Category: Author Interview

Introducing Jennifer Haynie

Author Interview | Introducing Jennifer Haynie and Loose Ends

I’d like to introduce Jennifer Haynie, author of Loose Ends, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (click here to read my review).  Jennifer is visiting the blog today to share a little about herself, her reading habits, and her writing.

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I grew up in North Carolina, right near Fort Bragg.  No, I’m not an Army brat.  I’m the daughter of a paediatrician, and my parents selected Fayetteville for its potential to grow.

How many books have you published?

I’ve published six indie books and one via a traditional publisher.  The publisher went out of business, so I’m seeking to rework the novel since it was my first novel ever published.

Which of your books is your personal favourite, and why?

Wow.  That’s a great question.  If I had to choose, I’d probably say The Athena File.  I greatly enjoyed putting the characters of David and Abigail together.  Jonathan, too.  I also liked the issues they dealt with because right now, they’re extremely relevant.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Suspense is my favorite genre.  Some of my fave authors are Irene Hannon, DiAnn Mills, Lee Child, and David Baldacci.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

I just read an Irene Hannon novel called Tangled Webs which is the last instalment of her Men of Valor series.  Very good.  All three of those books were good.

Sounds great!

About your book

What kind of books do you write?

I write suspense novels that have inspirational undertones.  The characters are complex and real, with wide varieties of backstories.  I wanted to ensure that on some level, readers could identify with them.

Tell us about Loose Ends. Who will enjoy it?

Anyone who enjoys suspense, both men and women would enjoy it.  Also, I know there are many readers out there who crave a deeper relationship with the characters in suspense novels.  I make sure to include lots of action going on, both on an emotional and action level.

There is a lot of action and suspense in Loose Ends. Dare I ask how much of this is based on personal knowledge and experience?

Nope.  😊  None.  My life is pretty boring compared to Alex’s.

This is good to hear. Alex is kind of scary.

Loose Ends also features a variety of locations, some beautiful and exotic. How did you research these locations?

I like to look at pictures.  Also, sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have been close or to locales.  In Loose Ends, while I didn’t go to the British Virgin Islands, I’ve been to the US Virgin Islands twice.  Close enough.

Loose Ends also features characters from a variety of racial, cultural, and geographic backgrounds, which is outside the norm for Christian fiction. What inspired you to write across these boundaries, and how did you research this?

I recently read a blog about the need for diversity in Christian fiction and in fiction in general.  I kind of fell into having diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.  For some reason, the Middle East (and Southwest Asia) have always intrigued me.  I’ve read lots of books related to the cultures, and I also work hard as I revise manuscripts to put myself into the character, in essence, getting all the way into their heads.

Many of your characters have unusual names. What do their names mean, and does that influence their character or actions in any way?

I liked Alex’s name.  Of course, she’s named after her mother, Roya Alexandra Thornton.  Alex strikes her personality.  She’s a bold person, certainly not a timid girlie girl.

I think Jabir’s name is probably one of my favorites.  In Loose Ends as well as Panama Deception, he’s more laid back.  Jabir in Arabic means comforter, and as things unravel in Loose Ends, his role as comforter becomes apparent.

I love that!

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

In Loose Ends, my favorite character is probably Alex, though I have to say that when I began weaving Tiny’s story into the plot, he grew on me.  But in terms of Alex, she and I have some common interests (I’m not a girlie girl either).  She also struggles to overcome, and I admire women who push through adversity to triumph.

I think that’s what I liked most about Alex as well!

Loose Ends has a lot more of a faith element than most Christian suspense novels I read. What made you choose to have such an overt faith element?

God gave me this gift of writing.  One of the reasons why He did so was so He could touch lives in an unusual way.  That’s probably the big reason why I have faith elements in my novels.  Also, sometimes I get the impression that some people, both those who are believers and those who aren’t, see Christians as boring.  Hah.  Far from it.  Christians truly living out their faith are dynamic people.

At the same time, Loose Ends also has more of a gritty feel than most other Christian suspense novels. It almost feels like a general market novel in that respect. Do you consider you’re writing for Christians, or that you’re writing novels with Christian characters?

I’m writing novels with Christian characters because I want those who aren’t Christians to pick it up and read.  I know that most non-Christians would never venture into the CBA.  If they did, many would see the plots as too unrealistic due to the restrictions many traditional publishers place on their writers.  Life is gritty, and I want my work to reflect that but also see that it’s possible to write a novel that’s more a reflection of the sometimes harsh realities in which we live yet show how Christian characters can overcome in such settings.

I liked the fact Loose Ends was a lot more gritty than most CBA fiction. I understand the restrictions CBA authors have, but wish it wasn’t so. It reinforces the insular Christian bubble.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

I touched on it in the question above.  If a writer is writing in the CBA, traditional publishers often place restrictions on what characters can do, say, etc.  Think Love Inspired Romantic Suspense novels.  Sometimes, those restrictions can create unrealistic settings and scenes.

Love Inspired is probably one of the more conservative Christian lines, which is ironic considering they are part of Harlequin Mills & Boon, which have several imprints where the romance is a lot more hot and heavy. I guess they know their market and the expectations of their readers. But there are other readers who would like gritty faith-based novels.

What are you working on now? What other books are in the pipeline?

That’s a great question.  I’m what I call “hot-drafting” the second book to the Athena Trilogy, which will be called No Options.  Once I let that sit for a bit, I’m turning my attention to my first traditionally published novel, Exiled Heart.  Since the publisher went out of business last year, I got my rights back, and that enables me to rework it to be more of my current writing style (It was my first ever published, hence I don’t like my writing).  I hope to have that one out at the end of the year.

I’ve heard most published authors don’t like their early books, so you’re not alone in this.

You also told me you’re getting a puppy. How cute! Does s/he have a name? Are there pictures?

Clyde aged 8 weeksYes, we got Clyde on the 18th of March.  Now we have Bonnie and Clyde, the Outlaws.  I’ll be glad to attach pictures.  😊  Always.

What fabulous names! And cute puppy (just don’t tell my cat I said that. She’s the jealous type).
Thanks for visiting, Jennifer! Readers, what question would you like to ask Jennifer? Let us know in the comments.

