FAQ

Did you really live in an RV? Like full time?
I did, yes. We just kind of moseyed around wherever the wind took us. It was a lot of fun, and I was fortunate enough to see places I might never have gotten to otherwise. Some of them I would never have wanted to, but now I know that and can make sure I avoid those places in the future. But most of them were a blast.

Why did you stop doing that?
Well, contrary to what I previously asserted about doing that until I got bored of it or until I found a place that I want to settle for a little while, neither of those signaled the end of my journey. Actually, my best friend got an offer to go back to work in Japan, so she went for it. And it didn’t seem like nearly as much of an adventure by myself, so I picked a place to settle, and here I am…for now.

You seriously expect us to believe that nothing has ever happened with your straight friend?
Well, you are welcome to believe whatever you like, but I can promise you our relationship is and has always been completely platonic. Although I did appreciate her mother’s assurances that if something were to happen, she’d be okay with it. Why she thought that was a possibility is beyond me. I mean, my friend is a strong negative fourteen on the Kinsey Scale, but hey, it was still flattering.

Who are your artistic and literary influences?
That’s tough. I read a ton, and I’m probably influenced in some fashion by everything I read whether I realize it or not. Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series is absolutely amazing. The things that woman can do with words. Whew. Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour has long been a favorite of mine. The detail she put into that family tree is mind boggling. I harbor an enduring fondness for several of Terry Goodkind’s characters and would absolutely want them to be my friends if they were real people. And Stephen King’s praises don’t need to be sung by the likes of me. But I am always on the lookout for new authors to try, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

What do you do in your free time?
Besides reading? I watch a LOT of television. Give me a good Law & Order: SVU marathon or access to just about anything on IDtv, and I won’t move from the couch all day. I probably won’t even get dressed, which I’m sure is always a little frightening for the poor take-out delivery guys. It’s kind of sad, really, but I accept and embrace that part of myself. I am also a sucker for crossword puzzles, hidden object games, and escape rooms. And interspersed in between all of that, I like to spend time smothering my dog and cat with kisses they neither need nor want.

Were you really a Secret Service agent?
Yes, I was. For over a decade.

So, you carried a gun and everything?
Yup. Gun, radio, baton, handcuffs. I had it all.

What about pepper spray?
USSS agents don’t carry pepper spray. But the Uniformed Division Officers do. Fun fact, it hurts like a bitch when you get that stuff in your eyes. And water makes it exponentially worse. Just FYI. Though one of the instructors at FLETC said he used it as a condiment, so maybe you become immune after prolonged exposure. I don’t plan to test that theory. I’m fine with sriracha.

Do they issue those sunglasses?
Nope. I had to buy those myself. And while I think they would have frowned on something like star-shaped lenses, they generally didn’t have an opinion regarding what kind of sunglasses we chose to wear. Personally, I preferred mirrored lenses because I didn’t want anyone – the public, the protectees, my bosses – to be able to tell when I was rolling my eyes.

How about the suits?
Again, that’s a personal preference. I’ve had suits I purchased off the rack and then had altered so that I could actually use them for work (women’s suits don’t typically come with belt loops or inner jacket pockets, both of which are key), and I’ve also had suits tailor made for me. It just depends on what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend.

Incidentally, if anyone were to want to make a killing designing clothes but didn’t necessarily need them to be runway caliber, I’d recommend making suits for women in law enforcement. Very few companies cater to that demographic. You’d have clients until the end of time.

Why did you leave?
It was just time. I was burnt out and tired of my entire life revolving around someone else’s schedule. And the prospect of having to endure eleven more UNGAs, three more campaigns, and countless protection visits was horrifying.

I don’t live under a rock, so I’ve seen the news, and I have to ask; Is it all booze, parties, and hookers?
Great question. Sounds like it, doesn’t it. And I kind of wish it were, but it isn’t. All of the agents work very hard. And like any civilian person, some of them play hard, too. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t professional while on the clock and that they aren’t perfectly capable of keeping their protectees safe.

Do the agents really play PPD briefing bingo?
No, we don’t. At least I don’t know anyone who has, though we did talk about it a lot. But that would have been a hoot, don’t you think? It would have kept my attention, at any rate. Though I likely would have actually shouted “Bingo!” in the middle of the C.A.T. briefing and ruined it for everyone. I’m a killjoy like that.

