time researching for the book. What are some of the resources that you used? Was there anything you learned that really surprised you?
I love the research! I’m committed to being as accurate as possible, so I did do a TON of research for these books. Besides reading stacks of books on psychology and personality disorders, the FBI and investigative methods, and criminal personality profiling, I did a lot of up-close research. I talked to current and former FBI Special Agents, I visited FBI field offices and the FBI Academy at Quantico, and I even shot the weapons used by the characters in my books.
One thing that surprised me: there’s a scene in HUNTED where my protagonist, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, tries to shoot a perpetrator as he’s driving away. She aims at him through the window, but when she doesn’t hit him, she can’t take a shot at the wheel of his truck to try and stop him (which was in the original draft!). But a Special Agent informed me that if you’re going to fire your weapon, it has to be for very specific reasons and it has to be to kill. You can’t shoot to wound, and you can’t shoot to stop someone.
How long did it take you to write Hunted?
That’s an interesting question, because I actually wrote the manuscript twice. I wrote the first version back in 2005, then many years later, I completely re-wrote it. I’d gone out on submission to publishers with a humorous mystery that came close to selling but didn’t, and my agent asked if I had anything darker. I did, so I pulled out HUNTED, but my writing had come a long way since I’d originally written it, so I took the basic plotline and characters and started over. The second version of the manuscript took me somewhere between eight months and a year, I believe.
So, I kind of have a crush on Kyle, from the FBI’s HRT, or Hostage Rescue Team. Please tell me those HRT guys are for real. How much fun was it to research them?
The HRT guys are definitely for real! And the ones I’ve met are real characters – like Kyle and his friend and fellow HRT agent Gabe. This was a really interesting job to research, because it’s so different from most positions at the FBI. The HRT agents are more like a military Special Operations team than regular FBI agents. (In fact, HRT trains with SpecOps teams!) And unlike most tactical units (like SWAT), HRT agents do it full-time. If they’re not on a mission, they’re training for a mission. Very interesting stuff (and good hero material!).
Evelyn has a very troubled past. How do you feel that played into her adult life and career choice?
My heroine came from an abusive home. When she was ten years old, she moved in with her grandparents, who provided the most stable life she’d ever had. She became best friends with the little girl who lived next door, Cassie. Even though she was a biracial child living in a mostly white town in the south, things were looking up. Then Cassie went missing – the final victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer – and was never found. It was the impetus for Evelyn to join the FBI, and has been the driving force in her life. It gives her purpose and determination, but her childhood also left her socially awkward and closed off from people, things that cause her problems in HUNTED.
You’ve had a very busy year, with the release of five books, one of the being Vanished, the sequel to Hunted. Congratulations! What’s up next for you?
Thank you so much! Right now, HUNTED and VANISHED (books 1 and 2 in my straight suspense books, The Profiler series) are on shelves, as are DISARMING DETECTIVE and SEDUCED BY THE SNIPER (books 1 and 2 in my romantic suspense books, The Lawmen series). Up next are SWAT SECRET ADMIRER (book 3 in The Lawmen series, out next month) and SEIZED (book 3 in The Profiler series, out later this year).
Thanks Elizabeth and best wishes on your continued success!
Readers – As you see in Elizabeth’s interview, it can take years of work between a first manuscript and a publish novel. Hours worth of research, writing, and editing went into Hunted, with no guarantee that it would ever be sold.
If you were to spend that amount of time researching and writing a book, what topic(s) would you choose? Law enforcement like Elizabeth? Military? Medical Mystery?
In Hunted, Evelyn Baine has issues with trust. Which supporting characters do you see has the most likely hood of success in breaking through her protective wall and earning her trust?
Don’t forget – A comment in any Book Club post in March gets you qualified for a chance to win either a signed copy of Vanished, the sequel to Hunted, or a $10 Amazon gift card!