At Alaska’s Fugitive Task Force, Arliss Cutter and deputy Lola Teariki are pulled from their duties and sent to a federal court in Juneau. Instead of tracking dangerous fugitives, Cutter and Lola will be keeping track of sequestered jurors in a high-profile trial. The case involves a massive drug conspiracy with ties to a mining company, a lobbyist, and two state senators. When a prosecuting attorney is murdered—and a reporter viciously attacked—Cutter realizes they’re dealing with something much bigger, and darker, than a simple drug trial. The truth lies deep within the ancient sites and precious mines of this isolated land—and inside the cold hearts of those would kill to hide its secrets…
What’s buried in Alaska stays in Alaska.
Tell me a little about your book “Bone Rattle”
Bone Rattle is the third book in the Arliss Cutter series. Arliss Cutter is a supervisory deputy US Marshal based in Alaska, leading the Alaska Fugitive Task Force–a job I once held in my former career. Each Arliss Cutter novel takes place in a different part of Alaska with Cutter and his partner, Deputy Lola Teariki (Cook Island Maori descent) involved in one of the core missions of the US Marshals Service. In Open Carry, it’s fugitive hunting on Prince of Wales island. In Stone Cross, it’s protecting a judge in the remote tundra of western Alaska, in Bone Rattle, they fly to Juneau, the capital of Alaska to help out with a high threat trial. There are a couple of murders, and they are drawn in to help track the bad guys. These are wilderness adventure books where Alaska, the weather, Native culture, and man-tracking all come into play.
What is the backstory behind “Bone Rattle”?
Much of the action in Bone Rattle occurs deep underground in the abandoned mine tunnels that were bored through the mountains around Juneau in the early part of the twentieth century. I was able to explore many of these mines during my research and draw on actual locations like flooded mine tunnels, etc, for the story. A group called Juneau’s Hidden History assisted me with much of the research.
How has writing helped you personally? And changed the way you think?
Writing, like reading, makes one think more critically. It forces me to slow down my brain and focus–a skill that is being forgotten by some who rely on short snippets of news from the internet rather than reading longer essays. Writing from multiple points of view and researching characters from different cultures certainly helps broaden my worldview.
Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?
I don’t really have a specific story from Bone Rattle, but I would say that out of twenty-four published books to date, the Arliss Cutter novels have the most of me in them. They’re not autobiographical by any stretch, but I do rely heavily on my experiences from a career in the US Marshals Service and my twenty-two years living in Alaska. There’s a scene in one of the books where Cutter is checking in at the airport, getting an armed boarding pass so he can fly commercially with his sidearm. The gate agent looks at his badge and credentials and jokes, “Deputy US Marshal, eh…You don’t look like Tim Olyphant.” Cutter doesn’t understand what she means at first so she explains. “You know, Tim Olyphant who plays Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens on that TV show Justified.” Arliss takes his badge back, smiles kindly, and says, “Well, ma’am, here’s the thing. I’m not tryin’ to be Tim Olyphant…He’s tryin’ to be me.” I guess my point here is that out of all the characters I write, I feel like I’m the most authentic with Arliss Cutter because I’ve been in his boots, and I know what makes him tick.
Is there anything you had to edit OUT of your book that you wished was kept in?
There wasn’t much that had to be edited out. I believe I do a pretty good job in the way I write the books and edit out what I feel may not be necessary to the story. There was a lot of research that went into this book with about 99.5% of it not ending up in the book. In my editing process, I can take a book from about 120,000 words to 105,000 words. I like to ensure that the characters and their stories stay interesting and stay intact.
What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will learn from “Bone Rattle”?
I want the biggest takeaway to be, for people to have a better understanding of Alaska and its vastness. I hope people have a better understanding of the cultures and the characters involved in the story and how they portray the cultures. I want to keep as true to the real Alaska as I can because the state covers so much of the U.S. and people do not even realize just how big and vast Alaska is. I also hope people get the true responsibilities and understand what the U.S. Marshal service is really about.
What are you reading right now?
During my writing process for this book, I would read non-fiction for the research. I wanted to keep to the real deal and the real facts to ensure my book was as accurate as possible. I recently read a book titled, “Bottle of Lies” written by Katherine Eban that talks about the lies behind generic-drug manufacturing and the risk associated with them. I also read “The Splendid and the Vile” written by Erik Larson. This book is about Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz and portrays a story of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis. I read a little bit of everything, and the genre I read changes with the type of novel that I am writing at the time. I also used to give reading tips and suggestions to my co-workers in the Marshal service.
Tell us about your time in law enforcement. Is there anything that you miss?
I was in the U.S. Marshal service for 22 years and that was the best job I’ve ever had. I miss the camaraderie of the people I worked with and the mission itself. It was the best job for me, but now I am able to focus on writing. Although, I was able to write while I was in the Marshal service too.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.
- I met my wife in the theater. I was a theater and drama major but I am very much an introvert.
- I love the outdoors and being outside; whether it be camping or riding my motorcycle.
- A trooper and I in Alaska created a program called ‘Books & Badges’ in which we were able to supply books to kids in a more isolated region in Alaska and we were able to read to them and teach them by reading as well.
General Mattis talks a lot about using reading as a tool to learn from other people’s experiences. Can you provide a specific example or story where reading has helped you learn from other’s experiences?
There is a book that I first read when I was younger called, “Kim” written by Rudyard Kipling. It delves into culture and intel and I have a new perspective from it every time I read it. It gives perspective into another culture and I believe we can always benefit from learning from another culture. I do study in languages that may be involved in my writing to ensure I know that I am learning as well as keeping that connection established for the readers.
What is next for you?
“Bone Rattle” just released a couple of weeks ago. I just turned in another novel to the publisher and I have another Tom Clancy book that should be coming out in November. I am contracted for more novels across the different series.
Marc Cameron is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a native of Texas, has spent over three decades in law enforcement. He is the award-winning author of the Arliss Cutter and the Jericho Quinn series, as well as the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Sr. books, starting with Power and Empire in 2017. Early in his career, he served as a uniformed police officer, mounted (horse patrol) officer, and detective before accepting a position with the United States Marshals Service and serving as a Deputy, Fugitive Task Force Commander, Supervisory Deputy, Senior Inspector, and Chief. His assignments have taken him from rural Alaska to Manhattan, from Canada to Mexico and points in between. A second-degree black belt in jujitsu, he often teaches defensive tactics to other law enforcement agencies and civilian groups. Cameron presently lives in Alaska with his wife and his BMW motorcycle.