I met a USSS agent and asked about you, and he/she had never heard of you.
Well, of course not. You didn’t think this was my real name, did you? I was a fed for years, and I watch a ton of true-crime shows, so I am super crazy about privacy. Also, for a while, I sort of had this fantasy about publishing while I was still an agent, and I’d wanted to make sure I kept those two worlds separate, so I came up with this pen name years before I needed it. And by the time I was ready to publish, I was sort of attached to it, so I decided to keep it.

Do your characters resemble anyone you actually know?
Well, Ben Flannigan dispenses a lot of advice that I’ve heard from my father before. Unlike Ryan, however, I am always amused when my dad starts talking about what would happen if his grandmother had wheels. Other than that, no. All of the characters are who they need to be to get the story where I want it to go.

Except for Glocamorra. He’s real. Or so my dad tells me.

You don’t have much of a social media presence.                                                                  
Well, that’s not a question, but I’ll address it anyway. You’re right. I don’t. I will absolutely respond to anyone who reaches out to me via Facebook or Twitter (or email, which I know isn’t technically social media, but I wanted to mention it anyway), but I don’t really have much I feel like I want to get off my chest, so aside from liking things, I’m pretty quiet. Plus, I can’t figure out how to do simple things like share a link with one person (that’s why all my friends ended up with the story about the pickle-flavored candy canes, which I really only wanted to share with my sister), so it’s probably better that I just stay off altogether.

If I ever do decide to become active, though, prepare yourselves for a never-ending onslaught of pictures and videos of my pets!

How many books do you have planned for the Agent O’Connor series?
At the moment, I have four. (Although I have been told in no uncertain terms that it either needs to be three or five, which I am taking under advisement.)

I also have a spin-off in the works. And while I only have one book planned for that at the moment, it could always be more if I come up with a story line that I’m passionate about. We’ll see.

Do you have any appearances planned?
I do actually have one now, yes. Somehow I let myself get swept away on a giant tidal wave of enthusiasm, and I found myself talked in to doing a reading at the GCLS this year. I am currently in the process of putting together an awesome escape plan to get out of doing that. So if anyone knows how to fake their own death, I’m all ears.

Are you married? Seeing anyone?
Wow. Personal. Okay, I can roll with this. I am not married, no. And I never have been. But I am seeing someone. And she’s amazing! (And no, she did not insist that I say that.)

Miscellaneous Declarations:
When you’re standing 4 feet from someone with an earpiece, and you nudge your friend and stage whisper, “There’s Secret Service,” they can hear you. Just because they have something in one ear doesn’t mean that the other one doesn’t work.

Directing them to “smile” is just obnoxious. (I got that a lot from all different sorts of men throughout my career. For the record, I never had a woman tell me to smile, and now that I think about it, I doubt my male co-workers ever had anyone make that demand of them. Though I plan to make some calls to confirm this theory.) You’re not being cute. They don’t think it’s funny. They don’t think it’s charming. They’re busy, and they’re concentrating on something. Let them work. If they want to smile at you, they will. But let them make that choice on their own rather than commanding them to do it.

Asking a Secret Service agent a question and then immediately continuing with some variation of, “Is that a secret?” or “If you tell me, will you have to kill me?” has completely lost whatever charm you think it has. They’ve all heard it a dozen times, probably already that very same day. Please, for the love of God, resist the temptation. 

Making the statement, “I’m a taxpayer. I pay your salary,” is not going to get you whatever it is you want in that moment; be it information or the right to enter a restricted area. You just sound like an ass. And you’re likely going to get the response, “I pay taxes, too, so I guess I’m self employed.” (Yes, that is a real conversation I had with several people during my career.)

Asking a Secret Service agent, “Who’s here?” is more likely to get you a made up answer than it is a factual one. By all means, give it a shot. But don’t be surprised if you hear any of the following: Britney Spears, Madonna, the Harlem Globetrotters, Lambchop, Dora the Explorer, Queen Elizabeth, or the Marshall Islands.

To the federal judge who once told me he’d have my badge because I wouldn’t let him go where he wanted when he wanted to, sorry, buddy. You lost your chance.

To the reporter who got into it with me on 9-11 and screamed at me that I was infringing on her First Amendment rights when I refused her entry into a restricted space (the White House, which was being evacuated), I hope you’ve since done your research and realized that not letting you report from where you wanted isn’t the same as not letting you report at all. One is an infringement. The other is me trying to ensure your safety. You’re welcome, by the way.

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