It wasn’t easy, but I persevered and got inside an FBI field office. What I saw was…
AMAZING! It was so cool to be there! And it was like breaching Fort Knox to get inside. Seriously.
I was part of a tour group from my local Sisters in Crime chapter, a non-profit organization of lovers of mysteries and thrillers (both readers and authors.)
Weeks before the planned visit to the Jacksonville, Florida field office, I had to fill out forms giving the FBI permission to perform a full background check on me. Since they approved my visit, I’m guessing they totally missed my questionable internet searches such as “how to kill someone and make it look like an accident.”
At the appointed time for the visit, I was told to leave my cell phone and anything that contained GPS tracking technology in my car. So, after divesting myself of all of my clandestine spying equipment, I went into the
maximum security prison office visitor’s booth.
All the walls inside were glass from about waist-level up. A security guard was behind a thick wall of glass to my left and was apparently too scared to come out, because he stayed behind that wall the entire time. He spoke to me by talking into a phone on his side. His voice came through a speaker in the ceiling on my side. First order of business, “The Speech”–the warning about leaving my guns and weapons of mass destruction at home.
Then he instructed me to open a heavy, thick metal door in the bottom part of the wall and to place my purse, my notepad, and my Driver’s License inside the little cubby area behind the door. Once I did that and my door was closed, he opened a door on his side and took my belongings out.
I was then instructed to pass through a metal detector while the guard sent my belongings through an airport-type of scanner. He also instructed me to pass through to the next glass-walled room, after buzzing the lock to open the door for me.
Next was “The Search”. He checked every nook and cranny inside my rather large purse. He felt it up so much that I’m fairly certain there will be dozens of baby purses in my home nine months from now.
Once satisfied that I wasn’t hiding any evil clowns, he placed the purse, my notebook, and a temporary ID into another metal cubby inside the wall. He kept my Driver’s License hostage until the tour was over. Once the door was closed on his side of the cubby, he again directed me through the phone/intercom to open the door on my side to get my belongings.
After all of that, I had finally achieved access to…the courtyard outside the actual FBI building. (sigh) Did I mention the entire facility is surrounded by super-high black metal fencing that could probably stop a tank?
From there, I had to go through another series of security measures. Here’s the short version.
- FOUR FBI agents escorted our tour group of nine people the whole time.
- EVERYTHING is secured and requires codes typed into keypads.
- Before going through a door, the door behind you has to be closed and locked.
- If one person needs to go to the bathroom, we all go to the bathroom. The tour group stays together no matter what.
What did I see while inside the building? Here are some highlights.
- Guns. LOTS of guns. Some of them on the hips of FBI agents. Others in an armory.
- I got to hold a Tommy gun. It was HEAVY.
- I got to hold some bullet-resistant vests. The one the FBI SWAT team wears is super heavy. I could barely hold it up.
- There is a Samurai sword in the armory. Don’t ask me why.
- There are bomb blast doors inside.
- They have commercial washers and dryers inside for the ERT (Evidence Response Team) and others to use. Why? Because when you go to crime scenes in really grungy areas you don’t want to bring the roaches home with you (shiver).
- There was a presentation from a special agent who was on one of the ERT teams sent to Orlando to investigate the night club shooting.
- The gun guy showed us all of those guns. Did I mention they were heavy? Oh – and he was CUTE.
- Best part of the tour? The gym. There were two very special agents working out when we went inside. VERY special.
- We met the Special Agent in Charge. How cool is that? He’s the top guy. In case you didn’t know.
- There was a presentation by a female FBI Special Agent who talked about her specialty, white-collar crime.
- Then we got to ask questions. Crazy questions. And they answered us without even blinking. Which is kind of scary if you think about it.
- Oh, and I forgot to mention. The FBI had a photographer following us around the entire time, taking tons of pictures. To what end, I have no idea. But we did get one picture to take home with us (thus the picture posted on this blog.)
