Twisted Threads by Kaylin McFarren
Kaylin McFarren’s Threads series is back with a bombshell fourth installment, Twisted Threads. Murder, mystery, and family loyalty take to the high seas when our heroine Akira pursues her latest target in a cruise ship destined for the Caribbean. With love and romance the last thing on her mind, but closer than she expects…
I chatted with Kaylin McFarren about her creative process behind Twisted Threads, and what it takes to handle multiple irons in the fire with each new mystery she writes.
AW: Twisted Threads brings together timeless themes of murder / revenge and honor / loyalty together in a totally new setting. How did all these elements come together for you?
KM: I have been married to an 8th degree black belt and Japanese martial arts expert for 44 years and have had the unique privilege of traveling to Japan on numerous occasions. My personal relationship with a Mama-san has afforded me the opportunity to spend time with numerous marikos and geishas.
Additionally, my husband’s uncle was a high-level Yakuza gang member, which gave me insight into the dynamics between secret organizations and lifestyles within Japan. Finally, my love for thrillers and murder-mysteries and the loyalty between all of these entities contributed in bringing all of these elements together in Twisted Threads.
AW: Speaking of moving pieces, you also brought back some fan-favorite characters in this installment of Threads. In my experience as a reader, I can get pretty confused when too many names and faces come up — how do you keep track of them all?
KM: For me, it would be simple to write about a few interesting characters and their exploits together, but I enjoy challenging myself by expanding their inner circle and adding weight to their difficulties. Although it might seem crazy to some authors, by bringing in flawed relatives, persuasive friends, and conniving business partners, I believe it’s easier for readers to understand the motivation behind the key players’ actions and why they react the way they do. Keeping them all straight in my mind and on written pages is simply done by incorporating rotating points of view, which allows readers to experience the complete stage where the drama unfolds and the murder takes place.
AW: At first glance, Akira’s quest for revenge brings to mind The Bride from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. However, that character’s psychology is pretty straightforward (and literally explained in the title). How do you explore Akira’s significantly more complex emotional world?
Akira was trained as a geisha and knows how to entertain an audience, especially Japanese men. She craves approval but at the same time values her personal successes. In Buried Threads, she had the opportunity to escape her dependency on men and the money they provided by agreeing to a sponsorship contract that would provide for her every need. However, with the sudden death of her sponsor, she became damaged goods and angry over what might have been.
Her need for revenge drove her to do something she would never have done. As punishment, she’s losing not only her freedom but also her pride, morals and better judgment. Her forced occupation as a heartless assassin leaves her lost, empty and hopeless. However, she sees Devon Lyons as a rescue line and her only chance for a normal, happy life…something she never believed possible. But to win him over, she must play a deceptive part: a vixen that pulls on his emotions and tricks him into loving her. Yet she never planned on falling in love herself and the realization is frightening.
AW: Pulling back a little to focus on the macro scope of the Threads world — how much did you plan for the events in this 4th Book? Do you have an elaborate scheme, or do you write as you go?
Since I know my characters extremely well and what they’re capable, my job has evolved into creating a dilemma and then forcing them to solve it. Each of them have their strengths and weaknesses and I truly allow them to guide the direction of the story and the ultimate outcome. So I guess, I allow my story to flow as I go. 🙂
AW: The Threads series incorporates elements of Japanese culture, which I’m sure required a lot of understanding to render authentically. What insight can you share with authors looking to start their research process?
I honestly encourage authors to write what they know about, if at all possible. Their passions will pour onto pages, making them powerful and real to readers. But if you elect to write something new and unfamiliar, read as much as you can about your subject matter and then spend your free time on internet searches, interviews with professionals. Visit the location where your story takes place. Your notes on physical interactions, sights and sounds…even the taste of food makes your story authentic and believable. Magically transporting readers to another time and place.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with Kaylin since day one. See below for the first two trailers in the popular Threads series!
Interviewed by Andrea Wijaya