Guest Post: Elizabeth Heiter

Blurring the Lines

As someone who writes a psychological suspense series featuring an FBI profiler as the lead character, I’m a big fan of research. I think it’s important that my characters feel legitimate – even to someone who really does the job. Similarly, I like to create plot lines that feel like they could really happen.

And after my latest book, Seized, hit shelves, it sort of did…

In the pages of Seized, my heroine, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, is taken hostage by a dangerous cult of survivalists, and she knows her life is subject to the whims of the leader.

SeizedShortly after the book released earlier this year, you might remember a group of fringe militia members who considered themselves survivalists. They travelled all the way from Nevada to Oregon and, armed with a stockpile of weapons, took over a federal nature preserve. Led by two brothers, there was a forty day standoff before most of the group was arrested. Interestingly, a few years earlier, their father had been in an armed standoff with the federal government, too.

When this happened, because of the similarities to my book and all of my research, I found myself on radio interviews, being asked, “What is their real motivation?” “What is the FBI’s best move?” If only it were that easy…but it some ways, it was.

The motivation was different from the survivalists in my book, but similar enough that I could talk about the history of survivalist mentality – and particularly the dangerous fringe element. That group – like the one in my book – was motivated by a belief that the federal government had no authority over them, by an obsession with the second amendment to the constitution, and by a mix of their own beliefs that they layered over their interpretation of the constitution.

And the FBI’s history with standoffs gave me insight into how they were likely to handle the standoff in Oregon…and in fact, what I was telling radio stations then is what ultimately ended up happening. With a barricaded group that has stockpiled supplies and weapons, the general rule is to wait them out or separate some from the group. This costs taxpayers money, but it saves lives. In this case, when a few members of the group left the preserve, law enforcement did a traffic stop, arresting some and shooting one who pulled a weapon. The rest ultimately came out, and many are now behind bars.

Seized takes a different direction. Because the longer Evelyn is trapped inside, the more she learns these survivalists are not what they seem, and the FBI can’t wait them out. As the group coordinates a deadly series of attacks, Evelyn knows the FBI must make a choice: breach the compound and cross her off as collateral damage…or risk leaving the country open to a devastating attack.

You can learn more about Seized and the rest of the Profiler series at my website: www.elizabethheiter.com and you can connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elizabeth.heiter.author or Twitter at @ElizabethHeiter.

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Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. The heroine of her psychological suspense series The Profiler series was called “one of the most amazing characters created in print” by Fresh Fiction and the latest of her romantic suspense series The Lawmen series won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Intrigue. Her novels have been published in a dozen countries and translated into seven languages.

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12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Elizabeth Heiter”

  1. I Elizabeth, welcome to Mysteristas. Your post and synopsis blew me away. Can’t wait to start reading. Other than research, do you have a background with the FBI? I know research is a wonderful tool, but from reading your post, I’m picking up on a more personal affiliation. Very intriguing.

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  2. Welcome to Mysteristas, Elizabeth. I understand Don Winslow had the same experience. He published The Cartel just before the El Chapo “escaped” and in a host of interviews, he correctly deduced that the authorities were in on the escape. You must have your fingertips on the pulse of something. Congratulations on the success of your book!

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  3. Welcome, Elizabeth! So cool to hear about the unexpected way your research paid off. Thanks for visiting and best of luck with Seized! 🙂

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  4. Welcome to Mysteristas! How cool that you knew enough that you could correctly predict the actions of the FBI. Now that’s research (or as Kait said, a personal connection – do you have one?).

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  5. Hi everyone! Thank you so much for the warm welcome!

    As for a personal connection with the FBI, in a way, yes. I have a friend who works there who answers my questions, and I’ve been to Quantico and the New York field offices, and talked with agents there (and after my visits). The more questions I ask, the more (sometimes unexpected) things I learn, and those often spiral into new plots…

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  6. Everyone needs to read all 3 books in the Profiler series. Trust me when I say Elizabeth creates very believable killers and victims. I read all three books within a 6 month period and have recommended them to every friend and family member. I can hardly wait until the next book comes out, only 6 more months!

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