I’m often asked how I created the storyline for my latest suspense novel, The World Breaks Everyone. I’m a huge fan of psychological drama and thrillers, so I wanted to write a twisty-turny book with a quick pace, a strong heroine, and lots of secrets.
For me, writing a novel always begins with a character in trouble or facing a huge life dilemma. For TWBE, I kept picturing a teenage girl–in danger and on the run–in New Orleans. I saw her as the daughter of a famous restaurateur, a man who’d struggled to get to the top of his game.
To make things more complicated, both father and daughter had experienced great loss (Olivia’s mother/Theo’s wife) and were still struggling to overcome and make sense of it years later. The fact that Olivia’s parents’ marriage was interracial blends well with the New Orleans melting pot–it’s a city that (for the most part) embraces and accepts its people. Olivia’s wealthy and society-obsessed grandparents, of course, stand in stark contrast to that, which adds a distinct layer of tension.
From there, the idea of a large trust fund and overbearing/controlling relatives complicated matters nicely. The cast of characters came together after that, with Kate (Theo’s girlfriend) being the smart and savvy “outside observer.” I also really enjoyed writing about the camaraderie of the Elements restaurant staff and the complicated relationship between Theo and other characters. The book required a bit of research, as well, which I love. For this novel, my research involved the city’s many cemeteries, streetcars, and non-profit organizations.
New Orleans seemed the only place to set this story–it is a city I’ve visited quite frequently, especially when I lived in Mobile, AL and was only 2 hours away. I was there just a few months ago and it still holds the same charm and magic. It’s a city with great atmosphere, fantastic architecture, great bookstores (Octavia Books, Faulkner House Books, Garden District Book Shop), and exceptional music (Frenchman Street is a must-visit!).
As HarperCollins still owns the rights to the Laura McNeill Center of Gravity and Sister Dear novels, I chose to use my pen name, Lauren Clark, so that I could manage my author profile on book sites and begin building a suspense list under that name. I’m currently working on a new suspense novel, this one set in the late 1940’s New York, involving a high-profile “delivery,” a hardened criminal with a vendetta, and long-buried secrets. More details to come!
I’d love to answer any questions about TWBE!