Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Take Five With Author L.A. Starks

*Breaking news--I’ve just learned The Second Law won a Texas Authors’ award for best international thriller.

Welcome back to An Indie Adventure, L. A. Starks. Your news is thrilling. Congratulations!!

Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, The Second Law, Lynn Dayton Thriller #3?

The energy business is—unknown to most—massive, global, and high-stakes. Economies of entire countries rise or fall on their production revenue or their energy costs, so it attracts powerful players worldwide whose motivations and desires inevitably conflict.

Thus, the global energy business provides a rich vein of plot possibilities.
And in a bonus for a fiction author, I can write in vivid, terrible explosions at any time.

How do you use setting to further your story?

I find the use of settings magical in propelling the plot forward. International scenes in The Second Law, like those in Poland, CuraƧao, and Vienna, immediately set up language/communication difficulties and cultural/behavioral conflicts.

You’re having a dinner party. What character from your novel do you hope doesn’t show up? Why?

Comrade Mei Jin. She’s a bitter, unpleasant buzzkill of a character. She smokes, is fault-finding, and although a senior government official, is untrustworthy in the extreme. And those teeth! So unappetizing.

If you were not a writer, what vocation would you pursue?

I actually have a second vocation that involves writing: energy investment analysis. It progressed from my engineering work to talking about the energy background of my books at various events, to my own financial analysis, to a website, and now at the request of the editors, writing articles on two different platforms at the crowdsourced investor site, Seeking Alpha.

Do you prefer to read in the same genre you write in, or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?

There are few authors who write in precisely the same genre (international thrillers with a business/science thriller aspect—Michael Crichton is the closest) but I enjoy reading many, many authors across the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

I take two approaches that are at odds with one another. When I wrote the first book in the series, I wrote scenes as I saw and heard them in my head, out of order, and then patched everything together. This is an inspired but ultimately very inefficient way to write—too much has to be removed that doesn’t serve the plot, and too much has to be rewritten or added. So now I preserve the initial inspiration of hearing and seeing scenes, but outline with plot progression, settings, characters, and narrative arc in mind. Indeed, I’m about to test this approach again with my fourth book.

Give us a brief summary of The Second Law, Lynn Dayton Thriller #3:

TriCoast Energy executive Lynn Dayton is visiting the company's San Francisco refinery when it comes under attack. Saddened by the fiery deaths of several workers, she traces the explosion to software malfunctions and contacts cybersecurity chief Kanak Singh to track it back to the source. The second law refers to the second law of thermodynamics: it means that in an isolated system everything tends towards chaos.

Lynn is still reeling when a TriCoast lease bidding manager is killed in New Orleans. The seeming motive is the theft of his computer containing billion-dollar secret offshore bid plans. Then her long-time mentor and good friend is gunned down in front of her in a Louisiana swamp. What terrible plan lies behind all these crimes? Lynn races against time to uncover a complex plot that stretches from murder in Vienna to a natural gas terminal attack in the Baltic to a major Caribbean oil installation off U.S. shores. Lynn is baffled as she learns of a high-stakes takeover bid by a mysterious group called the Second Law.

Who are these people? Worse, who is the mole inside TriCoast that is feeding them so much deadly information? Unless she can find out, thousands more are scheduled to die.

Barnes & Noble | Amazon (Print and Kindle) | IndieBound (for independent bookstores)

L. A. Starks was born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in northern Oklahoma, and now lives in Texas. Awarded a full-tuition college scholarship, she earned a chemical engineering bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from New Orleans' Tulane University, followed by a finance MBA from the University of Chicago.

On energy investing and related topics she's multi-published at two Seeking Alpha platforms and in several print publications. Her engineering research was recognized when she was included as a co-inventor of a US patent for lithium alumina.

Working for well-known energy companies in engineering, marketing, and finance from refineries to corporate offices prepared her to write accessible, award-winning, and reviewer-praised global energy thrillers 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, Strike Price, and The Second Law. Strike Price won a first place award as the best mystery/thriller from the Texas Association of Authors.*

In addition to her books, two of her short stories have been published in Amazon Shorts, a third in an anthology, and a fourth independently at KDP. Altogether she's appeared at over 150 book marketing events. Additionally, she served as development co-chair, investment oversight chair, and treasurer of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library. She's run sixteen half-marathons and--similarly--looks forward to working on her fourth Lynn Dayton thriller.

Find L.A.:
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