Author Linda Lovely figured out the perfect setting for conflict, murder, and mayhem—homeowners associations! She’s just released the second novel in her HOA series, NEIGHBORS TO DIE FOR. Adept at writing in multiple genres, Lovely talks below about her latest release and her writing career.
First off, congratulations on the release of your second novel in your HOA series! Can you tell our readers a bit about your latest novel?
In NEIGHBORS TO DIE FOR, Kylee Kane, a retired Coast Guard investigator, is working for Welch HOA Management, a company with more than a dozen SC Lowcountry homeowner association clients. Moderating HOA spats over acceptable mulch color was never part of Kylee’s retirement plan. The irate combatants are trying the security consultant’s patience when gunfire erupts and a SWAT team swarms in. How did they arrive before any possible report of an active shooter?
Two days later, Kylee discovers a ghost boat. Not a soul onboard. Among the missing—presidents of HOAs managed by her employer. Are the incidents linked?
As Kylee chips away at shift-the-blame deceptions, the ruthless killer expands his hit list to include not only Kylee but everyone she loves. Will it be Kylee’s last Thanksgiving?
Did you find it harder or easier to pen your second novel in the series?
While writing the first book, WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE, I became well acquainted with my core cast of characters—individuals who’ll play key roles in the series. That simplifies sharing their thoughts, motives, personalities, and quirks. The hard part is deciding how much first-book background to include. I want readers new to the series to enjoy NEIGHBORS TO DIE FOR as a standalone. Key character insights disclosed in book one can’t be overlooked. On the other hand, it’s essential to avoid boring series fans with repetitive rehashing of backstory about careers or relationships.
I know you enjoy doing research. What kinds of research did you need to do for this second novel?
A villain’s yacht plays a prominent role in the plot. Since I don’t own one (LOL), I interviewed Lowcountry harbormasters. FBI agents and a bomb figure in the story, too, so I questioned a retired special agent about procedures and a law enforcement bomb expert about explosives. On a lighter side, I asked birder friends to share their knowledge of Lowcountry birds’ unique characteristics and habitat.
In creating your series, do you have an overarching story arc for the series, as well as the story arc for each individual novel?
Yes. Characters change over time as a result of their experiences and interactions. Kylee Kane’s relationships with her mother, her boss, Ted Welch, his son, and her nemesis, Deputy Nick Ibsen, develop as a result of encounters in each prior book’s timeframe.
I know you have a strong background in journalism, PR, and advertising. In what ways did your background in those fields stand you in good stead when you turned to writing fiction?
I’m not afraid to call up anyone and ask questions. In fact, it’s a blast. For this series, I’ve interviewed HOA managers, retired Coast Guard officers, harbormasters, birders, attorneys, retired FBI agents, and bomb experts. Most people are delighted to talk about their jobs, hobbies, and passions. During my career, I’ve also learned it’s essential to verify internet research.
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I have a three-book contract with Level Best Books for my HOA Mysteries. I’m currently working on the third Kylee Kane/HOA book set in the SC Lowcountry.
You’ve written cozy mysteries, historical suspense, and contemporary thrillers. Do you have a personal favorite genre to write?
An author’s most prudent career choice is to brand herself as someone who writes cozies, historicals, or thrillers. But I enjoy shifting gears to explore writing in the varied mystery/suspense subgenres that I love to read. Whatever genre labels fit my individual novels, I strive to ensure they all deliver thrills and feature smart, independent women. They also include sides of humor and romance—just like real life.
Prior to submitting your novels to your publisher, do you solicit feedback from critique groups or partners, or beta readers? Overall, what’s your process for getting a novel ready for submission?
I’m lucky to have several long-time critique partners. Some of us trade critiques of scenes on a regular schedule. Other advance readers—including my husband—provide feedback after I’ve completed the initial draft. The beta readers have different strengths. Some excel at spotting plot holes, others at pacing problems, and my male readers are great at alerting me to dialogue “no man would ever utter.”
Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked but I didn’t?
I decided the best way to tell this story was through the eyes of three different characters—the heroine, the villain and a college student who calls the heroine Aunt Kylee. The approach was the only way to show what the villain was planning, how his targets were dealing with their situation, and the heroine’s sleuthing activities. To avoid confusing the reader, the heading for each chapter identifies the character who’s telling what he/she is thinking, doing. While some readers dislike multiple POVs, I hope my approach added depth without confusion.
Thanks for visiting today, Linda!
Linda Lovely’s second HOA Mystery, NEIGHBORS TO DIE FOR, is the author’s tenth published novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime and former chapter president, Lovely also belongs to International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the South Carolina Writers Association. For many years, she helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy. She lives on a lake in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, and enjoys swimming, tennis, gardening, long walks, and, of course, reading.