Laura Griffin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracers series, a collection of romantic suspense novels known for their skillful blending of action and forensic detail with passionate love stories. To help celebrate the publication of her newest Tracers novel, EXPOSED (on sale now!), Laura sat down with us to answer a few questions about writing, her favorite reads, and what her kids think about Mom’s job…
XOXO: You do a lot of research for every book you write, which is why your forensic details are always so sharp on the page. What’s one of the strangest facts you’ve learned in the course of that research?
Laura: I learned never to try to get away with murder! Seriously, forensic science is so very advanced now. It is amazing how the tiniest bit of evidence can be used to solve a crime decades after the fact. And I’m not just talking about DNA. I visited a crime lab while researching EXPOSED and the CSIs were busy doing an electrostatic lift of a shoe print. So much info can be gleaned from something like that—the type of shoe, the foot size, where the perpetrator had walked recently—all from one footprint. I was so impressed by this process that it inspired one of the crime lab scenes in EXPOSED.
When you start thinking about a new Tracers novel, where do you start? Do you get your ideas from the headlines, or start with a specific couple in mind?
Some ideas come straight from the headlines. Before writing EXPOSED I read a local news story about teens going to these pill parties where they would have a buffet of unidentified pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets. That element ended up in the story.
Sometimes the flip happens, where I’ve written a story and then I see parts of it play out on the evening news, which can be sort of chilling. I hope the NSA doesn’t think I’m in charge of any terror plots.
Who are you currently reading? Do you read other suspense novelists, or do you try to stay away from reading within your own genre?
I love to read a variety of fiction—romance, thrillers, historical fiction. But I also enjoy non-fiction. When I read a powerful memoir or autobiography it can help inspire new characters. I decided to write a forensic photographer after reading an interview with Annie Leibovitz, in which she talked about how her camera was the lifeline that got her through some difficult times. That idea inspired me.
As an author of romantic suspense novels, you sometimes write about pretty dark stuff. Do your kids understand what Mom does for a living? And will you ever let them read your books?
I’d be a bit more worried about the love scenes than the mystery stuff. I don’t usually put a lot of grisly violence on the page—it tends to happen off camera and then the detectives and CSIs are piecing together how it went down.
I’ve been at book signings and moms tell me they are buying books for their daughters. I always warn them that the stories are rated R. But I was reading stuff way above my head when I was a kid, so I’m not a big proponent of censorship.
Do you ever think about who might play your characters if a movie were made from one of your books? If you had to “cast” EXPOSED, who would play Maddie and Brian?
I’m a visual person and each time I sit down to write a book I put together a bulletin board that includes photos of people, places, elements of some of the action scenes. One of the pics on my EXPOSED board shows Liam Hemsworth on the set of The Hunger Games where he played the role of Gale. He comes across as strong, confident, principled. I think he would make the perfect Special Agent Brian Beckman, don’t you?