Saturday, December 19, 2009

Budget Cuts even in Fictional Agencies

Robin Burcell, an FBI-trained forensic artist, has worked as a police officer, detective and hostage negotiator. THE BONE CHAMBER is her latest international thriller about an FBI forensic artist. Her first thriller, FACE OF A KILLER, received a starred review from Library Journal. She is the author of four previous novels. View the video trailer at her website at: Or on Facebook and Twitter.

Tim asks:

"Your new series moves from a San Francisco Police Department setting to the FBI… What motivated the change? What kinds of experiences did you have with the Bureau?"

The biggest motivation was budget and jurisdiction. FBI has a way bigger budget and, on TV at least, they get to jet off in private planes to all their crime scenes, so this seemed like a more prudent move if I wanted to expand my jurisdiction from the Bay Area to encompass everywhere the FBI gets to go, which pretty much means everywhere. Of course in real life, the FBI’s budget isn’t exactly modeled after their TV counterparts.

When I was researching THE BONE CHAMBER, I visited a friend who is a supervising agent at the FBI National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to get the inside scoop to make my book more realistic, as it starts off there. As impressive as the outside of the real FBI building is, the inside looks like every other federal building that houses agents. Large central spaces with lots of cubicles. I jokingly asked one of the agents at his cubicle where were the glass enclosed offices and the private jets a la Criminal Minds. He quipped: “Budget cuts.”

Lack of budget aside, I switched over to the FBI. I think because TV and movies have used the FBI so much, people are interested in the workings of such an organization. As a cop, I’ve had lots of interactions with the Bureau. Anytime there’s a bank robbery, the FBI is automatically called out, so naturally we would see them a lot on that type of a case. And since they paid for my training, whenever the Bureau has needed a forensic artist on one of their cases in the vicinity, I have done the drawings for them. (That is one of the reasons why they so readily trained forensic artists at their expense. An artist in every state!)


Shane Gericke said...

Typical of governmental agencies ... make the outside of the building real purty, but the inside, meh, not so much. It's just workers, donchaknow.

Thanks for being with us this week, Robin. Besides I didn't have to write anything :-) I learned a lot from your writings.

Sophie Littlefield said...

hey robin thanks for a great week. i should have asked this earlier but is there a link to any of your artwork? I would love to see it - after reading about it i am very intrigued...

Anonymous said...

Ain't that the truth, Shane.

Alas, Sophie, no links. The crime sketches are all booked into evidence. I do have a few that I use when I give talks and demonstrations. But due to the nature, I don't have them posted online.