Area crime-fiction writer to speak at library

By: Carol Percy
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Know & Go:

What:  Author James L’Toile will discuss crime fiction writing

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Where:  Lincoln Public Library, 485 Twelve Bridges Drive

Info: or 434-2410

When it comes to writing crime fiction, James L’Toile knows his material first-hand.

With 30 years of experience in prisons across the county, L’Toile (pronounced La Twell), a FBI-trained hostage negotiator, served in probation, parole, investigation and prison management.

As part of his work, L’Toile compiled police reports, victim’s statements and defendant interviews for sentencing judges. After retiring from the criminal justice system, he began writing crime fiction in 2007.

 L’Toile lives in El Dorado Hills. His novels, “At What Cost” (2016) and “Bury the Past” (2017) are set in the Sacramento area.

 Over the past 10 years, his writing process has evolved from free writing to detailed chapter outlining.

 “Early on, I was a ‘pantser,’ writing without restrictions (or a net), letting the characters go where they want to go. I’ve transitioned into a plotter,” L’Toile said.

 L’Toile’s material is taken from his experience in the prison system. Characters are amalgams of the people he worked with and some dialogue came straight from the prison yard.

 “The plots themselves all stem from some event or incident that I encountered inside (the prison system),” L’Toile said.

 As for publication, L’Toile found his agent at a writer’s conference and she connected him with his publisher, he said.

 L’Toile’s advice to aspiring mystery writers: write the story that you’d like to read.

 “OK, I stole that line from Michael Connelly but I’ve found it’s really true,” L’Toile said. “If you’re enjoying what you’re writing, then chances are others will too.”

 His books will be on sale at discounted prices at the Lincoln Public Library event Monday. The books are also available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble in Roseville and at other local bookstores. For details, check the author’s website at