How does God describe Himself?
To listen in, click here.
Laurie Tomlinson, fellow ACFW member and 2013 Genesis Finalist, had the great idea of having a pre-conference mix and mingle for those going to the 2013 ACFW Conference. What a great idea to be able to meet people before actually meeting them in person!
It’s a few questions designed to help people put names with faces, get to know a little bit about their writing, and break the ice before Indianapolis.
Here’s what to do:
– Fill out your own answers (you don’t have to answer all of them!) in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that post (not your home page) using this handy link-up tool. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!
– Make sure to link back to this post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.
Okay, so here are her questions and my answers!
Name: Kara Hunt
What you write/tagline: Suspense / “Some wounds refuse to be healed.”
Place in the book world: 2013 ACFW Genesis Finalist in the Suspense/Mystery/Thriller category and 2012 Semi-Finalist in ACFW’s Genesis for my submission in the Women’s Fiction category.
On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Hugger!!
The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: World events
People at home you’ll be missing: My hubby Curt, my two adult sons, Blake and Stone, and Zeke our outrageously spoiled beagle mix.
Conference goals we can pray for? That God’s will will be done at conference, not mine.
Up for any contests/awards? Yep!!!
Any disclosures, disclaimers, or crucial information we must know? Yes. I love Strawberry Twizzlers and Ginger ale. Please don’t be alarmed if you see gobs of them threatening to fall to the floor from my over-stuffed purse!
Find out more about this mix and mingle at http://www.laurietomlinson.com/a-pre-conference-mix-and-mingle/#comment-252
“And I will give you rest.”
~ Matthew 11:28 KJV
Does staring at the blank page of your new manuscript cause confusion, anxiety or fear? Don’t let the enemy torture you with it any longer. Turn to the Savior and ask Him to give you the words to share and a vision for the story He wants to be told through you. He has promised to give us rest – freedom from everything that wearies and disturbs us. And that includes the fear of the dreaded blank page. Give Him your story and your fears. You will never regret it.
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful by Colleen Coble Alexa Grace is having a bad day, but then Grandma arrives with something special for “Grandma’s Little Punky Grace”-an Ebenezer jar that she thinks is very peculiar. Grandma explains that an Ebenezer is a “stone of help” and represents God’s blessings. Alexa Grace wonders if she can fill the jar with some of God’s blessings. She goes on the hunt with her furry Newfoundland puppy and Grandma, and Alexa Grace’s new blessing jar soon overflows with God’s wonders. (Children’s Book from Thomas Nelson)
Charisse by Fay Lamb — He wants a family. She wants retribution. Charisse Wellman’s husband has been gone a year, and she’s about to lose the only home her son, V.J., has ever known. She’s quit law school but the money just isn’t there. Her only option is to work as a law clerk for her ex-friend, Gideon Tabor. The only problem: Gideon is the judge who let her husband’s killer go free, and Gideon doesn’t know the connection. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)
A Wedding for Julia by Vannetta Chapman — Julia Beechy is so stunned, she can hardly breathe. Her mother’s announcement that she must either marry or move from the family home upon her mother’s imminent death catches Julia by surprise. How can she leave the only home she has ever known? What about her dream of opening her own Plain café? When Caleb Zook offers support, comfort, and a solution, Julia is afraid to accept it. Can she marry someone she barely knows? Is it the right thing to do? Is this God’s plan for her future? Caleb thought his time for marrying was long past, but he feels a stirring in his heart he cannot shake for this beautiful, forlorn woman. Amid the circumstances of this life-altering decision, the people of Pebble Creek weather the worst storm to hit Wisconsin in the last hundred years. Where will Julia and Caleb be on the other side of it? (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House)
Rodeo Regrets by Shannon Taylor Vannatter — A spoiled rich girl spends years lassoing one cowboy after another with no strings attached until she runs into the man who broke her heart. (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents)
Cooking Up Love by Cynthia Hickey — Tabitha McClelland knows accepting a job as a Harvey House waitress can be risky. Traveling alone to the rough-and-tumble West just isn’t done by young ladies of good breeding. But far more dangerous is her powerful attraction to Adam Foster. Family means everything to the widowed chef, but the self-sufficient Tabitha cherishes her freedom above all else. Adam is captivated by the fiercely independent Tabitha. Fraternizing with the female employees is strictly forbidden, but the Harvey Girl awakens feelings too compelling to ignore. Can Adam convince Tabby to share his dream of a future in California-together? (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents)
Courted by a Cowboy by Lacy Williams — Sam Castlerock’s return to Bear Creek, Wyoming, may be the answer to Emily Sands’s prayers. Though she’s not the kind of girl to rely on anyone else, the handsome cowboy-turned-banker may be able to get her family a much-needed extension on their loan. But Sam also reminds Emily of her dreams of a husband and family of her own. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired)
Mistaken by Karen Barnett — Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press)
Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough — Sarah Marshall just wants to go home. It wasn’t her idea to leave Chicago and head west in search of gold, but her uncle’s ambition left her no choice. Neither was her intention to settle in Kansas City with her ailing aunt, but being penniless and without possessions brings little bargaining power. Ethan Harper, the youngest of three brothers, enjoys a peaceful existence helping run his family’s stage shop along the Santa Fe Trail. Only one cloud continues to darken his horizon-guilt over the tragic death of his oldest brother’s wife. The only acceptable penance Ethan can think of is finding another woman to marry his brother and help raise his motherless children. A match so incompatible, it just might work. (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)
Romantic Suspense Releases:
Rosemary Cottage (The Hope Beach Series) by Colleen Coble — Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there’s a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island . . . The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She’s even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It’s always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben’s disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder. (Romantic Suspense from Thomas Nelson)
Fiery Secrets by Stephanie McCall Dr. Grace Taylor, a driven pediatrician and single mom, needs divine intervention if she’s going to heal from the actions of her cheating, abusive ex-husband. But she never thought God would work through Chris Anderson, a tutor at the local learning center whose secrets keep him from opening up to her. Both Grace and Chris have been asked to walk through their trial by fire; they’ve come out alive, but they still smell like smoke. (Romantic Suspense from HopeSprings Books)
Historical Biblical Fiction Release:
Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar — An arranged marriage. A man whose heart is closed to love. A king whose life hangs in the balance. A nation on the brink of annihilation. Sarah and Darius’s story continues in this long-awaited sequel to Harvest of Rubies. Fighting impossible odds, Sarah and Darius have to overcome the enemy against the king, against Jerusalem, against their marriage, and against their souls. Will they finally learn to love and trust one another? The prophet Nehemiah tries to help the struggling couple while rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The only problem is that he comes under constant attack. Will he overcome? (Biblical Fiction from River North [Moody])
Why millions of today’s most committed church members may be ready to bolt—and what to do about it
In talking with women around the country, Jim Henderson has come to believe that an epidemic of quiet, even sad resignation is developing among dedicated Christian women who feel overworked and undervalued in the church. As a result, many women are discouraged. Some, particularly young women, respond by leaving the organized church . . . or walking away from the faith altogether.
