Lynn Slaughter joins The Spotlight to discuss her latest YA novel, Deadly Setup

Author Name: Lynn Slaughter

Book Title: DEADLY SETUP

Book Genre: Young Adult (Coming of Age Romantic Mystery)

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Publisher: Fire and Ice/Melange Books

Welcome, Lynn! How would you describe Deadly Setup?

Sam’s life implodes when her mom’s fiancé turns up dead, and a mountain of circumstantial evidence points to Sam as the killer. On trial for murder, she fights to prove her innocence with the help of her boyfriend’s dad, an ex-homicide cop.

What sparked the idea for this book?

In the 1950s, actress Lana Turner’s daughter was arrested for the shooting death of her mother’s boyfriend. Her story was splashed all over newspapers and magazines of the day.

In addition, Sam’s story focuses on the dysfunctional relationship she has with her mother, a New England heiress. Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, an ultra-wealthy community, I encountered a lot of young people who had every possible material advantage but were emotionally neglected by self-absorbed parents.

What drew you to writing YA fiction?

Several things! First, I loved YA novels growing up and continued to read YA as an adult. Second, in my career as a dance educator, teenagers were always my favorite age group to work with.

And perhaps most important, adolescence is such a dramatic and important time in our lives when we’re trying to figure out who we are and who we want to be. And teens experience so many firsts—first love, first heartbreak, first betrayal. It’s  an emotionally intense and consequential period of life.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Deadly Setup?

Characters are the lifeblood of fiction. As I developed the character of Sam, I became strongly attached to her. I hope readers will be drawn to her as well, as she falls in love for the first time and copes with a terrifying situation, while also dealing with a difficult relationship with her mother.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

By the end of Deadly Setup, Sam has not only solved the mystery of who set her up for murder but has recognized that she must distance herself from her toxic single parent and create her own intentional family. The novel is ultimately hopeful that it is possible to move on from painful and disillusioning experiences.

Any words of wisdom you give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Perseverance is key! Rejection is inevitable. Commitment to continuous growth and improvement and plenty of “butt-in-chair” time as a writer are so important.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes! I have three projects in various stages.

I’m working on the final edits for my first adult mystery, Missed Cue, which comes out in the summer of 2023 from Melange Books. While dealing with her own messy personal life, homicide detective Caitlin O’Connor investigates the suspicious onstage death of a ballerina. The autopsy reveals no obvious cause of death. But several people close to the dancer had reasons to harm her. If she was murdered, who did it, and how?

I’m about to begin submitting my first middle grade fantasy, The Big Switch: Varney and Cedric, which features Varney, a kid vampire who hates the taste of blood and is convinced he’s landed in the wrong body. When he gets the chance to swap places on a trial basis with Cedric, a human kid with challenges of his own, he doesn’t hesitate to make the switch, and neither does Cedric.

I’m also working on a YA novel, Missing Mom, which centers on seventeen-year-old Noelle, an aspiring ballet dancer whose mom disappears. The evidence points to a probable suicide, but Noelle is convinced her mother would never have killed herself and launches her own investigation. The novel is also about a young woman two decades earlier whose story turns out to be connected to the sudden disappearance of Noelle’s mom.

Where can readers find you?

The best place to find me is my website: https://lynnslaughter.com/

Thank you, Lynn! Deadly Setup is out NOW.

Seventeen-year-old Sam, the daughter of a New England heiress, has tried hard to fulfill her father’s dying wish: “Take care of your mother for me.” Not an easy job. When her impulsive, romance-writing mom announces her engagement to a man whose last heiress wife died under suspicious circumstances, Sam tries to dissuade her mother. But her mom is convinced she’ll finally have the “Happily ever After” she writes about.

And then Sam’s life implodes. Her mom’s fiancé turns up dead, and a mountain of circumstantial evidence points to Sam as the killer. On trial for murder, she fights to prove her innocence with the help of her boyfriend’s dad, an ex-homicide cop.

Just when things are looking especially bleak, Sam uncovers evidence she never expected to find. She faces a tough decision: At what point does the price of loyalty become too high?

Author Bio:

Lynn Slaughter is addicted to the arts, chocolate, and her husband’s cooking. After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She writes coming-of-age romantic mysteries and is the author of the recently released Deadly Setup, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medalist. She is also the author of: Leisha’s Song, a 2022 Imadjinn Award winner, a Moonbeam bronze medalist, Agatha nominee, and Silver Falchion Award winner; While I Danced, an EPIC finalist; and It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist. Her first mystery for adults, Missed Cue, comes out from Melange Books in the summer of 2023. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she’s at work on her next novel and is an active member of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Upcoming Event: On Saturday, January 28th, at 2 PM at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky, Ellen Birkett Morris, award-winning author of Lost Girls, and I will talk about writing and our work and sign books.