Book Room Reviews
An Interview with Joan K. Lacy, author of
In A Shadow Away British archaeologist Andrew Seaton discovers a jewel-encrusted golden statue and immediately realizes he may have uncovered the key to the lost city of El Dorado. The statue disappears before he can verify his findings, and Andrew must rely on private detective Alex Cort to recover the prized artifact.
The two men find themselves caught up in a dangerous race against a corrupt colleague and a ruthless art thief who will stop at nothing to claim the statue for themselves. As each new clue leads them up the Amazon River and deeper into the jungle, they soon discover things are not quite what they appear. When all seems lost, the mystical powers of a beautiful woman guide them out of danger and ultimately to the ruins of an ancient city, where Andrew must right the wrongs he committed in a past life and Alex discovers a secret of his own.
“I wanted to write positive, page-turning novels for readers to lose themselves in,” Lacy says. “So many books today are set in dystopian worlds, filled with depressed and stressed-out characters. The Alex Cort series is a refreshing alternative – entertaining and full of world-traveling adventures, all laced with a little magic.”
Where or how did you come up with the idea for this book and series?
I’ve always loved travel, meeting people in other countries, and learning to speak their languages. I am intrigued with myths and legends from all over the world, and now I’m happy to combine all I’ve learned, researched, and experienced into exciting and entertaining adventure stories with a magical twist.I mix magic, metaphysics, archaeology, mythology and quantum physics into adventure stories linked with ancient legends. I chose characters who bring their unique points of view to each story. I put them all together and write about that.
2. When you sit down to write do you have an idea where you are going, or does it just happen as you’re sitting there? Or is it actually the Characters writing the story?
It’s always best to have a plan. Characters do come to life as you get to know them, and they can take you all over the map if you let them! A storyboard and an outline are essential to keep your story on track. Sometimes new and better ideas will come as the story unfolds, so give your imagination some free rein also. I wanted to write a story about a legend that has always fascinated me. I based the story of A Shadow Away on the legendary lost city of El Dorado, but it won’t be found where you might think. Once I settle on the story I want to tell, I research the different aspects of my premise to make sure I get all my facts straight.
3. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Actually, I enjoyed the entire adventure. I am fortunate that the story and dialogue unfolded easily in my imagination and swept me along for the ride. It was fun from start to finish.
4. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I’ve had some experiences that contributed to the story. I think everyone who writes draws on what they know to some extent.
5. What is your favorite quote from a book of fiction?
My favorite quote is from Auntie Mame who said, “Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death!”
6. On that vein who would be your favorite Author? What writers influenced you?
I love James Herriot’s books, especially All Creatures Great and Small. My main influence was to write entertaining stories with a positive approach for young people and adults who want something less dark in their lives. I hope these books bring them the fun of adventure and magic, and that everyone enjoys reading them as much as I did writing them.
7 Do you have a favorite fictional character?
My favorite character is James Herriot, a veterinarian in the fictional town of Darrowby in northern England. But most of all I love the characters I write about: an ex-cop/art theft recovery expert who is curious about this world and loves adventure, an eccentric British archaeologist who lets me write about everything from science to superstition, and a woman with her own kind of magic who opens the door to fantasy and the supernatural.
8. What five words describe you?
Adventurous, curious, sincere, honest, kind
9. What, if any, project are you working on now? (Go ahead, promote away!)
All Under Heaven, the second book of the planned six-book “Alex Cort Adventures” series is complete and currently entering the editing process. I just finished writing the third book, Secrets of the Crystal Skulls, and am now preparing it for the editing process also. I have already started research on the fourth book, The Black Horseman. This story takes place in Ireland because I’ve always loved fairies and elves and stories about their lives in the Otherworld.
10. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I find that happy, positive people love my stories. There will always haters who are negative about nearly everything. The best thing to do is see if there is any validity to their opinion, then go on with your life doing what you love.
11. What has been the best compliment?
So many who have read A Shadow Away think the story is exciting, love the characters, and can’t wait to read the next adventure.
12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, and I’m grateful.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
The readers who have communicated with me say A Shadow Away is a rollicking adventure. The story grabs them, and it is fun and easy to read. They like the plot and love the characters, want to share the book with their friends, and can’t wait to read the next story.
14. What do you think makes a good story?
Well-developed characters, an excellent storyline with adventure and conflict, and a satisfying ending. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient myths and legends. I love a good adventure story and writing about magicians and sorcerers and magical creatures is fun. I have a vivid imagination, and I love my characters. Each one is so unique to me that the story, scenes, and dialogue just flow. Sometimes everything happens so fast I have to write as fast as I can to keep up! I think readers will enjoy the adventure, too.
In researching this adventure series, I found almost no books with positive adult role models. Some people say older children’s books should have a character of similar age. I don’t disagree, but I believe positive adult role models kids give kids without these in their lives can benefit from characters they admire and look up to.
15. I think I know your answer, but what’s more important to you Characters or plot?
For a really good story, both are important. Characters must be interesting and well-rounded. The plot must be exciting, with a good storyline that sweeps the reader away into the world of their imagination, and there should always be a satisfying ending.
16. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am also an artist. I draw, paint, and sculpt wild and domestic animals. Science, from quantum physics to the cosmos, pique my interest and broaden my scope for storytelling. I enjoy playing the three-finger style banjo, bossa nova guitar, Irish fiddle, and spinning wool into yarn. I also like to create silk floral designs within unique glass vases.
17. How about a snippet from your book that will hook a prospective reader and make them want to read your book.
When British archaeologist Andrew Seaton discovers a jewel-encrusted golden statue, he realizes he may have uncovered the key to the lost city of El Dorado. The statue disappears before he can verify his findings, and Andrew must rely on private detective Alex Cort to recover the prized artifact. The two men find themselves caught up in a dangerous race against a corrupt colleague and a ruthless art thief who will stop at nothing to claim the statue for themselves.
As each new clue leads them up the Amazon River and deeper into the jungle, they soon discover things are not quite what they appear. When all seems lost, a young woman who calls herself a witch guides them out of danger and ultimately to the ruins of an ancient city, where Andrew must right the wrongs he committed in a past life and Alex discovers a secret of his own.
18. What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
The best tools are a good imagination, and a willingness to do extensive research—which can actually be fun when you are learning about something that interests you. It is also important to have a good working knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. And learn the basic rules defined by authors who know how to create a good story.
19. How did you get into writing? Is this what you always wanted to do?
Writing came to me later in life. I started when I was inspired to tell a story, now a series of stories, incorporating experiences, science, magic, legends, archaeology and adventure that caught my interest and captivated me over the years.
I’m a generalist, so I love many activities in this life. I experiment and enjoy and sample everything that interests me, like art and music, languages and travel, storytelling and sharing with others some of the fascinating things I’ve learned.
20. Any last thoughts for our reader
My dad always said, “Any job worth doing is worth doing well.”
Fans of magical realism authors like Madeleine L’Engle who wrote A Wrinkle in Time; Lisa Tuttle who wrote The Silver Bough; or Sonya Deanna Terry who wrote Epiphany, will love the world of Alex Cort’s first adventure. If you’re a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, Indiana Jones, and a quest like the Lord of the Rings, the race to the finish will have you clamoring for more.
About the Author
Joan K. Lacy is intrigued with myths and legends from all over the world. She combines research, imagination, and personal experience to create exciting supernatural adventures spiced with folklore, magic, and archaeology. In a world where time and space are not always what they seem, Joan shows readers that anything is possible if they just believe. Joan lives in San Diego with her husband and their cat.
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