Conversation With Melissa Scrivner Love, Author Of American Heroin

Conversation With Melissa Scrivner Love, Author Of “American Heroin”

In American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner Love, the unforgettable protagonist of Lola returns in a gritty, high-octane thriller about a brilliant woman who will stop at nothing to protect her growing drug empire, even if she has to go to war with a rival cartel or her own family.

Lola, which was released almost two years ago, marked the debut of an exciting new thriller voice, and the new book’s edgy, complex, and breathtakingly propulsive story, continues with the same tone. (see A Conversation with Melissa Scrivner Love, author of Lola and In “Lola” Melissa Scrivner Love Creates A New Walter White for more details regarding author’s debut work).

In American Heroin, Lola has clawed her way to the top of her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Her gang has grown beyond a few trusted soldiers into a full-fledged empire, and the influx of cash has opened up a world that she has never known–one where her daughter can attend a good school, where her mother can live in safety, and where Lola can finally dream of a better life.

But with great opportunity comes great risk, and as Lola ascends the hierarchy of the city’s underworld she attracts the attention of a dangerous new cartel who sees her as their greatest obstacle to dominance. Soon Lola finds herself sucked into a deadly all-out drug war that threatens to destroy everything she’s built.

But even as Lola readies to go to war, she learns that the greatest threat may not be a rival drug lord but a danger far closer to home: her own brother.

American Heroin is indeed an absorbing read and we did have a brief Q&A with the author about the book which follows:

Q: Lola is a complicated character, and you delicately portray her many sides: gang leader, loving mother, ruthless killer, and protector of her neighborhood’s women and children. How do you strike a balance?

I like to think it’s as simple as portraying Lola as fully human. I write to try to understand people. Sure, Lola does things on a different scale than most, but I think anyone can sympathize with a person who will stop at nothing to protect their child, or a woman in power who only runs into trouble when she decides she wants credit for her work.

Q: How did you conduct your research for American Heroin?

I have lived in Los Angeles for over 15 years. I first came here on a volunteer trip in college and fell in love with the city. We stayed at a homeless shelter on Skid Row and worked at a needle exchange. We crashed an open house in Bel-Air. It was a trip that encompassed both ends of the economic spectrum. To say it was eye-opening is a serious understatement. I knew I was home, even though I didn’t move here for another five years. In terms of formal research, I’ve written for various television shows that take place here and deal with gangs, drugs, and crime. I also find that driving L.A. is one of the best ways to experience the city, transitioning from neighborhood to neighborhood really highlights the similarities and differences.

Q: A fantastic set of characters inhabits Lola’s world—from the soldiers she commands to the prosecutor for the L.A. District Attorney’s office and a wealthy father at her daughter’s school. Where do you find inspiration for these personalities?

Everywhere! I did jury duty at the Van Nuys Courthouse years ago, and I remember the prosecutor spoke in a very effective little girl voice while she was interrogating an alleged child molester. Whenever the defense attorney spoke, the prosecutor busied herself taping a piece of copy paper to her binder. It was so distracting, and so effective. Andrea comes from many different places, but jury duty is a valuable experience both as a citizen and a writer. I had plenty of school research because my daughter just started preschool last year… and preschool in LA is a very different experience than preschool in Kentucky, where I grew up.

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