About Jennifer Haynie

Author Photo: Jennifer HaynieAfter being an avid reader of suspense fiction for most of her life, Jennifer Haynie began writing and publishing suspense novels in 2012.  She has now written over five indie suspense novels.  In her spare time, she works for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, enjoys working out, and loves traveling.  She currently lives outside of Raleigh with her husband and their Basenji dogs.

 

You can find Jennifer Haynie online at:

Website | Facebook  | PinterestTwitter

About Loose Ends

Hot off her first mission as a Unit 28 contractor agent, Alex Thornton wants nothing more than to focus on building a life with Jabir al-Omri, her best friend and boyfriend of five months.

A secret chains Jabir, one with such dire consequences that seeking freedom from it will cost him dearly. He finds himself caught between honoring those he cares about and being completely truthful with Alex.

Hashim al-Hassan craves vengeance against the woman who deceived him ten years before. The target of his wrath? Alex.

When Alex and Jabir receive an assignment to find the murderers of a shipping executive, their investigation brings them to the attention of Hashim. He begins stalking her. The bodies pile up, and people disappear.

Now, with Alex squarely within Hashim’s crosshairs, Jabir yearns to tell her what he knows. Yet the truth may destroy both her and those she loves the most.

Find Loose Ends online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Loose Ends below:

Introducing Toni Shiloh

Author Interview | Introducing Toni Shiloh

Today I’m interviewing Toni Shiloh about life, reading, writing, and her latest release, Grace Restored. It’s contemporary Christian romance with an emphasis on Christian. Welcome, Toni!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from the great state of Texas. I was born and raised there but I haven’t lived there since I was 18. I joined the Air Force straight out of high school, met my husband, and after serving and his commitment to the Air Force ended, we’ve moved based on his job. We now reside in Virginia with our two boys.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

I love romance books. I don’t care if the romance is historical, suspenseful, or even in a dystopian setting. As long as there is romance, I’m there. 🙂 My favourite authors (in no ranking order) are Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, Becky Wade, Jennifer Peel, Irene Hannon, Jennifer Rodewald, and Sarah Monzon, to a name a few.

Some great authors in that list 🙂

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

The last book I read was Finding Evergreen by Jennifer Rodewald. It was superb. I would recommend anything she’s written, her books are that fantastic.

I’m currently reading Finding Evergreen,and will review it next week!

About your book

Tell us a little about Grace Restored. Who do you think will enjoy it?

I’ll tell you a little secret, Grace Restored is my favourite book I’ve written. I know some authors don’t choose, but Michelle and Guy’s story is it for me. The heartache they go through, the friendships that are made, and the discovery of God’s grace seals the deal. I think anyone searching for those elements in a story will enjoy it.

Grace Restored has a lot more of a Christian theme than many contemporary Christian romances I read. What made you choose to write for the Christian market and include such overt faith elements?

The grace I received from God was so overwhelming, I let Him know that I wanted to be used by Him. When I realized (through completing my Bachelor’s degree) that I had some talent in writing, I surrendered it to Him. I can’t imagine writing books without the faith elements because faith is my life.

And I love the way it comes through in Grace Restored 🙂

Quote from Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh: Michelle wished she had that kind of peace. Thankfully, the more she talked to God, the more it seemed within reach.

Most Christian fiction seems to focus on people of European ancestry, with the occasional Native American character. Why do you think this is?

I think statistically speaking there are more writers from a European ancestry than others. However, there are many African American writers in Christian fiction, they are just hard to find because they often end up in the African American section of a bookstore versus the Christian fiction section.

Guy is Haitian, although he was raised in Freedom Lake. How has his different cultural heritage influenced his life?

You can see the influences in his speech, his mannerisms when people are welcomed into his home. Like other people who have a different culture than the place of their birth, he can assimilate depending on who he is interacting with.

I loved the way he’d slip into a version of French.

There are a lot of broken characters in Grace Restored, which links to your main theme of restoration. What prompted you to choose this theme?

I knew Guy and Michelle would end up together before I wrote their story. As I wrote, Freedom Lake book one in the series, bits and pieces of their story came to me and I realized just how broken they were. I knew they needed to discover the saving grace of God and there the theme was born.

Grace Restored is set in the town of Freedom Lake? Is that a real place?

It’s not. I found freedom in creating a fictional setting. You can make it your own without the worry of offending people from an actual real setting.

You drop a few hints about the history of Freedom Lake as a town. What can you tell us about Freedom Lake, and how the town influenced your plot and characters?

Freedom Lake is based off a real place. In times of segregation in the US, African Americans needed a place to getaway and relax. There were AA towns in different places of the U.S. where they could go and vacation without the worries of breaking a Jim Crow law. Freedom Lake represents those towns but in a modern setting where segregation is no longer.

How interesting!

It is said that reading great Christian fiction should challenge the reader’s ideas and beliefs. How do you hope Grace Restored challenges your readers?

I pray that after they finish, they have gained compassion and empathy for their fellowman. That they will search themselves and see if they’re refusing grace in an area they desperately need it. Most of all, I hope it draws them closer to God.

What are you working on now? Can we look forward to another story from Freedom Lake?

Most definitely! Book three has already been written it just needs the wonderful works of revisions and editing. 🙂 Before I get to that, I will be finishing book four in the Maple Run series.

About Toni Shiloh

Author Photo - Toni ShilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace of the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior.
She writes soulfully romantic novels to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with her family.

Toni is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

You can find Toni Shiloh online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | PinterestTwitter

About Grace Restored

Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?

Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Returning Home to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise.

Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken?

You can find Grace Restored online at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleGoodreads | iTunesKobo

Introducing Christine Dillon

Author Interview | Christine Dillon

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Christine Dillon, to share about the release of her debut novel, Grace in Strange Disguise. Full disclosure: I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, so of course I think it’s excellent.

Welcome, Christine!

Christine DillonChristine never intended to become an author. If she ever thought about writing it was to wonder if she might write a missionary biography. So it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now be working on a novel.

