Good day, book people and welcome to July. Like many of you, I’m somewhat obsessed with books, hey book diva here. I wonder about the crafting of each story, why this particular setting, why this number of characters, how do authors keep track of all of the characters, how did the author come up with character names and occupations, etc. I don’t sit and ponder these in-depth while reading, but these questions do pop up. Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking about the hows and whys. I’m pleased to welcome James L’Etoile, author of Dead Drop, back to the blog. Mr. L’Etoile will be discussing the all-important “whys” of his characters with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and add Dead Drop to your summer TBR list. Thank you, Mr. L’Etoile, for your return visit, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.
Thanks for inviting me to come and guest post with you again here on The Book Diva’s Reads. I’m really excited about the release of Dead Drop in a little more than a week. It’s the first in a new series, so I could do one thing I enjoy most, creating new characters to play with.
Every author’s writing process is unique and uniquely their own. It takes a little time and practice to find the methods and routines that work best for you. After five novels (and two more out on submission), I’m settling into my process—the one that works for me, now.
As part of that process, I spend a considerable amount of time developing the characters who’ll inhabit my pages long before I type the first words. Some authors depend on archetype labels to define their characters. Definitions like the Mentor, the Hero, the Villain, and the Ally, for example. While these may identify their roles in the story, I find the labels don’t help me establish character. Characteristics perhaps, but not a deeper dive into character.
For me, it’s about the “why.” Why do the characters act and respond the way they do? What does my character want, and how far will they be willing to go to get it?
In Dead Drop, our two main characters are opposites of one another. Detective Nathan Parker and a desert scavenger, Billie Carson, are about as far apart as you would imagine. Until circumstances bring them together to solve a series of murders and fight for their own survival.
In the opening chapters, Billie is out “scrapping” trying to eek a living from the recycled goods and discarded junk along the highway. Right away, we learn there’s more to Billie than she admits. She blames herself for harm done to others. So, what does Billie want? Why has she adopted this off-the-grid lifestyle? And what has she done in the past?
Billie has secrets. Secrets worth killing for. She’s motivated by a sense of justice, a search for redemption from a deadly past, and a need to conceal her old life.
Nathan Parker is a cop who struggles with his sense of justice after a coyote bringing migrants over the border murders his partner. Nathan doesn’t blame the undocumented. There are darker forces using people who are trying to find a better life as a commodity in a deadly game.
He’s never given up his search for the man responsible for his partner’s death. Motivated by a sense of survivor’s guilt, a longing for justice, revenge, and yet he’s drawn to those who need him in a need to protect others.
When Nathan and Billie come together over a series of recent deaths, their “whys,”—their motivations—collide. The investigation of the murders of undocumented men lures them over the border. Parker finds his path shifts from his partner’s death and must rely on the very people he once pursued to save his life and a band of undocumented migrants crossing the border. He lives less in the past and looks to the future. Nathan searches for justice for the living.
Billie must put aside years of hiding and sacrifice to help Nathan. She’s tougher and more resilient than people give her credit for. She knows more about the murder of Nathan’s partner but has kept that concealed for years. Revealing it now threatens her relationship with Nathan, but withholding it may put more people in danger, including her.
The “whys” of Dead Drop drive the actions and decisions of Nathan and Billie over the course of the book. They reveal more about their character. I find it helpful to map out these characters before I dive into the plot of the novel. With a better understanding of Nathan and Billie, I know how they will react and exactly how far they will go to get what they are searching for.
Writing a novel means you’ll be living with these characters for months. That relationship works much more smoothly if you take the time and get to know them before you write. ♦
by James L’Etoile
June 27 – July 22, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
Hundreds go missing each year making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?
While investigating the deaths of undocumented migrants in the Arizona desert, Detective Nathan Parker finds a connection to the unsolved murder of his partner on a human smuggling run. The new evidence lures Parker over the border in search of the truth, only to trap him in a strange and dangerous land. If he’s to survive, Parker must place his life in the hands of the very people he once pursued.
Border violence, border politics, and who is caught in between. The forces behind it might surprise you.
Praise for Dead Drop:
“James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP hooked me from the opening sentences to the very last page. A truly twisted plot, gifted storytelling, and dead-on characterization combine to make this tense, timely, and heart-breaking thriller a truly memorable read. I loved it!”
~ Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER
“An incredible story that grabs you by the throat and tosses you across the room. L’Etoile is a gem.”
~ J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of HER DARK LIES
James L’Etoile is such a talented and terrific storyteller! His real-life experience in the criminal justice system gives his compelling, high-stakes thrillers an authenticity that only a savvy insider can provide. You’ll be turning the pages as fast as you can!
~ Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling Author of HER PERFECT LIFE
A suspenseful and utterly gripping novel that doesn’t shy away from the terror of drug cartels and border violence, James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP is a well-researched, expertly written police procedural with twists that will leave you breathless. This one is not to be missed.
~ Jennifer Hillier, bestselling author of LITTLE SECRETS and THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK
“Borders are blurred, lines are crossed. Nathan Parker navigates an intensely personal case, uncontrolled emotions threatening his good judgment. Brilliant prose, crisp pacing, and well-developed characters make L’Etoile a must-read for every thriller enthusiast. An unforgettable story.”
~ K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121150 (eBook)
ASIN: B09WVWZ4BG (Kindle edition)
Series: The Detective Nathan Parker Series, Book 1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon Kindle | B&N Nook Book | Kobo eBook
James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include Black Label, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River. Look for Dead Drop in the summer of 2022.
You can find out more at:
BookBub – @crimewriter
Instagram – @authorjamesletoile
Twitter – @jamesletoile
Facebook – @AuthorJamesLetoile
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