by Cathy Clamp
The kidnapping of a child is a traumatic affair for a family. For Hope Willis, it’s doubly so. As a child, she experienced her twin sister being kidnapped. She spent her life recovering from it, becoming a family court judge to ensure nobody else had to experience that pain. But Hope’s careful plan collapses when someone kidnaps her five-year old daughter Krissy. Hope knows how critical it is she find Krissy fast. She understands how the long arm of the law is handcuffed in dealing with offenders before they appear in court. Although her husband objects, Hope hires Forensic Instincts, a private recovery group.
Profiler Casey Woods, ex SeAL, Marc Deveraux and strategic technologist Ryan McKay lead a team of unusual operatives who pool their abilities to do what the law can’t. They know that the difference between bringing the girl home alive and having her disappear forever could hinge only on a suspect’s hurried breathing or a family secret, long hidden from sight.
I recently sat down with the author to talk about how the Forensic Instincts team came to be.
This is the start of a new series. What inspired you to create the Forensic Instincts team?
I’ve always been fascinated with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. I’ve worked with them extensively during the writing of my last few novels. So the idea of forming my own team of investigators who specialize in psychological and strategic methods, with a touch of Behavioral Analysis experience added to the mix, but without the confining rules of bureaucracy to stifle their unconventional methods, crystalized in my mind. Little by little, the various team members of Forensic Instincts took shape. They include everything from a behaviorist to a techno-wizard to a former Navy SEAL to an intuitive to a human scent evidence dog. I’m also a big fan of the TV show “Leverage”—I love watching the dynamics of the team members as they work—and clash—together. While the FI team is very different in composite and in purpose, the whole team concept excited me, and I couldn’t wait to get started!
How did you research the various team members? Do you have any background or did you rely on friends/family/experts for details (or did you make them up?)
As my editor and agents will tell you, I spend months on my research. I NEVER make things up. I’m a stickler for accuracy. As a result, I seek out experts in every field I cover. I’ve worked with the FBI for several years now, and learned their world firsthand. I’ve made several trips down to Quantico, met with the BAU, participated in hostage negotiation exercises, and was honored to do several book signings. With THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE, I worked with the Crimes Against Children Unit, the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams, the BAU 3 (the unit of the BAU that deals with crimes against children), several former Navy SEALS, the FBI Laboratory’s Forensic Canine Program, the Evidence Response Team. Check out the FBI Central page on my website to get a feel for my FBI civilian training!
Then, of course, there were the brilliant technology experts I consulted with, the NYPD, a clairvoyant, medical professionals, and two former FBI agents who were with the Bureau 32 years ago, when my prologue begins.
I try my best to be as accurate as possible in incorporating my research knowledge without compromising my storyline or slowing down the pacing of my novels. And with a whole team to research in THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE, rather than a single protagonist, it was quite a challenge!
For those readers who might have read your romantic suspense, will this book be a departure from the romance aisles, or can they expect more of what they’ve come to love?
This is a tough one to answer. I’ll always have romantic elements in my storylines. My books are character-driven, and relationships are crucial to that. So will my readers see a hot relationship in THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE? Definitely. They’ll also see some great sexual tension within Forensic Instincts itself. But will they see a male and female protagonist who are front and center in the resolution of the crime? No. They’ll see a team (albeit a hot team!) doing that. But I don’t think my romantic suspense readers will be disappointed. I don’t think I let them down!
What’s the most interesting or unusual thing you learned while researching this book?
The number of people and the complexity involved in finding a kidnapped child. Everything from local law enforcement to the FBI to specialized teams (hostage negotiators, BAU agents) – I could go on and one. It’s amazing the way they coordinate their efforts and work together to make the impossible possible.
Is there anything you wished you’d been able to fit in the book that just wouldn’t quite work—subplots, secondary characters or details?
I had a lot more character development on tap for ALL the members of Forensic Instincts, including personal tidbits and quirks. But I took comfort in knowing the team would be back, and I’d have another shot at developing those members who were short-changed in THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE.
What’s next for the Forensic Instincts team? How many books are planned in the series?
The next Forensic Instincts book (which I’m currently writing) is called THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE, and it’s another major challenge for the team. They’re hunting down a dead man who, contrary to all evidence, needs to be found alive to save the life of a critically ill baby. I’m deeply immersed in the creation of this book—but it’s far from the last of Forensic Instincts’ cases and, therefore, books.
Will you be doing a signing tour for the release? If not, will you be at any conventions coming up (such as ThrillerFest or RWA) where fans can get autographs?
The publicity campaign for this release is still in the works. However, I’ll be signing at BEA, and attending both ThrillerFest (where I’ll be on a workshop panel with some terrific authors taking on a topic that I’m chomping at the bit to address) and RWA. So there will be plenty of opportunities for my readers and I to connect.
Where can readers find you online? Twitter, Facebook, blogs, website, etc.
My readers have a wide variety of places in which to find me!
Is there anything else you’d love for readers to know about you or the book?
I’m a HUGE animal lover. I incorporate one in almost every book I write. They bring out the human and/or tender side of my characters. When you read THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE, you’ll meet Hero, the extraordinary four-legged team member of Forensic Instincts. He’s one awesome bloodhound! He’s also a certified FBI Human Scent Evidence dog, who’s instrumental in working the kidnapping case that’s at the heart of THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE. You’ll also see that I dedicated Hero, and my book, to Freddy, who was an FBI Tactical Canine Dog who gave his life in the line of duty.
Freddy was a Belgian Malinois, a beautiful dog who’s the Belgian equivalent of a German Shepherd. He threw himself in front of a bullet and allowed the FBI to bring down a group of terrorists in Detroit, Michigan. He was honored in a special ceremony in Quantico and his name is listed among the other FBI canine heroes.
I am SO proud of our heroic military and law enforcement dogs– they’re one more reason to place dogs at the top of the best-of-the-best list! As for Hero, I can’t wait for you to meet him!
What a great tribute to Freddy! I know readers are going to love reading about such a terrific team member. Thanks so much for talking to us about the release. It sounds like it’s going to be a great series!
I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think about it. Thanks for letting me stop by to talk with the readers.