After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, Lynn Slaughter earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She writes coming-of-age romantic mysteries and is the author of the newly released Deadly Setup, a 2022 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medalist. She is also the author of Leisha’s Song, a 2022 Imadjinn Award winner, a Moonbeam bronze medalist, Agatha nominee, and Silver Falchion Award winner; While I Danced, an EPIC finalist; and It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist. Her first mystery for adults, Missed Cue, comes out from Melange Books in the summer of 2023. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she’s at work on her next novel. She currently serves as president of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime.
DEADLY SETUP Seventeen-year-old Sam’s life implodes when her heiress mother’s fiancé turns up dead, and Sam is accused of his murder and goes on trial. She fights to prove her innocence with the help of her boyfriend’s father, an ex-homicide cop. Just when things are looking especially bleak, Sam makes a startling discovery.
What brought you to writing? I spent much of my career as a professional modern dancer and dance educator. But I’d always enjoyed nonfiction writing and research. While still dancing, I moonlighted as a freelance magazine journalist specializing in writing about the challenges of adolescence and parenting teens. In all honesty, I didn’t think I had the fiction gene!
However, when age and injury led to my retirement from dance, I got an idea for a story about a young aspiring dancer with lots of family and friendship issues. That became my first young adult novel, WHILE I DANCED. I got hooked on fiction writing and returned to school, earning my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. It was a wonderful program, and I’ve kept writing ever since!
Tell us about your writing process. I tend to get a general idea for the premise of a novel. For example, DEADLY SETUP began as the kernel of an idea: What if a teenager was accused of murdering her mother’s fiancé?
Before trying to develop a plot, I spend a lot of time developing my characters and their backstories. Out of that work, I get a very good idea about my characters’ internal issues and how they will intersect and conflict with one another. It never ceases to amaze me how many plot ideas and complications grow out of starting with character development! I owe this insight to Elizabeth George. I’ve found her books on craft, WRITE AWAY! and MASTERING THE PLOT, to be so helpful.
What are you currently working on? I’m working on three projects which are at different stages of development:
Missed Cue, my first adult mystery, is coming out this summer from Melange Books, so I’m about to receive editorial notes.
I’ve also been working on a middle-grade fantasy about Varney, a kid vampire who hates the taste of blood and is convinced he’s landed in the wrong body. Thanks to a friendly witch, he gets a chance to switch with a human boy who is very unhappy in his life and longs to be a vampire.
Finally, I’m working on a young adult novel about a teen whose mother goes missing. The evidence indicates suicide, but my teenage protagonist doesn’t believe her mother would have killed herself and is determined to find out what really transpired.
How do you come up with character names? I have a book of baby names that gives a bit about where each name came from and what it means. I love going through it and finding names that seem to fit with the personalities and backgrounds of my characters.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I do! I find they often emerge organically from the relationships of the major characters. For example, in DEADLY SETUP, the protagonist has a close gay friend who’s involved in a romance with the closeted son of parents who think homosexuality is a sin. When his parents discover his romance, they forbid him to see his boyfriend. He becomes severely depressed, and after his failed suicide attempt, he eventually moves in with more supportive relatives.
This subplot actually reinforces a major theme of the novel, which is that sometimes when your family of origin is unable or unwilling to be unconditionally loving and accepting, it is sometimes necessary to create an intentional family.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Read voraciously and put yourself on a writing schedule that works for you and that you can stick to!
Join writers’ associations, such as Sisters in Crime and its subgroup, the Guppies, and make use of their resources.
Study craft books and analyze your favorite books in your chosen genre to see what makes them work so well.
Find a supportive writing community and a helpful, constructive critique group. If more than one person points to a problem in your manuscript, pay attention!
Above all, persevere!
Groups I belong to:
Mid-South Region of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Guppies and my local chapter of Sisters in Crime, the Derby Rotten Scoundrels
I love hearing from readers and can be contacted through my website: https://lynnslaughter.com/
Amazon: Deadly Setup – Kindle edition by Slaughter, Lynn.
Print book: https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Setup-Lynn-Slaughter/dp/B0B5KV5424/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1664994693&sr=1-1
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deadly-setup-lynn-slaughter/1141674720?ean=9798886530087
Books-a-Million: Deadly Setup by Lynn Slaughter (booksamillion.com)
It sounds like you’re dancing right along, Lynn. Keep it going and good luck with all your projects.
Thanks so much, Michael!
Lynn, I was so excited to read that one of my SinC sisters was a dancer. I, too, was a dancer, not by profession. Do you mix this in with your books? I’m embarrassed that I have not read any of your books. I will now.
How lovely that you were a dancer, too! My first novel, WHILE I DANCED, was about an aspiring ballet dancer, and all of my novels have characters involved in the arts. My forthcoming mystery for adults, MISSED CUE, is about the investigation of the murder of a ballet dancer who dies onstage in Act III of Romeo and Juliet.