Friday, December 16, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: "Shadows of the Past" by T.L. Lawrence

by T.L. Lawrence

About the Book
Author Interview

The past is never pretty, especially when it comes gunning for you. When Special Agent Ian Matthew Prestwick left the Bureau, he was a burned-out shell of a man, sick of the migraines, the panic attacks, and the stress of always looking over his shoulder. So he packed up and headed as far from his life as he could get. Now, five years later and going by the name of 'Matt,' he finds himself in the little lakeside town of Wilton Falls, New York, teaching high school history and discovering that perhaps his close friendship with Aileen Drew, his neighbor and the town librarian, could become something more. For Matt, the Bureau is little more than a faint memory. But not everyone's forgotten about Special Agent Ian Prestwick. When a long, dark shadow from Matt's past comes seeking revenge, he knows it's time to face those old ghosts once and for all or lose everything. Perhaps even the chance for finding love...

(Shadows of the Past was awarded a Coffee Time Reviewer’s Recommend Award – “This award recognizes outstanding writing styles in all book types and genres. Your book has received this award because I feel it is above and beyond a 5 Cup Rating.”)

by Ellen Fritz

Set in a small town, “Shadows of the Pas” introduces the reader to a world where all the inhabitants know one another. Coming from a hard, stressful life in the city and the FBI, Matt finds himself surrounded by a warm caring community. A community of individuals who are ready to help, support and defend him when his life and that of his friend/lover is threatened by someone from his past.

This is the ideal book to relax with. I finished it in one sitting and it provided me with a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The story is captivating and the suspense enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are believable and definitely the kind of people I would like to know in real life; and the dialogue flows seamlessly and is often amusing. I enjoyed the easy banter between the characters as much as I enjoyed the more serious parts.

The romance between the two main characters is tastefully described - exactly what you would expect of two mature people who had known each other for five years and now discovered that they have feelings for one another.

Even the villains in “Shadows of the Past” are extremely realistic. Often we read books where the bad guys are portrayed as utterly unrealistic, but the author takes a more refreshing and realistic approach in this story, where the antagonist has a believable motive for his revenge. One which the reader can understand and sympathize with.

The story however, is about more than a budding romance and a vengeful villain from Mat's past. It is also about the healing powers of friendship and love.

Once you start reading, you will not be able to put this book down. I highly recommend this 5 star book!

ELLEN’S star rating:  5/5

A student of the criminal mind, T. L. Lawrence combines her love of storytelling with skills gleaned from conversations with the nation's finest law enforcement officers (and much reading/Googling) into suspenseful dramas with a realistic edge. She loves writing in the romance, suspense, and mystery genres.

When not writing or researching, she enjoys needlework, genealogy and most of the science of crime solving. She is a full-time mom with two boisterous young daughters.

Shadows of the Past is her solo debut novel, though she has several previous novels she co-authored with T.D. McKinney. She writes from her home in the beautiful valleys of Utah.



Q: How did you come up with the title?

A: The title was pretty much the theme of the story. It started as a working title and just stuck.

Q: Who designed the cover and how much input did you have regarding the design?

A: The cover was designed by the brilliant Trace Edward Zaber, who took the raw ideas I had and turned them into exactly the perfect cover to convey the mood the story needed.

Q: What were the challenges involved in bringing “Shadows of the Past” to life?

A: The biggest challenge was getting the emotions right. Matt was an FBI agent for seventeen years; that’s not a stress-free job by any means. And when a case gets personal—as it did when he took down a fellow law enforcement officer—there are repercussions that last far longer than the court case. Fortunately, I have several friends who are former Bureau, and who were both willing and very able to help me make sure Matt’s emotional journey was credible.

Q: Which of the characters in “Shadows of the Past” would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?

A: Most...I’d love to sit down with Sheriff Delany Sutton. He’s got a whole slew of small-town police work backstory that would keep me in new stories for years.

Least...I want to stay as far away from Morris Duncan as possible. The boy scares me to death.

Q: What are your hopes / expectations for this book?

A: Sales would be nice. Seriously, I think any author who doesn’t hope their book sells wouldn’t go through the publishing process in the first place. Manuscripts become like your children; letting an editor at them can be very much like dropping your five-year-old off at kindergarten on the first day. But even more than just simple sales, I’d hope people would buy it and then enjoy it; if they immediately turn around and toss it in the trash or delete it from their e-reader, I didn’t do my job.


Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A:  Actually, I got inspired by fan-fiction. Now, I need to clarify that. I didn’t learn to write stories by writing fanfic; I got inspired to write an original piece because I had written in a fanfic vein. I wrote poetry for 25 years before I ever tried a short story or novel even in a fanfic universe. Shadows of the Past came about because I wanted to try National Novel Writing Month, and casting my favourite fanfic character in a brand new role was a fairly easy way to do it.

Now, inspired to publish - whole different story. I have a wonderful friend, also a published author, who basically pushed me to submit Shadows to a publisher.  We’d published one together a few months earlier, and that gave me the little extra shove I needed to send in the solo one.

Q: Do you ever experience writer's block and how do you deal with it?

A: I experience it, and I roll with it. I don’t set deadlines with a publisher—a manuscript is always finished before I ever let a publisher know about it. I have two kids and a household that doesn’t always run smoothly, so deadlines would just be one more turn of the thumbscrews.

