The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Intelligence World à la Hildie McQueen: Info for Writers


Fiona - 
Today, we're visiting with author Hildie McQueen.
Hildie, you have an unusual back ground. You started off your career in army intelligence, turned successful romance writer, turned suspense writer.
I'm sure you've found at all these turns that once in a while, circumstances line up and a hero emerges.

Sometimes they are not your every day heroes. I usually ask this question at the end, but could you tell us your favorite scar story 
and how the soldier and his dogs showed up at just the right moment?

Hildie -
My life has always been about going with the flow. Following my instincts to see where they land me. Usually, it works out. I'm super excited about this new turn, a try at romantic suspense.

How I got scar on my forearm (hidden by tatoo now)

One evening back in 1982, I was heading back to my Army kaserne (post) from a beer fest. A girlfriend and I were especially proud of having stolen large beer steins. We were, I'm sure, talking obnoxiously loud as we walked down the street. About four blocks from the front gate, a group of Turks happened upon us. I'm not sure if they meant us harm or were just having fun. What I do know is that we were not about to find out, so we took off running. And they chased after us, cat calling and saying things in Turkish.

It was not that hard to get away from them. And since we were both Army soldiers, that part didn't worry me. What did bother me was the possibility of having to drop my prize stein, and it breaking.

When we got to the back wall of the Army kaserne, we split. I decided to scale the wall, while my friend Lori (the smarter of the two) sprinted to the front gate. I got to the top of the wall, used the mug to hold down the barbed wire as best I could and jumped down.

Out of breath, I straightened to find that I had jumped right into the K-9 kennels. The dogs didn't bark at first, most cocked their head to the side and stared at me with puzzled expressions.

"Hands in the air!" a military police guy came to my rescue. (Sort of, I think his gun was drawn.)

He later told me, I was a sight. Obviously drunk, pants torn, mug in the air, blood dripping down my arm.

He was nice enough to let me stagger to my barracks, and I was nice enough not to mention his dogs were not very good watchmen since not one bit me.

Fiona - 
Hildie, what was it like being young in Germany working in Army intelligence?

Hildie -
It was an adventure. I hung out with German friends and got to know the locals, which was super cool. Germany is a beautiful country. I enjoyed traveling to Spain, France, and Italy. The only regret was that I was so young, I didn't appreciate so much the beauty of the architecture and such. At that age, my German friends and I spent most of our time jumping trains and having a great time.

The interesting part, was that I couldn't do some of the things they did because I had a Top Secret clearance and could be tested at any moment. So I stuck to the legal pursuits.

Fiona - 
Did you need to go through any specialized training or background checks to take on you duty?

Hildie - 
Oh yeah, everyone in my neighborhood was questioned. My mother was beside herself trying to explain to them that I wasn't a murderer, but had a special job in the military. LOL 

Besides random drug testing, I have been polygraphed about ten times! I hate those things

Other than my job training, I also had to do special anti-terrorist training yearly.

Fiona - 
Tell us about the polygraphing process and how you felt during the procedure.

Hildie - 
The first time, I wasn't sure what to expect. They sat me in a chair with a special cushion on it. Then a strap across my chest and wrists. Some sort of other monitors. Then they begin by telling you to lie. Those polygraph technicians were sneaky bastards, too. They would ask the same question over and over and freak you into thinking, "Oh no, am I lying?" LOL It's unnerving. But most of the time, I was done within an hour or so.

Fiona - 
Why a special cushion?

Hildie - 
I think people clench their butt cheeks when they lie.
I never even thought about practicing butt cheek relaxation. LOL

Fiona - 

An hour seems like a very long and exhausting time - did you head to the bar afterwards?

P.S. A valium will take care of all that. Did they do drug tests at the same time?

Hildie - 
Nah, it was usually during work hours. Go get tortured, then back to work. I know some people had a beer right before. Not sure if it helped.

But they asked about drugs

Especially if you started clenching because you needed a restroom break.

I did fail once because I wanted to cough and kept holding back. They got mad at me and kicked me out of the room. I tell you those polygraphers are buttheads! ;-\

Fiona - 

So you passed with flying colors because you're such a good girl err, were such a good girl (I'm posting photos of you - so you can't lie about this)

Hildie - 
I passed because I didn't lie. Not because I was a "good girl." There's a difference ;)

Fiona - 
What did you do during the day. And what would have happened to you if you smuggled files out in your boots?

Hildie - 
I was a captains assistant. He was hot too, had one blue eye and one brown eye. I still remember him. Captain Carson. He was blond... 

Oh yeah about the job, I did all kinds of things, mainly briefings and security - administrative type, not walking around with a weapon.

I was taking paperwork to headquarters one day and didn't realize there were a couple of classified documents mixed in. That was not a fun day. They wrote me up and made me go through refresher training, which was funny since I normally did that. So I counseled myself! LOL

I've never met a man with different colored eyes - what a fun detail. Have you worked it into any of your books? 