- At the end of the tour, we got to go to a very important last stop–the FBI gift shop. I am now the proud owner of a set of handcuffs and lanyard that say FBI on them. I do have to say, their gift shop was a bit disappointing. Very small without a lot to choose from. I highly recommend the gift shop at the LAPD Police Academy instead. But that’s another blog post.
- My hijacked Driver’s License was returned to me at the visitor’s booth at the end of the tour in exchange for my temporary FBI badge/sticker. Bummer. I wanted to keep the sticker and would have gladly forfeited my license in exchange.
Oh, and did I also mention that when anyone leaves the FBI
fortress compound employee parking lot, they have to punch in a special code to get the gate to open? I guess if you forget the code you have to live in the field office forever.
If I had to describe the visit in one word, I’d say INTENSE.
Now I’m off to correct the myths and errors in my current novel that includes some references to the FBI.
Lena Diaz is an award-winning author of romantic suspense for both Harlequin and Avon. Her books have been translated into French, German, Norwegian, Turkish, and Japanese and are sold in many countries around the world. With fifteen books published so far, she has three more scheduled to come out in 2017, and two (so far) scheduled to release in 2018. Lena lives in northeast Florida with her husband of 30 years, her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s cat–Weasley (yes, he’s named after a Harry Potter character.)
Learn more about Lena Diaz by visiting her website.
Today we welcome back multi-published author, Stacy Green. And since I’m in the chaotic stage of unpacking hundreds of boxes after moving from Houston to FL last week, I asked Stacy to come up with something intriguing that captures the tone of her newest release: ALL GOOD DEEDS. Take it away, Stacy!
This question planted the seed for my newest character Lucy Kendall, a former CPS worker turned private investigator and vigilante killer of sex offenders.
The criminal mind is a fascinating place and oftentimes a mystery for investigators. Bundy, Gacy, Lucas–the worst of the worst–are almost easy to understand. They just aren’t wired right. Add a dose of lousy nurturing, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
But what about the outliers? The people who are good by society’s standards and then one day just snap? Did they have it in them all along? Do we all possess that shadow side that lurks, waiting for something to turn us bad?
I think any one of us are capable of killing someone–or at least doing serious bodily injury–if the circumstances are right.
Some of these are pretty straightforward: someone hurting our kid, our pets, our career. People have snapped over less.
But what about something that isn’t personal? Something that doesn’t directly affect you but is a sore on society? What would make you risk your freedom, and how would you do it?
Lucy Kendall snaps when a child killer walks free. But she doesn’t lash out in a clumsy, unorganized way. She thinks things through, figuring out the best method to do her work AND keep herself out of jail. And even as she figures out the most efficient way for her to end someone’s life, she doesn’t believe she’s a killer.
Her targets are men who have destroyed kids lives and will do it again. Lucy believes with her whole heart sex offenders can’t be cured, and her actions take care of a problem the justice system and society simply can’t–or won’t.
I believe that most if not all of us possess what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Shadow Side.
The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings…These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. SOURCE
This theory was a major influence on developing Lucy Kendall. Although there is tragedy in her past, she is a normal member of society. But her shadow side has seeped through her veneer until it now rules her choices and ultimately, her life.
She’ll have to come to terms with being a killer, her real motives, and answer the ultimate question: now that she has fully engaged her shadow side, is she even capable of not killing?
Does her choice of victim make her exempt? If she’s caught, is she a hero or a villain?
Or does her methodology make her just as evil as the famous serial killers we have such a fascination with?
I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do know that as I get older, I realize more and more that life is not black and white. Our systems are flawed and need changing, but whether or not there are any good alternatives remains to be seen.
I think any one of us could become a Lucy Kendall if the circumstances are right, and I will further argue that instead of moral code, it’s fear of punishment that keeps most of society in check. Score one for the penal system.
What about you, thriller readers and writers? Is life black and white? Should there be exemptions? And what would it take for you to administer Lucy Kendall Justice? Comment for a chance to win a copy of my new release, ALL GOOD DEEDS!
