The Thriller Zone

On today's 186th BONUS Episode of The Thriller Zone, host David Temple is happy to welcome two-time Edgar Award-winning Author Lori Roy as she discusses her latest book, Lake County.

The book is set in 1950s Florida and follows the story of Addie Ann, a young woman who tells a lie to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress. However, her lie puts her family in danger and leads to a collision with the Tampa mafia. 

Lori shares her background as a tax accountant turned writer and her journey to becoming a published author. She also emphasizes the importance of writing the book you want to read and developing all aspects of writing, including plot, characters, and setting.

New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Connelly says, "I loved it. Lori's voice is so entrancing you can almost smell the orange blossoms and blood."

Now, that will get your attention! To learn more visit:

00:00 Navigating Technical Difficulties
00:00 The Journey to Becoming an Author
15:55 Crafting Compelling Stories

Award-winning Green Beret, Steve Stratton, is the author of the Shadow Tier Series and the novella, A Warrior's Path: the Lance Bear Wolf Story. Learn more at

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (00:00.078)
Hello and welcome to the Thriller Zone. I'm your host David Temple and on today's 186th bonus episode, I'm happy to welcome Lori Roy, author of Lake County. Do me a favor, A, please be patient with our technical difficulties and B, put your hands together for Lori Roy. Welcome to two time Edgar winning author, Lori Roy. Hello, great to be here. Yeah, it's so good to have you. By the way, look at this little bad boy, Lake County. Yes.

It is, it's a beautiful cover. I love the nostalgia as you look closer to it. I think that's, I'm going to say that's a, it looks like about a 54 Chevy Bel Air. Only reason I know that is my very first car was a 53. So it brings back fond memories. Nice detail. Before we jump into Lake County, I want to get to know you. I want to get to know your background. Where are you from? What makes you happy? Yes, that's a trifecta questionare. I just made that up. I was not familiar with her until our mutual friend, Megan,

reached out to me and said, Hey, David, here is a summer read you have got to stick your face into. I like that. Give me just a little bit of background on Lori's. Well, so Lake County is my sixth book. Going back to that first one was published in 2011. And prior to that, out of college up in Temple, I started, you know, making some money. I was a tax accountant and that generally seems to surprise people.

I tell them that it's a lot more fun to go to a cocktail party when you're a waiter than a tax accountant. Cause people automatically assume IRS. It's like, no, I don't work for the IRS. You know, tax accounting has its creative aspects, just like novel writing. So I started writing when my, when we first moved to Florida, which was about 20 plus years ago. My first son was very young.

And I had been working full time and juggling everything, decided to stay home, but wanted to be building a career for myself. And that's when I started studying the craft of writing. Now, were you one of those folks, Laurie, that said, I want to start this. So I'm going to start studying on my own. And you started picking up books from the library and just kind of being self -taught. Or did you say, Hey, I'm going to go to a local community college or get enrolled in a master's program for creative writing, something like that.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (02:22.99)
What road did you end up taking? I started off on my own, studying some books on the craft and reading and always been a reader and floundered around for a while. And then here, and I'm in St. Petersburg, Florida, a program started at one of our colleges here that was co -sponsored or like co -directors, co -founders were Dennis Lehane and Sterling Watson. The first year they had the conference, I thought should...

I should sign up and go, but I was too shaken. I just put it out there as the truth. But the second year I applied and I got into Dennis LaHane's class, which was of course attracted a lot of crime writers. One of whom you probably recognize his name. It was Michael Corita. So the first class I go into knowing nothing, someone like Michael Corita is in the class and they were all MFA students.

I tell people I was the one when they say this class is for all levels, you know, beginners, like I was the one who knew nothing. They would talk about things and I would take notes and I'd go home at night and Google it and study. And then I studied to just sit in the class.

But actually that class set me on a trajectory and I loved it so much and went back to that conference a few times and now I thanks time at a conference a few times. What was it that made you nervous at the beginning? Were you thinking I'm jumping into a pond that I shouldn't be swimming in or was it more like you know that self -delving that kicks in like who am I to think that I could be doing this? All of the above. Yeah and just...