Christine has worked in Taiwan, with OMF International, since 1999. It’s best not to ask Christine, “Where are you from?” She’s a missionary kid who isn’t sure if she should say her passport country (Australia) or her Dad’s country (New Zealand) or where she’s spent most of her life (Asia – Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines).

Christine used to be a physiotherapist, but now writes ‘storyteller’ on airport forms. She has written a book on storytelling and spends her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so.

In her spare time, Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

Welcome, Christine! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Mango

That’s showing your tropical upbringing!

Which is your favourite season?

I love all seasons but winter. Spring for flowers and promise of summer, summer for clear skies and temperatures and autumn for crisp air and colours.

Where is your favourite place?

Anywhere in NZ’s great outdoors or Taroko Gorge in Taiwan or a valley in Malaysia where I went to primary school.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God uses the weak … so that no one can boast before him. If I feel weak (which I do) then I qualify to be used by God.

I love that!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I still collect stamps (NZ,UK, Australia) which is a hobby that doesn’t usually continue into adulthood.

My husband, father, and father-in-law all collect stamps. I preferred coins, especially as reminders of places I’ve travelled.

Now, let’s talk about your book, Grace in Strange Disguise. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

What inspired the plot of Grace in Strange Disguise?

I never intended to write fiction but while I was having a prayer day, the idea for two novels dropped in to my head. It took more than six years before I wrote two practice novels and then dared to start working on the first of the two original ideas.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I’m not much of one to play favourites. I like Joy and Naomi because they’ve been through a lot but shine like refined gold. I like Rob Boyle and Paul Webster because they’re like so many non-Christian Australian men, using humour to avoid confronting Jesus. I had fun writing their dialogue. I have had many conversations like the ones in the book with Australian men.

I think Kiwi men are much the same. They only get really passionate and demonstrative when it comes to sport (especially when the All Blacks play the Wallabies).

Esther took a while for me to like because it isn’t easy to write the first part of a person’s journey when they are not mature. By the end of the book, I’d love to be her friend and sit around talking about the Bible with her, Gina, Joy and Naomi.

But novels are about personal growth, and that was Esther’s challenge.

Esther’s father and fiancé both have some misguided ideas about Christianity. How common are such ideas in the modern church?

Far too common. Many Christians don’t realise how strongly they’re influenced by the world around them – via media or what others say. What the Bible says can be drowned out. Knowing our Bibles takes hard work and so much of it is contrary to what we naturally think. For example, it feels so ‘natural’ to hold grudges rather than to forgive.

I constantly hear people say things that suggest that they really think that God should make their lives smooth or that he somehow owes them. One context that you hear these ideas is if you have ill health or a disabled child. Even Christians will suggest, “what have you done to deserve this.” Many people within the church are closet ‘Buddhists’ in that they really believe (deep down, like Job’s friends) the law of Karma is true (if you do good, good will happen and vice versa).

Is there a particular theme or message in Grace in Strange Disguise?

The title gives us one of the themes but you’ll have to read the book to work out how many of the characters the title is linked with. I’m aware of at least four, and there’ll be more in books two and three.

Grace in Strange Disguise raises ideas of what is God there for? What are his purposes for us? Why doesn’t he always answer our prayers in the way we want?

Will there be a sequel to Grace in Strange Disguise? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, at the moment I can see two more books. Iola, you’re largely responsible for this because you were the one who told me my ‘standalone’ book was really one and a half books.

Yeah … #SorryNotSorry. I think this version of Grace in Strange Disguise is much stronger than the first version I read, and I’m looking forward to the completed second book!

I’m only in the planning stages so I’m not ready to say too much. The best way to keep up-to-date is to become a ‘storyteller friend’ (subscriber) and/or join the Facebook group – storytellerchristine.

One of my favourite characters in Grace in Strange Disguise is Joy. Is she based on a real person?

Not really. But she is an amalgam of the people I’ve read about in biographies of Chinese Christians. People who stand firm for their faith no matter the cost. I wanted to have an Asian believer because I’ve lived and work as a church planter in Taiwan since 1999. I want my books to be broader than simply one people group. So the book reflects the backgrounds of many Australians in that we have people of Scottish, Irish, Chinese, Indian and Italian backgrounds.

New Zealand is a similar melting pot of cultures, although we have fewer Irish and Italians. We have a lot of Koreans in my city, which means we have some excellent Asian restaurants!

Joy tells stories taken from the Bible. What’s the story behind that?

In 2004, I was introduced to Bible storytelling. Once I got over my initial prejudices against it, I discovered a tool that I’ve used nearly every day since. My life and ministry is filled with telling Bible stories to people of all ages and nationalities, and training others in this tool. Joy’s use of stories gives me an opportunity to show people how to set up opportunities and to use it naturally in everyday life. Visit www.storyingthescriptures.com for more information.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I find it different with non-fiction and fiction. For me the easiest for non-fiction was the planning and the hardest the editing.

For fiction, formatting proved to be the easiest because I use Vellum. It only takes about an hour.

Hardest was the planning process. However, if I do it correctly, then the writing should be much easier and the editing process should also be shorter (and cheaper).

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I wouldn’t even have started writing if I hadn’t been convinced that God was asking me to do it. The journey is too hard unless you’re called to it.

There have been many times I wanted to quit and God has provided the perseverance or sent someone to encourage me or alerted me to a resource that will help me. You are one of those answers to my prayer.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I’ve learned a lot from you as well.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

This is hard to answer. I like historical where I learn something. I also like thriller and mystery, but don’t think I’m clever enough to write them. I also like Christian fiction that deals with issues that we all face and that inspires me to follow Jesus more closely.

I think that’s the hardest kind of Christian fiction to write, but it’s certainly the most rewarding to read.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

This changes rapidly at the moment and for the last nine months I’ve been reading Christian fiction, trying to understand the world I’m entering. I’m about to read my first Catherine West and Charles Martin. Both are Christian authors that have been highly recommended.

I know you only give five-star reviews to books you believe are impact into eternity. What are five Christian fiction books you’d place in this category?

* A Long Highway Home (Elizabeth Musser)
* Safely Home (Randy Alcorn)
* When the Shofar Blew and the Mark of the Lion trilogy (Francine Rivers)
* Screwtape Letters and the Narnia series (CS Lewis)

I haven’t yet read Safely Home, but I’ve read all the others and agree 100%.

