How to support Aussie Authors during COVID-19: L.A. Larkin and PREY

What a crazy time we currently live in.

Amidst the chaos, life moves forward, even if it does look different now to a few months ago. Even though many writer events have been cancelled, books are still being published. So without the traditional bookstore book launch or library talk, how will authors get their book noticed?

Writing agencies, publishers and authors have had to adapt rather quickly. Digital publicity and social media will now have to be at the core of any book launch. Now more than ever, readers need to be vocal about books they love and spread the word. After all, reading is not banned.

When L.A. Larkin reached out to me about her new novel and her cancelled book launch, I wanted to help. I wanted to know, how does an author launch a book during a pandemic? Let’s find out…

L.A. Larkin interview

Thriller author, L.A. Larkin, has been described by James Phelan as ‘a world-class thriller writer’ and likened to Michael Crichton by The Guardian and Alistair MacLean byThe Times. Her new novel, PREY, reintroduces the feisty and resourceful investigative journalist Olivia Wolfe who was described by Sue Turnbull in The Ageas, ‘a new breed of female heroine bounding into the hitherto masculine preserve of the action thriller.’

Larkin is author of The Genesis Flaw, Thirst, and Devour, and also writes humorous mysteries as Louisa Bennet. She is a popular festival panellist and radio guest and was on the organizing committee for the Ned Kelly Awards.

Prey is the second novel in the Olivia Wolfe series. It follows on from Devour which was an action-packed thriller primarily set in Antarctica. What can we expect from Prey?

Prey is written as a stand alone as well as a follow-on from Devour so that totally new readers can enjoy it. Investigative journalist Olivia Wolfe is on the trail of a criminal syndicate that takes her from London to Johannesburg where she must unravel the terrible secret that connects a series of gruesome murders. Betrayed and isolated, Wolfe is soon hunted by a faceless killer. Can she stay alive long enough to expose the shocking truth?

Why did you choose South Africa as the setting for Prey?

This story could only be told in Africa and I chose South Africa because a friend of mine had a contact there who was happy to help me research the story I wanted to tell and could fill me in on the real criminal syndicates that operate there. Also, South Africa provides an amazing backdrop to the story with its stunningly beautiful wildlife reserves which are also dangerous places if you don’t know what you’re doing.

PREY - ANZ front cover_opt

What is your writing process? How long did it take you to write Prey from idea to final draft?

Prey took longer than normal to write because I was very ill in 2018 and then again in 2019, but I’m well now, which is great. Normally a book will take a year to research and write and then when it gets to the publisher it has to go through an editing and a proofreading process before it gets printed.

I’m a theme based writer. So I pick a subject that I find fascinating/enthralling/horrifying/shocking and turn it into a thriller. Which is why I made Olivia Wolfe a journalist who travels the world exposing criminals and cover-ups, because I can send her anywhere in the world and she can investigate anything that I think will make a great story as long as it’s dangerous!

You also write funny cozy mysteries featuring a Golden Retriever under the name Louisa Bennet. In a previous author newsletter you’d contemplated merging writer identities, what have you decided, and why?

Great question. At the moment I’m sticking with L.A. Larkin for my thrillers and Louisa Bennet for my dog detective books, and yes, there’s a new funny mystery on its way. I’m hoping it will be on sale by Christmas. I was considering writing under one name for practical reasons because I have to manage a website, Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram as L.A. Larkin and also Louisa Bennet

Prey will be released by a different publisher than Devour, can you tell us more about this decision?

It was a timing thing and I wanted to go with publishers who were focused online. Bloodhound Books in the UK and Clan Destine Press in Australia are very good at managing online sales, and thank God I did, given that the only way to buy books at the moment is online. I am sad for bookshops having to close because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

You are known for taking extreme lengths to write your stories, often travelling across the globe (Antarctica for Devour and South Africa for Prey). How will the pandemic impact on the writing of your next novel? Will we see Olivia fighting a viral pandemic in the third book?!

I suspect that there are many authors already working on viral pandemic books and movies. I’ve certainly considered it but I can’t help wondering if, when we have got through this terrible situation, that people won’t want to read novels about pandemics. I could be wrong, of course. Luckily for me, I have already researched the next two books, so travel restrictions hopefully won’t impact my writing too much. And there’s always YouTube and Professor Google.

What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your book launch?

All my events have been cancelled and I can’t fly to the UK or interstate to promote Prey. But authors, blogger, book lovers and book shops (even those that have closed their shops) have been wonderfully supportive, like yourself, and it’s truly heartening. I feel very lucky.

A digital blog tour is a great way to get word out on your new book release. What other ways will you promote Prey during the pandemic?

The biggest problem authors with book launches during the pandemic lock-down is how we spread the word about the book. Social media is proving critical in letting people know about Prey, as is GoodReads. Having the opportunity to answer your questions for your blog is fantastic too and I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity.

What can readers do to support Australian authors, like you, with books coming out over the next few months?

Please keep sharing author’s posts on social media. Join in their Facebook Live events. Review their books wherever you can – on the book seller’s site, your blog, GoodReads. Keep your book clubs going remotely through something like Zoom which allows you to see each other and discuss the newly released books.

Where can readers connect with you online?

Download the first chapter of Prey free at L.A Larkin’s website or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

In Australia, you can now purchase Prey from Booktopia, Dymocks and the publisher.

Overseas readers can purchase Prey via Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository and iBooks.

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