Working with the FBI: A Brief Guide for Writers

Jan Burke and I recently had the FBI on Crime and Science Radio for a 2 part interview. It was outstanding. If you missed it, the shows are archived so go here to listen:–science-radio-past.html

Crime writers are always looking for experts to chat with about their plots. The FBI offers just such access.

Need info on the FBI for your next story? Not sure how to approach them. Here’s how:

                                                 WORKING WITH THE FBI: A Brief Guide for Writers

If you are a writer who wants to feature the FBI in a TV, film, and literary project, the FBI may be able to work with you to create an accurate portrayal of the Bureau’s work.

The FBI’s Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit (IPPAU) in the Bureau’s DC-based Office of Public Affairs works with screenwriters, producers, authors, and other industry personnel associated with TV programs, documentaries, made-for-TV movies, films, and books.

What the FBI needs from you:

Company name, point of contact, address, email, and phone number

Project status, i.e., sold, green-lit, commissioned, or speculative

Scope of FBI’s importance in the script

Overview of FBI characters and actions

Copy of the script or treatment

Project status and/or production schedule

Specificity regarding cases, procedures, or information needed

A list of FBI personnel desired for interviews and/or background meeting(s)

What the FBI can consider providing you:

Guidance on content and/or dialogue regarding FBI investigations, procedures, interagency coordination, structure, and history

Information on costumes, props, scenery, or weapons


Liaison and coordination with local FBI field offices for interviews or B-roll footage

Coordination of visits to FBI headquarters and other facilities

Background briefings

For project assistance, please send your written proposal with above info to:  For further questions, please contact the FBI National Headquarters, Office of Public Affairs, Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit at: 202-324-5348.

Please note that IPPAU considers and/or approves project assistance on a case-by-case basis. The FBI’s unit has limited resources and cannot assure cooperation or offer reviews or critiques of submitted projects/proposal. Please allow ample time for approval/clearance process.


Q and A: What Happens If My character Is Shot in the Abdomen With a Crossbow?

Q: My question is if a female victim, age 17-18, had a penetrating wound to the far left side of the abdomen just below the ribs, extending 2-3 inches max into the body, what organs if any would be hit and would there be any internal bleeding (if so what major arteries/veins)? The weapon is a barbed crossbow bolt that prevents manual removal. And for the internal bleeding would cauterization be possible without lasting effects? Also, what would be the estimated recovery time for this injury (victim able to walk without assistance)?

Rachel from TN


A: There are many possibilities and in fact there are hundreds of possible outcomes here. In the left upper quadrant of the abdomen the most likely structures that would be impacted would be the spleen, the pancreas, and the bowel. It is possible that an object that only embedded two or 3 inches into the body would not strike any organs but would rather be more or less a flesh wound. In this case she would be fine and able to do anything with some pain in the area of course. The only real danger here would be an infection in the wound but this would take many days to develop and many more days to become a true medical problem.

On the other hand the bolt could penetrate into the abdomen and this would be much more painful and there could be some bleeding within the abdomen which would cause a more or less diffuse pain throughout the abdomen which would be worse with movement, running, coughing, and almost any other activity. This pain would be sharp rather than a dull ache. Once again her life would not be in danger unless a secondary infection followed and she should be able to do most things though again with considerable discomfort.

If the spleen were punctured, they would be a great deal of internal bleeding and it could even be enough to cause her to slip into shock and die. Or she could simply lose a great deal of blood can be very weak and short of breath with

any activity but survived. Here the bleeding could stop as the wound in the spleen clotted and she could recover without any major intervention. Again if no infection followed.

If she punctured a pancreas then the pancreatic digestive juices would be released in the abdomen and cause what we call peritonitis – the inflammation of the lining of the abdomen. This would be extremely painful with almost any movement are activity and this discomfort would be spread throughout the abdomen. Here a secondary infection is

very high. Would she be able to do most things? Probably but this would be even more painful than the injuries described above.

If the bolt penetrated a bowel then the leakage of bowel contents in the abdomen would cause an infected peritonitis. This would be extremely painful and deadly without fairly quick surgical intervention. The bowel contents are loaded with nasty bacteria and once they entered the abdominal cavity they would begin to grow and inflame the peritoneum,

causing a severe infectious peritonitis. Here the pain would be worse but she could still move around and do things if she were tough. Within a couple of days the infection would be severe and she would have high fevers, chills, severe abdominal pain, and would ultimately slip in the shock and die from what we call septicemia – an infection in the bloodstream.

Cautery is simply the burning of the tissues and really has no place here as it causes more damage than help. The reason is that with a bolt such as this weapon there would be very little external bleeding in the cautery he could only be used to control that. It could do nothing for the internal bleeding. To control any external bleeding simply applying pressure with a towel, the piece of clothing, wadded up paper, or anything she had handy would stop the external bleeding.


Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Cause & Manner of Death, Q&A, Trauma


Billy The Kid: Amazing New Photo Found

Only one photo of William H. Bonney, AKA Billy The Kid, was known to exist. But now a new photo has been found. Purchased a few years ago for $2 in a Fresno, CA shop, the photo has been authenticated and its value estimated at $5 million. Pretty good find.

And an amazing slice of American History. Below are two photos—one of Billy and friends playing croquet before a home in New Mexico in 1878 and a close up of Billy from the same photo. He was 17 at the time.

The photo and Billy will be the subject of a NatGeo special this Sunday 10-18-15. Can’t wait to see it.

Tin Type Full 9Kx12K b, 12/20/13, 12:37 PM,  8C, 9000x12000 (0+0), 150%, Custom,  1/40 s, R106.2, G84.2, B103.2

Billy the Kid NM 1887-2 copy


Suicide By Text

You can’t think about it.

You just have to do it. 

You said you were gonna do it. 

Like I don’t get why you aren’t.

Michelle Carter

So texted Michelle Carter to Conrad Roy, her 18-year-old boyfriend. And there were many other texts to follow. She goaded him to commit suicide, or at least that’s what prosecutors are alleging. And now she faces trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge. This will be an interesting trial particularly in regards to who is responsible for Conrad Roy’s death. There’s no doubt it was by his own hand, but is Michelle Carter culpable because she encouraged him to commit the act?

But this isn’t exactly new. In 1816, long before there was texting, George Bowen was charged with “murder by counseling.” It seems he was an inmate and convinced Jonathan Jewett, a convicted murderer who occupied the adjacent cell adjacent, to hang himself. Apparently Jewett did and Bowen was charged with encouraging his suicide.

So it seems there is nothing new after all.


Crime and Science Radio: Biotechnology and WMDs: An Interview with the FBI’s Betsy Glick and Edward You, and Biotech Futurist Andrew Hessel, Parts 1 and 2


Betsy Glick is with the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC.  Her Unit works with screenwriters, authors, producers and other media personnel associated with TV programs, documentaries, made-for-TV movies, books, and motion pictures, to help them write accurately about Today’s FBI.  She recently organized a “Writing G-Man Stories Rooted in Reality” workshop at the FBI New York  for novelists attending the International Thriller Writers annual gathering in Manhattan.

An award-winning communications professional throughout her career, Betsy Glick built a strong track record helping nonprofit organizations. She served as communications director for the National World War II Memorial, was VP Marketing/Communications at the Drug-Free Kids Campaign, and was the Managing Director at startup Life and Health Insurance Foundation. She spearheaded grassroots campaigns for the National Association of Life Underwriters and the American Automobile Association.

Betsy honed her writing skills at two advertising agencies and KYW-TV after graduating cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with courses at Wharton and Annenberg.

Edward H. You (Official Photo 1)

Edward You is a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, Biological Countermeasures Unit.  Mr. You is responsible for creating programs and activities to coordinate and improve FBI and interagency efforts to identify, assess, and respond to biological threats or incidents.  These efforts include expanding FBI outreach to the Life Sciences community to address biosecurity.  Before being promoted to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, Mr. You was a member of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force and served on the FBI Hazardous Evidence Response Team.

Mr. You has also been directly involved in policy-making efforts with a focus on biosecurity.  He is an active Working Group member of the National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Countering Biological Threats and an Ex Officio member of the NIH National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.  He also serves on two National Academies committees, the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats and the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law’s Forum on Synthetic Biology.

Mr. You also provides law enforcement biosecurity outreach by serving on the Strategic Advisory Board for the Synthetic Biology and Engineering Research Center and as an instructor for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.

Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. You worked for six years in graduate research focusing on retrovirology and human gene therapy at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine.  He subsequently worked for three years at the biotechnology firm AMGEN Inc. in cancer research.


Andrew Hessel is a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies, helping industry, academics, and authorities better understand the changes ahead in life science. He is the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for cancer. His is the former  co-chair of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at the Singularity University and currently a Distinguished Researcher with Autodesk, Inc’s Bio/Nano technology group he addresses the disruptive shifts underway in life. He speaks widely on topics that include cells as living computers, life science as an emerging IT industry, and biological safety and security. He is active in the iGEM, DIYbio (do-it-yourself) communities, and is the 2015-2016 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador and frequently works to inspire students and young entrepreneurs.

LISTEN: This is a two part show:

Part 1:

Part 2:


Andrew Hessel Website: Website:

Ed You ’91: From Bio Sci to FBI:

FBI, AAAS Biotech Outreach:

Synthetic Virology by Andrew Hessel Ted Talk:

Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense: Surveillance and Detection Video:




ThrillerFest 2016 Will Be Special


Early Bird Registration for ThrillerFest 2016 is open.

Join 2016 Thriller Master Heather Graham and Spotlight Guests CJ Box, Gillian Flynn, and Walter Mosley in NY next July.

Sign up now:

And don’t forget CraftFest and Master CraftFest.

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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Writing


Sign Up For Master CraftFest Today

Master CF copy

Master CraftFest is ITW’s one-day intensive craft school for thriller writers of all levels and experience. This is our third year and each previous year the classes have filled quickly and a waiting list was necessary. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind learning experience. Register now.

Also, this year we have added a screenwriting class to our line up. Renowned screenwriter and teacher Richard Krevolin will head this class but space is limited to 10 students. So if screenwriting is your thing, sign up now to assure your place in this class.

Master CraftFest:


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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Writing


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