Mark Bouton will Sacrifice for the FBI
Mark Bouton obtained degrees in sociology and law, then entered the FBI where he worked terrorism and criminal cases for 30 years. He was stationed in Alabama, New York, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Kansas. As an agent, he captured killers, con men, kidnappers, and bank robbers. He played a key role in identifying the Oklahoma City bombers.
Bouton writes suspense novels, with five published to date, the latest an FBI thriller titled The Sacrifice. In it, the FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she meets an unthinkable fate. He also writes non-fiction books, his latest titled How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. It shows how to tell when someone is lying by their facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators.He’s married, with four sons, and lives on a horse ranch in St. Mary’s, Kansas. His books are at: www.amazon.com/Mark-Bouton/e/B001JP4A3S. He also has a website at www.mmbouton.com.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. We lived in houses that were at the edge of town, so I spent my childhood hiking around in the woods by creeks and shooting my BB gun or .22-cal rifle. I didn’t like to shoot at birds or animals, but I liked target practice. Another influence in my youth was that I discovered and loved mystery novels from The Hardy Boys to Sherlock Holmes to The World’s Greatest Detective stories. Then I went to college at Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in sociology. Next, I attended law school at Oklahoma University. I heard an FBI agent talk about the job while I was in school, and when I graduated, I went to work for the FBI as a Special Agent.
I liked the challenge of viewing a crime scene, collecting physical and witness evidence, and then trying to put together the pieces to solve the puzzle of who committed the crime, how, and sometimes even why. I worked in the FBI for 30 years, doing criminal investigations and some work in terrorism cases. I was stationed in New York, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Kansas. I was able to catch kidnappers, killers, con men, bank robbers, and jewel thieves. I also played a key role in identifying the Oklahoma City bombers.
In school, I found I liked writing assignments, and my teachers were encouraging to me. I began writing novels, and naturally, I gravitated to writing mystery/suspense books. I’ve been fortunate in being published with traditional publishers. I also wrote a nonfiction book based on my law enforcement experiences and from research. It’s entitled How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. It details ways of telling someone is fibbing by reading his facial expressions, body language, and various verbal indicators.
I’m married, have four sons, and live on a horse ranch in northeast Kansas. I enjoy exercising, reading, watching movies, and playing my electric guitar. And I try to keep up with mowing and doing repairs around our country place. I continue to write both novels and nonfiction books.
Please tell us your latest news!
My latest novel is an FBI thriller set in San Antonio, Texas. It features male and female FBI agents who spearhead a kidnapping investigation. In the book, the FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she meets an unthinkable fate. In the book, there’s interaction among politicians, criminals, FBI agents and police, and a satanic cult. It’s entitled The Sacrifice, and was published by Oak Tree Press in Illinois. It recently received an award as the Best Book of 2012 by reviewer Fran Lewis, a reviewer, writer, and radio host on the Red River Radio station. It also won Best Thriller Cover in a contest sponsored by Venture Galleries. It’s available at Amazon and at Oak Tree Books. I’ve just completed the first draft of another thriller novel and am in the process of editing it. Next, I plan to write a nonfiction book about lying that’s geared toward women.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I’ve found that each new novel I write requires a good deal of research. Readers want the details of one’s book to be accurate. And I try to keep my books that way. I’ve written about organized crime, racism, cybercrime, gang violence, religion, and satanic cults. All called for extensive research. The novel I’ve just completed deals with UFOs and aliens. I realized I had little knowledge on the subjects, and it was necessary to look at a great deal of material and sort it out. One interesting situation I ran across was that a UFO is believed to have crashed in Aurora, Texas, in 1897. The townspeople disposed of the craft itself by throwing the debris down an old well. The pilot of the UFO, a small alien only about three feet tall, was buried in the local cemetery and given a tombstone which was later stolen. Citizens of the town have historically been reluctant to talk about the incident.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
In my first three novels, I outlined in various ways, including using a cork board display to follow the development of the main plotline, as well as the different subplots. After that, I decided that I had the general design of plot imprinted well enough on my brain to use a basic one page outline divided into the various chapters. I also keep 3” x 5” cards with a few sentences on each describing what happened in the particular chapters. I maintain character profiles for the main actors in my book. Typically, I know the subject I want to explore, know that the book will start with a crime being committed or just discovered, the middle will show the investigation done to solve the crime, and the ending third to show the terrible moment before the main character triumphs, the epiphany, the wrapping up of subplots, and the main climax, followed by the denouement. And I try to write a last paragraph that will make the reader say, “Wow, that was quite a ride.” I also hope it raises important questions for the reader to think about and perhaps act on in their lives long after they’ve read the book.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Sure, I think every writer has a style that reflects his or her personality, ideas, passions, desires, and outlook on life. And the level of development of his craftsmanship to express the ideas and emotions of his story are clearly evident, as well. My style includes lots of action, dialogue meant to convey character and background and beliefs, and an underlying humorous take on life’s situations. I like to explore different themes in my books. In my latest novel, The Sacrifice, I attempt to make the reader think about whether or not we’re treating our children in the best possible way.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
I don’t usually talk about a book until it’s finished. Some writers say that takes away from the energy needed to actually write the book. I do know that the book doesn’t get written just by talking about it.
But in short form, it’s basically about FBI agents and other people being killed in bizarre ways. The task for Max Austin and other law enforcement personnel is to find out if there’s a connection among the victims and to deduce who is masterminding the scheme. The trail seems littered with clues that point at some connection with UFOs and aliens. But how likely is that? And where do you find such suspects? Max and the others need to learn the truth behind UFO sightings and the explanations for them by the military, FAA, and the CIA. And even if they do locate them, how will they gain access to them?
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Yes, I belong to a critique group that meets weekly. We read four pages and make whatever comments seem helpful. There are quite a few good writers and people with varied and interesting backgrounds, so our collective range of knowledge is pretty extensive. They’ve given me quite a few good tips on procedures or names for items used in certain trades. I can tell by watching them as I read whether I’m keeping their interest. And I see minor mistakes or any false or overdone dialogue when I read my pages out loud. I’d recommend any writer find a solid critique group with people who read and write at a high level of competency.
Is there anyone who really mentored or inspired you to keep writing until you were finally published?
I didn’t have a mentor, per se. But I was in another good critique group that was very helpful to me in determining whether my protagonist was strong enough to hold their interest and whether the plot was advancing in the right direction and at a good pace. I was also helped by reading some of my favorite crime writers such as Robert Campbell, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, and Nancy Pickard. There are many others that I read and like, so the list is definitely not all inclusive.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
They could contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and CrimeSpace. My website is www.mmbouton.com. And my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
They could look at my website, above. Or perhaps a better place would be at the Amazon site that describes my background and my books. Its www.amazon.com/Mark-Bouton/e/B001JP4A3S
The FBI races to find a kidnapped baby before she’s sacrificed by a satanic cult. When the newborn daughter of a Texas state senator is snatched from the hospital, FBI agents John Ransom, a crafty veteran, and Kathy Devereaux, a striking Cajun rookie, head the pressure-filled investigation to save the infant. The agents learn a Palo mayombre cult plans a human sacrifice. But there are other suspects, and all possibilities must be checked. The agents catch the senator getting cozy with a nurse from the hospital. Evidence shows inside help in the kidnapping, adding more suspects to the list. They’re all found to belong to the cult, and they are determined to sacrifice the senator’s baby. Now the FBI must trick the bloodthirsty cultists and stop the ceremony before they do the unthinkable.