A Political Thriller 20 Years in the Making
By Dawn Ius
Thanksgiving may be (just) in the rearview mirror, but L. C. Shaw will continue to count her blessings long into the New Year—it’s been a banner 12 months.
Not only has her alter ego—Liv Constantine, the bestselling pen name of sisters Lynne and Val—enjoyed international success as they begin their fourth thriller together, Shaw’s solo debut has already garnered some star-studded attention. In fact, the list of advanced praise for THE NETWORK kind of reads like a Who’s Who of the genre.
Her work has been compared to the likes of thriller giants Dan Brown, Steve Berry, and James Rollins—which Shaw finds both astounding and humbling.
“To have my name spoken in the same breath with any of those three is hugely flattering, and I’m a fan of all of them,” she says. “But honestly, this book has always been the ‘book I had to write.’ It was much less about trying to make it an action/adventure novel and more about a commentary on society. I wanted it to be thrilling, of course, and because at its heart, it’s a conspiracy thriller, I did my best to keep the pacing tight and make lots of trouble for my protagonists.”
THE NETWORK does that—and then some. The story begins when late one night, investigative journalist Jack Logan receives a visit from US Senator Malcolm Phillips—Phillips swears he’s about to be murdered and needs Jack to protect his wife, Taylor. It’s a request Jack can’t refuse—Taylor is the love of his life. Complicated, right? Shaw is just getting started.
If you predict that Phillips will die, you’re right—he’s found dead only days later in a hotel room—but that’s about the only predictable plot point in Shaw’s twisty political thriller. The story takes Jack and Taylor on a heart-pounding adventure of murder, politics, and international intrigue that will leave you white-knuckling the book until its explosive end.
It reads with rapid-fire pacing, but the story’s origins have traveled a much longer journey—about 20 years, actually.
Shaw says the idea came to her many years ago, when she was working in the corporate marketing world.
“I thought about all the ways in which we devised campaigns to influence behavior and how susceptible all of us are to the messages that inundate us daily through media, advertising, and entertainment,” she says. “I wondered, what if there was an orchestrated effort to push a certain agenda using all these channels? I was also struck by the shift in television programming that had happened slowly and subtly through the years, beginning with the elimination of the ‘family hour’ where shows were vetted as appropriate for young viewers. These were the seeds from which THE NETWORK grew.”
This was the project she picked at here and there, adding and deleting characters and coming back to in-between projects or when inspiration struck. It wasn’t until she attended her first ThrillerFest in 2014 that she decided to finish it once and for all.
That conference did more than fuel her muse.
“The support and friendships I’ve made in the thriller community are an invaluable part of my life and have played a tremendous role in my success,” she says. “Throughout the ups and downs of trying to break into the publishing world, these friends have offered advice, support, and encouragement that sustained me through rejections and disappointments. They have also celebrated with me and supported my work.”
There’s certainly been much to celebrate. As we close in on December 31, Shaw says signing a two-book deal for THE NETWORK—the second novel is not yet titled—and a two-book for the Liv Constantine books, both with HarperCollins, was the pinnacle of an already pretty spectacular year. Even if it means Shaw will need to be even more strategic with her time.
“I have to concentrate on one book at a time, which makes it tricky to put out two books a year,” she says. “Val and I work together to plan the drafting and editing of our ‘Liv’ books so that they don’t intersect with my individual writing. There’s some overlap occasionally, maybe with page proofs or copy edits, but it works out as long as I’m not in story development for two books at once.”
And if that’s not enough, Shaw plans to try her hand at screenwriting this summer, with her eye on developing a spec script for THE NETWORK.
With all that in the pipeline, one might think it hard to top 2019, but all signs point to an even better 2020 for Shaw—and we are here for it.