Finally …

Where can we find Grace in Strange Disguise online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo |Nook

Where can we find you online?

Author Website | Bible Storytelling | Facebook | Pinterest

 

Thank you, Christine! It’s been great to learn more about Grace in Strange Disguise.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Christine? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Grace in Strange Disguise below, and go in the draw to win a Kindle copy.

Introducing Dr Richard Mabry

Author Interview | Dr Richard Mabry

Today I’d like to welcome author Dr Richard Mabry, to share about his new release, Cardiac Event. Richard says:

Richard MabryI’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

Welcome, Richard!

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Seedless green grapes (because I can grab a handful as I go by).

Which is your favourite season?

Spring (For those of you living where there aren’t four distinct seasons, let me recommend Texas. Sometimes we get all four within a day or two.)

New Zealand has the same problem. It’s supposed to be spring at the moment, and today has had bright summer sunshine and thundering winter rain.

Where is your favourite place?

I’ve been fortunate enough, in my days as a practitioner and later a medical school professor, to go all over the world, teaching and lecturing. But now I agree with the line from the Wizard of Oz—There’s no place like home.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

I hang on to Jeremiah 29:11, because I know that, however dark things look, God has a plan for all of us.

That’s probably my favourite as well.

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I’ve gotten to know a number of sports figures—former big league baseball players, professional football players, well-known golfers—and none of them asked for my autograph. Can’t understand it.

Funny!

Now, let’s talk about your book, Cardiac Event. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Cardiologist Dr. Kirk Martin continually crosses swords with Dr. Cliff Hamilton, so he is surprised when Hamilton asks him to care for him after a heart attack. When he is ready for discharge, Hamilton is found dead in his hospital bed, and Martin is suspected of murdering him.

After another doctor is found shot to death, Martin’s girlfriend, nurse Janet Rush, reminds him to be careful because he may be next. Can he save his own life while searching for the identity of the real murderer?

What inspired the plot of Cardiac Event?

Believe it or not, sometimes doctors get cross-ways with each other, and some of those enmities run deep. I started wondering, “What if one of those doctors was called upon to treat another in a life-and-death situation?” Then I took it further. “And what if the other doctor died?” That was the basis for the novel.

Sounds exciting! I’m about to start reading it, and will review it in the next week or so.

You’re a retired doctor, and you write medical thrillers. How much of your former life do you bring into your fiction?

I don’t have the advantage some people think I have, because I rarely incorporate a scenario I’ve experienced into my novels. However, I do have an advantage because I speak the language and know how doctors will react in certain situations.

Do you ever find yourself tempted to change medical fact to ensure a better story? How do you strike the balance between getting the details right, and writing a thrilling medical thriller?

Most of the time I stick to accepted medical facts, because if I don’t, someone who is in active practice will let me know. I can recall one time when I “invented” a disease and a treatment, and I got a number of queries from people who’d read Miracle Drug and wondered if they should be vaccinated for that potentially fatal infection.

I get the impression medical science is always changing. How difficult is it to stay up-to-date—both as a practicing doctor, and as a writer?

It’s very difficult. I haven’t been in active practice for more than a decade, but I still keep my license current and read the literature. Most of my research now is done on the computer, and I do a lot of it with each book.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The hardest part? Coming up with a scheme for a new novel, without repeating myself. The easiest part for me? Revising after an editor has made suggestions. Notice I didn’t say anything about marketing and publicity. I was doing most of that myself, even when I worked with a publisher, so that hasn’t changed much when I “indie-released” Cardiac Event.

Interesting! I’ve heard a lot of authors say they loathe the editing process, so it’s good to find someone who doesn’t.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I tried writing novels that contained a “call to commitment” or showed a step-by-step “road to salvation,” but that didn’t work for me. Rather, what I do is portray real people—believers, skeptics, and searchers—in real situations and try to show how God can work in their lives.

I think you do a great job with that! Some authors can make that call to commitment or road to salvation work, but it’s hard to do without coming across as preachy.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

I read—and have read for years—mysteries and detective stories. They allow me to use my powers of deduction (if the author plays fair), and serve as a wonderful get-away from the problems we all face in everyday life. Besides, I can occasionally “borrow” one of the ideas I read there.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

Although I will often take a break to read a new book, I find myself time after time re-reading the work of the author whose writing I admire: the late Robert B. Parker. He’s able to paint a picture, using simple, declarative sentences, a picture that lets me be a part of the action. I have to skip some of the language, but then again, I have encountered it on the baseball diamond and golf course, so it’s nothing new.

What’s next for you?

I’m doing the final edits on a novella that I’ll release about December 1. Surgeon’s Choice is about an engaged doctor who wonders if another doctor is behind a series of mishaps that he’s encountered. Then, when people start dying, he really gets worried.

Next year will see the release of my next novel, Guarded Prognosis. In it, a young surgeon gets a call from his father who has just received a potentially fatal diagnosis. The older man doesn’t want his son’s medical help, though. He simply wants a pledge of his assistance in ending his own life.

Finally …

Where can we find Cardiac Event online?

The e-book is only available from Amazon in Kindle format (although there is a free app, available from Amazon, that allows it to be read on computers). The print book is available from Barnes and Noble, and eBay.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble |eBay

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you, Richard! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Cardiac Event.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Richard? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Cardiac Event below:

Author Interview - Janet Ferguson

Author Interview | Janet W Ferguson

Today I’d like to welcome author Janet Ferguson, to share about her new release, Magnolia Storms.

Janet W Ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems.

Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

Welcome, Janet!

Hi! I’m super-excited to be your guest!

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better. I highlighted questions you could leave out if you want to make it shorter.

What is your favourite fruit?

So hard, because I love food! I’m going with watermelon, especially the ones grown in Smith County, Mississippi.

Which is your favourite season?

I’m a summer girl! I like warm weather.

I agree! Snow is pretty to look at, but too cold for my taste.

Where is your favourite place?

The warm weather above goes with my favourite place—the beach! Most any beach with the summer sun will do! I often go to Fort Morgan, Alabama, and read my favourite novels on the shore.

