Lisa Towles is a crime novelist, a passionate speaker, and an avid supporter of other writers. Her 12th crime novel, Codex, will be released on June 20th by Indies United Publishing and was called “Fast-paced and ingenious” by The Prairies Book Review.



Lisa lives in northern California and works in the tech industry.

Tell me about your forthcoming book and what kind of readers you’re targeting. Codex, my new (standalone) psychological thriller, aligns with my other books’ pace, vibe, and style – fast-paced, high-concept action thrillers with impact, meaning, and relevance. They’re written for readers who like puzzles and complex plots involving games, conspiracies, politics, corruption, and espionage. I think Codex delivers all of that with a punch.

What are the themes of Codex, and how will they help readers identify with Angus? Mental health and substance abuse are two predominant themes with which Angus struggles throughout all of the challenges put before him. And then, the themes of loss and grief are an important part of how Angus’ mind and heart transform as the story evolves. I think it’s an emotional book to read, and it certainly was to write as well, but not without its rewards.

What is a challenge your character faces in this story, and how does he respond to it? Angus is confronted by two strangers at different points in the story – one gives him a lavish gift, and another tells him that the life he thought he’d lived wasn’t real – that the accident that killed his wife was no accident, and that she was about to expose an unthinkable technology and a massive coverup. Realizing the danger and burden that his wife had faced alone wakes up his mind and inspires his broken heart to find the truth about her killer and expose her story to the world.

What types of research did Codex require? I did a lot of CIA organizational research for this book (online and through a personal contact), historical research on CIA programs, regional research of Half Moon Bay and the peninsula, Texas, and New Mexico, as well as mental health and substance abuse, military, legal, and corporate research. It’s all fun because I learn so much from research and from my characters as we’re on this journey together.

Do you start with a character, a crime, a setting, or something else? They’re all different in the way that they announce themselves to me, and there’s always some catalyst that lets me know that it’s time to put my fingers to the keyboard. For Codex, Angus Mariner showed up as broken and rock bottom. Having been there, I could identify with how he felt and seeing the world from that jaded, dark, vulnerable place.

What are some activities on your writing journey that don’t involve writing? Research for story, plotting, and setting; social media and marketing; graphic design; community engagement to set up events; book clubs to engage with readers; making book trailers; and I’m now hosting a YouTube author interview series called Story Impact that’s so much fun.

What’s next after Codex? Specimen is a young adult thriller that Indies United Publishing will release on December 3, 2024. I’m excited about this story because it confronts some very contemporary themes of gaming, diversity, inclusion, and controversial science and technology. It takes place all over San Francisco and in the Marshall Islands. To learn more about Specimen (and see another awesome cover design from, click here.

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Pre-order Codex here: