NRAW: Tell us about the new book.
LL: Shades of Silence tells the story of Julianna Sandoval, a woman living in limbo. Her husband’s plane has vanished over the Atlantic Ocean and although the Coast Guard has suspended the search, she clings to hope that he’ll still be found alive. Three months later, a young woman appears after hours at Julianna’s Ormond Beach restaurant, declaring, “He’s not who you think he is.” Before the stranger can say anything else, a gunshot through the window kills her instantly. Seasoned detective Paul Grant is assigned to investigate the girl’s murder. He senses that the shooting was not random but doesn’t know the connection to his only witness. Was the girl referring to Julianna’s presumed dead husband, her lazy stepson, her shady bar manager or someone else? As Grant methodically gathers evidence and challenges alibis, Julianna’s faith in her friends and family is tested. The investigation leaves her wondering who she can trust and culminates with an eerie link to the past that no one sees coming.
NRAW: You tend to do a lot of research for your books. What research did you do for this one?
LL: Yes, I do quite a bit of research because I want my characters to be realistic and their actions to be authentic. For Shades of Silence, I learned to shoot a shotgun and attended several courses on DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking). I interviewed a medical examiner, a charter pilot and also spent an extensive amount of time with a former police detective—the book is dedicated to her!
NRAW: How is this book similar or different from the other two, Free of Malice & Plea for Justice?
LL: They all have a female protagonist who grows throughout the course of the book and they all have a twist (or two) at the end. Free of Malice is told from one point of view, while the others are narrated by two characters. The first two have more of a legal angle while Shades of Silence is definitely a crime novel. Luckily, they’ve all been called “page turners,” which is music to my ears.
NRAW: You tend to throw in some twists with your books. Does this one also have a twist ending?
LL: Yes, it actually has a few twists and one on the very last page. For that last twist, I invite readers to ask me about it because it can be interpreted a few ways … and I definitely have an opinion.
NRAW: Why did you want to incorporate firearms with each plot?
LL: Firearms was a key theme for my first book, Free of Malice, as my protagonist wishes she could’ve shot her fleeing attacker. By the time she could have accessed her gun, he was already fleeing and off her property. I wanted to address what would have happened to her legally if she had shot him in the back as he retreated. Through the course of my research, I learned about The Well Armed Woman and joined my local chapter. I really enjoyed the sisterhood and having a place to practice. When I got my carry permit, I used that experience for my character in the second book, Plea for Justice. So, it was kind of a natural evolution.
NRAW: What do you want women to take away from the book regarding 2A rights?
LL: The characters in my books who own firearms are just like you and me—wives, sisters, friends, moms. When I look at the women who are part of our 2A community, those in the DC Project for example, they are everyday women who are fiercely protective of themselves and their families.
NRAW: There is always an underlying emphasis on proper firearm training for women who choose to turn to a firearm for self-protection. Is that intentional?
LL: One of the first questions I ask a woman who is considering getting a gun is: Are you prepared to use it? I ask because if she hasn’t thought about that potential, horrific situation and if she is not properly trained, the gun could be taken from her. I also ask if she knows when it’s appropriate to use a firearm? It’s allowable to stop the threat of grave bodily harm or death to herself of a loved one, but not okay to protect property, for example. I learned so much in my own research that I hope it’s helpful for others, especially first-time gun owners. And instead of reading a dry handbook, I’ve woven the education into a thriller.
NRAW: Do you incorporate your favorite or personal firearm choices into your character’s choices?
LL: I do. Actually, for any products I mention in my books, I’ve tried and endorsed them, and by “endorse” I mean I like them—I’m not paid for any sponsorships or product mentions.
NRAW: Do you have firearm experts as advisors for your chapters that address guns?
LL: Absolutely. In fact, for my first book I didn’t and made a pretty big mistake. I called a “magazine” a “clip” and boy did I get feedback on that! We’ve since corrected the error. For Shades of Silence, I had the help of some incredible experts: Claude Werner, Christa Forrester, Anne Mauro and Vicki Farnam, so I’d be really surprised if anyone finds any mistakes in my third book!
NRAW: Do you have a favorite firearm?
LL: Yes. I’m not elaborating because it’s really a personal preference and there are a lot of things to consider—fit, recoil, safety options, cleaning, price, etc.
NRAW: An underlying sub-theme in Shades is sex trafficking. What inspired you to incorporate this horrific crime—which in many cases is happening right under our noses—into this novel?
LL: I always try to take on a social cause and I have to admit, I knew very little about sex trafficking. I had no idea of the enormity of the problem or how vulnerable young girls (and sometimes boys) can be lured into the “business.” As I mentioned, as part of my research, I attended training and seminars and have incorporated a lot of what I learned into the book.
NRAW: Do you tend to become more involved in those underlying topics as a result of your books, or vice versa?
LL: You almost can’t help but to become more involved when you see a problem, although I think my biggest contribution will be in educating my readers.
NRAW: How can people get a copy of your latest book, Shades of Silence, and your previous two, Free of Malice and Plea for Justice?
LL: Shades of Silence is available for preorder on Amazon and B&N up to April 27, and then it will launch for commercial release. Details are on my website: lizlazarus.com or shadesofsilence.com and if you’d like to read a sample chapter or two, you can download them for free.
NRAW: Is there a fourth novel in the works?
About the Author: Liz Lazarus is an engineer by education, a consultant and business owner from experience and an author given her passion to tell stories. Shades of Silence is her third novel.
Read the NRA Women review of her books here.