Please welcome guest L A Naylor to talk about her debut novel, The Land of Trees:

The Land of Trees is my debut novel and the result of 20 years of rumination and rewriting.

Adoptee Lia has followed her Spanish teacher, Rafael, to Guatemala, for romance and adventure. She doesn’t know much about the country but she’s happy because she’s finally living life on her own terms. On their first night together, Lia decides to declare her feelings, but before she gets the chance, the unimaginable happens and Rafael is brutally killed.

Devastated, Lia travels to Rafael’s family home in the countryside, where she becomes determined to find out why. But not everyone is keen on her investigation. Lia has to decide what is more important: living without answers or taking the deadly consequences that come with the truth.

I’ve carried this story around in my mind, in various versions, ever since I went to Guatemala in 1996. I was young, but it was a hugely important time because it was the year a rebel group would sign a peace treaty with the government, formally ending over three decades of civil war.

At the centre of the story is the tragic death of Rafael, so to a certain extent the theme of loss defines itself and how we come to terms with death. The story is told through the point of view of three characters: feisty, morally principled Lia, who needs to find paid work; Richard, the affluent but ultimate non-traveller; and Macy, who is hiding serious mental health issues. Although it’s ultimately Lia’s story, I think my favourite character is Macy because she’s so strong and brave.

My motivation to write often stems from a sense of injustice. Today in Guatemala, rates of crime remain very high with an average of 101 murders reported per week in 2018, and 97% of homicides remaining unsolved. I wanted to write a book that would buck that trend, because rightly or wrongly, I’m still an optimist!

The book has been described as a gritty, intelligent and evocative coming of age thriller. You can buy the print and Ebook here from 28th September 2019 onwards:

You can also connect with me here:


L.A. Naylor has been the CEO of a charity, a wreck diver and English teacher. She was awarded a grant from the Campaign for Learning to write a non-fiction book on miscarriages of justice in the UK. She interviewed people convicted of murder and learned a great deal about crime, the law and how elusive justice can be. That book, Judge for Yourself: How Many are Innocent was a best seller and was praised by The Guardian, Michael Mansfield QC and many more.