Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA Award winner, as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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In this post, Laura explains why she was burning to write crime fiction with a genealogist, how research for this title took her to a very scary place, and more.
Name: Laura Griffin
Literary agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Book title: The Last Close Call
Release date: October 24, 2023
Previous titles: 28 full-length novels including: Untraceable; Deep Dark; Hidden; Last Seen Alone; Vanishing Hour
Elevator pitch for the book: When a homicide cop persuades a talented genealogist to help him track down a serial killer, she becomes entangled in a web of deadly secrets.
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What prompted you to write this book?
I’ve been burning to write a story about a woman who uses genealogy to track down a serial predator who has eluded police. I love to write about what is happening at the forefront of forensics, and right now it’s all about genetic genealogy.
This new technology is exploding across the country and turning police investigations upside down. In the cases of the Golden State Killer and, more recently, the Idaho college student murders, investigators used genetic genealogy to zero in on a suspect.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
I decided to write about a genealogist in 2021, so the research began then, and the book is out two years later. During that time, this field has completely taken off, and now almost every week we hear about another big case that is being cracked wide open with the help of a genetic genealogist like my book’s protagonist, Rowan Healy.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
I was so wowed by the cover for this one! Of all my cover designs, this was one of my very favorites because it beautifully reflects the mood of the story.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I’ve written crime fiction for years, but this was the first book where my research took me to a truly scary place. I learned all about the Golden State Killer and read Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a nonfiction account written before the killer’s capture by police. The facts and details in McNamara’s book are so dark and haunting, and I know they will stay with me forever.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
The Last Close Call highlights some of the thorny questions surrounding home DNA kits, which helped launch the field of genetic genealogy. How would you feel if police came knocking on your door to request a DNA sample because one of your family members was a suspected killer?
And what about the moral dilemma faced by people who want to use DNA kits to track down biological parents who may or may not want to be found? These questions are very real to the millions of people whose relatives have uploaded a DNA profile to an ancestry database.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Publishing is a tough business, and it is only getting harder to break in. But if you really want to be an author then my advice is to write relentlessly, develop a thick skin, and never give up!