Today, The Chicago Contingent welcomes Anthony Award winning author, Robin Burcell. She's here to discuss her latest book, THE BONE CHAMBER, recently released with Harper:
Dana Kaye: You've made a distinct shift from Police Procedurals to high-octane thrillers. What motivated the transition?
Robin Burcell: I read one of James Rollins’ thrillers and I was hooked! There was something about the excitement and adventure of jetting off to other countries, exploring new cultures, and vicariously living the life of an operative working for the government that thrilled me, made me want to experience it for myself. Suddenly, my own life of investigating crime as a police officer seemed so… ordinary. It may have something to do with my passion for the old “Man From U.N.C.L.E” shows when I was a kid. I wanted to be a secret agent. I decided to write a book where an ordinary law enforcement officer was thrust into the midst of a government conspiracy, thus allowing me to live the dream of being a special operative from the safety of my own computer desktop.
DK: How does your background as a police officer and forensic artist inform your writing?
RB: Quite simply it allows me to instill my experience from over twenty-seven years working as a police officer and forensic artist into the book. My protagonists benefit from that experience, since my training is their training. Granted, while I’ve been to Rome I’ve never jetted off through Europe, chasing after criminals and investigating legendary caches of treasure. My crime fighting has only been done on the local level. But that is what imagination is all about.
DK: After publishing five novels, how has your writing process changed?
RB: I’ve started writing on a larger canvas, so to speak. I am allowing my characters to take bigger risks, move outside their comfort zone, travel to new places and fight bigger villains. The writing process itself has not changed that much—unless you count the research. Where I was writing about San Francisco PD in past books, I am now writing about foreign countries, the most recent being Italy. And naturally, traveling to Italy was necessary to make sure my scenes rang true. I might have to set more books in foreign countries. Traveling to foreign countries for research is a lot of fun.
DK: In this economic climate, are you making any changes to your marketing efforts? Doing anything differently this time around?
RB: Internet, internet, internet. I am running a contest on Facebook and Twitter, and hitting various blogs, giving away copies of books to lucky readers as well as some other choice prizes. But I am also visiting a few key independent bookstores in hopes of introducing my work to new readers.
DK: What's the biggest piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer?
RB: A page a day is all it takes to finish a book. I wrote my books working full-time and raising three children, so I understand a busy schedule. At first the idea of writing a book under these circumstances seemed daunting. But when you break it down to small steps-a page a day-it becomes a manageable and enjoyable endeavor.
Robin is heading out on book tour, so visit her author page to see if she's coming to a bookstore near you. Chicagoans, she won't be doing a formal signing in the windy city, but she'll be in town January 28th for stock signings at various local bookstores.