The first book in the Lynn Dayton series is 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, followed by the newly-released Strike Price.
Strike Price was recognized at the Texas Book Festival in Austin a few weeks ago as the Texas Association of Authors’ 2014 First Place Award winner for Best Mystery/Thriller. Starks is writing the third book in the series. Strike Price draws on Oklahoma and Cherokee history. Its primary settings are Tulsa and Tahlequah. The energy business background of these thrillers is a global one, so other scene settings include Paris, Florence, southern England, the Czech Republic, and yes, Dallas.
Q. What was the motivating factor(s) to write Strike Price?
A. I grew up in northern Oklahoma appreciating the rich cultural history of its thirty Native American tribes. Second, it is no accident that two of my primary characters are tribal finance executives. The prosperity generated from casinos has led the tribes into other businesses. So it was a short step to introduce this new, significant player—the diversifying Native American nation—to the fast pace of a global energy thriller. Third and most importantly, this book is dedicated to the memory of my younger sister. Linda died from a virulent, difficult-to-detect form of metastatic breast cancer. I stopped writing for about two years to spend time with her and after her death, it was difficult to resume writing. I pushed through to completion because I’d promised myself this was her book. In the first book in the series, 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, there was one character my sister felt deserved a different fate. I took that into account when I wrote Strike Price.
Q. How did you come up with the title?
A. I picked Strike Price partly for its direct connotation of violence. Another reference is its options market definition. In options trading, the strike price is the price at which an option is exercised. Futures and options trading, especially around oil prices, is an easy way for most of us to lose money and yes, that’s a clue to the plot. Generalizing, the strike price is the point at which action occurs.
Q. You are a chemical engineer and an energy investment professional. Explain how that career dovetails into your thriller writing.
A. Excellent question. Engineering and finance share with writing a need for precision: the correct word can be as important as the correct number. It was Mark Twain who said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” I grew up in a town in which everyone, men and women, became engineers and scientists. So chemical engineering coupled with finance was a natural career choice. Yet in that same small town, I was also a constant reader. When I had the chance to write a novel, I took it. Writing thrillers and analyzing energy risk share many similarities: high stakes, a global environment, and conflict. There is the same frame, and the same fascinating people. There is the same identification of risks—what could go wrong, and why? Indeed, conflict is the engine of plot. Of course, thrillers are character-driven while energy analysis is data-driven. And the assessment of risk is different: if something bad can happen in a thriller, there is a 100% chance it will. Back in the real world, that true probability is closer to 0.1%.
Q. What are you reading now?
A. One of the best thriller authors writing today is Dallas’ own Taylor Stevens. After reading The Catch and her novella, The Vessel, I will be reading The Doll. I am also looking forward to Dallas author Harry Hunsicker’s new book, Shadow Boys. I read many other thriller and mystery authors, including Alex Berenson, Marc Cameron, Ben Coes, Deborah Crombie, Antonio Hill, Michael Connelly, and Daniel Silva. In my TBR stack is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vincente Blasco Ibanezand Chelsea Cain’s One Kick. In nonfiction, I recommend Alfredo Corchado’s Midnight in Mexico and Jim Dwyer’s More Awesome Than Money.
Q. Tell us about your latest book, STRIKE PRICE.
When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal.
A self-made woman in the oil industry, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives as escalating attacks reveal a hired assassin’s plan to disrupt oil trade, wreck world economies, and draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States.
Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees’ financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one?
Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who’s creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?
Q. Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
A. I grew up in the energy business and worked in engineering and finance for well-known oil companies. I continue to consult, speak, and teach on the subjects of energy economics and investing via my company, Starks Energy Economics, LLC (SEE). In addition to writing articles for the SEE website, my articles have been chosen for and published on the investor website Seeking Alpha.
Q. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
A. Yes, and they still are. An area in which I’ve made a big time commitment the last few years has been as first, board treasurer and then, investment chair of the Friends of the Dallas Library. FoDPL is a fund-raising and advocacy group that supports the 29 branches of the Dallas Public Library. This involvement stems directly from my affection for the summer reading programs at my hometown library when I was growing up.
Continue the adventure by visiting http://lastarksbooks.com Connect with L.A. Starks on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and follow her @LAStarksAuthor