I had the pleasure of meeting LS Hawker at the 2016 ThrillerFest in New York. We were both debut novelists. Her thriller, THE DROWNING GAME, sounded fascinating. I downloaded it on Audible as soon as I had the chance, and I have to say, it was AWESOME! Honestly, it was one of my favorite books of the year! Strong female protagonist, insane situation, a truly thrilling roller coaster ride of a book! I just started reading her second published novel BODY AND BONE last night on my Kindle, and I can’t wait to get back to it this evening. It grabbed me from page one! So needless to say, I am super excited to have LS Hawker—who will release her third novel later this month—on my blog today!
LS Hawker is the author of the thrillers THE DROWNING GAME, BODY AND BONE, and END OF THE ROAD, published by HarperCollins Witness Impulse. She has won many awards, and THE DROWNING GAME is a USA Today bestseller and finalist in the ITW Thriller Awards in the Best First Novel category.
Visit LSHawker.com to view book trailers for THE DROWNING GAME, BODY AND BONE, and END OF THE ROAD, listen to her podcast with daughter Chloe, The Lively Grind Cafe, and read about her adventures as a cocktail waitress, traveling Kmart portrait photographer, and witness to basement exorcisms.
Thank you so much for joining me this month on Not Even Joking! You write novels with strong women stuck in seemingly impossible situations. They are edge of your seat page turners. Is your real life as dangerous and thrilling?
I do sometimes wonder how I’m still alive. When I was younger I had a weird compulsion to put myself in less than safe situations (I suppose I was something of an adrenaline junkie). But even more than that, strange things always seemed to happen to me, like the time I was falsely arrested, locked in a room with seven men and interrogated for four hours, then strip-searched. I used to joke that I had a fiery red arrow pointing at my head that only crazy people and freaks could see. Since getting married and having children, I’ve settled down quite a bit (although maybe not enough…) Many of my barely fictionalized misadventures wind up in my novels. Not gonna tell you which ones.
Oh my goodness! I had no idea you had lived such a perilous life! Well, I guess it’s all good if it has inspired your writing, right? You grew up and currently live in Colorado, but you consider Kansas your “spiritual homeland.” What is it about Kansas that inspires you?
My grandparents lived in the tiny town of Lincoln, Kansas, and it had the most beautiful court house, limestone buildings, and hundreds of huge, gorgeous trees. The vegetation there is obscenely lush, and fireflies light up the landscape, unlike where I grew up in suburban Denver. In the suburbs, we had to drive anywhere we wanted to go. Not so in Lincoln—we could walk downtown or to the swimming pool. Kansans are notoriously friendly and accepting. It was a magical place. It still is.
THE DROWNING GAME was released September 22, 2015. END OF THE ROAD—your third novel with HarperCollins— will be released at the end of this month. First of all, WOW! How does it feel, and how do you do it?
These last two years have been like a dream. I still can’t believe I get to do this for a living, and every day I am filled with gratitude. Thriller/suspense fans, I’ve discovered, are kind, gracious, and fiercely loyal. But it’s been an adjustment writing to deadline. I used to write whenever the fancy struck me. Now I have to write whether I feel like it or not, which is not a bad thing. It’s taught me that I can be creative by willing myself to be as opposed to waiting for the muse to strike. My second book, BODY AND BONE, was the most difficult to write because I’d never “had to” write a novel before! It was a great lesson in discipline, and taught me that self-doubt and insecurity are indulgences we can’t afford in this career.
What else gets you up in the morning? What are you passionate about? And how does this influence your creative life? (or does it?)
I’m a music head. I’m always on the lookout for new music, and I’ve a got a huge collection—150K+ songs. My love of music led me to a fairly short-lived career in radio, which then became part of the basis for BODY AND BONE. My protag is a music blogger with a satellite radio show, the studio for which is modeled on the first radio station I worked at back in the day. I also love technology—messing around with design and film programs is one of my favorite things in the world. This particular passion was helpful in END OF THE ROAD, since my protag is a computer scientist. Third, my arm-candy husband Andy and I love entertaining and look for any excuse to throw big, noisy parties.
What advice would you give to a young person who thinks they’d like to write thrillers?
Pay attention in psychology class. Study history and current events. Try to understand the motivations of people who do evil or desperate things. Read widely in the genre. This will help you internalize the structure and elements of what makes a good suspense/thriller.
If you’re truly committed to getting published, then listen to industry experts. Go to conferences. Learn the craft—don’t rely on your “talent.” I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve heard say things like “That (editor/agent/publisher) doesn’t know what’s good. My work is so unusual and brilliant that they’re just too dumb to get it.” NO, THEY’RE NOT. They’re the ones who know what sells. Don’t expect them to conform to your expectations and desires. You’re the one who needs to adapt and change according to the industry. LISTEN TO THEM AND DO WHAT THEY SAY. And most importantly, don’t ever give up—no matter how discouraged you get, no matter how long it takes. I gathered more than 100 rejections before I got to yes! I’ve had the same quote hanging over my desk since I was in college:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge
Wow! Thank you so much for this interview, and for this wonderful advice.
Thriller fans, if you haven’t discovered LS Hawker’s books yet, you absolutely MUST put them on your to read list! And you can connect with LS Hawker on her Website, and on Facebook and Twitter. Her books are available at IndieBound, Amazon, B&N and wherever books are sold.