L. A. Starks was born in Boston,
Massachusetts, grew up in northern Oklahoma reading everything, and now lives
in Texas. Awarded a full-tuition college scholarship, she earned a chemical
engineering bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from New Orleans' Tulane
University, followed by a finance MBA from the University of Chicago. While at
Chicago she made time to play for a celebrated women's intramural basketball
team, the Efficient Mockettes.
more than a decade for well-known energy companies in engineering, marketing,
and finance from refineries to corporate offices prepared Starks to write
global energy thrillers. She continues to research, write, and consult on
energy economics and investing, often speaking to professional groups for their
members' continuing education credit.
addition to her Dreamspell publications, including a short story in the
DREAMSPELL NIGHTMARES anthology, two of Starks' short stories have been
published by Amazon Shorts. Her nonfiction has appeared in Mystery Readers
Journal, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The San Antonio
Express-News, Sleuth Sayer (MWA-SW newsletter), Natural Gas, Oil and Gas
Journal, and the investor website Seeking Alpha. She is also co-inventor of a
has run seven half-marathons. She serves as treasurer of the board of the
Friends of the Dallas Public Library, a fund-raising and advocacy group that
supports Dallas' 28-branch civic library system.
Welcome to the blog, L.A.
Where do you live, and how has your environment affected
How many books have you written?
Two books. 13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS
CONSPIRACY and STRIKE PRICE
Give a short synop of your most recently published book.
STRIKE PRICE: When several people involved in bidding
for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a
billion-dollar business deal.
self-made woman, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives after escalating attacks
eventually reveal a hired assassin’s plan to draw another global power into
dangerous confrontation with the United States over trillion-dollar oil stakes.
the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees’ financial
independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors
swapping the bidding war for a real one?
Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other
so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How
have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who’s creating
weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the
Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which
is your favorite?
What challenges did you face while writing this book?
I started this book before the first
one was published. Some delay resulted from the marketing effort I put into 13
DAYS. The real challenge, however, was that my younger sister, to whom STRIKE
PRICE is dedicated, became ill from and ultimately succumbed to an extremely
fast-spreading type of breast cancer. During her last two years, I could only
focus on Linda and my family. I couldn’t summon the drive to complete and edit
the book until a little over a year ago. Fortunately, it was promptly accepted
by L&L Dreamspell for publication in the spring of 2012.
Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you
share some special places with us?
While I don’t get advances that
would allow travel only for book research, trips I make for other reasons show
up in my writing. Here are a few.
Florence is popular with everyone
from J.K.Rowling (remember “Firenze”?) to Dan Brown’s latest, INFERNO. When we
saw the city, I was struck by its rich history as a textile center, with art
funded by the Medicis. It was intriguing that the Ponte Vecchio, now home to
jewelers and goldsmiths, had once housed butchers. Yet my strongest intuition
was of the blank, literally insurmountable Oltrarno ancient city wall. I hope I
have used the feeling to good effect in STRIKE PRICE
While I had been to London and
Brighton, I wasn’t familiar with the English countryside near Chichester and
Amberley Castle. We saw it while accompanying a boys’ choir tour. I wanted to
convey impressions like young boys’ sweet evensong voices echoing through
stately cathedrals, as well as a South Downs verdancy so vast Amberley Castle’s
greens serve as a helicopter pad for its well-heeled London guests.
Closer to home, I seldom have as
much time as I’d like for canoeing or kayaking, so I made a special trip with
my kids to capture the sights, smells, and sounds of canoeing on the Illinois
River. Despite its name, the river is located in eastern Oklahoma and serves as
one of the settings in STRIKE PRICE.
What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned
about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?
First, I am formally trained in
engineering and finance, and auto-didactically trained—because I love reading
and writing so much—in writing. These seem like opposite disciplines, but I
find the importance of precision is common to them both, whether it be in
design, calculations, concepts, plotlines, or descriptions.
Second, in writing, as in designing
a heat exchanger, there seems to be a 50:1 ratio of wrong paths (or let’s just
call them less good paths), to right paths.
Third and absolutely critical for
new writers: reading one’s work with the reactions of a first reader is
impossible after the fourth, fifth, or seventh self-edit. And yet nothing is
more important. For me, editing of my work by other readers, and then
professional editors, is key to producing a good novel.
Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a
notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
These days: waaay too many document files.
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How
do you get the word out both off and online?
Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?
I am excited to have begun
researching and writing the third Lynn Dayton book! On the non-fiction side, I
continue to write free quarterly articles about energy, a monthly subscriber
energy investing newsletter, and occasional articles for the investor website
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My website, http://lastarksbooks.com
, is where events
are listed, book club questions are available for 13 DAYS and will be for
STRIKE PRICE, a twice-yearly newsletter can be found, book trailer videos are
linked, and where I have resources for writers. I welcome friends on Facebook
and have a work-focused listing on LinkedIn. Most of all, please join me at
Are your books available in print and ebook formats?
STRIKE PRICE (Print and e-book editions)
Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book:
13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY (e-book edition)
Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book/Kobo:
13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY (print edition, different
publisher and cover)
Independents, like Houston’s Murder by the Book: