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A prim bookseller and her hardboiled ghost team up to catch a cunning killer in…

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Laurence MacNaughton | Framed For Murder -- What Would You Do? ~ Comment for a FREE novella!


Pop quiz: Do authors really imagine complex characters from the ground up, with mysterious backstories and intricately detailed biographies? Or do they just make everything up as they go along?

(Or do they create thinly-veiled versions of their friends and family, and torture them vicariously on the page?)

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Every writer has a different method for creating characters, but mine is fairly straightforward:

I create characters the same way you meet new people. First, you see what they look like, then you hear how they talk, and you learn a little bit about them.

And, of course, the more time you spend around them, the weirder they get.

One of my favorite characters in The Spider Thief series is Cleo, the stylish but no-nonsense girl next door -- who packs two guns, a forensics kit, and an ironclad agenda. On her own, she can seem a little obsessed with her job. That's why it's fun to pair her up with a completely opposite guy and watch the sparks fly.

Cleo is a law enforcement officer (I can't tell you what kind without giving away one of the big plot twists), and therefore she's very aware of the full weight of the law. So you can imagine her discomfort when I stuck her in the passenger seat of a getaway car driven by her old high school sweetheart -- who is now a con artist on the run from the law.

When he asks for her help, claiming he's been framed, what should she do? Arrest him on the spot? Call for backup? Or give him the benefit of the doubt, and allow him a chance to try to clear his name?

Just to liven things up, I added another layer on top of the situation: he doesn't know she's a cop. That changes everything.

Now, she has to ask herself how much she's obligated to tell him, and how much she's willing to trust him. The last time she saw him was years ago, on the night of the fire that killed his parents -- the same fire that also claimed the life of her father.

To say that these two characters have a bit of emotional baggage is an understatement. But it gives them something to try to avoid talking about at all costs.

That makes for an awkward road trip. Especially when she realizes she still has feelings for him.

But what makes Cleo really interesting is that she's got a bad streak. She's not against bending a few rules in pursuit of the greater good. If she needs to color outside the lines in order to bring down the bad guy, she'll do it.

Once I realized this about her, I decided to turn up the heat. I didn't make the villain of The Spider Thief just any bad guy. He's the one who killed her ex- boyfriend's parents -- and set the fire that killed Cleo's father.

Suddenly, Cleo has every reason to stay in the car with her ex-boyfriend. Along the way, she has a chance to learn something about herself, and find out the truth about the scruffy boy she once knew, who is now a man on a mission.

For me, the real challenge with Cleo was creating a character tormented enough to feel sorry for, yet strong enough to make you cheer her onward. Cleo has a house echoing with the painful memories of what she's lost. She also has a gun safe full of high-tech firepower, and a plan to bring a murderer to justice.

But more than anything, she has a hole in her soul, an inner wound she has never let heal. And the only way she can get past that is by letting in a man who stands opposite all of her ideals – a man she’s falling for all over again.

Can she find some common ground between her willingness to bend the rules, and his outlaw ways of setting things right?

That's what makes a fascinating story, to me. Watching people stand up for their beliefs, and yet learn enough from their challenges to emerge as stronger, more complex individuals, ready to save the day.

How about you? What makes a story fascinating to you? Leave me a comment, and get a free copy of THE SPIDER THIEF, Part 1: Stolen Memory ebook!

THE SPIDER THIEF by Laurence MacNaughton

When an outlaw unearths an ancient gold spider statue and falls prey to its memory-stealing curse, his only shot at survival lies with the woman he left behind years ago -- a highly-trained agent harboring a deadly secret. A gripping serial thriller from "a new talent well worth exploring deep into the night." (NYT bestselling author James Rollins). You can get the first novella in the series FREE at his website




21 comments posted.

Re: Laurence MacNaughton | Framed For Murder -- What Would You Do? ~ Comment for a FREE novella!

Your book sounds interesting. I love thrillers
(Sara Reyes 6:32am April 10, 2014)

I think the characters themselves are what really make me love a story. The plot can be good and still interest me but the books I go back and re-read are usually for the characters.
(Pam Howell 8:44am April 10, 2014)

What makes a story fascinating to me is when an Author has a
way of writing where not only can they get you caught up in
the story where you don't want to put their book down, but
sprinkled throughout, you also learn little tidbits of
information. It amazes me how the Author can take a complex
story line, and make the reader feel like they are actually
there with the characters, and pull the story together, to
make it plausable, and leave you wanting more at the end.
Your book sounds like it will be a real page-turner, and I
can't wait to get my hands on a copy!! It sounds like you
have your hands on the pulse of what makes a story tick.
Congratulations on your book!! Even the review you got
gives the story justice!!
(Peggy Roberson 9:10am April 10, 2014)

The characters draw me into a book--and Cleo sounds fascinating.
(Sue Farrell 10:03am April 10, 2014)

I want something unexpected. It can be as simple as the
protagonist's sense of humor, or as complex as a villain's
twisted plan. But if you surprise me, I am surely hooked! As
others have said, the characters are key, and I always prefer
character driven rather than plot driven novels.
(Janet Martin 10:55am April 10, 2014)

Serial thriller sounds fun! And, thanks for the free download. I like stories with twists and turns. I enjoy being a little startled at a plot and not having a clue what's going on. Keep me guessing and I'm happy.
(Sandy Fielder 12:15pm April 10, 2014)

This is my favorite genre and I love twists and turns and this
sounds great! Cleo sounds like my kind of gal!
(Denise Austin 12:26pm April 10, 2014)

What makes me want to read a book from beginning to end is the characters, the storyline, the authors writing ability and does it make me feel as if I am part of it. I love mysteries and thrillers and can't wait to find out how this book will end. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
(C Culp 12:41pm April 10, 2014)

Denise -- in hindsight, it's funny that I didn't expect Cleo
to become such a fan favorite, but I've received an almost
embarrassing amount of positive feedback about her. I'm
happy to hear it. (There's another character, Prez, who also
took on a life of his own. You'll see why.) Enjoy the book!

Carletta -- if there's one thing I can guarantee about this
book, it's that you won't see the ending coming. It even
shocked my literary agent. (But in a good way!) Thanks for
(Laurence MacNaughton 12:56pm April 10, 2014)

gonna have to try this one... I can see the character coming
to life just by the way you described her...
(Tina Ullrich 2:37pm April 10, 2014)

Thanks Tina! After you've downloaded your free ebook, let me
know what you think!
(Laurence MacNaughton 3:03pm April 10, 2014)

I love the thriller with artifacts and dangers and secrets.
(Kai Wong 12:44pm April 11, 2014)

Got the book and showed this to a friend. She also downloaded
the book and told me I had to read it because so far it had
kept her reading and she was only just under half done when
she told me..
(Tina Ullrich 11:51pm April 11, 2014)

ok i like the sound of this book
(Debbi Shaw 10:19pm April 12, 2014)

I like a lot of tension in a story. Best is when there is internal from something
about the main characters and external when it comes with danger.
(Jo Jones 9:36am April 13, 2014)

This sounds like a great thriller! Thank you for sharing this post with us. :)
(Brooke Showalter 5:32pm April 15, 2014)

The characters are what make a story fascinating.
(Pam Howell 10:38am April 16, 2014)

Great characters make great reading. Off to Amazon. thanks
(Debra Guyette 11:13am April 18, 2014)

Tis sounds like it has a lot of twists in the plot and I like reading those kind of books, you think you know the answer and then something happens to change the whole thing so you have to figure everything out again.
(Anne Pichette 4:13pm April 18, 2014)

Love mystery and thrillers!
(Vicki Hancock 2:56am April 20, 2014)

i love thillers and mystery books sounds really good
(Denise Smith 5:54pm April 20, 2014)

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