Our next guest on the Crime Cafe will be Lee Anne Post, which is the pen name for co-authors Catherine Baldau, Tara Bell, Ginny Fite, and K.P. Robbins.
So we should be in store for a very interesting discussion of their book Thoughts & Prayers.
The author is giving away a copy of their book. One that deals with a serious subject, well worth exploring in crime fiction. Scroll down for details on how to enter.
With that, let’s hear from the collective voices who are Lee Anne Post.
EIGHT CHARACTERS, FOUR AUTHORS, ONE NOVEL
So what made four quite different writers author a novel together? A novel—not a compilation of short stories, not assembling a puzzle of discreet chapters, but an integrated whole story that follows unique characters as the worst experience of their lives transforms them.
We’ve thought about this a lot, even as we were doing it week after week. Although the project started as a lark, just to see if we could, we approached the task as the communication professionals we are—with large pads of blank paper, colored markers, lunch, and lots of coffee.
First, we decided we were going to write about a school shooting, but with a twist. We would follow the accomplice, not the shooter. We identified the main points of the plot—inciting incident, the threshold moment where the character makes a critical choice that changes her life, then the crisis and climax—and wrote brief sketches of the scenes. Frankly, we had no idea about the surprises in store for us, of how the story would tell itself no matter how we pushed it around.
Somehow, though, we each knew who our two characters were and their names. We knew their story arcs and made charts of what each character wanted, what thwarted them, and what the outcome was. We even knew their inner demons. We just didn’t know where they would take us, although Cathy will insist she was in control of plot twists.
Then we made a timeline, a list of eighty-six scenes we had to have, decided the most compelling order, and began writing. (We did, frequently, change our minds.)
We began this process in January 2018. On February 14, the Parkland school shooting happened. It was as if our classmates, spouses, and friends had been killed. We watched the survivors grapple with what had happened, and we wept and cheered them on. They were our rocket fuel, our inspiration. We finished writing within a year and titled the novel Thoughts & Prayers.
The writing was the easiest part. Someone should have warned us about the editing.
How do four writers achieve one overarching tone and meta-voice in a narrative told by eight distinct voices? Editing. Editing. Editing.
We had to learn how to go from being soloists to members of a chamber orchestra—to blend our understanding, writing styles, language use, pacing, and approach to character and storytelling into one harmonious melody. To play well together, we had to become Lee Anne Post.
At some point, each of us threw up our hands and said, “Okay. I’m done.” And then we came back. Because the story called to us and demanded that we finish it.
Many things about this process surprised us. We discovered that unexpected humor even in tragic, tense situations leavens the narrative and can make a character endearing. We learned to let the story lead us. And, although we didn’t set out to upend any genre conventions, magical realism crept into what is essentially a 21st Century crime and punishment story as naturally as a cat curling up in your lap. We didn’t even question it.
Now, after five years of writing, editing, fighting, crying, querying, editing, rejoicing, and launching, we are amazed by every reader reaction. Our conversations are engaging, emotional, and satisfying. We know the exertion was worth it. Will we do it again? Perhaps not. But we know we can.
For those who may be wary of reading this story, we offer this: It’s not about the horrific tragedy. It’s about finding hope. Find more on www.thenovelthoughtsandprayers.com.
Winner of the President’s Award in Fiction, Florida Authors & Publishers Association THOUGHTS & PRAYERS
by Lee Anne Post
ABOUT THE BOOK
After Lily Jeong—smothered by her parents and ignored by classmates—unwittingly aids her boyfriend in a school shooting, she struggles to hide her complicity from investigators. Forced to face the devastated survivors, she hides in plain sight as their grief turns to vengeance.
Frustrated by the slow pace of justice, Keisha Washington—Lily’s long-time nemesis who narrowly escaped death—resolves to hunt down the culprit herself. As Lily dodges detection, she bonds with Sofia Hernandez, who has lost her best friend, Caitlyn Moran.
The adults around them—suddenly widowed Charmaine Washington, single-father police officer Joe Hernandez, and retired Army colonel Mike Moran—struggle to piece together their wrecked lives. When they come together in a support group, instead of finding solace, their mounting feelings of grief and anger drive them to protest and revenge.
For more about the making of the novel, go to www.thenovelthoughtsandprayers.com
“Thoughts and Prayers is a tour de force, a gripping story about a subject society must face, no matter how painful. The story humanizes the tragedy of a school shooting, grabbing you by the elbow and collar and heart. The characters are complex and unforgettable, people you surely know well. Authentically told, this is a story that will make you think, pray, and feel. And also hope.” —Saralyn Richard, award-winning author of A Murder of Principal.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lee Anne Post is the pen name for co-authors Catherine Baldau, Tara Bell, Ginny Fite, and K.P. Robbins. Stories by these award-winning authors have appeared in numerous journals and individually they have published ten novels. In a writer’s critique group for over five years, they were spurred by their collective grief and then admiration to write this collaborative novel as they watched Parkland students deal with the aftermath of that shooting.
Exclusively for the CrimeCafe podcast, we are giving away one copy of THOUGHTS & PRAYERS to a reader we will select at random. To enter, contact Lee Anne Post with the subject “Thoughts & Prayers Giveaway” at https://www.thenovelthoughtsandprayers.com/contact within three months of the podcast launch.