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‘Ice-pick-sharp, packed with intrigue, action and spine-chilling suspense. Devour will keep you gripped from the very first page’ Kathryn Fox

Larkin's Latest

Welcome to my blog, Larkin’s Latest. News on thriller authors and great books to read, the writing process and festivals, incredible people I interview and exciting story locations, courses I run, and things that make me laugh!

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The difference a good editor makes

March 19, 2019

The book I’m working on at the moment is a slightly new direction for me. It’s still a thriller. But what is different is that this story is about a woman under attack when she is at her most vulnerable. A woman who has lost her courage and who must find it again if she, and her daughter, are to survive the threats they face. It’s also unusual for me, because there are three points of view. I’m a huge admirer of Michael Robotham who writes so exquisitely in first person, present tense. As does Tana French in The Trespasser. I normally use the third person past tense, popular in many genres, including thrillers. But many psychological thrillers employed the first person tense, so I decided to challenge myself and I wrote of the story with three first person present tense points of view, which has to be the hardest thing I have done since I started writing novels, especially when it came to the psychopath character. I can tell you from my numerous re-writes that creating a convincing psychopath in first person is incredibly tough.

The upshot is I had a draft ready for review. I’d done the very best I could do. I knew something wasn’t quite right. But I was too involved in the story to see what that was. To add to the complication, I decided to set this novel in the U.S.A, with all American characters, except one minor character. This took me into a whole new world in which the front ‘deck’ is a ‘porch’ and the baby’s ‘pram’ is a ‘stroller’. I set the story in a location I know well, which helped. It was perfect for the climax I had planned. An island. On top of all this, I needed the FBI character to be interesting and credible. So I needed to find someone within the FBI, who worked in the office where my story is set, who was willing to speak to me. I was incredibly privileged to spend two hours with an FBI Special Agent who gave me a fascinating insight into what it was really like working for the FBI. I left that meeting in awe. I could never face the challenges and horror they face everyday. They truly are amazing people.

But still, despite all this fabulous input, there was still something not quite right about this new thriller of mine.
So I searched for an editor. One particular editor was recommended to me, Gretchen Stelter from Cogitate Studios.
Gretchen explained what was wrong with the manuscript and what was right. She understood what I was trying to achieve. She gave me detailed examples of where it wasn’t working. We brainstormed the issues. I suggested ways I would solve them. She would comment and build on those ideas. Suddenly I could see what I had to do to make this this novel the spine-tingling and terrifying thriller I had intended. I could pinpoint where I had gone wrong and now I had a clear path to correct it. I knew how to make this novel zing.
It was exciting and motivating.
I’m all fired up as I write the new draft.
This, in my mind, is what a really good editor does for a writer. But these special editors are rare. I feel very privileged to have found one I work so well with and who knows how to fix my novel. Thank you, Gretchen.

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Celebrating two new books from Caroline de Costa

March 4, 2019

I’m really looking forward to being the Master of Ceremonies at Caroline de Costa‘s double book launch. Double? On April 6, 2019, from 3:30pm to 7pm at Glee Books in Glebe, Wild Dingo Press will be celebrating the second and third books in the Cass Diamond crime fiction series – Missing Pieces and Blood Sisters. The wonderful Professor Sue Turnbull will interview Caroline about her writing. This event is supported by Sisters In Crime Australia and is open to everyone interested in crime fiction. I really hope you can join us.

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A.B. Patterson book launch

January 16, 2019

I’m proud to say I am friends with a number of former and acting police officers, both in Australia and overseas. Some have gone on to write great crime novels such as Paul Finch. Others choose to advise authors. I know I couldn’t write my detective/PI characters without the input of good friend David Gaylor, retired detective chief superintendent with Sussex CID in the UK, who also works with international bestseller, Peter James.
So I am very proud to be introducing A.B. Patterson at his book launch on Sunday, Harry’s Quest. A.B. Patterson is an award-winning Australian writer who knows first-hand about corruption, power, crime and sex. He was a Detective Sergeant in the WA Police, working in paedophilia and vice, and later he was a Chief Investigator with the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. In Harry’s Quest, PI Harry Kenmare is back, with a visceral lust for vengeance. If you like your detective novels hard-boiled, you will love this one.
Why not come to the launch on Sunday 20 January 2019 in Glebe, Sydney, at 3pm? Free event and free drinks, but please book via EventBrite here.

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On genre – don’t get hung out to dry

October 26, 2018

Wise words from The Writers’ Studio on genre ‘Each genre has a different structural form designed to take a character and reader on a particular journey.’ When I was working on my first thriller, I commissioned an editor to do a structural edit of my work. I wanted it to be the best it possibly could be, before I pitched it to a literary agent. Unfortunately for me, the editor sent me off in the wrong direction because, I discovered later, she didn’t know what readers and publishers expected of the thriller genre. So I wasted 6 months correcting the ensuing mistakes. Lesson learned.

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Sharing writing secrets on Peter James TV

October 11, 2018

I always get so excited when I am about to start teaching a creative writing class. Not just because I want to encourage new authors, but because it also makes me question how I write. How could I do better? Have I picked up some bad habits? At the end of the course I feel I have learnt something too. Recently, I was particularly proud to present Sarah Bailey with a Ned Kelly Award for First Crime Fiction for The Dark Lake. Sarah attended one of my thriller writing courses and she was lovely enough to thank me for inspiring her. I wish her the very best of luck with her writing career.

The next creative writing course starts on October 15 and runs on Thursday evenings over five consecutive weeks. If you are in Sydney and have a burning desire to write a novel but you’re not sure where to start, then why not come along to Creative Writing Stage 1 at the Australian Writers Centre?

About a year ago, I was interviewed for Peter James’s YouTube channel, Peter James TV. I was asked questions about how I write, where I write, and the tricks and techniques I employ. These interviews are part of a series called The Authors’ Studio in which authors like Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin, CJ Box, Sophie Hannah and more, share their writing secrets. And a few laughs. They are well worth visiting. Enjoy!

YouTube of L.A. Larkin talking about writing techniqes on Peter James TV

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