She is the author of the Niki Alexander mysteries, Less Dead, Lost Witness and A Matter of Revenge. Niki Alexander is an ex-cop turned counselor for a teen shelter. Her standalone, The Flawed Dance, takes place in Philadelphia in the late sixties, about a young woman fleeing from an abusive lover and hides in the demimonde world of go-go bars and mobsters. Laura is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters-In-Crime, The International Thriller Writers, and The Final Twist Writers and has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Good Reads, and Amazon Author Central.
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About the Book
When two young runaways break into a wealthy man's home, with horrific consequences, ex-cop and teen shelter counselor, Niki Alexander, comes to their defense. She soon discovers their motive had been to uncover a crime more heinous than two children could handle alone, and she is determined to finish what they started...
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Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Why did you decide to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember. As a child I couldn't go to sleep until I knew the story and saw scenes in my head, including the previews. Later my dream was to live in the Left Bank of Paris, ride a motorcycle with a sidecar for my typewriter, and live on my writing as I toured Europe. Never got to Europe, but I still dream.
Where are you from? Does your area have a good writing community?
I presently live in Houston, Texas, and enjoy a great writing community. I am a member of Mystery Writers of America and serve as treasurer and newsletter editor for the Southwest Chapter. The Houston members meet monthly for lunch and a speaker. Another Houston writers group is The Final Twist, whose goal is to publish an annual anthology. I'm a founding member and past president. Houston also has one the best independent bookstores for mystery writers in the country, Murder By the Book. They have hosted all my launch parties.
Do you have a "day job"?
I am a retired former legal secretary. To supplement social security and my writing income, I work part-time as cashier for PetSmart. It gets me out of my cubby hole to meet the public and get inspired.
What genres do you write?
Mysteries and suspense because that's what I love to read.
What inspires you to write?
A cause that I'm passionate about. I'm an activist at heart. I want to shine a light on a problem without preaching. The Niki Alexander mysteries all call attention to the plight of teenage runaways and throwaways, what can and does happen to them. Women's causes are the inspiration for the books I'm writing now.
What authors/books have most influenced you?
Books by Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, among many others.
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
The best writing advice is never give up, but also to improve as you write.
What is your writing process?
I start with an idea and write a loose synopsis. I have to know my characters thoroughly and it helps to write a sketch of each listing their goals, their strengths and failures. Then I put those aside and start writing.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
Many of my characters are inspired by people I've met. One character that surfaces in the last two Niki Alexander books was Tara Barlow, who lived on the street for a time, and who served up a wealth of information about runaways and street kids. She became a good friend of both my daughters, always eager to clean their houses, babysit their children, and give timely advice.
Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre?
I am always on the lookout for ideas and sometimes find them at the most unlikely places. As part of my research for the Niki Alexander books, a friend took me to the street church for runaways. Held weekly in a parking lot near Covenant House in Houston, I was introduced by the pastor who encouraged the kids to talk to me. The most bizarre story was from an earnest older teen who confided that he knew there was an undercover FBI agent among them looking for potential terrorists among the runaways. I was unable to follow through to find out if he was right, but it did inspire a plot twist.
What are you working on now?
The start of a new series about a female investigator for a defense attorney.
What inspired your current work?
The causes that concern women today and have been brought to light recently.
Do you have any advice for other authors?
Never give up your dream and keep learning.