Reader Q&A with an FBI Agent (plus a giveaway!)


**Note: the giveaway is now closed. Winners will be announced shortly.

We continue the countdown to the April 2nd release of Love Irresistibly with… another giveaway!

The next book up is A Lot Like Love, the second book in the FBI/US Attorney series. (FYI, for those of you who aren’t familiar, the books are a “series” in the sense that they are set in a shared world and some characters make appearances in later books. But I write each book as a standalone, so you should feel free to jump in wherever you like!)

Now, normally, this is the part where I would post the book blurb for A Lot Like Love. But we’re going to do things a little differently today… and I have a feeling you’re all going to enjoy this.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook may recall that I met with an FBI Special Agent a few weeks ago, as research for the series. I’d posted this question on Facebook: Jotting down questions for tomorrow’s meeting with a new FBI contact. Anything any of you are dying to know about special agents?

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask all your questions during our meeting. But Mr. Special Agent just so happened to spot the questions readers posted on my Facebook page, and he ever so graciously sent me answers to those questions. [Seriously, how cool is Mr. Special Agent for doing this?]

So this week, not only do I have a $25 gift card to Amazon/Barnes & Noble and five signed copies of A Lot Like Love up for grabs, but you get a little bit of insight into the life of an active FBI agent.

Now, on to your questions–what you are dying to know about FBI agents–and the answers from Mr. Special Agent himself:

Q. How long is the training for FBI agents?

FBI training, at Quantico, Virginia is 21 weeks long.  The training focuses on academics such as legal, forensics and counter intelligence training, firearms training, and defensive tactics.  There is an entire town mockup called Hogan’s Alley where professional role players are bad guys and witnesses and we practice everything from interrogations to high-risk car stops.  Here is a link for more information:

Q. How can I get one?!

Well, a surefire way to meet FBI agents is to commit a federal crime.  That is guaranteed to get us knocking down your door.

Q. How can you do undercover work if your face is known?SAYcoverBerkley

Undercover work is not for everyone.  Agents who do undercover work are specially trained and typically avoid the media.  When you see FBI agents at press conferences you are usually seeing the agents designated by the office for such duties.

Q. Why do they only wear black and grey suits?

Actually I own suits in blue and brown as well.  I even have a green suit with a black stripe I break out when I am feeling crazy.

Q. 1) Do FBI agents and us attorney’s ever get involved like in your book, 2)how long do you need to be an agent before you go undercover, 3)do you need a undergraduate degree to get into the academy, 4)is it hard to married or have a girlfriend and be in the FBI agent

These are excellent questions and encompass too much for this venue.  None of these answers will really do your questions justice.

1.  Agents and US Attorneys work closely together and sometimes when two single people work closely together romance forms. I do not know of any FBI/ASUA couples, though I do know a Assistant US Attorney engaged to a DEA agent.

2. There are so many forms of undercover work and the requirements for each vary so much there simply is no standard answer for this.

3. A four-year degree from an accredited school is one of the basic requirements for the Special Agent position. There are many more and they can be found here:

4. I could spend days discussing your fourth question. It is more difficult. I dated a woman I really liked who broke up with me. Months later we spoke and she told me it was because every day she didn’t hear from me she worried I was hurt or dead. I constantly remind friends not to walk up and say hello to me if they see me out because I could be working. Also my spouse needs to have my undercover legend memorized in case we are out and someone who knows me by another identity walks up and starts a conversation. So there are some things that make it more difficult. The hardest part is the schedule which can vary with no notice and living with a person who has a ‘go bag’ packed and might end the day in another country with no notice.

9780425246955_AboutThatNig_CV.inddQ. Relationships? Are they even possible?

Despite some complications mentioned above relationships are very possible in this profession and the vast majority of agents are married.

Q.  One how do they live with them self’s knowing that most days they have to lie to people? with that said can they just turn the lie on and off like an actor acting in a scene? How much do they have to cover up their job from friends and family? Since their lives could be on the line do they trust people easy even people they work with? What makes their job worth it to them? 

I’m not sure what you are referring to here.  If you mean undercover work, yes it is extremely stressful.  Most of the work we do is in offices in front of computers.  Typically undercover work is a set duration of time so you know you only have to get through for so long.  In this job you are literally saving lives.  I have picked up children and carried them in my arms out of the filthy basement where they have lived their entire lives being constantly abused.  Depending what violations you work finding value in what you do can be easy.

Q.  Do most FBI agents apply through the FBI website or are they recruited? (If the latter, usually from where?)

Everyone applies through the website.  The only type of recruiting is when we meet someone we think would be a good agent we would encourage them to apply.

Q. Do they ever arrest anyone saying “you have the right to remain sexy”? 

Um…  No.

Q. What background do they have to have before becoming FBI Agent?

This is another complicated answer.  The FBI philosophy is that we can teach the law enforcement but we can’t teach the thousands of skills we need to investigate the more than 1300 violations we work.  So backgrounds are varied.  The average age of a new agent is 31 and we consider this a second career job.  We look for people who are successful in their current career and have received promotions and increased responsibility.

Q. I guess it would be inappropriate for you to just hand over my phone number, right?comps_LoveIrr.indd

We are the FBI.  We already have your phone number.