You know, being a little on the shy side, a little more reserved, just by nature. So yeah, I mean, looking back, I guess it all worked out because I ended up in a wonderful class and I learned so much and I have friends today that was, I think I was 20 years ago. So no regrets, but just putting it out there that it's hard for everybody. Cause I know there will be writers watching this and you gotta have a thick skin and dive in.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (04:37.742)
But you know, I've always lived by this philosophy and it's kind of multi -layered. First of all, all you can do is say no. Like if you got something I want and I ask you and you don't give it to me, whether it's a possession or a class or whatever, all you can do is say no. Big whoop, okay. I'll go someplace and ask again until I get a yes. Secondly, I think it comes down to how much do you want something? Are you willing to...

Take the time and the energy and the homework and the struggle to get there. Cause if you're not, then maybe it's not for you. And that's not trying to be Pollyanna, but it's just kind of like, it's just kind of common sense. The fact that you, the second year you came around, you went, well, I'm just going to do it. Look at the experience. Look at the exposure you had. Yeah, absolutely. And then as if that's not enough, the keynote speaker that year was Stephen King. So.

my god. I know. Like, I don't know how I lucked into that, but I sure did. He, of course, he spoke, once to a, like a huge stadium full of people. That was the night before the conference. But then the next day he spoke to the hundred or so conference attendees. and I remember it so well. He was just so generous and self -hungry. And the thing that was so extraordinary is all of us would be writers, you know, who are floundering or -

He treated us like writers. Just the generosity he showed was extraordinary. Yeah. That's just good people, isn't it? Yeah. Yes, it is. It's good people. I was getting ready to say the only way you could get any better is if some, you know, Michael Conley, Meg Gardner, Don Winslow all invited you out to dinner with them along with Stephen King afterwards. I mean, I guess that's the only way your life could get any more perfect after that. Well, yeah. And not, you know, Michael Conley does.

have ties to Osiris. I have met him as well and he's become a wonderful friend, you know. And speaking of, I'm going to take a couple of seconds here folks because a lot of times when I don't know of a particular author like is the case with Laurie, I'm sorry to say, but now I do know. Have you read Lake County? I like to hear the praise from people who believe in the people they're writing blurbs for because look, people are busy. Not everybody's going to sit down and...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (07:02.222)
have the time to bang out a couple of you know hundreds of blurbs so here's a few I want to share with you so bear with me because I really enjoy this I don't do it often but I'm doing it for you so let's start with Michael Connolly Laurie's voice is so entrancing you can smell the orange blossoms and the blood I loved it he said McGardner says Lake County pulls you up and in and slows the tension until you're holding your breath speaking of Meg Gardner

Michael Corita says, a beautifully written blend of suspense and heartache where Hollywood longings interest with Florida Crime Syndicate is an ever intensifying squeeze. Yeah. Well, the Hollywood longings. Hollywood longings. I mean that right there. We're going to come back to that in just one second. So bear with me. But here's my favorite one from Ace Atkins, who's a terrific writer and a great oral. Absolutely. Yeah. Lake County is an irresistible slice of Florida Noir.

fashion of great American myth making. The story excels as both an exciting crime novel and a fine example of Southern literature. And here comes the big finish. James Hain meets Harper Lee. My holy bananas. I mean, come on, just those one, two, three, four praises. That's enough to just put me on cloud nine and leave me there for the summer. All those folks are pretty good writers. You think? Yeah, all very generous.

Alright, while we're sitting here singing your praises, before we go on, I want to mention your five other exceptional titles. I have not read them, but they include Gone Too Long, The Disappearing, Let Me Die in His Footsteps, love that title, Until She Comes Home, and Bent Road. That's it. Now, as I said at the top of the show, two -time Edgar winner, and if I'm not mistaken, wasn't it your very first book, I want to say Bent Road, that won the Edgar?

Yes, and so did my third book. Could you not have come on with a better start, Laurie? I mean, come on. But you know, it's all about the next book. I'm going to say sadly it is because you can get those accolades and those praises and those awards and everyone's, you know, you're high as a kite on all that. And then the very next question, and it's classic Hollywood, by the way, is that what else you got? What's next? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's all about the next book.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (09:22.446)
I was going to say, I mean, all those were wonderful. They were great things to be part of. I met some amazing people, you know, going to the Edgers that I probably wouldn't have otherwise met. And you tuck that away and you move on. Same with the bad stuff. You tuck it away and you move on. Yeah. It's like bad reviews. You can choose to either sit there and read them and wallow in the sorrow that you feel for having received them.

or you can just say to yourself, it wasn't your cup of tea. So move on. Move on. I want to take a short break and let our sponsor do some talking. When we come back, we're going to find out what the primary plot and the inspiration behind Lake County is and was with Lori Rory right after this. We are back with Lori Rory and we're talking about Lake County, her sixth book.

