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Meet Lisa Towles Furry Writing Partner

Marmalade inspects the SALT ISLAND cover


We’d like to introduce you to our first co-writer of the month: Marmalade! Three-year-old Marmalade, and his sister, Coffee, are full of mischief and trouble. Marmalade jumps in with the assist when his owner, author Lisa Towles, is writing or finds herself involved in heavy editing. He’s big on providing companionship and moral support and works for kibbles and cozy blankets. Marmalade is excited to share a bit about his owners’ new book, SALT ISLAND. He hopes you enjoy!

Having established their new official partnership, the private investigation team of Mari Ellwyn and Derek Abernathy are tested to the extreme with two new cases involving high-stakes corporate espionage and eco-terrorism. Someone is trying to sabotage billionaire CEO Jack Darcy’s IPO deal and reputation, and now his glamorous wife—media darling and entrepreneur—has gone missing. Thryve, Darcy’s high-profile environmental startup, is lauded by investors as one of the best innovators of the decade. But a journalist has learned Darcy’s dirty little secret and is hell-bent on exposing it to investors and the world at large.

Pulled from their Southern California headquarters, Derek heads to the Central Valley to investigate two suspicious deaths from an explosion on a local farm. The deeper he digs, the more questions emerge about what the murdered farm workers may have witnessed—toxic chemical dumping linked to an oil and gas company. A shadow witness is gathering evidence but disappears before Derek can get to her. As Mari considers her next move in a much broader conspiracy of corporate corruption and environmental abuse, her partner’s gone undercover to find the missing witness, and now he’s off-grid.

Lisa Towles

Mari must reckon with powerful ghosts from her past—her missing father and the truth about his double identity and secret agenda. She embarks on her own investigation to the British Virgin Islands, one of her father’s secret haunts during his time as an active CIA operative, and uncovers details too painful to bear—about her father, herself, and her future.

Secrets can’t stay buried forever, but now Mari is alone, exposed, and time is running out.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Lisa Towles to learn more about the latest installment of the E&A Investigations series, SALT ISLAND:


Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

I had a dream, where my character was running away from something, on a ferry to an island, and that turned into the opening, where she’s fleeing her life in LA to try to find her missing father—in the British Virgin Islands. And she finds a lot more than she bargained for.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

I listened to what my characters were telling me. I think writing involves a lot of planning and orchestration but also a surrender to the creative voice inside.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

I have a YouTube playlist I created for writing that includes things like the soundtrack to the Jason Bourne movie series and similar mixes.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see a space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Marissa (Mari) Ellwyn is a private investigator using her passion for puzzles and justice while leveraging her criminal investigation and law enforcement experience as a former CIA agent. I like reading about characters that are moving from one career to another, reinventing themselves like people do all the time.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

A deeper understanding of and connection to Mari and Derek, the investigative protagonist pair in my E&A series, and maybe a deeper understanding of the fracking industry and its horrific environmental impacts.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

Working with my editor on my next thriller, Terror Bay, due to release in late Fall, 2023 by Indies United Publishing, and also writing a new thriller.