Then you’ll love New Zealand. We have miles of beaches.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Not sure how to pick just one, but I focused on Isaiah 61 in my first series. Each book took a part from the chapter as a theme.

  • Book 1: Beauty for ashes
  • Book 2: He binds up the broken hearted.
  • Book 3: He frees the captives
  • Book 4: They shall be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.

What a great idea!

I love the thought of how God heals our broken, messed up places. That’s the focus of my writing. Mostly because my own life has been pretty broken and messy at times, and I needed to grasp hold of His promises.

It’s a reminder we all need to hear sometimes. 

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

Now, I have a lot here I could add, but I’ll go with being deaf in one ear. I’m constantly circling people to get them on “my good ear,” so I can hear them.

Now, let’s talk about your book, Magnolia Storms. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Your tagline is Faith. Humor. Romance. Southern Style. What does “Southern Style” mean when it comes to fiction?

The Deep South in the U.S. is known to speak more slowly, do life a bit more slowly…in a bit more relaxed way. We use the word y’all and have quirky phrases, and we’ve fried most any food you can think of. The South is famous for friendliness and hospitality, like we’re all one big family.

We wave at people in the neighbourhood and around town, when driving, whether you know them or not. We’ve often been trained in particular manners, like saying yes ma’am and no sir to anyone possibly older than us. It’s just a certain flavour that permeates the area where I live.

I had heard you were famous for your fried food. It sounds great to me … waistline? What waistline?

How does this relate to Magnolia Storms? I see plenty of room for faith and romance in that book description, but humour? (Humor?) How does that fit in?

In my real life, I often joke during hard times, or find humour in the midst of despair at some small thing. Maybe some silly thing happens during a crisis, like my cat chasing its tail, which breaks up the moment. I believe laughter helps get us through in dark situations, so I plug in a bit of comedic relief for my characters and my readers—a little romantic comedy amidst deep issues.

What inspired the plot of Magnolia Storms?

Researching the port of Mobile, Alabama, for my book Blown Together, I emailed a college friend who is a ship pilot. When he answered my questions, he also included of videos ship pilots transferring from their pilot boat to larger vessels to guide them into the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was fascinating and beautiful and exciting. I knew right away, I had my next hero!

Here’s a video (You might want to turn off the sound of the heavy metal music):

That brings Josh’s work in Magnolia Storms to life.

The other part of the story is Hurricane Katrina. Once the levees broke in New Orleans, many people missed the fact that the storm obliterated whole towns and communities on our coastline and wreaked havoc over three hours inland. For Mississippians, time is often divided Before Katrina or After Katrina. There are still vacant lots on our coast after over a decade due to the storm surge that was up to thirty feet high in places.

Magnolia Storms is asking one of the big faith questions—where is God when bad things happen? How was that to write, and to answer?

Writing it was hard but cathartic. Prayer and God’s answers are things I’ve struggled with as my mother died from Alzheimer’s, my son went through multiple joint issues and surgeries, and other trying storms in life. I believe that if I am wrestling with my faith and understanding, at times, then perhaps others are, as well, and God helps me work through these hard issues by processing them with my characters.

Is there a particular theme or message in Magnolia Storms?

Yes! The words from Isaiah 43, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” My heroine has an elderly aunt who is funny and provides wisdom throughout the novel. She offers this advice:

“Your faith can’t keep tossing and turning with the wind.” Aunt Ruth rubbed up and down Maggie’s shoulder. “Sooner or later, you must decide, ‘Though He slay me, still I will trust Him.’ Know that He is with you when you pass through the rough waters of life.”

Magnolia certainly has to pass through the waters. So does Josh. It’s a great message.

Magnolia Storms looks like it’s the first book in a new series. Is this the case? What can you tell us about the future books in the series?

It is a new series. I think each book will be only loosely tied by the fact that they are all set at coastal locations…I think.

The next one I’m working on deals with drug addiction, and it is set in St. Simmons, Georgia. The title will be The Art of Rivers. Addiction is such a tragic issue that touches most families these days.

How is Magnolia Storms different from your previous series? Will the same readers enjoy it?

All my books have grappled with difficult issues, but perhaps, Magnolia Storms has a tad less humour than the previous novels. The heroine is tougher and more stubborn than some of my past heroines. I like her, though. She is someone who is dependable and will get the job done or die trying.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I love coming up with the idea for a story and creating! I hate editing and proofreading!!

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

Each time, I work through a sort of element of faith, so I’m studying, listening for messages from the Lord, and grappling to understand that piece of the puzzle. I think it helps me grow in faith.

Finally …

Where can we find Magnolia Storms online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo | iBooks | Nook Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | BookBub

Thank you, Janet! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Magnolia Storms.

Thank you!! I’m so happy to be here!

Readers, what question would you like to ask Janet? Let us know in the comments!

Author Interview - Dena N Netherton

Author Interview | Dena N Netherton

Today I’d like to welcome author Dena N Netherton, to share about her new release, High Country Dilemma.

Dena N NethertonDena Netherton is the author of both Christian Romance and Christian Suspense fiction. Born and raised in northern California, she was educated at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the University of Michigan, and the University of Northern Colorado.

Her many musical experiences as both a performer and teacher have provided her with delicious memories from which to draw when developing new characters and writing compelling stories.

Welcome, Dena! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What’s your favourite fruit?

Peaches. Definitely big, juicy peaches. Peach pie, peach preserves, peach ice cream. I could go on and on about peaches. Especially the ones you can get at a fruitstand near Palisades, Colorado.

Which is your favourite musical?

I’d have to say Fiddler on the Roof. The music is wonderful and the characters are richly drawn and authentic.

Where is your favourite place?

Bellingham, Washington. I’ve lived all over the country, and there are great things about each place. But the Pacific Northwest offers the San Juan Islands to the west, fun things to do in the city, and the Cascade Mountains less than an hour away. Seattle is only an hour south, and Canada is about fifteen minutes north. Love it here!

Sometimes there is no place like home. I love Oregon and Washington, because the hills and the trees remind me of my home, New Zealand.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Gosh, there are so many. I think I’d have to choose this one: Colossians 1:13 “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption.” (NIV Bible) Kind of sums up the Gospel, don’t you think?

