Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview: Laura Griffin, Author of 'Far Gone'

(from usatoday.com
by Joyce Lamb)

(Photo Gallery Books)

Laura Griffin joins HEA to talk about her new release, Far Gone, her Boston bombing "life imitates art" moment and what she does to help "keep Austin weird."

Joyce: Welcome back to HEA, Laura! Please tell us about your new release, Far Gone.

Laure: Thanks for inviting me!

Far Gone is the story of Andrea Finch, an Austin homicide detective who is on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother in West Texas. She goes out there to investigate and soon crosses paths with FBI agent Jon North, who is working undercover to solve a murder that might be connected to a broader plot. When evidence points to Andrea's brother, she is torn between her love for her family and her duty as a police officer.

Joyce: What inspired the story?

Laura: I was visiting an FBI office and the special agents kept talking about April 19, which was only a few days away. Everyone seemed to be on high alert. When I asked about it, they explained how the date marks the anniversary of Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and also the opening of the American Revolution (the "shot heard round the world"). The date sounded ominous to me and I started thinking about focusing a suspense story around it.

When I sent the manuscript to my editor last February, the opening scene was a terrorist bombing that occurred on Boylston Street in Boston. I'd picked the location because of the historic significance and because I was familiar with the area from visiting my sister at college. A few weeks later I turned on the TV and saw news of the Boston Marathon bombing on Boylston Street. I was shocked. When the book came back for revisions, I changed the opening scene to Philadelphia.

Joyce: Wow, that's spooky!

What can readers expect to see from you next?

Laura: Next up is a new book in my Tracers series, which features an elite team of forensic scientists who help homicide detectives solve their toughest cases. I've loved writing this series because each book focuses on new characters and different forensic techniques. The new book is the story of Derek Vaughn and Elizabeth LeBlanc, who first met in the Tracers book, Scorched.

Joyce: Read any good books lately?

Laura: Yes! I just finished two that I couldn't put down — Wild by Cheryl Strayed, who tells about her adventures hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. And my daughter and I read Sophie Jordan's new novel, Uninvited. I'm loving the flood of wonderful new YA books.

Joyce: Is there a particular book or author who inspired you to be a suspense author?

Laura: I've leaned toward mysteries ever since reading the Nancy Drew books as a kid. Later, I started reading Stephen King and Patricia Cornwell. I love King and Cornwell because their books go above and beyond scary. To me it's the characters that make them so compelling — I care about the people, so I can't stop turning the pages to see what happens to them.

Joyce: What was your favorite assignment when you were a reporter?

Laura: The newbie reporters cover a lot of weekends and holidays, so you get a little bit of everything. I always liked the chance to cover breaking news, particularly the crime stories. I wanted to write about the people behind the events.

Joyce: You live in Austin. What do you do to support the city's slogan, "Keep Austin weird"?

Laura: Austin has a very open and creative feel. People know it as the live music capital of the world, but there's also a vibrant community of artists and writers, too. I love being a part of that, whether it's going out to listen to music or going to a book event at one of our indie bookstores. There is so much to do in this town.

Joyce: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Laura: I love to talk to readers! You can drop me a line laura@lauragriffin.com or find me on Facebook.

Joyce: Thanks, Laura!

HEA curator and contributor Joyce Lamb has 25 years of journalism experience and eight published romantic suspense novels, three of which have been RITA finalists. You can reach her at jlamb@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter (@JoyceLamb). You can also follow HEA on Twitter (@HEAusatoday).