"Fan-freaking-tastic! LS Hawker does it again, she never ceases to amaze me! OK guys, trust me, this was one suspenseful book! Was it my imagination? Or was the Twilight Zone theme song playing in the background while I was reading this?" - Wall-to-wall books - wendy, Goodreads
Great minds can change the world
or leave it in ruins . . .
When tech prodigy Jade Veverka creates a program to communicate with her autistic sister, she’s tapped by a startup to explore the potential applications of her technology. But Jade quickly begins to notice some strange things about the small Kansas town just beyond the company’s campus—why are there no children anywhere to be seen, and for that matter, anyone over the age of forty? Why do all of the people living here act uncomfortable and jumpy?
On the way home one night, Jade and her co-worker are run off the road, and their lab and living spaces are suddenly overrun with armed guards, purportedly for their safety. Confined to the compound and questioning what her employers might be hiding from her, Jade fears she’s losing control not only of her invention, but of her very life. It soon becomes clear that the threat reaches far beyond Jade and her family, and the real danger is much closer than she’d ever imagined.
1. From “worrisome obsession with true-crime books”, via journalism degree, radio shows about people stupidity to mystery /thriller stories. What are most valuable aspects learned from your past “activities” that helped your writing?
From a young age I was fascinated with the dark side of human nature, probably because I had such a safe, vanilla childhood. But journalism school helped me to write succinctly, to the point, and on deadline. Writing radio advertising further honed my ability to get a point across quickly. But beyond my professional life, I've found myself in strange and often scary circumstances, which helped me learn to conjure up unique situations for my plots.
First, in all of my novels, things are never what they seem. And second, in every book I write, I make some reference to Nikola Tesla (if you don't know who he was, Google him and your brain will explode from the sheer volume of hits).
In THE DROWNING GAME, one of my main character's dogs is named Tesla. In BODY AND BONE, my main character's son has a die cast car toy, which is a replica Tesla Model S. In END OF THE ROAD, one of my characters talks about Nikola Tesla's alleged role in the Tunguska Event, which was a meteor crash in Siberia that some people believe was actually caused by Tesla's death ray. The reason I do this is because in a novel I wrote years ago, my husband Andy and I were brainstorming some experimental military weapons, and Andy became fixated on somehow using a Tesla Coil in the novel. When I told him it didn't work within the story, he wouldn't let it go. At one point, I actually shouted, "THERE'S NO TESLA COIL!" Now, whenever I have a plot problem in my work in progress, Andy will say, "You know what you need, right? A Tesla Coil."
3. It is important for an author to have “a personal brand”?
It helps readers to find you. For instance, all my book covers with HarperCollins Witness Impulse have a similar look and feel to them, and my name is always in the same font. Even if the words on the cover don't register, the look of it does.
A personal brand also allows readers to connect with authors by getting a glimpse of their personality and life. I do this through Twitter, my blog, and interviews I give. On Twitter, I only post things I find humorous or under the hashtag #NewBandName, where I've overheard an odd turn of phrase and decide it would make a good name for a rock band (examples: SugarDirt, Purse Never Listens, Irrandom). I don't bombard the feed with book promos—just tidbits of fun. My blog does include book promos, events, releases, etc., but I also blog about my many strange experiences, from a false arrest to listening to an exorcism in the basement of my apartment building. This is all part of my personal brand, and it gives readers a pretty good picture of who I am as an author and a person. My brand is quirky and fun—which I'm told is an interesting counterpoint to the dark subject matter of my novels.
4. Most of the mystery / suspense / thriller books are not usually re-read after finding out the culprit and the facts. What it takes to create a story that could produce the same (almost) pleasure when is read it a second time?
As a reader, characters I love are what draw me back for second and third reads in this genre. If I relate to the characters, if I love them, if they're so well drawn that they feel like friends of mine, I will go back for seconds and thirds. Also, I enjoy rereading books that are plotted extraordinarily well because on subsequent readings I relish finding the subtle clues I overlooked the first time around. I try to do both of those things in my novels.
5. How do you choose your titles (End of the Road) and under what circumstances an ending could be a new beginning?
Ultimately my publisher chooses my titles. I titled every novel I wrote before I got my contract with HarperCollins after Neil Young songs. THE DROWNING GAME was originally DEEP FORBIDDEN LAKE, and I was happily married to that title. But my editor felt that it sounded too romancey. We went around and around about it, but I realized that titles were not a hill I was willing to die on. I have learned not to get too attached to my titles, and my subsequent books have had working titles that I know won't make the final cut. BODY AND BONE was originally UNDER A BRIDGE and END OF THE ROAD was UNDISTINGUISHED DESTRUCTION.
As to the second part of your question, I find the most satisfying endings may tie up loose ends, but they always leave me wanting more and asking questions like what happened to the characters after I closed the book? What other adventures might they stumble into? What's the story of this or that secondary character?
About the author:
LS Hawker grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine, and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.
Her debut thriller, THE DROWNING GAME, was a finalist in the 2016 ITW Thriller Awards in the Best First Novel category.
She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters, and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland. Visit her: