I am really delighted to welcome debut Scottish author Lisa Gray to my blog today. A seasoned journalist who has covered everything from books to football, Lisa’s first novel is called Thin Air.
Thin Air is published on June 1st, unless you are an Amazon Prime member, in which case it is one of the books you can select as part of the Amazon Firsts programme and is available to you right now, for free!
So first, let’s find out about Lisa’s book, Thin Air – the first in her Jessica Shaw, P.I. series.
She investigates missing persons—now she is one.
Private investigator Jessica Shaw is used to getting anonymous tips. But after receiving a photo of a three-year-old kidnapped from Los Angeles twenty-five years ago, Jessica is stunned to recognize the little girl as herself.
Eager for answers, Jessica heads to LA’s dark underbelly. When she learns that her biological mother was killed the night she was abducted, Jessica’s determined to solve a case the police have forgotten.
Meanwhile, veteran LAPD detective Jason Pryce is in the midst of a gruesome investigation into a murdered college student moonlighting as a prostitute. A chance encounter leads to them crossing paths, but Jessica soon realizes that Pryce is hiding something about her father’s checkered history and her mother’s death.
To solve her mother’s murder and her own disappearance, Jessica must dig into the past and find the secrets buried there. But the air gets thinner as she crawls closer to the truth, and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I have my copy and can’t wait to get reading. In the meantime, I’ve asked Lisa to tell us about her writing journey.
Over to you, Lisa.
As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of books. Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte Sometimes, books that didn’t have the name Charlotte in the title.
In my teens, I was obsessed with Judy Blume, Sweet Valley High, and the Point Horror series. At night, when the lights were out and I should’ve been in bed asleep for school the next day, I’d be reading ‘just one more chapter’ by the glow from the streetlight outside my bedroom window.
I loved writing, too. The physical act of putting down words on paper. At one point, I had more than 25 pen pals all over the world. Back in the good old days when people actually wrote real letters on nice stationery, rather than sending emails, texts and WhatsApp messages.
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to write for a living – but being an author seemed ridiculously out of reach. So I decided I’d be a journalist and write for Smash Hits and Just Seventeen instead because, of course, that was much more realistic!
Unsurprisingly, I never did write for Smash Hits or Just Seventeen but I did become a journalist. I spent 15 years as a sports reporter before giving it up to be a content writer at a national newspaper.
By then, I was heavily into crime fiction. I devoured everything written by Karin Slaughter and Mark Billingham. I started going to the Harrogate crime writing festival and I met a lot of authors – aspiring, newly-signed, established. I wanted to be one of them. Hell, I wanted to be Karin Slaughter!
I spent a lot of time talking about writing a book and not actually doing any writing. I finally realised what was holding me back: fear of failure. What if I was the one who was a big flop who couldn’t get an agent or a book deal? Then a bigger realisation dawned on me: it was a hell of a lot worse to not even try.
So I finally started to write my novel. It would be about a private investigator who finds out her whole life has been a lie. Someone who investigates missing persons for a living and then discovers she, herself, has been a missing person for the last 25 years.
I finished the first draft and submitted to a handful of agents. Two didn’t get back to me, the others rejected it. Dejected, I shoved it in a drawer and decided I’d write another book, this one set in Scotland. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my Los Angeles-set manuscript. I dusted it off, read it again and, this time, I could see everything that was wrong with it and what needed to be fixed.
I completely redrafted and sent to three trusted early readers: authors Douglas Skelton and Susi Holliday, and super-blogger Liz Barnsley. They all gave positive feedback. Susi recommended it to her agent
And my life changed just like that.
Her agent, Phil Patterson, hadn’t gotten around to reading the first draft I’d submitted to him a few months earlier (thankfully!). But he asked to read the new version in late 2017. By April 2018, I not only had a fantastic agent – I also had an offer for a two-book deal with Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint.
It’s hard to believe that my book will soon be in the hands of readers. Thin Air had about 20 different titles and my PI, Jessica Shaw, had even more names before I settled on one that was just right.
Weirdly, though, Charlotte was never in the mix…
As mentioned, Thin Air is available now on Amazon First, or pre-order here: Amazon
Lisa Gray has been writing professionally for years, serving as the chief Scottish soccer writer at the Press Association and the books editor at the Daily Record Saturday Magazine. Lisa currently works as a journalist for the Daily Record and Sunday Mail. This is her first crime novel. Learn more at www.lisagraywriter.com