A fabulous choice!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I was terribly shy as a kid. Whenever I had to give a report or speech in the classroom, I’d be sick for days beforehand. But becoming a musical performer, and later, a teacher, knocked that trait out of me. Now, my problem is closing my mouth!

Now, let’s talk about your book, High Country Dilemma. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Fallon Hart has landed her dream job–directing the annual melodrama, Miss May’s Dilemma. But when Fallon arrives in Pine Ridge, Colorado, she finds her new apartment in flames. To make matters worse, her manager wants her to sing an impossible solo. Her family wants her to give up the theater and join the family jewelry business. And her selfish, controlling ex-fiancé wants her back. The biggest dilemma of all, though, is trying to make everyone happy.

Handsome firefighter, Lucas O’Farrell, is searching for his soul-mate, a lady who’ll share his love of the mountains, small-town living, and kids. He knows exactly what he doesn’t want: a sophisticated city girl like Fallon. But when they are cast as sweethearts in the melodrama, the attraction is hard to deny. Before he realizes it, he’s falling for her—hard—and it’s possible she’s starting to love him, too. But is love worth the risk if the she’s planning to return to Denver at the end of the season?

I’ve heard melodrama used in connection to (bad) fiction, but not to theatre. What is melodrama? Does it have other names?

Yes, Melodrama (note, that the term is capitalized) as a literary and dramatic form has been around for centuries. Today, Melodrama typically refers to 19th century dramas with accompanying music in which the plot is sensational and designed to appeal to the emotions.

Characters are usually sterotyped as either heroic (the strong savior), innocent (usually a helpless maiden), or the big, bad guy. There is a strong moral lesson attached. We writers avoid using melodrama in our novels, but Melodramas are supposed to be melodramatic.

Fascinating! I don’t think I’ve ever come across this type of drama before.

You have an extensive background in music and performance. How did that impact on your decision to write a novel about musical theatre?

I have so many memories of performing and of working with other singers, directors, composers, and musicians. Most of them are wonderful memories. But I’ve worked with a few really difficult directors or temperamental actors.

And I’ve had my own difficulties. I once had to learn the violin in a few weeks so I could play it onstage in an opera. I hope to write some more stories involving the theater, drawing from some of those challenges, but in a light-hearted way.

That would be a challenge! I’m told the violin is a difficult instrument to play well.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I had so much fun writing Mike, Lucas’s sidekick. We all have a ‘Mike’ in our lives. You know, the funny, irrepressible, loyal, got-your-back type of friend who’ll still be around when you’re ninety years old. Mike’s conversations with Lucas made me laugh. He’s the best kind of friend to Lucas: truthful, yet encouraging.

The character of Mike was inspired by memories of my twin brother’s best friend, Danny, in high school. Danny was always at our house, swimming in our pool, hanging out with my brother, drinking up all our milk. He was like a brother.

What idea would you like readers to take away after reading High Country Dilemma?

The theme of High Country Dilemma is God’s faithfulness. Whether we’re in the theater or in some other kind of profession, we all deal with the kind of fear which can keep us from being the person God has called us to be. Lucas helps Fallon learn that God can be trusted to strengthen and guide her, especially when she feels the weakest.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The easiest part of writing is writing. Before I was published, all I had to do was think, research, create, and type. That’s all enjoyable and rewarding. But now that I’ve got some books traditionally published, my time is no longer my own. Juggling the amount of time spent writing, editing, communicating, doing social media, and posting my blogs takes skill and discipline.

It sounds like a challenge.

Is there an overt faith thread in High Country Dilemma? How does this impact the characters?

Yes, there is a strong faith element. Fallon’s faith has been severely tested when God didn’t rescue her from a humiliating event on stage. She fears having to step on stage again. Lucas has a strong faith, and as he grows to love her, he yearns to help her see that God can be trusted and relied on. She must keep her eyes on the Lord, and not keep dwelling over a past mistake.

That’s a great lesson!

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I have loved writing since childhood, and I know the Lord put that ability in me for a reason. I also loved teaching, and I found tons of opportunities to write songs, and poems, and short plays for my elementary kids. Later, when my own children grew up, I clearly felt God’s call to begin seriously writing. He has led me to write devotionals, stories, articles, plays, and, eventually, full-length novels.

I love to write realistic characters who struggle with the same challenges us real-life folk do. I hope Fallon and Lucas and their friends remind readers that God is intimately acquainted with our fears and doubts, and He will help and strengthen us if we trust Him.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

It depends. Sometimes I only want to read sweet romances. Other times, I’m in the mood for a toe-zinging thriller. Last year, I read a number of non-fiction books, including biographies. I guess I’m an omni-reader!

I think that describes me as well!

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

I just finished reading a suspense novel by Michael Koryta entitled, Those Who Wish Me Dead. That book had be hooked from the first page.

Finally …

Where can we find High Country Dilemma online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Thank you, Dena! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about High Country Dilemma.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Dena? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to High Country Dilemma below:

Introducing Penelope Powell

Author Interview | Introducing Penelope Powell

Today I’d like to welcome author Penelope Powell to share about her new release, A Furrow So Deep. Penelope is a southern girl at heart, who loves green rolling hills, wind chimes that tinkle on warm summer nights, and her momma’s fried pies. She’s been luckier than most. She’s enjoyed a life surrounded by family, friends, and a faith that has taught her to discern her worth in a Righteous Saviour.
A Furrow So Deep Header
Having travelled and lived in many places, she has been fortunate enough to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, which has given her a broader perspective that occasionally splashes onto the pages of her novels.

Welcome, Penelope!

I have to ask: what is a fried pie? (I apologise if this is obvious to any southerners. My excuse is that I’m from New Zealand, and my experience of the South is limited to Florida.)

You’d start with something like an uncooked round pie crust 6-8” then add cooked fruit (similar to preserves) usually peaches or apricots. Fold in half- a half moon in shape then fry until golden brown.

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What’s your favourite fruit?

Mangoes and Muscadines (a grape variety)

Which is your favourite season?

Autumn—the cool crisp weather and colourful leaves.