Q. Which is the proportion analysts/ field agents? How many hours spent an agent actively working and how many behind a desk?

This is another complicated question.  There are multiple types of analysts including Intelligence Analysts and Operations Specialists.  Typically a squad of 8-10 agents might have one of each type.  Then the office might have a squad, or more if the office is large enough, made up entirely of analysts for bigger projects.  My personal opinion is that about 20% of our time involves active investigation and 80% involves the desk.

Q. Hey, I’m a girl so just going to ask you to ask them, Boxers or Briefs! Just putting it out there, y’all know you wanna know!

Unfortunately my conversation with Julie was too short for everything she wanted to cover and the topic of underwear never came up.

[Julie, snapping fingers: I knew I forgot to ask something!]

Q. What previous experience is required & can they become FBI straight away or do they need to do other law enforcement stuff first? What’s the youngest an FBI Agent can be?

The minimum agent to become a Special Agent is 23, though I have never heard of a 23 year-old agent.  The youngest I have known was 25 and was hired for his computer science degree.  We hire people with all types of experience but the typical successful candidate is around 31 with an advanced degree.  For analyst positions the criteria are totally different.  Here is a link if you would like more information:

Q. Yeah, are you single? Lol

Sorry, but I am no longer single.


There you have it, folks. Thank you so much to Mr. Special Agent for taking the time to answer these questions! Don’t be surprised if you all see a lot of this info making it’s way into one of my books.

And now for the giveaway part: all you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. It’s that easy. (Note: those of you reading this on my Goodreads page should click here to leave a comment.) One grand prize winner will receive a copy of A Lot Like Love and a $25 gift card to Amazon/Barnes & Noble. Four additional winners will receive a copy of A Lot Like Love. Winners will be chosen at random, and will have the option of choosing either a signed paperback or a Kindle/Nook/Kobo ebook. Giveaway is open internationally and will run until this Sunday, February 17, at 9pm CST.

For more information about the FBI/US Attorney series, be sure to check out my series page, which has lots o’ fun stuff for readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the books–including a series overview, the inspiration behind the series, and some tongue-in-cheek profiles of the heroes.

And don’t forget about more fun stuff! There are additional chances to win my books at these other giveaways currently going on: be sure to check out this giveaway with Carly Phillips for $100 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card and 3 copies of each of our books; as well as this Goodreads giveaway for 25 copies of A Lot Like Love, and this new Goodreads giveaway for 25 copies of my upcoming release, Love Irresistibly.

Also, I’m doing a live video chat with author Samantha Young (On Dublin Street) on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, at 3pm EST.  People are welcome to ask questions during the chat. The link to connect to the video chat via Spreecast is:

Good luck to all who enter, and remember to check back over the next several weeks for more giveaways!


All About Romance Readers Poll is open

Read some good romance novels this past year? The annual All About Romance Readers’ Poll is now open, where readers can vote for their favorite romance novels of 2012. Voting is open to all. Link to the poll is here.

And in case you were wondering, ABOUT THAT NIGHT came out in 2012. Just saying.  : )


Valentines with Chicago Romance Authors

Will you be in the Chicago area on Sunday, February 10th? If so, I’m doing a girls night out event with several other Chicago romance authors, and we’d love to have you join us!  There will be free books, drink specials (I think), a Q&A with the authors–all sorts of fun stuff!

The event is at:

Sheffield’s Chicago
3258 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Sunday, February 10, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (CST)

More details:

Grab your girlfriends (or your date) and head out for drinks and a few laughs with local authors who use Chicago as the backdrop for their stories. Join seven contemporary romance authors to talk about sex, love, and romance in the city.

Authors on the panel are:
· Beth Kery, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
· Julie James, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
· Julie Ann Walker, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
· Jennifer Stevenson
· Adrienne Giordano
· Kate Meader
· Shannyn Schroeder

The authors will read a selection from their latest books and participate in a Q&A session. Bring your love of books and romance and any questions you’ve ever wanted to ask an author. Open to the public. No cover charge, but donations for a literacy organization appreciated. (Literature for all of us — Raffle for door prizes. Venue is a bar — must be 21 to enter.

Pre-registration special — Everyone who pre-registers at will be entered into a special raffle for a Nook simple touch. Winner must be present to win.

Hope to see many of you there!

Personalized books for the holidays

Several people have asked about this, so I thought I would share for others who might be interested…

Those of you looking to purchase personalized copies of any of my books as holiday gifts can do so through The Book Cellar in Chicago. (And yes, they will ship internationally!)

To order, contact:

The Book Cellar
4736-38 Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625

Let them know which book(s) you want to order and the name to whom you would like the book(s) personalized. One note: while I’m happy to hop over to the Book Cellar as expeditiously as possible to personalize the books, if ordering for the holidays, please allow sufficient time for shipping. (Particularly for international orders.)

Happy holidays!

Need a quick Thanksgiving dessert?

I’ve started my annual Thanksgiving preparations (Mr. James and I host our families every year), and thought I’d share this easy recipe for Magic Bars that has been a staple in the James family for years.


  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted1 1/2 cups corn flake crumbs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13×9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray. (**Julie’s note: I line the pan instead with parchment paper instead for ease)
  2. Combine corn flake crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts, then pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the bars. Press down firmly with a fork.
  3. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars and store covered at room temperature.