Lisa Towles is an Amazon bestselling and award-winning crime novelist and a passionate speaker on fiction writing, creativity, and self-care. She has eleven crime thrillers in print, and a new thriller, Codex, is forthcoming in June 2024. Her latest thriller, Terror Bay, won a NYC Big Book Award, Literary Titan Award, and she is a Crimson Quill Awardee from Book Viral. Her 2022 thriller Salt Island won five literary awards and is the second book in her E&A Investigations Series. Lisa’s deep commitment to helping other authors led her to develop her Author Spotlight blog and her new YouTube author interview series, Story Impact, which gives authors a powerful medium for promoting themselves as speakers and discussing the meaning and impact of their books to readers. Lisa has an MBA in IT Management, is a communications and marketing advisor, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.
Tell us about your latest book. Terror Bay is a standalone psychological thriller about a San Francisco detective whose life falls apart after he’s shot in the line of duty. While in a coma, he “encounters” a female diver and wakes up to a sudden impulse to discover if she’s real and what she wants from him. In so doing, he discovers an ancient shipwreck, buried treasure, and the answer to a question that had haunted him since childhood.
What do you think are some challenges of the writing path? Being a published author requires two distinct skill sets – the creative aspects of writing and editing a book for publication and the business of writing. Writers need to be adept at social media, book promotion, cultivating a following, connecting with readers, and public speaking to talk about their books. These themes connect them to readers and explain why their books matter. So, a challenge is knowing what tasks to do yourself and what tasks to outsource to others. And this can be tricky.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? My books do have subplots, sometimes several. And the process of integrating all the threads into one is both an art and a science. I use plotting techniques like storyboarding to understand how subplots fit together, but some of those answers are just intuitive and require quiet time in my thinking chair…and time to allow the story to emerge.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Every book I write requires research, but Terror Bay required even more, such as diving research, medical research on coma and traumatic brain injuries and related recovery, regional research on the Puget Sound/Bainbridge Island setting, and historical research on the actual shipwreck and treasure on which the plot is based.
Besides promoting Terror Bay, what else are you currently working on? I’m working with my editor to prepare my next thriller, Codex, for release in June 2024, and I am writing a new standalone thriller about the oil and gas industry.
Do you have any advice for new writers? I always advise novice writers to honor the truth of the story that wants to emerge. There’ll be plenty of time to edit and polish that story later and align it with a specific reading market. But it’s so important (especially early on the writing journey) to allow yourself the freedom to just openly create and to give voice and wings to the story that wants to be told.
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