And you call it autumn, like I do 🙂

You say you’ve travelled a lot. How many states have you visited? How many countries? Which is your favourite?

I’ve lived in Tennessee (the setting of this book), Florida, Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas, and visited more than twenty other states.

I’ve also lived in Mexico, Germany, and Belgium, and visited at least 17 other countries across Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. I had a short visit to Venice and would relish the opportunity to go back.

I thought I’d travelled a lot, but I’ve only lived in three counties! Yes, Venice is wonderful. Although not with small children.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

I have several that are meaningful; for encouragement, peace of mind, trials. But, if I had to pick it would be Acts 17:26-27 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I move the furniture in my living areas fairly often. My husband tells me he afraid to come home in the dark for fear of tripping over something.

Now, let’s talk about your book, A Furrow So Deep. Here’s the description off the back cover:

After thirteen long years, Karen Braden returns home to inherit her grandmother’s bed and breakfast, hoping it will provide the kind of future she wants for herself and her daughter. There’s only one problem—she’ll have to face the past and the one man she’s never stopped loving: Dean Anderson.

In the years following Karen’s hasty and unexplained departure, Dean built a portfolio of auto dealerships, yet he remains unfulfilled. When he sees Karen again, his hurt resurfaces, clashing with the love he’s always had for her. Determined to find out why she left him all those years ago, Dean discovers there’s more at stake than just getting answers.

As the truth begins to unravel, Dean and Karen must decide if they can forgive past transgressions and trust God to help them forge a future, better than either could ever anticipate.

A Furrow So Deep is contemporary Christian romance, my favourite genre and one of the most popular. What makes A Furrow So Deep unique?

Men who’ve read my work tell me they can easily identify with the male perspective I present. A Furrow So Deep poses questions about sex, responsibility, and the importance of fathers mostly from the male perspective. It also explores the struggle of forgiveness from both the Christian and non-Christian viewpoint.

What inspired the plot?

Initially a dream with some life experience added in.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

Emily—she’s the daughter of Karen, the female lead character. You don’t know her thoughts, but she is expressive enough you know what she’s feeling and you empathize.

I sometimes see publishers and authors describe their books as Southern fiction. For someone whose sole experience of the South is Disney World and the Kennedy Space Centre, what is Southern fiction? Does A Furrow So Deep fit this description?

LOL those places are in the South, but not Southern.

That’s what I’d thought!

Being Southern is more of a cultural mind-set. Hospitality is a way of life, polite manners are expected, patriotism is passionate, and the food is usually fried 🙂 Like those pies I mention.

Here in the South

What idea would you like readers to take away after reading A Furrow So Deep?

God is a God of second chances.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I don’t find any of it particularly easy. LOL Though maybe writing the first draft is the easiest and most enjoyable.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

Absolutely everything.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

Cozy Mysteries because they usually have romance, mystery and humor.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

One of the books I’m reading (because I read a few at the same time-moods and all that) is The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron.

Loved that book!

What, in your opinion, are five must-read books for fans of contemporary Christian romance fiction? (Not including A Furrow So Deep. We’ll take that as a given.)

Water from my Heart and The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter
The Camdyn Series by Christina Coryell
Worst Detective Ever books by Christy Barritt

I haven’t read Water From My Heart, but The Mountain Between Us was great. I’m looking forward to the movie!

Finally …

Where can we find A Furrow So Deep online?

Anaiah Press | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter 

Thank you, Penelope! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about A Furrow So Deep.
Thank you for the great interview!

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Readers, what question would you like to ask Penelope? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to A Furrow So Deep below:

Author Inteview - Cara Luecht

Author Interview | Cara Luecht and Soul’s Cry

Today I’d like to welcome author Cara Luecht, to share about her new release, Soul’s Cry.

Cara LuechtToday I’d like to welcome award-winning author Cara Luecht to the blog. Cara lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Welcome, Cara! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

Read more

Author Spotlight: Jeanette O’Hagan


7 – 11 July 2017

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance 

Is Introducing 

Lakwi’s Lament 

(By the Light Books 20 January 2017)
 by 

Jeanette O’Hagan


Book Description:
A middle-grade to Young Adult short story set in the fantasy world of Nardva:

Lakwi would love to read the books in the Royal library, but girls aren’t allowed inside. Her passion for books attracts the attention of her dashing older brother, Prince Rokkan, and her suave cousin, Lord Haka. Will her drive for knowledge lead her into more trouble than she can handle?

Lakwi’s Lament originally appeared in Like a Girl Anthology and is related to The Herbalist’s Daughter and the Akrad’s Legacy series.



About the Author:
JEANETTE O’HAGAN first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. 


She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl. She has recently published her short novella, Heart of the Mountain and, in Mixed Blessings: Genrellly Speaking anthology, also a flash fiction ‘Space Junk’.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (writing). She is a member of several writers’ groups. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends and pondering the meaning of life.  Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Sign up to Jeanette O’Hagan’s Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bbLJKT
Website: jeanetteohagan.com/
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Twitter: @JeanetteOHagan
Instagram: @bythelightof2moons



Connie Ann Michael

Author Interview | Introducing Connie Ann Michael

Today I’d like to welcome author Connie Ann Michael, to share about her new release, Forsaken.

Author Image - Connie Ann MichaelA new resident of Montana, Connie Ann Michael grew up in a close family on the outskirts of Seattle. Drawn to the Lord she’s followed her calling of service and has taught for twenty-six years, currently the fifth grade teacher at Crow Agency Public School, on the Crow Reservation.

Connie loves her family and is lucky enough to have two grown boys. Living with her husband and two dogs in Big Sky country, Connie enjoys any activity that takes her outside and is working hard to overcome her fear of being eaten by a bear to enjoy more hiking trips in the mountains.

Welcome, Connie! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Well, when I look at fruit I always think yum! But I actually don’t care for it when it’s sitting in front of me. If I had to choose I guess it would be a pineapple.

I love pineapple!

Which is your favourite season?

I love fall. I love the colour of the leaves and the cool crisp air and mostly I love football season.

Funny!

Where is your favourite place?

My favourite place is Monument Valley, Utah. I love how incredibly quiet it is there and it has a way of refreshing my soul.

