By Libby Doyle, author of the Covalent Series
AGENT TRAINING QUESTIONNAIRE
This goal of this document is to help agent trainees gain insight into the Bureau’s culture, and to learn how experienced agents have achieved success on the job.
From: Christopher Avondale
To: Alexandra O’Gara
Q: Why did you decide to join the FBI?
A: After my time in the Army, it seemed like the natural thing to do. I served three tours in Afghanistan. Even though I went to college after I got out, I don’t think I ever moved to the rhythms of civilian life. I like service. I was overjoyed when the Bureau accepted me. I love the strong sense of mission, the history, the camaraderie. I love to keep people safe.
Q: What was the most challenging part of your training?
A: Learning precision shooting. The weapons I used during my service weren’t exactly designed for accuracy. Lucky for me, my partner is the best shot in the Philadelphia field office. I’ve improved a lot since being assigned here.
A: Learning to be patient. For example, I refused to let go of a case this past summer. We were notified when a park ranger found a human spleen in the bushes in Independence National Historical Park. We tested the DNA and ran it through the database and discovered that the spleen came from a body found that winter by the Philadelphia police. All its internal organs had been removed in some kind of sick ritual sacrifice.
My boss told me to leave the case to Philly PD because they found the body, but I wouldn’t let it go. I asked the boss for permission to pursue it on my own time, which he quite generously granted, but with limits. I blew past those limits. I didn’t listen.
We’re still embroiled in that investigation. In fact, we’ve discovered a snuff pornography ring that may involve human trafficking and murder, so I got lucky. The results glossed over my sins. But I should have explained things to my boss. I shouldn’t have gone behind his back. I need to regain his trust. I need to understand that this is large organization that moves in its own time. I work for the FBI. It doesn’t work for me.
Q: What advice would you give to new agents?
A: Learn whatever you can from the more experienced agents. During your first year, keep your damn mouth shut. If you’re certain you’re right, keep your damn mouth shut, because you don’t know anything and you’re probably wrong. Remember that the law and processes you learn from books are barely recognizable in the real world.
Q: Is work/life balance important to you? Have you managed to achieve this?
A: That’s one of those things that is so subjective, I don’t know if my answer will have any value. Being an FBI agent is not an identity you shed when you leave the federal building at night. Sometimes, it’s an eight to six job. Other times you won’t see your friends for weeks. Stakeouts can seriously erode your hygiene habits and your sanity, but they often result in the apprehension of seriously evil people. When it happens, it’s all worth it.
You can have a life. I play in a rock-n-roll band. Nothing like pouring 120 decibels out of a set of Marshall stacks to relieve stress. I will say that the people in your life need to be understanding. I’ve had to cancel practices and gigs because of my job. As for romantic relationships, I’ll tell you the truth. This job is hell on relationships.
The Pain Season is available now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo. Although not a cliffhanger, The Pain Season is not a stand-alone novel. The story begins in The Passion Season and will continue in The Vengeance Season coming in 2017.
Libby grew up on the East Coast of the United States and attended college in the 1980s, immersed in the underground music scene. She met talented people and troubled people. People who taught her what it means to be your own person.
In the 1990s, Libby went back to school to get a master’s degree in journalism. For more than a decade, she worked as a journalist, until her interests led her to law school. She kept her full-time job while attending law school at night, a brutal experience. Though she cursed her stupidity countless times as her body and mind became sick with exhaustion, she’s glad she did it.
She knows she’s lucky. She’s had countless adventures, memories that feed her imagination. Libby has stood atop a hill in Connemara in a cold wind, watching sunlight sparkle off the pristine sea below. She’s crested a trail after a grueling hike to find the glory of the Continental Divide spread before her. She’s been followed by a howler monkey in a Mexican jungle, shared the midday meal with Buddhist monks in Korea, and been pummeled by an opponent in a martial arts test in Japan. She’s trekked for days among the Himalayas, mountains so high and timeless they made her feel completely insignificant, a wonderful feeling.
Libby is married to a man who is funny and kind and patient enough to listen to her chatter on about her characters. She feels like they’re her friends. She’s confident they’ll keep you entertained. Through her fanciful tales, she hopes they speak to you.