Hildie - 
Yeah, I wonder where he is now. I am going to write that hero. Not sure but he'll probably be a cop or a cowboy!

Fiona - 
What are the different file classifications and what puts material into these categories?

Hildie - 
Confidential, Secret and Top Secret, then there's some super duper one called *****. 

(Fiona's note - references to this top secret name had to be redacted for national security's sake - I was warned that if I posted it, the baddies would come after me and try to milk me for other information. If you are a baddie and think I have any kind of information at all - I DO NOT. And everything redacted is erased from my memory. But Hildie knows - go for her.)

Hildie cont.
 I never saw one of those. Usually it depends on the measure of how much damage would be caused to National Security.

Fiona -
*****! HOLY MOLY, girlfriend. I wouldn't look at a file called ***** if you paid me my weight in gold.

Hildie -
I never got any closer than a rubber stamp with that on it. It was still new when I transferred.

No telling what evil would be after me and mine to give up the goods.

Yeah, most of us only knew a bit of the puzzle, rarely enough to be taken hostage by any baddies

Fiona - 
How would they transport ***** files - in a tank?

Hildie - 
LOL Probably a special courier. 
Whose job I would never want.

Fiona - 

Were you trained for that - what to do if a baddie snagged you?

Hildie - 
Give your name and serial number. That's it, can't say anything else

Personally I'd offer them sex and to cook or clean their house. I was not about to die

Fiona - 
As if you could "offer" something. If the baddies had you, they'd make you do whatever they wanted.

You have to come up with a contigency plan - quick! What would you do?

...besides make a killer salsa.

no wait!

That might just do it.

Hildie - 
Hey, Mr. Badman, how about if I tell you what I read on an ***** file once? Plus, I'll give you Captain Carson's address.

I'd make some crap up about ships and air craft carriers!

Fiona - 
Captain Carson appreciates your loyalty. You don't have my address do you?

Did you learn ways to do research - find information that isn't readily available to lowly writers such as myself?

Hildie -
In a way. I haven't used any. I don't find that world as fascinating as perhaps the world of police officers, snipers, and black ops. They are the ones that have all the fun!

Fiona - 
Did you think the world of intelligence would be more exciting - were you disappointed?

Hildie - 
Not really. I think I was a bit paranoid at first. But I got used to it. There were times I was a bit nervous like when spies were caught or when we had certain threats, but for the most part it was not as exciting

Fiona - 
Can you tell me about spies being caught?

Hildie - 
Not any specifics. But I did work with a traitor for a short time. I don't understand people who do that.

Fiona - 
Can you tell us about that experience?

Hildie - 
It happened in the 80s. Boring normal guy. 

One day we are on shut down, can't leave the building. I was in Germany at the time. People that knew him were taken to be questioned. The rest of us were screened and released. I think I got home the next day early morning. It was strange, no one trusted anyone, and we all felt suspicious and paranoid. Didn't learn until months later what exactly happened. I'd only seen him in passing, so I wasn't one of the unlucky ones who was held for days. I remember being so mad at him. So angry that someone would do something that could potentially get us all killed. For money.

Fiona - 
What are three things that writers get DEAD WRONG about military intelligence.

Hildie - 
I haven't read much, but people assume everyone with a clearance has had a super secret mission. That military intelligence doesn't help as much as they should during war time, when in actuality, many of the servicemen and civilians in MI are first ones on the ground. And lastly, that MI folks are smart! LOL Nope mostly just crazy!

Fiona - 
Awesome. You are awesome, Hildie.

Hildie - 
Thanks! It was fun, had me reminiscing ! I'd like to mention the three cops I'm dedicating my book to. My friend Sheriff's Deputy Keith Warner, a guy that pulled me over in Alabama, and then became my FB friend. Officer Ryan Key. Scott Silverii. They're all heroes!

Fiona - 
They are indeed! Before you go, tell us about your novella.

Hildie -
The last twenty-four hours have been hell, between a fight with her ex that left her with a bruised face and now finding a dead body. Somehow Eliza Brock still manages to feel the undeniable attraction to the handsome deputy in charge of the investigation.

Sebastian Castro planned for another slow week in Lovely, Tennessee. Instead, the first murder in twenty years happens. Eddie Mason is dead, Eliza's ex had an ongoing feud with him and the widow is making the moves on Castro.

It's definitely not a normal week in the small town. But it's the week fate decides to bring two solitary people together. Just when neither of them needs it.

Heroine (Eliza) finds a dead guy, and her ex is one of the people of interest.

She'd convinced the deputy won't ask her out now, so she's bummed.
The Hero (Sebastian) while caught in the middle of investigation finds his attraction to Eliza distracting.

I have a funny scene where they're kissing. She puts the breaks on it, and he falls off the couch! It cracked me up while writing.

Fiona - 
Ha! Thanks for sharing, Hildie.

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 comment:

  1. I don't have much to ask or add here (Hildie probably couldn't answer anything I'd ask anyway...) but it was an interesting interview.