And of course we took a nice little deep dive into all those beautiful accolades. But now for the people who are going, Dave, I hung in there with you till your commercial break. Now you're back. Can you please tell me what this glorious story is about? And I'm going to go, Lori, take it away. So Lake County is set in Lake County, which is a real community here in the area. And any of you who are familiar with Gilbert King have probably read some of his work.

that came out of Lake County in the fifties. But mine is also set in the fifties, tells the story of a young woman, Addie Ann, very hardworking, great laced young woman who decides to tell a lie to protect this dream of hers, which is to follow her very famous aunt all the way to a career in Hollywood. She's desperate to escape the small town.

in 1950s Florida and her aunt, Aunt Jean, as she's known in this small town is known to the rest of the world as Marilyn Monroe. So Addie tells a lie to protect this dream of hers that she is going to escape this small town and in doing so she has stabbed Calico, her entire family into a night of terror and the man she loves, she puts him on a collision course with the Tampa mafia. So we've got.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (11:33.998)
the mafia, we've got some gambling, we've got a lot of suspense and we've got Marilyn Monroe in 1950s Florida. Man, see, if that little blurb doesn't give you an idea of picking up the book, I don't know what will. And the very first thing that was going through my mind, because I sometimes kind of try to channel the author, I wonder how much like Addie...

Lori may be. So besides living in Florida, is there anything that you share with that main character? As we all know, we kind of subconsciously do our inner mental laundry by writing. Yeah, Patty, when we meet her in the beginning of the book is about to turn 18. And of course, 18 in the 1950s, a little different than 18 today. In some ways, more naive, in other ways, probably more adult.

But she's 18 and she's come through adolescence through the awkward stages of adolescence, being taller than most of the boys, the long gangly arms and legs, the big feet. A lot of that I kind of took from myself, I guess not necessarily consciously, but, and that's not a unique story. I think plenty of us came through that adolescence in that way. So I think that is probably somewhat me. And I think Addie.

You know, she has this big dream to escape to small town for a bigger life, a different life. Her boyfriend who was going to join her decides he doesn't want that life. Addie sticks to her dream. You know, she, at a point when probably Matthew would say, okay, I'll stay with the boyfriend. I'll get married. I'd like to say that's a little bit me, you know, but maybe not since I went to the conference the first year.

But yeah, big feet, long arms, gangly. That was me. It's funny. I'm so glad you told me that part of the story because I did not pick up on that. But there are two things that I related to in this story. Number one, I grew up with big feet, long gangly arms, buck teeth, bad complexion. I was a geek. Couldn't play sports. All I could do was make people laugh. So I was a real sight. Insert cry is there.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (13:53.07)
The other thing is this, and one of the things that I liked was, and I so related to is how growing up in a small Southern town, same here, where my biggest wish was to leave it all behind, same here, and to chase that big city dream somewhere else, same here. And so I think that's why I so related to her. I'm like, wow, I want to do, I want to leave the small town, a little tiny town I grew up in and move to Hollywood. So it was just hilarious. And.

I think that pulled me into her more. Yeah. Well, I guess that's what we try to do with fiction is obviously not everybody's going to have that similar background. We give those characters those little tiny details that in turn make it universal. You know, everybody probably can relate to those insecure moments. They may have come out of different for different reasons.

And that's probably why the coming of age stories are so popular. We see them again and again in movies, series, you know, books. So, yeah. And the other thing I really dug is I love it when authors take something from history and then weave it into a new form of reality as you did with Marilyn Monroe. So I like that. And besides, who doesn't love and did not love Marilyn Monroe, right? See, I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I would

Initially, that was just going to be a fictional character, an actress that I would, you know, create. I was doing a lot of research on the, they kind of called them the scream actresses of that era. You know, they were in the, they were always being carried around the dams, Linda Strauss. So when I started to consider what if it was Marilyn, I had to decide, well, if it's Marilyn, it has to be her for a reason. Otherwise it's just a gimmick. And that felt very wrong. I wasn't going to make her a gimmick.