That’s not to say I stop writing. If I’m blocked on one story, I’ll toy with ideas for future ones. I’ll write a fanfic. I’ll go looking for faces to cast as future characters. Sometimes I’ll go to my friend and talk out the dilemma I’ve written myself into. There’s always a way out. I just have to be patient and find the right door.

Q: What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

A: Doctor John Watson.  Seriously.  An FBI profiler, a forensic specialist.  If it has to do with figuring out the who or the how or the why, I love it.  And with another mind to play ideas off of...perfect.

Q: Your 5 favourite books?

A: No particular order: The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts; Hot Head by Damon Suede; Paxton’s Winter by T.D. McKinney; Illusions by Richard Bach; and any original Sherlock Holmes canon. LOL, I really need to read all those classics I downloaded to my Kindle.


Q: Which books/authors have influenced your writing?

A: I think every book/author I read influences my writing.  Some for ways to improve, some for practices to avoid. There’s always something new to learn.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: Two or three ideas in the percolator right now:  Packed Powder, another romantic suspense featuring an FBI agent as the hero. The Poison Garden, more of an amateur sleuth mystery. And I just realized I could get another story out of Wilton Falls, NY (where Shadows is set) with shopkeeper/ex-Marine Tom Wallace. That one’s just an idea sketch at the moment, but I think there’s potential.

Q: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

A: Ideas can pop up at any time, from anything: a news article, a “what if” moment in a movie or show that veers way off from the plot (recasting the characters, of course), just walking along the street or in the mall. Everything has potential as a plot.

Information: local library, Internet—I am a Google Diva—or people I know. I have no problem posting on my Facebook page or Twitter that I’m looking for layman’s info on scuba diving. No problem emailing my best friend from high school, now a chemistry professor, and asking him how a perpetrator could go about extracting warfarin from household rat poison to use on his victims (LOL, I got sort of a blink in reply to that one at first. I don’t think he expected me to be into the true crime stuff).

Research is paramount to a bold story, and I’m a professional student at heart. Someday I fully expect to be sitting in an interrogation room, trying to explain to an FBI agent that the ski area maps on my computer and the instant messages about the best places for planting explosives really are just research for a novel.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: Depends on what’s going on around me. If there’s a lot of stress in my life at the moment, it’s all challenging. Just getting my brain to settle and clear enough so I can write. I’ve learned to go with the flow—if I sit down and try to get a story moving and it’s just a jumble in my head, I walk away for a bit. If I know the week ahead is going to be a schedule nightmare, I don’t even attempt. I know authors who swear by the practice of writing something every day; to me it feels like a deadline. And if I don’t make that deadline I know I’ll guilt over it. So I forgive myself the days when it just isn’t going to happen.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: It takes as long as it takes to tell the story. That might sound like a snarky answer, but it really isn’t. Some stories will flow like spring runoff in the mountains; others have to be carved out of the bedrock. Shadows of the Past sat unfinished for three years before I even felt like working on it again. But I co-authored an inspirational romance (about 20,000 words) that was plotted out in two days and finished in nine—submission-ready.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A:  Some excellent advice a new friend gave me: “Nothing timid...go bold!” Don’t settle for formula writing or cardboard characters. Give your characters souls; make them live. If you can breathe real life into your story—if your reader can see the town and hear the birds and smell the shortbread from the Dutch Treat Bakery, you’ve done your job and you won’t ever have to worry about being tossed in the wastebasket or the Recycle Bin.

Two of the best bits of imagery I have ever read, both by the brilliant Damon Suede (no, he’s not paying me for the plug J):

“The ocean rolled gently, mango syrup simmering under the mismatched suns. Over in the bay, long scarves of humidity hung in the air...”

“Instantly, what had been Runt’s personal palace turned into a crowded cube, bonsaied by Ox’s bulk. The entire habitat seemed flimsy and cramped between them.”

(quotes used with permission)

Fictional universes should feel as real as the non-fictional one. Another planet or simply another town, it’s all about getting lost for awhile somewhere not our day-to-day lives.




Author T.L. Lawrence is generously offering an electronic copy (of your choice), of her book “Shadows of the Past” to one lucky reader, who leaves a comment in the comments section below. Remember to include your email address so we know where we can contact you.

The winner will be selected using and the giveaway ends Friday, December 23, 2012.
The name of the winner will be announced on the Books4Tomorrow FB page on Saturday, December 24, 2012.


Anonymous said...

I have read this already. Very well done! The romance, the characters, the plot are all so real. Mr. Duncan was a genuinely "different" twist. I too won't be asking him to dinner anytime soon. I'm looking forward to reading your next novel!

Sandy said...

Sounds like a great book. What a great combination: a small town, some romance, and then having your past sneak up on you. Please enter me in the drawing- thanks!


Shelley Munro said...

Thanks for the excellent interview. I liked your advice to go bold. Perfect. Your cover really grabbed my attention. It's lovely with the blue. All the best with your book and congrats on the recommended review. May there be many more.


T. L. Lawrence said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the nice comments. Hope you enjoy SHADOWS OF THE PAST!

And thank you, Angie, for the feature!

T. L. Lawrence