Lucy Kendall lived her life in a strange mixture of carefully calculated moves and impulse decisions. Cracking the skull of the man who molested her sister and attacking her was impulse. Spending half her teenage years drinking and acting out were calculated cries for attention from her narcissistic mother followed by impulsive rages at her lack of concern.
The decade spent working in Child Protective Services before becoming a private investigator taught her two truths. One, CPS failed miserably in protecting children. Two, Lucy was more than willing to do it for them, meting out her brand of dark justice in spite of her own fear of death. But Lucy’s crusade is compromised when a self-proclaimed sociopath offers to help—and leaves her no choice but to accept it.
When eight-year old Kailey Richardson is abducted, it sets off a chain of events linked to Justin Beckett, a suspect in a life-changing case in Lucy’s past. The path she’s chosen since dealing with Beckett has been dark and terrifying—but she has no idea just how deep she will go or where the twisted road will take her.
She’s about to find out.
About the Author
Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.
Thanks for being our guest today, Stacy! You raise some interesting points and questions. Readers: For more information on Stacy Green here are her links.
Facebook Stacy Green, Author
Winner Announcement: And the winner of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS KISS by Manda Collins is Patti Straight. Congratulations Patti! Please use our contact page to claim your prize and let us know if you prefer an e-book or print on release day. Please include your email and snail mail addy (if you want print).
As a reader, my favorite kind of book is a thriller that features a strong, smart professional woman whose work opens the door to adventure, mystery, and sometimes romance, so it is with great excitement that I share with our Kiss and Thrill readers that CONCRETE EVIDENCE is part of a book bundle with just these types of books. It’s a thrill to see my title included with these great books by fabulous authors!
Available only for a limited time, you can get WORKING GIRLS which includes 6 complete novels for just $0.99!
When stakes are at their highest, these working girls draw on the tools of their trades to kick butt, take names and make a difference.
IRREPARABLE HARM – Melissa F Miller
Someone’s using a smartphone app to bring down commercial airliners and only attorney Sasha McCandless and the federal air marshal she’s teamed with can prevent more disasters. When the madman’s killing spree takes a personal turn, Sasha will need both her legal skills and her Krav Maga training to stop him.
GUARANTEED JUSTICE – M A Comley
Retired Detective Inspector Lorne Simpkins is happy running her new animal rescue centre with her husband. But when sisters Linda and Fiona Carter come to her desperate to adopt a guard dog, Lorne takes up the mantle of Private Investigator when she learns the reason. Linda was brutally raped by a serial rapist — who’s named Fiona his next victim.
BLACK DIAMOND DEATH – Cheryl Bradshaw
On the slopes of Park City, Utah’s newest ski resort a woman is found dead. Accident — or murder? Private Investigator Sloane Monroe is on the case when a second dead body is found. Now the killer is tracking Sloane’s every move, and her life depends on uncovering the truth before he strikes again.
CONCRETE EVIDENCE – Rachel Grant
Accused of stealing artifacts from a shipwreck, underwater archaeologist Erica Kesling is determined to clear her name. An undercover job with the buyer of the missing antiquities puts her close to her goal. Until a sexy, charismatic intern with secrets of his own shows up, placing her heart — and her life — in jeopardy.
BADWATER – Toni Dwiggins
A terrorist has stolen radioactive material, leading forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws on a perilous hunt through Death Valley. The unstable atom — in the hands of an unstable man — is governed by Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will. And when it does, field skills won’t be enough to save them.
SECTOR C – Phoenix Sullivan
A pair of seemingly unrelated outbreaks — a rise in human stroke-like cases and a rapidly spreading animal disease — lead a CDC analyst and a veterinarian to a shocking discovery at a big-game compound. But even if they can escape with the secret of Sector C, it may already be too late.
In the WORKING GIRLS book bundle, the heroines are: an attorney, two private investigators, an archaeologist, a forensic geologist, and a veterinarian. Today’s question for our readers: what is your fantasy adventure career?
One commenter will win a print copy of BODY OF EVIDENCE and an ebook by one of the other WORKING GIRLS authors – winners choice!