Monday, May 19, 2014

A Conversation with Novelist Laurence MacNaughton

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Laurence MacNaughton
with Laurence MacNaughton

We are delighted to welcome back novelist Laurence MacNaughton to Omnimystery News today. We last spoke to Laurence in October 2012, when his supernatural thriller Conspiracy of Angels was published.

Laurence's new adventure thriller is The Spider Thief (NLA Digital; April 2014 ebook), a story told in four novellas that may be enjoyed separately or as an omnibus that collects all four episodes into one novel.

We recently had the opportunity to talk to Laurence about his work.

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Omnimystery News: Your new book is The Spider Thief, a collection of four related novellas. Tell us something about it that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

Laurence MacNaughton
Photo provided courtesy of
Laurence MacNaughton

Laurence MacNaughton: For one thing, the main character in The Spider Thief has an absolutely lovable dog named Moolah. He's a boxer mix with an incredible nose for cash. And I mean that literally — this dog can sniff out dollar bills no matter where they've been stashed.

That's a useful skill for the main character, who is surrounded by criminals toting briefcases full of cash. And it's inspired by real-life cash sniffing dogs, who work with law enforcement to help prevent smugglers from crossing the border with large sums of cash.

Another thing not mentioned on the cover: cool car chases. And I mean tire-smoking, law-breaking, adrenaline-pumping chases that will make you turn pages. I'm a former professional test driver, and I had a lot of fun tearing up the city (on paper, anyway). It was a blast to write.

OMN: How would you tweet the synopsis?

LM: When an outlaw loses his memory to the gold spider's curse, his only chance is the woman he left behind years ago.

OMN: Why did you decide to write The Spider Thief as a serial? How is that different from a typical novel?

LM: A serial is just a series of shorter works that are all connected. Pulp writers used to write them all the time, and they're starting to make a comeback in the e-book world. They're fun because they're quick and easy to read, and I think e-books are perfect for that experience.

I had an interesting conversation with Hugh Howey about writing a novella as sort of a pilot episode, and then expanding it into a series. From a writer's standpoint, it works great, because you don't have the pressure of trying to launch into a whole new novel at once. You can test the waters first.

The Spider Thief started out as just one novella, but I was so intrigued by the characters and the premise that I realized there was a much bigger and more exciting story I wanted to tell.

Each episode has a different story arc. One takes place in the Rocky Mountains, another one explores a creepy abandoned factory, there's one in a ghost town, and so on. But they all have the same ongoing characters, and each one builds on what came before to create a bigger story that reveals darker secrets and deeper mysteries as you go.

I like to warn people that each episode ends with a cliffhanger. So chances are, if you read the first episode — which you can get free on my website, LaurenceMacNaughton.com — you're going to want to read the rest. That's why we're collecting all four episodes into one omnibus, which will be available as an e-book. It's coming out in paperback, too.

OMN: Are any of plot elements in the book based on real events?

LM: This is weird. As I was writing The Spider Thief, a local man disappeared for two weeks and finally turned up at a stranger's house, holding a loaded gun. He suffered amnesia — no one knows why, or what happened during those two weeks. That gave me the willies, because I had already written the scene where Ash wakes up outside the ghost town with no memory of how he got there.

The ghost town, by the way, is an amalgamation of all the real-life ghost towns my wife and I have explored throughout the Rocky Mountains.

The scary abandoned factory in Denver? It's a real place, too. I was in there for several days, creeping around in the dark, helping film a bad horror movie. There really is a Building 13. And yes, it's spooky.

Think it doesn't get worse than that? It does. Because while I was writing this series, Colorado suffered a tarantula migration. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. And I fervently hope it never happens again.

You think a house spider crawling up your sofa is bad? Two words, buddy: tarantula migration.

OMN: You mentioned the ghost town, where part of the story takes place. How true are you to the settings?

LM: I used to be very particular about keeping everything 100% accurate. Anyone who lives in Denver will recognize some of the locations in my stories.

But over time, I realized that the story needs to be the main focus, not the setting. If I need to tweak the geography a little to heighten the drama or suspense, I'll do it.

At the same time, the real-life history of Denver, the Rocky Mountains, and the American West are fertile ground for stories. I'd be crazy not to take advantage of that. In fact, I spend a lot of time hiking in the mountains, and I use those experiences to make the mountain scenes as real as possible. It's exciting, and also a lot of fun.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your books?

LM: Old cars, obviously, have a big impact on my writing. I love almost everything on four wheels, especially if it has a V-8 engine.

That's how my wife and I met many years ago. She was driving her Impala, and I pulled up in my Thunderbird and said, "Hey, nice car."

I hate to admit it, but her car was faster. Still, I got her phone number, so it worked out.

Anyway, as I was writing The Spider Thief, I realized that I had written in two movie cars (a Starsky and Hutch Torino, and a Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am). At that moment, I knew that I had to put them in a car chase.

In fact, I have quite a few chases, and one of them spans several chapters. It's one of my favorite parts of the book.

OMN: What's next for you?

LM: I've been hearing very nice things from readers who have enjoyed The Spider Thief (along with Conspiracy of Angels and my Jazzy St. Clare stories) on a new website called Booktrack.com, where you can read e-books enhanced with music and sound effects. It's a very cool experience. If you'd like to try it (and it's free), use this link.

I've just finished writing my next book, and I'm very excited about a couple of other projects that will be coming out later this year — my usual mash-up of thrillers, mysteries, and urban fantasy. I can't reveal any details just yet (I wish I could!), but I'll be leaking sneak previews and giving away paperbacks and e-books on my author website.

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Laurence MacNaughton's books are about deeply flawed characters who risk it all to do the right thing — and in the process, rise from obscurity to become heroes.

Everything he writes is a mash-up of mystery, thriller, science fiction, and fantasy, in varying proportions. You'll always find strong female characters, cool cars, fast action, and a world even weirder than ours.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at LaurenceMacNaughton.com or find his on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Spider Thief by Laurence MacNaughton

The Spider Thief
Laurence MacNaughton
Four "Spider Thief" Novellas

All of his life, Ash has been haunted by the ancient curse that killed his parents.

From the cobweb-choked ruins of a lost city in the Amazon emerges a gold spider statue with flashing emerald eyes. If the legends are true, the gold spider has the power to erase the past … change the future … perhaps even grant eternal life. But touching the spider will steal your memories — and then your life.

For centuries, men have killed to possess the gold spider. Like the man who murdered Ash's parents. Now, the killer has returned, and Ash is trapped in the grip of the spider's curse.

His only hope is Cleo, his embittered high-school sweetheart, now a highly-trained agent obsessed with tracking down the spider. But Cleo knows something she's not telling Ash — about a million dollars in dirty cash, and the terrifying secret his parents died to keep.

Can they solve the riddle of the gold spider before its deadly curse claims them next?

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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