Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us
Rel, I feel blessed in my journey to become a published author. It was a dream I’d had since youth, but life got in the way. One day in 2001, things slowed down and I found myself penning my first novel, a rollicking Regency mystery. I couldn’t find a buyer for the book, though it had won some awards, or an agent that wanted to take a chance on a no-name author with an historical manuscript. So in 2003, I went to a writer’s conference where the speaker told me (and everyone else) that I wasn’t ready to be published, that I needed to wander in the wilderness a while longer before I had the capacity to tell the story God had in mind for me. I could feel my heart cracking in two at her words. I went home and faced the wilderness that I’d been wandering my whole life. And God slowly brought me from stark denial to seeking for truth. The transition was painful, and yet joyous. I finally had something to write about. The journey laid the foundation for the Patricia Amble Mystery Series, which sold on proposal, with only ten chapters written.
Why Christian fiction?
I enjoyed reading Christian fiction, but I could feel a hole in the available material. I wanted to read about characters more like me, the less-than-holy, hanging-on-by-the-fingernails-type Christian that can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard we try – and boy, do we try! How could I call myself a Christian, I wondered, when I felt like the exact opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman? I’d tried the right-wing, hard-core, cultural Christian approach to life and succeeded on the surface — for about ten years, I was the Proverbs 31 woman! — but failed miserably in my heart (I’m sure the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t hate her husband for sitting at the gate while she did all the work). The characters in my stories rely on a heavier dose of grace than the righteous Christian.
You are a gifted musician ~ how do you balance the draw of writing and music?
Both are non-negotiable activities in my life. I’ve embraced the person God made me — a ‘creative.’ That means I have to be creating or I’m making everyone around me miserable. I set aside one night a week for music practice and hold to it, plus I practice my violin on my own and sing in my car. Then, five days a week, I write 1000 words or more toward my current project. Every so often, I’m inspired to write a song – it’s the best of both worlds!
What project or book are you working on now?
I’m currently working on Book Three in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series, Kiss Me If You Dare, along with planning my next series.
You are in two bands, you manage some gorgeous guest houses and you write! So tell us when you get to squeeze in your writing?
Did I mention that I also substitute teach and run a bed & breakfast? It may all sound a little crazy, but for me it works better than a stable nine-to-five position. I like the flexibility that lets me be there for my kids, plus I get to carve out as much time as I want toward my writing. I don’t always know how this month’s bills are going to get paid, but God has come through for me in the past and I have faith in huge doses that he will come through for me again. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes at a very fast pace, trusting God will bless each day to the fullest.
ON LOVE ME IF YOU MUST…
You have written a sterling suspense novel with a little romance! Do you see yourself staying with that genre for future books?
Thanks, Rel. I love mystery, suspense and romance. I don’t think I could write a book without them!
I loved being in the cellar with Tish when she finally faced her past – and the villain.
If Love Me If You Must was made into a movie, who would you cast?
I would love to see Drew Barrymore as Tish, Wentworth Miller as Brad, and Hugh Jackman as the dashing David, with a surprise appearance by Nicole Kidman.
Love those choices, especially the Aussies, of course!
Tish, your main character, is a lonely soul, scarred from her upbringing. Was that intentional or did those characteristics develop as you wrote the story?
My high school creative writing teacher always said to write what you know. In that light, I guess ‘lonely and scarred’ were intentional character traits in Tish. Ideally, by the end of Book Three she’ll be content and healed. But after the events of Book Two, that seems like an impossible place for Tish to land. I wonder what will ever become of our tortured heroine? I’d better get to work fixing her!
Can you give us a sneak peek into Tish’s next adventure?
In Kill Me If You Can, Book Two in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series, Tish is off to the peaceful surrounds of the north woods to uncover details of her deceased mother’s life. In the process, she meets her father’s side of the family. Just when she feels like she’s fitting in, Tish gets a surprise visitor from Rawlings, runs across a dead body, and finds herself in the center of a decades-old drug deal gone bad, all while trying to hold together a long-distance relationship.
ON MATTERS PERSONAL…
Do you read fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?
I love fiction and grew up with the classics. Bronte’s Jane Eyre is still my all-time fave, with Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind coming in a close second. Other memorable books are Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Dickens’ Great Expectations, Follet’s Eye of the Needle and Man from St. Petersburg, Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Trilogy, Wick’s Kensington Chronicles, and so many others. I think I read the whole library as a youth.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m right in the middle of Christy Barritt’s Hazardous Duty. Christy is a member of the critique group that helped me get my start. She was an encourager, telling me what I did right and making gentle suggestions for areas that weren’t up to snuff. It’s a thrill that our first published works were released within four months of each other.
Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?
Favorite movie is Ever After with Drew Barrymore. Favorite line from a movie is ‘Tomorrow is another day,’ spoken by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.
Who inspires you?
My kids keep me going. They are huge encouragers (I hope they get that from me!) and know how to pick me up when I’m down or push me when I’m slacking. And, I’ve been blessed with the friendship of a realist, who helps me keep my feet on the ground when I’d much rather have my head in the clouds.
Please share some of your faith journey…
I was raised in a strict religion, which I embraced as a youngster for all its rules and stability, something I didn’t experience at home. But by my twenties, I was sick of the guilt and shame I kept experiencing and hesitated heaping it onto my children. At a business conference in the mid-nineties, I was introduced to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Since then, I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, sometimes through fellowship, sometimes through Bible study, sometimes through prayer, but mostly through trust and faith that He will always be with me, no matter what. In the past several years, I’ve really had my eyes open to the miracles He can perform in my life when I get my pride and ego out of the way.
Some essential Aussie questions…
When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?
No offense to the platypus, but I’m under orders from my eight-year-old to see the koala first. I definitely want to make the trip Down Under. Our former Au Pair hails from New Zealand and has family in Australia – the kids and I would love to see her again as well as meet new friends.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter?
Thanks to our Au Pair, I can give an educated answer. Having tried vegemite, I can safely say I prefer peanut butter. It must be a cultural thing.
Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?
I’ve seen so many beautiful photographs and scenes of the Barrier Reef, I would love to visit it in person. I’ve never been diving, but the Barrier Reef would certainly give me a great reason to suit up.
Any last words….
Rel, it is such an honor that friends in Australia are reading and enjoying my book. I look forward to the day I can meet the fine folks Down Under in person! Thank you for the opportunity to share.
It has been a delight having you join us, Nicole and I look forward to reading Kill Me If You Can releasing in April, 2008 and Kiss Me If You Dare in April, 2009!
Check out Nicole’s blog here.
Read my review of Love Me If You Must, here.