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Daughter's 17-second TikTok attracts millions to her dad's mystery 'Stone Maidens'

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Here's the plot of a popular book.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: Young women are turning up dead in southern Indiana. And the killer is leaving behind clues - stone figurines.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We do not say it's a popular new book because it first came out 11 years ago. The sudden popularity of this story is a story in itself and begins with the author.

LLOYD DEVEREUX RICHARDS: I'm Lloyd Devereux Richards, the author of "Stone Maidens."

INSKEEP: Richards was inspired by real-life unsolved crimes that he heard about years ago while studying law in Indiana. So he tried to launch a second career.

L RICHARDS: I was a full-time corporate lawyer. And my daughter and son would often watch me in the attic, where I worked on, you know, evenings and weekends, learning how to write a novel.

FADEL: It's the fate of many books. Publishers never really know what novels will catch fire - until they do. But Richards' daughter, Marguerite, didn't accept that.

MARGUERITE RICHARDS: It made me sad. I knew he was a beautiful writer. And what really touched me was he continued to write. And he wrote a couple of books after that. And in my mind, I was like, what a strong person, when no one's buying the first book, to just keep going and never complain and stay positive. And that just really made a big impression on me.

INSKEEP: So a decade after that first novel, she produced a TikTok video to promote her father's book. Nobody can predict what takes off on social media either, but this did.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEAUTIFUL BOY")

STEVE CARELL: (Singing) Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.

M RICHARDS: I was like, maybe if I made a video where people could see his book, people would read it. And when I woke up in the morning, the video had 700,000 views. And he had, like, a thousand or 2,000 followers. I actually cried. I couldn't believe that it went that viral.

FADEL: That video now has over 47 million views. And Lloyd Roberts' (ph) book is a bestseller.

L RICHARDS: I'm just amazed. I feel like I've won the lottery. I really do. There's no other comparison. I've had - never had anything like this happen to me in my life.

M RICHARDS: We're a really good team. And we're taking care of each other. And we're just trying to have as much fun as we can because this is incredible. We were always close. And this is just, like, bringing us even closer.

FADEL: Lloyd is once again writing in the attic, prepping a sequel.

(SOUNDBITE OF LRKR'S "MOON ROCKS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.