I’ve visited several of Utah’s National Parks, and they were all amazing. There is nothing like the grandeur of nature to refresh the soul!

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Psalms 91:4 He will cover you in with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge, His truth shall be your shield

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I asked my family to help with this and they also drew a blank. So although this isn’t really quirky … I speak Spanish and I am trying to learn Crow at the reservation I teach at. I also have a need to take classes and learn new things all the time so I am constantly enrolled in college classes.

This wasn’t supposed to be a hard question! But I love that you are learning Crow. 

Now, let’s talk about your book, Forsaken. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Eighteen-year-old Oli cannot remember life outside the barrier, a life before the oil spill that poisoned human kind, killing half the population and infecting the other half until they deteriorated from the inside out, forced to walk the earth as Screamers. It’s a dangerous new world in which barely anyone makes it past the age of twenty, and Oli’s time is running out.

Studying the Bible, Oli searches for words to help restore faith in a lost world, and when she receives a message from God telling her to leave the barrier, she knows what she must do. There’s only one problem: Her best friend, Coi, doesn’t believe her, and he’s showing the first signs of infection. But before she can convince him to leave with her, the Governor quarantines Coi and orders his execution.

Oli risks it all to rescue Coi, and they set out to find sanctuary away from the safety of the compound, not knowing who or what will get to them first: the Governor, the illness, or the Screamers. When they stumble upon a group of uninfected humans hidden among the rubble of an apartment building, they think they’ve found their salvation. But not everything is as it seems, and their enemies are closer than they thought.

I love your cover! How much input did you have into the cover design?

My publisher did an awesome job on this cover so I pretty much was sent the first draft and I said LOVE IT! I am given a worksheet to fill out, giving them my vision and they usually do a pretty good job of creating something great.

Forsaken is obviously Christian dystopian. Why did you decide to write a dystopian novel?

The idea of what the world will be like as the end of times comes near is very interesting to me. My old church did a Bible study on the book of Revelation and really got me thinking. There are so many early examples through the Bible which lead us to this ending of a society who blames God for leaving them behind and then refuses to have faith as if to punish God.

I like to think of the Screamers as the people who can’t find satisfaction because they lost their faith. I guess I’m attempting to use the walking infected as a metaphor for people who are lost and can’t be satisfied by the ways of the world and need to find God.

I love that metaphor! What a fascinating idea.

What inspired the plot?

The plot was inspired when the oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico some years ago. My son was doing a research paper on the effects of the oil on otters in Alaska about the same time. We started reading what happens to the people exposed to the dispersant used to clean the area as well as the wildlife. Soon the towns on the edge of the Gulf began having health issues and the story took off from there.

So Forsaken is what could happen? Scary!

Forsaken is written in first person, which I personally enjoy but I know a lot of readers don’t. Why did you choose to tell the Oli’s story in first person?

I have written in both first and third and I usually don’t really think about it before I start writing it’s just how it came out. Oli wanted to tell the story, what can I say. 🙂

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I love Oli for her faith and courage but Matty, who will be introduced in the story with his brother, is a personal favourite. They have much more impact in the next book.

Is there a particular theme or message in Forsaken?

I think the theme I am trying to get out there is I see so many people looking into themselves for spiritual fulfilment and making new belief systems that fit the sinful lives they may choose to live. I think we forget that we have a history book in the Bible that makes it very clear what the future holds and we need to hold onto that knowledge and not let outer influences take it away.

In the book I have all the Bibles burned. It’s my way of showing how I feel we are being encouraged to turn our backs on the word of God. Environmentally, I believe we are destroying our world with materialism, turning a blind eye to our environment when a profit can be made.

Great point. We have too much stuff, yet we always seem to want more. And we will pay a price that’s not just monetary.

Forsaken is the first novel in the Screamers series. What can you tell us about the next novel?

The next novel really brings Matty and his brother Brig into the mix. I think since I was able to explain the condition of the world in Forsaken I was able to delve more into the spiritual impact of the world and the direction it is going in the second book, which is with my editor as we speak.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The easiest part is coming up with ideas. The hardest part is getting those ideas into a semblance of order on the page.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

My faith has a huge impact on my writing and the topics I choose to write about. I believe my place isn’t so much to preach at people but to serve them to show them my faith. I hope my books allow me that opportunity.

Most of my books follow the idea that no matter how far away from God you are or how decayed your soul is, it isn’t too late. God has already forgiven you and now you need to forgive yourself.

That’s a great message, and one I think we all need to hear sometimes.

I see you’ve published other books in different genres. What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

Yes, I have a Christian Romance series, A Thousand Moments out currently. I love romance but have really been hooked by some of the YA books recently out that delve into the struggles and angst of youth today.

I’ve observed before that historical and futuristic novels can often explore contemporary issues in a way contemporary novels can’t. The same can be said for movies and TV shows—Star Trek comes to mind.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

I have been reading a ton! this summer. I tend to stick to authors and gobble up everything they write before moving to another. My summer authors have been; Jessica Park, I’ve read about six of her books. She writes college age fiction and I just love her male characters.

Jenn Faulk is a great Christian author! And my all time favourite Christian Author L.N. Cronk released a new book this summer. She wrote the Chop, Chop series which made me have to lock myself in the bathroom and sob for an hour. Currently I am reading Rebecca Donovan, What If.

I’ll have to check out Jessica Park! I love great male characters.

What, in your opinion, are five must-read books for fans of dystopian fiction? (Not including Forsaken. We’ll take that as a given.)

I’m not going to be very original because I think the Hunger Games and Divergent are some givens. However, since I kind of lean to the world of worldwide illness, some of my favourites are The Apocalypse Z series by Manel Loureiro, and The Dead Empty World by Carrie Ryan. She also writes a series starting with The Forest of Hands and Feet that is great! And finally I love Charles Higson’s series The Fallen.

Some great suggestions – thank you!

Finally …

Where can we find Forsaken online?

Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Anaiah Press | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | PinterestInstagramYouTube

Thank you, Connie! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Forsaken.

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Readers, what question would you like to ask Connie Ann Michael? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Forsaken below: