The good news is that Robin Burcell is writing full time. The bad news is that law enforcement has lost one hell of a talented investigator! What can one say about this woman who not only ‘protected and served’ for more than twenty years? From an officer to detective-to a criminal investigator and if that were not enough, how about an FBI trained forensic artist and hostage negotiator? Oh, did I mention her Kate Gillespie series was a multi-nominated one, and has an Anthony to boot?
Come meet (if you haven’t already) Robin Burcell!
EE: So, Robin, my San Fran spy tells me you were seen hovering over lattes at Starbucks on Union Street with a certain famous romance writer. Is it true (Oh, please God!) she’s run out of plots and called you for help?
RB: Well, that’s what I told the paparazzi that were snapping photos of the even, but the truth was that I happened to walk in at the same time as her, and she asked me to pass her the sugar. I said raw or regular? And she said, which is best? So you can see how that was misinterpreted. I’ll take my photo ops any way I can get ’em.
Okay, we’ll buy that for now
EE: Word on the street ( love that cop shop talk) is that your role as Prez of NorCAl MWA is really a cover up for a special ops job you’re doing for the Maltese Society to find that damn falcon.
RB: Well, that was before I realized the dang falcon was right there where we meet each month in the display case at Historic John’s Grill in San Fran all along. Of course, I am a trained investigator. Not everyone can lay claim to such refined skills.
Huh? I went to several of those meetings! It was there? All that time?
EE: What’s the scoop on the new series you’ve got going? Were the Feebs ticked off when they discovered you were writing actual protocol? Was there a leak?
RB: The new series is about an FBI agent/forensic artist (I’m a forensic artist trained by the FBI, so I thought I had some inside scoop). The main character, Sydney Fitzpatrick is searching for the killer of an unidentified woman (as well as her identity), and Sydney’s also searching for answers about who may have killed her own father twenty years before-a murder Sydney witnessed.
In all my stories, I strive to bring accuracy to police work. Especially with the new series. And no, there wasn’t a leak. Because of my past law enforcement experience, I was allowed priviliges not offered to the the ordinary writer. Some of my research was so detailed, I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t disclose classified secrets, such as the details of the highly classified ******(the following information was deleted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, during its routine search for internet protocol violations. Please visit http://www.fbi.gov/ for further information o matters involving national security.)
EEEEKKK! They subverted my interview!!
EE: Whew! That was scary! But hey, if the FBI reads On The Bubble, should I be flattered? Okay, maybe we should switch gears here. What’s your biggest challenge? And don’t say it’s not living near a Starbucks,okay? I mean, we all know you live for caffeine.
RB: That is so yesterday. Our town has, count ’em, TWO Starbucks. Three if you include the one they just put in Target. But could they have built any of them when I was working patrol? NOOO. They had 18 years to build a friggin’ decent coffee house. So the day I leave my department to go to another, I hear they’re building one in the middle of my old beat, and also a new friggin’ police building where women get a real locker room, real showers and not in a converted storage room in the friggin’ basement. But I’m not bitter. I own my own mocha espresso machine (the only way I could get mochas back in the old days)-So, for me, challenges probably come with juggling schedules for my three kids, my husband, and the writing career. I don’t know what it is witht the kids. They keep asking me to feed them. Stuff like that. They didn’t listen to me when I carried a gun, so , you think they listing to me now that I’m writing full time?
Of course you’r not bitter. Perhaps a tad pissed maybe?
EE: What best selling book do you wish you’d written? Can’t use The Da Vinci Code, Stephen Booth already did.
RB: Darn you, Stephen! Okay, maybe the James Frey memoir thing, only because I think I could’ve lied waay better. At least about the police stuff.
Hell, I think you could have done the WHOLE book better!
EE: My sources tell me you turned down the chance to tour with Stephen King because you were worried about hearing bumps in the night.
RB: Okay, who told you I slept with a night light? No, really. Who told you????
Is this an interrogation, or an interview? Do I need my lawyer present?
EE: And what about that rumor that you’re a high ranking member of James Lincoln Warren’s PHARTS, but you’re afraid if it gets out you’ll have to go into a witness protection program?
RB: Highly over-rated rumors. Not true in the least. Besides, even if the truth did leak out, the organization is so highly secretive, it makes the secret society of Freemasons look like the public information office.
Damn, but she’s a hard nut to crack!
EE: Okay, next toughie! Let’s see how she answers this one. Tell us who you’d love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon.
RB: Hmmmm. This is a trick question, right? I answer and then you email my husband???
Okay, chief – you take over. I ain’t gettin’ anywhere with this witness.
EE: So, Robin – Is it true you refused to teach Rhys Bowen how to handle a Glock.
RB: The woman writes two award winning series. For gosh sakes. I should have something to brag about all on my own, don’t you think?
True. I think you and I should get her in a small room and make her tell us how she does it.
EE: What makes you laugh? I mean, cops do laugh, right? Is it reading the names of some of the authors on the NYT Best Seller list?
RB: Are you talking about that self-deprecating laugh, where I say, yeah-I’ll be there next? Or do you mean real laughing, like when I watch some of my fave comedy shows, like "Whose Line is It"?, or "Sponge Bob Square Pants’? A little clarification here.
I have one of those laughs, too. The first one, I mean.
EE: Okay, last question before I turn off the recorder and let you call your lawyer. How do you spoil yourself when you finish the last chapter of each new book?
RB: My fantasy answer? My husband brings me a crystal goblet, filled with the finest champagne, and I’m eating fresh strawberries. My kids tell me how proud they are, and clean up their rooms and do their homework-all on their own. And my husband looks into my eyes, and tells me what a wonderful writer I am, and that I’m as beautiful….Okay, this is starting to sound like fiction.
The truth? This one’s easy. I have just typed ‘The End’ on THE FACE OF THE KILLER, and zipped it off to the mail box this very afternoon. So what am I doing now? Going to Disneyland? Yeah, right. I’m cleaning off my desk. Someone once told me it was made of wood, but I don’t believe them. I’ll let you know when I find out. But the good news, is that my husband did just bring me a half a beer. I drink it in a wine glass, because I like to pretend…
Robin, Robin! You don’t HAVE to pretend! You ARE a terrific writer! You ARE beautiful. And, I happen to know for a fact, your kids ARE proud of you – as are all of us who think you’re one terrific gal!
Wow, what a transition, Robin! I’m always amazed when writers can produce great books while working a demanding fulltime job. Just imagine what Robin is capable of if she works on writing 24/7.
I smell very big and wonderful things for Robin. Which will inevitably mean good things for us readers.
Lovely interview with a super writer! I really enjoyed both of you.
Now on to the burning question: the romance writer. Did you advise raw or regular and which did she choose?
Good question, Linda! I’ll ask Robin to reply!
And thanks for the kind words!
I know what you mean, Naomi! How Robin managed to work a stressful job, raise a wonderful family and write just knocks me out. Her new series is gonna be just terrific. But we’re not surprised, are we!
For any who are interested, I told her raw was best. Of course, I’ve *never* had raw sugar, but with as many diamonds as that romance writer was sporting on that tennis bracelet, she *looked* like she needed raw sugar.
Unfortunately, by the time the photographers were swarming around her, I was rather left in the dust, holding up the packet in the background, trying to pantomime my website, in case it ended up on TV…
So if you see some nutcase, holding up a little brown packet of sugar on the six o’clock news, freeze that frame, and zero in on that sugar. You might just see my right thumb. 😉
Great stuff — Elaine and Robin. I enjoy Robin’s books tremendously, and it’s great to know a little more about her. Two funny ladies…
Thanks for sharing this interesting (and very entertaining) interview! 🙂
Great interview — looking forward to Robin’s new series!
GREAT interview, and i love you guys both in real life, too!!!
Well. Just so your head doesn’t get too big, Missy Robin-Look-at-me-I’m-a-former-cop-and brilliant-writer Burcell, just remember that I am the Sublime Imperial President-for-Life of PHARTS, and that I beat you in poker at the Chicago Bouchercon.
I’ve read your stuff, you know. As far as I can tell, you’re not really a hack at all–you just pretend to be one so folks won’t be intimidated by your super-competence.
The truth, JLW, is that I made it all up. I am a hack. I wasn’t really a cop. I stole the uniform from someone’s clothesline, put it on, swiped a patrol car from the back lot–just to get the experience for the book I was gonna write some day. Not my fault they were shorthanded that day and said, Hey, you! and put me to work. But you think I’d get the same sort of press that Frey got for his psuedo memoir thing? Noooo. You think Oprah would invite me onto her show to take me to task for fictionalizing my memoir of my fake career so that a gazillion viewers would remember my name??? Nooo. So can I still be in the supersecret hack club? Please, please, please???
The jigs up, Robin! JWL nailed your M.O.
Of course you can stay in the Club, Robin, if for no other reason that you give it a certain cachet it would totally lack without you.
Mine’s just tough love.
And it’s JLW, not JWL, Elaine.
Sigh. I know…I know! It’s JLW and not JWL. Let’s just say the old bag is zonked today. Er, tonight. I spent all day at an auction. It was excruciatingly dull, boring, banal and if there was a genuine antique *anything* in sight I’d have fainted. Why did I stay? I’m a good wife. Well, at least today I was.
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