YA author L. S. O’Dea joins me today to chat about her new dark fantasy, Lake of Sins: Hangman’s Army.
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L. S. O’Dea grew up the youngest of seven in a family that uses teasing and tricks as an indication of love (or at least that’s what she tells herself). Being five years younger than her closest sibling often made her the unwilling entertainment for her brothers and sisters.
Before she started kindergarten, her brothers taught her how to spell her first and middle name—Linda Sue. She was so proud she ran into the kitchen to tell her mother. She stood tall and recited the letters of her name: L-E-M-O-N H-E-A-D.
Perhaps, she has her siblings to thank for the demons that whisper in her mind and help to create these dark and demented stories
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, L. S. Please tell us about your newest release.
Lake of Sins: Hangman’s Army is the third book in the series that people are calling too disturbing to put down.
Hangman starts about five years from where Secrets in Blood ended. The world has changed drastically in that time. The lower classes are no longer willing to accept their subjugation and have started rebelling, but they have no leader and no cohesion between the groups. There’s no way they’ll win a war against the better trained and better funded Protective Services. They need a leader. Someone everyone will follow. They need Hugh.
That shouldn’t be a problem, except that Hugh is in prison sentenced to execution. Trinity and her friends must free him and convince him that the best revenge is leading their army.
This book is as action packed as the others, but not quite as gory (the next one is though). This is where the beginning of the love triangle takes shape. So, unlike the other books there is a bit of romance coming Trinity’s way.
If you like actions packed fantasy that’s different – no werewolves or shifters here – then you’ll love this series. Many have compared it to the Hunger Games, Divergent and Maze Runner.
The first two books are free (book one is free on Amazon and other e-book retailers). Book two is free if you join my newsletter. So, check it out.
What inspired you to write this book?
This book is a continuation of the series, so it was more a necessity than an inspiration. The series itself wasn’t so much inspired as something that’d been kicking around in my head for years. I can’t say exactly what prompted these thoughts that became this series because that’d be giving away the “secret” in book one. So, instead let me just say that I observe a lot. I watch how we, as humans, treat this world. How we treat each other, the less fortunate, the sick, the elderly, the children, those of other cultures, the environment as well as the other non-human animals we share our world with. Sometimes, I’m pleasantly surprised by humanity but often I’m disappointed in us as a group. We could do so much better with our world. In there somewhere is my inspiration for this series.
Excerpt from Lake of Sins: Hangman’s Army:
“What do you suggest we do?” From this position, the next tree was quite a distance away. The River-Men waited in the water below. He didn’t want to go back but he didn’t think they had a choice.
She went farther out on the branch toward the other tree. “Do you think you can jump?” She turned toward him, her golden eyes searching his face. “Don’t lie. If you miss, you die.”
“I’ll never make that jump.” There was no room for manly bravado in this situation.
She stared at him for another moment and then leapt. The River-Men dipped below the surface and then back up as she landed safely on the other tree. His heart thudded in his chest. She wasn’t leaving him. She wouldn’t do that. He had faith in her. He trusted her, but his stomach knotted. He’d trusted before and had been betrayed.
She tied the end of the rope around the trunk of the tree. “Do you think you can cross on the rope? If you don’t, I’ll come back, but then we’ll have to backtrack and that means sleeping in the swamp tonight.”
His arms and back ached and his hands were a bloody mess, but he could do this. He had to do this. “Throw me the rope.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” He wasn’t sure at all but they didn’t have time to go back. He caught the rope and tied it to the trunk of the tree, making sure it was tight-really, really tight. Then he grabbed the taut rope and wrapped his ankles over the top of it. Hand over hand, he moved away from the safety of the tree. He glanced down. The River-Men were swimming faster, excited and anticipating a meal.
What’s the next writing project?
First, I’m going to finish the Lake of Sins series. There’ll be at least six books. I have it all written in rough draft but the last book is very summarized so it may become book six and seven.
When I’m done with the next two books in the series, I’m going to spend some time writing the spin-off series Conguise Chronicles. Currently, there’s one book in this series, but I have a lot more rattling around in my head. I want to tell the story of the creatures who are mutated into monsters. Tell their stories of who they were before they were experimented on and how they became the River-Man, Cold Creeper, Brush-Man, etc.
I have a love/hate relationship with every aspect of writing. Getting it all down – the first draft – is exhausting. I used to only be able to create, let the story spill from me, for about a half hour. I’m now up to about an hour and a half, but it is mentally exhausting. It’s also exciting and my mind hums and sparks when I’m in this process. It’s like a drug that I can’t get enough of although it beats me up.
Next, comes the revision. This is when I fill in the gaps, the summaries that I left when writing the first draft. This can be harder than creating because these summarized sections are the parts that didn’t want to come. Perhaps, they don’t belong in the story or perhaps I’m not listening to my characters well enough and these parts aren’t right. Either way, I have to work through them and it’s like working through a knot. I get my joy in this part when I open my mind and the characters take me down a path I didn’t expect. It’s great to be surprised in where the story leads.
Then I edit. Over and over and over again. I edit unit I have nothing to change. Every sentence is how I want it. This part is tedious. No matter how much I love my stories (and I love them a lot), by the end, I’m sick of my own work. Twenty or more edits (front to back) is not uncommon. As much as I get tired of reading the story, I still love the way it flows and pulls me in. Sometimes, I can’t believe I actually wrote the words. It doesn’t seem like me because it no longer is. It’s now, something better than me.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
My novels don’t require a lot of research, but there has been some. I research as I work through the second phase of my writing process.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
Just like I can sleep anywhere, I can write anywhere. I usually write at my desk at home and it’s a mess. I’m very organized on my computer, but in the real world – not so much. There are little pieces of paper with notes jotted down about the story all around my house. When a phrase or idea comes to me, I write it down. Usually, I remember to add it to the story, but sometimes those papers get lost.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I used to be a voracious reader, but lately I’m too busy editing my own work to read much. Currently, I still have a “day” job, so that doesn’t leave much time for writing and almost none for reading.
Stephen King, Amanda Quinn, Mario Puzo, Carl Hiaassen, Walter Farley are a few of the authors that I used to read a lot. Now, I’m more prone to pick up a book – not caring about the author.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Like I said earlier, you can get the first two books in the Lake of Sins series for free.
Lake of Sins: Secrets in Blood is free if you join my readers’ group (newsletter).
So, download your free copy today and dive into the world of the Lake of Sins.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!