Author Lauren Carr Shares Her Series Secrets
Once again, author Lauren Carr was willing to let us get a little further into her mind as a writer.
This week she will be wrapping up her virtual book tour for her latest release, Three Days to Forever. You can still catch her at various stops.
To check her schedule, click here.
Lauren, thank you for taking the time to answer more questions for us! In this interview, I’d like to ask you about the series aspect of your books. Developing a fondness for characters in a series makes each novel that much better somehow.
From Kinsey Milhone and Jack Reacher, to Mac, Archie and Gnarly (of course), it adds to the anticipation for each new release.
In Shades of Murder, you introduce us to Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates, who appear in the Lovers in Crime series. Now in Three Days to Forever, we meet Mac’s daughter, Jessica, and Joshua’s son, Murphy, before they appear in their own series. I love that, by the way–the way the series overlap, allowing for the reader to keep in touch with friends from the different series.
Did you have an idea of that when you started writing that there would be ‘branches,’ or is that something the characters convinced you to do along the way?
Definitely, the characters convinced me of that along the way. After I had “abandoned” Joshua Thornton to move on to Mac Faraday, fans of Joshua kept asking me to go back to him. So, I decided to have him make an appearance in Shades of Murder. It was only going to be an appearance. But then, so many years had passed, his children had grown and he was ready to love again. When Cameron came into the picture, that series became new and fresh. It became the Lovers in Crime.
It was completely by accident that I realized that Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday were close enough in ages and their personalities meshed enough that they could be their own mystery series. I knew for at least a year that I would be introducing them to each other before I did bring them together in Three Days to Forever.
You mentioned that it took ten months to develop the new characters we meet in Three Days to Forever. You’ve now written their first book, Kill and Run, which will be released in May. Was that time spent deciding if they would get their own series or more on fleshing out their personalities? What I would really like to know is what took ten months?
We are now looking at a summer release for Kill and Run, but it is coming soon, as well as the next Mac Faraday—Open Season for Murder. Man! I am working on two books at the same time.
The most time consuming part of developing a new series, especially the Thorny Rose Mysteries, is bringing the characters to life. I take a lot of pride in making each book and series different. I have heard complaints from readers of other series books that once an author has a successful series, they branch out into another, but it is the same. They simply change the location and names of the characters.
So I took my time thinking about Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday and exploring their personalities, how they would play off each other, and what their lives in Washington, DC would be like. Their youth, professions, and the city they live in opens the door to take readers on a whole different thrill ride.
Murphy Thornton is a young Navy Officer stationed at the Pentagon. He’s got the highest possible security clearances available and answers directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will figure prominently in Kill and Run. Therefore, the cases Murphy comes up against are nothing like the type of cases Mac Faraday or Joshua Thornton encounter.
Since Lieutenant Murphy Thornton is a Naval Academy graduate and sharp enough to have reached the position that he has, then his character has to be quicker. Since he’s young and interacting with very powerful military and political figures, he’s acquired a more formal demeanor. Also, he’s much more disciplined than Mac or Joshua. I believe the differences between Murphy and Mac became quite clear in more than one scene in Three Days to Forever.
As for the character of Jessica Faraday, well, let’s just say she’s a tart with a good head on her shoulders. Unlike Archie Monday or Cameron Gates, Jessica is a clothes horse and socialite. She’s been enjoying her inheritance, but smart enough to be preparing to go to medical school to get a doctorate in psychiatry. Her wealth and social connections are going to prove very valuable to Murphy and his team in the Thorny Rose Mysteries.
One of the most interesting things that I am enjoying in writing the Thorny rose mysteries is the newlywed angle. From this first installment, readers get to watch these two young people, newlyweds, maneuvering their way through their new lives together, adjusting to each other’s differences, and making discoveries about each other along the way.
It’s going to be fun for readers to watch. I promise.
Will you continue each series with the new one starting? I’m sure most of your readers, including me, hope so! Is there a method to deciding that? Do you do that until you are tired of them or until you feel they have done enough? Can that even happen?
Oh, I have no plans to do away with any of the series. Each of the series features different types of detectives. At this point, I can come up with a case and say, “Oh, this would work better with Joshua and Cameron (who live in a small rural town) than for Mac, because he is the rich retired detective living in a resort town.”
Also, and I did not plan this, but since all of these series characters know each other, and they each have their own strengths, then I am able to combine all of them into one stand-alone book—or even a boxed set with one mystery spanning four books—featuring each series and concluding in one book with all of the characters. I have a tentative plan to do that in 2016.
Many writers, whether of articles or books, find one idea or one sentence often leads to another entirely new idea. Does that happen to you too?
Sometimes. But I have become disciplined enough to not give up on what I am currently working on. If the idea is good enough, it will still be there when I finish my current project. If it is not very good, then it will go away and I will forget about it.
That is actually a common mistake that new writers will ask me about. I call it the 40-page block. It’s different from writer’s block, where the writer can’t write at all. The 40-page block happens when the book that the author is writing becomes work. It ceases to become fun. So then, while staring at the page, the writer will be stricken by another hot new idea—which is fresher and new—and then abandon project number one to go onto number two.
I have been hit with great ideas, but when that happens, I don’t stop—I remain committed to my current project until I have finished it … or Gnarly demands to be fed … whichever comes first.
Thinking of that makes me wonder if you have given thought to the Special Ops background of David leading to more adventures too?
Oh, yes, I have given thought to quite a few story lines in which more of David’s military background comes to light. Some will even cross over to the Thorny Rose Mysteries.
There are also plans in the works involving David’s very active love life. So stay tuned for that.
And we can’t forget Gnarly! Eventually, readers will learn the secret behind Gnarly’s dishonorable discharge from the United States Army—I promise!
It seems you are able to write several books every year. Do you expect or schedule one (or more) for each of your series or do you go where your ideas lead you?
I usually go where the ideas lead me. However, I do like to plan for two Mac Faraday Mysteries a year. One Lovers in Crime, and also one Thorny Rose Mysteries. Due to the military and technical aspect in the cases that the Thorny Rose books will deal with, I will need to conduct deeper research for these plots, which will demand more time to write them.
I also have plans to do some multiple series books, in which characters from one series cross over into another, or even have one mystery involving all of the characters from all three series. Won’t that be fun?
It is fascinating to see behind the scenes with you. We can read and enjoy every book without giving much thought to the process. The time and thought an author must put behind each story makes us appreciate what we read even more. Thank you for sharing that with us, Lauren!
We are also pleased to reveal the cover of Lauren Carr’s next Mac Faraday novel, Open Season for Murder. Watch for its release in late summer this year.
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries will be released Spring/Summer 2015.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.