Best-selling romantic suspense author Laura Griffin’s books have won numerous awards, including a 2010 Rita for Whisper of Warning and a 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Untraceable. Laura’s latest release, Unspeakable, has also been nominated for a 2010 Reviewers’ Choice Award by RT Book Reviews magazine. Recently, I had a chance to speak with Laura about these many successes, how she got started writing romantic suspense as well as what the future holds in store for this author who loves to “work every day in my jeans and bare feet.”
Prior to your career in romantic suspense, you worked as a journalist. What made you make the jump into the world of mysteries and thrillers?
As a reporter, my favorite assignments were always the breaking news stories. I especially liked trying to understand the perspective of the people behind the events—whether it was a fire, a robbery, a kidnapping, or whatever. Later on, when I decided to write fiction, I naturally gravitated to suspense and action plots.
Unforgivable is the next novel in your successful Tracers series. Can you tell us a little bit about this novel?
The Tracers series focuses on a high-tech crime lab where an elite group of forensic scientists, known as tracers, help homicide cops and cold-case detectives crack their very toughest cases. Unforgivable is at the heart of the series because the heroine, Mia, plays such a critical role at the lab. She’s a DNA expert and (for personal reasons that come out in the book) she’s committed to using science to help bring repeat violent offenders to justice.
Unforgivable features a heroine who is a DNA expert and a hero who is a detective. Was the choice of these careers due to the popularity of forensics and police procedurals in pop culture?
For me, the fascination with forensic science came from interviewing so many types of investigators and law enforcement types for my books. I’ve talked to everyone from PIs and cops to ballistics experts and forensic anthropologists. I love listening to experts talk about their work. When you get someone who is passionate about what they do, the stories just spill out. Then it’s up to me to weave all that into an interesting plot. Or maybe the people themselves become the focus.
You do a substantial amount of research for your novels and that must require a great deal of organization. Are there are any tricks you do to keep all that information readily available?
I try never to lose track of people’s contact info. If I meet someone or interview someone interesting, something they say could become the seed for a story down the road. So I keep a stash of business cards, email addresses, phone numbers, in case I decide to write a story about something and need to talk to an expert.
Are you a plotter who lays out everything in detail as you write or a pantser who lets the story unfold on its own?
I’m a pantser masquerading as a plotter. I start out looking organized with an outline or a synopsis (if it was required by my editor), but often the story takes its own path. I try to let it evolve on its own and not get too locked in to the original game plan.
You also have a novella Unstopabble out in the Deadly Promises anthology. How different is it for you to go from writing a single title novel to a shorter novella? Do you have any suggestions for writers who would like to try their hand at shorter works?
People often think short means easier. I found it to be harder. You have to develop your characters and your mystery right away, no time to waste. Not as much room for being subtle and burying your clues and motivations.
Many of your stories are set along the Texas Gulf Coast. How has that influenced the plotlines and characters in your stories?
I grew up near the coast, so describing life there—images, accents, attitudes—comes naturally to me. I admire authors who can set their books in places they have never been, but I have to know a place to really write about it in-depth. The main settings in my books are places I’ve lived or visited. Or else they’re fiction. That works too, as long as you can make the details seem real.
What are you working on now and what will readers have to look forward to in the future?
I have been so pleased with the success of the Tracers series! My publisher has asked me to do three more books, and the next release is Snapped in 2011. People ask me all the time whether they need to start with book one, but it’s not necessary. The characters overlap, but each suspense plot stands alone, so feel free to dive right in!
For more information on Laura, you can visit Lauragriffin.com. Look for her latest release in the Tracers series, Unforgiveable, on bookshelves on November 30. Unforgiveable is the third book in the series.
This article was originally published in the December The Big Thrill from the International Thriller Writers.