Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mass Killers: An Interview with Retired Secret Service Agent Mike Roche


I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from retired

Secret Service Agent, Mike Roche at this year's
Writers' Police Academy.

Mike, would you introduce yourself to my readers and tell us about your background?

I spent 33 years in law enforcement. I was local cop, ATF and the last 20 with the Secret Service. Now, I am a writer and college instructor on Mass Killers.

Fiona - 
Mass killers! They have a whole course on that? I'd love to take that class. What kinds of topics does that cover?

The United States Secret Service star logo.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am a travelling adjunct. That is, I travel to the 13 campuses across the country for St. Leo University and teach an 8 hour class. The class focuses on the mindset of those who engage in mass killings at schools, workplaces, homes, and public places. The class also helps those who conduct behavioral threat assessments to identify those    individuals displaying warning signs before the guns come out.

Yup - I definitely want to take this class. Let's go back and talk about your stint as a Secret Service Agent. How many presidents did you serve? And were you there when Reagan was shot?  (Just kidding, I know you're too young for that.)

US Air Force VC-25(92-9000) "AirForce-One...
US Air Force VC-25(92-9000) "AirForce-One" (Photo credit: Kentaro IEMOTO@Tokyo)
I was there from 1990 to 2012. I served four. We also protected all of the former living presidents and their spouses.

Fiona -
You are given parameters about what you can and cannot say about your interactions with the people you are protecting. In several books I've read, I thought too much was disclosed and so the plot felt contrived. Can you tell us writers what is allowed to be shared?

Mike - You never want to disclose anything that could compromise security or concerning the conversations and observations with       those that you are honored to protect. We have to maintain and develop trust with the protectee and their family. We would destroy our credibility disclosing our insights to the media or in books.

Fiona - 
Since I can't ask you if the presidents drool when they sleep, I'll ask you to tell me about your favorite scar.

Mike - Scar on me?

Fiona - Yes, please - you were warned. This is a question I ask in all of my interviews.

Mike - I have two on top of each other. On my forehead. The first happened when I was trying to tackle an auto burglar, and he hit me with a speaker he stole from a car. Then a piece of equipment from my home gym broke loose and hit me in the head. My daughter said that I looked like Harry Potter.

Fiona - I went back to your picture and blew it up to full screen. She's right. Very nice! Did it give you magical powers?

Amazon Link Click HERE
Mike - Not magical powers but the hits in the head explains why I am so fluent in Crazy!

Fiona - Bahaha! Thank you for sharing. Okay, you said that you have turned now to teaching and writing. I have to say you are fearless. You write non-fiction and fiction, YA and adult, and iterestingly, in the book I just finished, The Blue Monster, you chose a female hero.

Can you tell me why you chose to write from a woman's POV? (Very successfully, I might add.)

Mike - I am the lone male under my roof. I wanted to portray a    strong independent female as a role model for my daughters. In addition, it was my tribute to all of my female partners over       the years that helped to keep me alive. Female cops have to      overcome a great deal in a male dominated field. I was privileged to have some great female partners. Many of them that I am still friends with.
Thank you for the praise on Detective Kate Alexander in the Blue Monster. That means a great deal to me.

Fiona - 
My pleasure. Yes, the insight was very
interesting and yet never tipped over the top of martyrdom.

To me, one of the most intriguing parts of the book was the use of hypnotism. Have you ever had  the occasion to use that technique for memory retrieval in your crime-stopping career?

Mike - 
Once, when I was with ATF. We used hypnosis on a sales clerk at a Wal-Mart, who had sold some supplies to an arsonist of a bar in Louisiana. Under hypnosis, she was able to recall in detail the sale.  I took her to a police sketch artist. (sketch artist post)
A suspect was identified through that developed           information. I was skeptical at
first, but I became a believer
after that experience.

How cool is that?! Have you ever been hypnotized?

Mike - 
Only at a Vegas show. I crowed like a rooster. No, just kidding. I have not.

Fiona - 
*Snicker. I would have paid good money to see that. You have a new book out this week. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about your newest?

The book is Mass Killers: How You Can Identify, Workplace, School, or Public Killers Before They Strike. The book is based on the 8-hour class that I teach. There are a number of myths concerning mass killers. I hope the book will help to educate those that want to learn about the subject and become more informed. I am a student of life myself, and I am always looking to learn.

Fiona - 
Well now see I DO get to take your class. How awesome is that? Are you using this as your text book?

No. The book is optional. I hope that those in the class, as well as other attendees at my public speaking engagements at conferences and businesses will be intrigued enough to obtain the book to         enhance their knowledge. Hint - Buy the book! 

Fiona - 
Yes, sir! (NOTE: Since this interview, I had the opportunity of reviewing MASS KILLERS. It is chock full of useful information for writers - mind sets, strategies, and little details that will make 
 your plot authentic. Hint - your killer should have a copy of Catcher in the Rye on his night stand.)  CLICK THIS LINK to go to a info-graphic with some startling mass killer numbers/information.
You know that here in ThrillWriting we like to help writers write it right. Can you offer us any details that every secret service agent knows but the public doesn't? Do you have a secret handshake,
tattoo, or name that you use amongst yourselves? Are there any habits that you develop that a writer could sprinkle in to give authenticity to their work? (See I'm asking for secrets again - while you think about this, just look deeply into the computer image I'm sending you. You are feeling very relaxed... you are getting sleepy....)

Mike - 
As long as I don't start barking like a dog. We are all regular folks with the assortment of personal issues and challenges. We tend to be Type A personalities. We are mostly organized and mission oriented while striving for some balance with our families. There is a great deal of travel with long days. We wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from the sun. The microphone for the radio, I attached to my breast pocket as opposed to my sleeve.
When it comes to fiction writing, the writer needs to ensure they have researched a topic and strive for accuracy, but keep in mind, it is fiction. You have to target a balance. If a reader desires more
realism, then they can read true crime. Have fun with your fictional characters and enjoy the process.

Fiona - 
I love that about striking a balance! You're the first to say it on my blog. I recently read a book by a cop about cops (fiction); it is very accurate and does not translate well to the general public, in my opinion. She would do better to temper the realism.

Mike - 
I was reading a book by Lee Childs that had a Secret Service angle. Lee was worried when I told him that I was reading it. I told him, hey it's fiction and Jack Reacher! He seemed relieved and agreed.

Fiona - 
It's wonderful that he would care. Mr. Childs just rose in my esteem. Well, sadly, our hour is up and I have so many more questions! Quickly, because I know I'm on borrowed time, can you tell us about your communications book, Face 2 Face?

Mike - 
Sure, Face 2 Face: Observing, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an ex-Secret Service Agent's Guide is a book that focuses on helping people connect with each other through interpersonal communications and rapport building. Those aspects really helped my career.

Fiona - 
After I'm done reading Face 2 Face  will you come back for another interview?
Amazon link click HERE

Mike - I would love to come back! Thank you for asking me!

Fiona - 
If you have any questions for either Mike or me, please leave them below, and we will do our best to help.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. Fiona, Thank you for inviting me in for a chat on your wonderful blog. I was humbled and honored. Cheers, Mike

    1. My great pleasure. Now Mike, I'm going to count you back up... when I reach "one," you will feel fully awake and energized. And whenever anyone says "Boy, it's cold outside!" your will... LOL! Hey everyone, go buy Mike's book!

  2. Mike, you've got quite the collection of life experiences! I'm guessing your books are well-balanced and I can't wait to read them (just got Blue Monster in my queue). Thanks for sharing your time!

  3. Blue Monster is a really fun read.
    Let me know what you think!

    Cheers! Fiona