Strike Price is the story of a self-made woman in the oil industry fighting to save herself and others while she attempts to stop a plot to sabotage a mammoth crude oil pipeline and storage crossroads at which world oil prices are set. When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery die, the situation becomes far more than a business deal. Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees’ financial independence, competitors who want the same oil, operatives from the ruthless Sansei consortium, or saboteurs hired by Russian or Middle East investment groups who think losing the bidding war entitles them to start a real one? Lynn Dayton and Cherokee elder Jesse Drum must learn to trust one another so that they can find and stop the killers. How are the deaths being made to appear accidents? Who’s using ancient Cherokee arts and modern poisons to create weapons? Strike Price is set in the simple beauty of hilly, wind-scoured Oklahoma, with critical scenes in Vancouver, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and across Europe.
Today I’ve managed to score some time with L.A. Starks, author of ‘Strike Price’ the second instalment of the Lynn Dayton Thrillers. Thanks for joining me today and let’s kick off today’s interview by addressing what started Lynn’s journey in this novel?
It started with a group of cultures — the rich Native American histories of Oklahoma — and the complexities of a difficult relationship.
Was research necessary to make sure that you had really gotten into the nitty gritty of the complexities of these relationships?
Yes. Readers are sophisticated and discerning; I wouldn’t be doing my job if I elided some point that could easily, or even not so easily, be checked.
Do you have a background in oil industry which helped ensure that you weren’t missing anything obvious?
My occupations are energy economics/investing and writing. My school and work background is in chemical engineering and finance, so yes, they absolutely influenced me. In particular and much against the conventional grain, I consider hydrocarbon energy crucial to keeping the planet’s seven billion people alive.
Those are all disciplines with a strong emphasis on analytics, do you find writing a creative change of pace from the analytical way of thinking?
Many of us are more polymaths than we know. I enjoy the books that use both the analytical and the creative sides of my brain. Lab Girl is a good, recent example, Black Swan is one, so is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There is as much beauty and grace — one need only look at an iPhone — in well-designed, well-engineered construction as there is in a classic painting, book, or piece of music.
Did you consciously use themes in your book to try and inject a bit more of your creative side into this story?
More subconscious than conscious. Fiction is hard: you can’t write it without believing in what you write. However, one editor famously said authors should very consciously write protagonists who differ from themselves.
Were your protagonists your favourites to write?
Let’s say I’ve found the antagonists easy to create. It’s way too much fun to inhabit the dark side.
Is there any character in particular that you would want to socialize with if they came to life? Maybe one from the dark side perhaps?
I find them all fascinating. Although all would be good for a beer, I might not survive a cross-country road trip with many of them. And vice versa.
How do they come to life for you?
One starts talking, and another interrupts. They are almost always in conflict. If they aren’t, they should be.
Does you use this conflict between the characters as propulsion to help motivate your writing? Or do you have other techniques to get yourself into the writing groove?
The Internet is a great friend while editing, and a great enemy while writing first drafts.
Amen. I think that statement can be said regarding many a creative endeavor. But you did manage to conquer the Internet enemy and complete the story. About how long did it take you to finish this book?
Longer than it should have; I was promoting the first book in the series. Then, as I was finishing this second book, my sister was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. I spent as much time with her as I could. This book is dedicated to her.
I’m sorry to hear about your sister, it’s lovely to hear that you were able to dedicate this work to her. What do you find the most rewarding aspect of writing a book?
When readers see or experience the characters as real, I find it enormously gratifying. And a relief.
Now earlier you mentioned that this is the second book with Lynn Dayton. Is there a possibility of a third story?
Yes, the third in the series, has a global cybersecurity angle.
Intriguing. Now, we’ve moved onto the final section of the interview, the quick fire round. Brace yourself for a multitude of random and unrelated questions designed to get a broader insight into your character. We’ll start with: What is your favourite quote?
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”, and the entire St. Crispin’s Day speech–William Shakespeare in Henry V
Yay for Shakespeare. If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
That’s a great answer. I think I might have to steal it myself. Can you curl your tongue?
What are you currently reading?
Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, thrillers by Ben Coes and Brad Taylor. The Fox Was Ever the Hunter, by Nobel winner Herta Muller is in line soon.
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
What is your favourite quote from another author?
“To be fully alive is to feel that everything is possible”–Eric Hoffer
Who are your favourite authors?
I have far too many favorite authors to name.
*Laughs*. Don’t we all :). What is your favourite word?
My most overused word, so it must be my favorite, is “know”.
Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
Jealousy ain’t pretty.
And finally what is your best tip for authors?
Write, edit until you can’t, then seek out more editing
Top tips abound. Thanks again for joining us today to discuss ‘Strike Price’ and I wish you the best of luck working through the next instalment of the series.
Want to find out more about L. A. Starks? Connect here!