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Viral TikTok Post Brings Delayed Fame to Montpelier Author


Published February 14, 2023 at 9:26 a.m.
Updated March 28, 2023 at 5:35 p.m.

Lloyd Devereux Richards and Marguerite Richards - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Lloyd Devereux Richards and Marguerite Richards
A Vermont TikTok video promoting a book published in 2012 has gone viral with 42.1 million views (and counting) in a week. The book, Stone Maidens by Lloyd Devereux Richards of Montpelier, has catapulted to No. 1 on Amazon’s Serial Killer Thrillers list.

“It’s hard to fathom,” Richards, 74, said. “I don’t have an account. I don’t understand it.”

His daughter, Marguerite Richards, created the TikTok account @stonemaidens on February 7 to alert viewers to her father’s book.  He's a retired attorney who spent 14 years writing the crime thriller, juggling it with his professional life and raising a family.  Lloyd was a lawyer for National Life Group for 28 years.

“I wrote on weekends and at night,”  he told Seven Days. “I was younger, in my 40s, and had a desire always to write a book.”

Marguerite, an ESL teacher who lives in Montpelier, said she's wanted to make a TikTok about Stone Maidens for months.

“I wanted to get my dad’s book back out there,” Marguerite, 40, said. “Of course, I didn’t know it was going to get this out there.

“There was an emotional piece, growing up watching him write the book,” she continued. “I did the video from that perspective: little places in the room  [where] I watched him type.”

The viral TikTok shows Lloyd in the attic of his Montpelier home, where he started work on the book. A cover  version of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” plays as the text informs viewers that “my dad spent 14 years writing a book / he worked full time and his kids came first. But made time for his book”

The text goes on: “I’d love for him to get some sales. He doesn’t even know what TikTok is”
@stonemaidens It’s a beautifully written thriller on Amazon 🥹❤️ #stonemaidens #booktok #authorsoftiktok #thrillerbooks #books ♬ original sound - e
As Lloyd is starting to find out what  TikTok is, he said the response to the viral video feels “like lightning.”

Stone Maidens was published by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. The novel is about a serial killer who strangles young women and leaves a stone figurine with each corpse. Marguerite said she doesn’t have sales figures for Stone Maidens  since her video went viral, but she did provide  some analytics: More than 75 percent of  @stonemaidens viewers are 18 to 24.

“If young people are largely the [book's] buyers, it speaks well to the young generation that they want to read books,” Lloyd said.

He’s written two unpublished books since the publication of Stone Maidens, both of which are “in the offing” with his agent, Lloyd said. Deadly Skin is a sequel to his first book; The Runner, which he finished last summer, is a stand-alone thriller.

Meanwhile, the delayed response to Stone Maidens  is heating up: At least two movie studios have expressed interest in adapting Stone Maidens for the big screen, Lloyd  said. "My agent is dealing with them in New York," he added.

The number of Amazon reviews has skyrocketed in the past week. Among the comments: "Super happy that I was recommended this author from TikTok ... I'm a new fan of Mr. Lloyd Richards!" and "From the first page I was totally captivated." Another reviewer wrote: "amazing 10/10. he should really look into writing more!" And major media outlets here and abroad want in on the TikTok/Stone Maidens sensation.

Marguerite thinks her TikTok  is a hit because it tells a story "rather than just [announcing] ‘My dad wrote a book.’" She chose the "Beautiful Boy" audio snippet that's been trending on TikTok for the “atmosphere” it creates. “It was perfect, and my dad does like John Lennon,” she said.

Marguerite plans to keep posting videos to @stonemaidens. The most recent one, which went online on Monday evening, had more than 192,000 views by Tuesday morning. It shows Lloyd walking his bichon frise, Buddy, on North Street in Montpelier while he offers tips to writers in voice-over:   "Write, you rewrite, and write it again."

Giving Buddy a pat, the author, whose 11-year-old book is now topping the charts, advises:  "And never give up."