Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Something Wicked welcomes Joan Swan - with giveaway!

A big welcome to Joan Swan, author of romantic suspense. Her newest, Intimate Enemies, is out now.

Thanks so much, Angie, for having me here at Something Wicked today! 

I’m going to explore something on the wicked side today – the art of being bad – or working undercover.
In my newest romantic suspense, Intimate Enemies, my hero, Rio Santana, is an undercover agent for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of Homeland Security. He’s working a major case in Baja, Mexico, posing as a human smuggler. His boss, also his target, makes a lucrative living by trafficking his own countrywomen over the border into the US where they hope to find work and better their lives. Instead, they are sold to predators who enslave them—in factories, in domestic servitude or, most often, in brothels.

But the mission changes scope when Rio’s boss decides to scale up the cargo from poor women to Hezbollah-trained terrorists.  And it twists completely out of his control when his boss’s stepdaughter, and a woman he’d met briefly and has fantasized about for months, returns to Baja with an agenda of her own; one that threatens Rio’s mission and both their lives.

To write a convincing undercover agent, I had to get deep into the psyche of someone who not only constantly lies, but whose very life depends on his ability to keep those lies straight.  I imagined how incredibly difficult and stressful that must be, to pretend to be someone else, day in and day out, always wondering if you’ve somehow given yourself away. 

Then, add to that, the risk not just to his own life, but to another’s. An innocent.  Someone that undercover becomes responsible for out of the sheer nature of his job, his duty as a cop—to protect and serve.  And just to make the already intense situation impossible, let’s make that innocent someone the undercover cares for deeply.  

This is the major dilemma Rio faces with his heroine, Cassie Christo, in Intimate Enemies. Of course, there is fiction and there is reality, and while I always try to stay as true to reality as possible, without actually having performed a job, there is only so “real” an author can get. 

I thought I’d share some fascinating facts I learned while studying the life of real undercover cops:
·         Uniformed cops and supervisory cops, i.e. brass, often view undercover cops with suspicion and because of the undercovers’ success, professionalism or accolades, are considered dangerous due to their criminal connections. 

·         The closer to the truth an undercover identity is, the safer the undercover agent will be. Simplicity is key.
·         Undercover agents must only make claims, offers, threats that they are willing to follow through on or risk jeopardizing their credibility and, thus, their life.

·         Undercovers are constantly at risk for ambush tests of identity and deep research into the impersonated persona often saves an undercovers’ life.

·         Good undercovers have a gift when it comes to speech – they know when to talk, how to steer people into giving them the information they need and they know, sometimes most importantly, when to shut up

Informants are crucial to the success of an operation and an undercovers’ ability to manage information is imperative to the undercovers’ life. Informants’ loyalties shift on a dime and undercovers must engage in behavior that constantly reminds the informant of the power structure.

The psychological effects of this type of work on long time undercovers’ are complicated and fascinating—and one of the reasons I adore writing undercover characters.  

Do you enjoy reading undercover characters? Who is the most wickedly good character you’ve read recently? Post your answer and you're entered to win a signed copy of Intimate Enemies!


SandyG265 said...

it's been quite a while since i read anything with an undercover character but I do enjoy reading about them.

BW said...

I don't think I read anything with an undercover cop/agent character however I think I enjoy reading one.

Good luck on your book

Rebe said...

My favorite book with an undercover agent is actually about a former agent - Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston. So funny! The bear shifter's cover is blown just before the book starts, but he's got the "Meth dealer" look going on. Highly recommend it if you want some laughs!

Chrisbails said...

I have read some good ones with undercover cops. Loved Lila Munros A Slower Lower Love. Bryce was an undercover cop and had to hide it in the beginning of the book. This one looks great. Have not read any of Joan's books yet. This one looks great, congrats on the new release.
christinebails at yahoo dot com

Na said...

I do agree that simplicity is key. When it comes to an undercover life, things can get tricky and dangerous, but if you stay close to the truth it'll be so much better. I think an undercover agent character is wonderful and seeing what goes through their minds is interesting because they live more than one life.


Joan Swan said...

Hi Sandy, thanks for stopping by. I do find them fascinating. :)

Joan Swan said...

Thanks BW!! Hope you pick one up soon!

Joan Swan said...

Hi Rebe - Okay, that "Meth dealer" comment had me LOL! I LOVE humor in suspense. Totally eases the edge and can put a whole different twist on things. Thanks for the recommendation!

Joan Swan said...

Hi there Chris! That title had my eyebrows rising. :) Thanks for coming by!

Joan Swan said...

Na - I'm with you. The more lies you tell, the more webs you create to get caught in!

TheRealDubDub said...

Your book sounds great, I can't wait to read it! Love a book with an undercover hero. I worked for 5 years in law enforcement and assisted the undercover units for 4 of those years. It's a tough road for any officer to go down, the stress can be unbelievable. An interesting thing is that the ones you would never imagine being good at UC work tend to be the best. Congrats on the book! wlweddle at gmail dot com

katsmeow said...

I think the last undercover book I read was Holding The Cards from Joey W. Hill's Nature Of Desire series. I enjoy the undercover books. congrats on your book. Jaxskatty@gmail.com