And then once she came on the page, the next test was, can I do it? Cause I've never written a real character into a book. I've read just biographies dating back to when I was in college from that whole era, the whole Rat Pack era. Anyway, she came on the page and she was very comfortable to be there. She was happy to be there. She was forthcoming and she ended up really carrying a couple of the themes of the book.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (16:15.182)
So I felt comfortable that yeah, she had something to say. it was when the book launched on June 1st and I hadn't realized it even despite all the research I'd done, but June 1st is Marilyn Monroe's birthday. No way. Yeah. A friend of mine texted me and I was like, wow, that's kind of freaking me out a little bit. but, and there is another real character in the book and that's Charlie Wall. Unless you're from the city, you probably don't know him.

Or unless you've read a lot of Ace Atkins, he's written about Charlie Wall. Charlie Wall was back in the thirties, was the kind of the grandfather of organized crime in Florida and everything like Maryland. I tried to stick to history in as much as possible until my story kind of starts to turn things. But he is a real character. He was murdered in Tampa in 1954 and it remains unsolved to this day.

I have a lot of ghosts running around in there. Don't we all young lady? Yeah, don't we all. Well, the bottom line folks, if you enjoy books that are nostalgic, moody, dripping with southern atmosphere and mystery, you're going to love Lake County. So it was one of those books that, and I like the fact that you're going back in time. I don't always, I don't read a lot of books that are back in time, so to speak, but.

I liked it because I loved remembering a lot of the nostalgia of that period. Yeah. And I would say I find myself drawn quite often to writing about the past, but then I always end up realizing I'm really writing about the present by writing about the past. First time that occurred to me, I was writing a book set in Detroit in the fifties and I was reading books from that time because it was all women.

My characters were women and they were women. That would have been a big part of their life. And I was reading this introduction to some friends of mine. We write a basketball warehouse where our kids will play in basketball over the summer. And I read this passage from the Cope book and it's talking about, you know, women today are so much busier than ever. They don't have the friendly grocer down the street. They've got the big chain grocery store.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (18:35.246)
They've got news coming at them from all these different ways, TV, radio, and more and more technology comes into the home that's supposed to make their lives easier and easier, but more and more is just expected of them. And I'm reading this to my friends who are exhausted from running their canter animal summer. And they're like, I know, isn't that true? It is exactly what it's like. And I said, that was written in 1954. That has it. Like, we think we're so unique and special with...

what we experience. I think just every generation is very narcissistic and thinking all the way of that they're the first to experience things. And that that opened my eyes to a lot when it comes to my fiction and others that I read set in the past. Yeah, that's so good. Well, as we start to wrap, I'd love to ask my standard closer for authors as yourself, especially for your writing degree, you're going to have a good answer to this.

I love to know author's best writing advice. So if you had to boil it down into, it could be a sentence or a paragraph or a page, I don't care. What would you offer our listeners who want to make this a career just like you? Well, to circle right back around to where we started at that first conference that I went to after chickening out, I got this advice and I still stick by it. And that's write the book you want to read.

And when you think about that and you think about all the things you love in a book, you now have to study the crowd until you can bring all those things to the book. And that's much different than writing a book you want to write because that means applying to all your strengths. Write the book you want to read. That is so good. I've heard it now a couple of times, but each time it strengthens in its power because, and you made a really good point.

If you were writing the book that you wanted to write, that would be one thing. But we all know intrinsically at our core, the books we love to read. So if you're going, if we only have this, and this, I was just saying this to my wife this morning over breakfast. I only have, we only have so much time. So I want to spend time on the books that I want to read. It's like, I like a book that has great, well -developed characters.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (20:53.166)
a setting that draws me in. I want, you know, there to be reason that this book will stick with me, the themes, but I want a plot that makes me really turn those pages. So if that's what you want to read and that's what you're going to write, you have to spend time to develop all those aspects of writing. You can't just write beautiful language because now your plot languishes. If the plot's running too fast, you might be leaving the characters behind. It forces you to...

Like I equate things to tennis a lot. You can't just keep running around your forehand. You got to practice your backhand and use it in a match if you want to get to be a better tennis player. And I think the same is true with writing. That's a good analogy. Yeah. And it's true though. If you're like, my, my backhand sucks. Well, you better learn how to perfect that thing because your opponent's going to figure that out real quick and play to that. Yes. Or you yourself running around that backhand again.

write what you want to read. I love that. Well, folks, if you want to learn more, visit loriroy .com. The book is Lake County. It's available now. Book number six, wherever books are sold. And Lori, we got past our little technical difficulties at the front. I'm so glad we got a chance to meet and I wish you big success. Thank you. That's about a pleasure. I appreciate it.