The Resignation of Eve is a field report on what women have to say about how they’ve been affected—both positively and negatively—by their experiences within the church. Listening to their stories is crucially important because, across the board, the research shows that women are driving changes in the church. What will happen if many of them resign?
It’s time to pay attention before it’s too late—time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who went out of his way to honor, elevate, and work through women wherever he went.
Containing personal interviews with women and surprising research from George Barna, The Resignation of Eve is a game-changing, conversation-starting book for women who have been engaged in the Christian church, as well as for their pastors and ministry leaders.
The blurb from the back cover of “The Resignation of Eve” piqued my interest. The book is a compilation of conversations the author has conducted along the subject line of the lack of women leadership and acknowledgment in today’s churches.
The precise of the book is intriguing and according to some of the statistics provided definitely a topic that needs to be discussed. However, reading through the book at times became disheartening. There seemed to be much emphasis on what women do in the church instead of why they do what they do in the church, regardless of status or acknowledgement. I would’ve like to see that aspect of this controversial subject matter explored more in-depth.
That aside, my compliments to author Jim Henderson, who did an excellent job interviewing the women. His questions were deep, thoughtful and at most times thought-provoking which required the women to give the same care to their responses instead of typical worn out pat answers.
I recommend this book. Not only because the topic is worthy of discussion among pastors, ministry leaders, men and women alike in the church but because it will also lead to the discussion of why women do what they do in the church and the inevitable follow-up question, “Would they do it anyway?”
Jim Henderson is acclaimed by USA Today for having “blazed a new path as an innovator, author, church evaluator, self-professed subversive, and leader in the creation of new ways to be publicly and persuasively Christian in the twenty-first century.”
Jim is a speaker, author, and producer. His most subversive act to date was buying an atheist’s soul on eBay and then sending him to attend and review several churches. On the heels of that project, Jim hired another atheist (Matt Casper) to join him at various church services and share his feedback. Together, they recount their unique findings in a book titled Jim and Casper Go to Church (Tyndale, 2007).
After twenty-five years as a pastor, Jim formed Off the Map, an organization that produced live events designed to help people recover the lost art of being “unusually interested” in others, especially Outsiders. Today, Jim’s company, Jim Henderson Presents, produces live events and television projects that look at the important role of religious spirituality in our lives. Jim is known for asking the questions others skip.
Jim holds a doctorate in transformational leadership and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and on Fox News and This American Life with Ira Glass.
Find out more about Jim:
Good evening, Sandi and thank you so much for stopping by “Fiction With Faith” to do an interview. First, I’m sure our readers would like to know, who is Sandi Rog and why does she like to write Inspirational Fiction?
Hi, there! It’s great to be here, Kara. Thank you for having me. I’m originally from Colorado but spent thirteen years in my husband’s homeland of Holland where three of my children were born. We have a fourth child who was born here (we’re back in the States now). We got her a little t-shirt that says BORN IN AMERICA. It was special because she was the only one of all my kids born here.
I didn’t grow up in the church, and after I became a Christian at 16, I decided it was time to clean up my reading. So, I started reading Christian Fiction. Well, I never thoroughly enjoyed reading Inspirational Fiction; it was boring and preachy. But I kept trying. Finally, after a “traumatic experience” with a fiction novel, I vowed to never read it again. While in Holland, I purchased a 500+ page Inspirational novel during a short visit to the States (this was before we could buy books on Internet; wow, makes me feel old, lol). Anyway, I brought it back with me to Holland and devoured it, desperate for something in English that was trustworthy. Well, after wading through sermon after sermon and boring description after boring description, the story finally got moving in the LAST CHAPTER! It was then that I found out it was a SEQUEL (I had no way to get back to the States to buy the next books; not that I really wanted to)! I literally threw the book across the room and vowed to never read Inspirational Fiction again. That’s when I decided to write what I wanted to read. So . . . that’s why I like to write Inspirational Fiction. Sounds negative, I know. But it’s true.
Since then, I’ve come across MANY wonderful authors and stories. The Inspirational market has improved tremendously! It appears I wasn’t the only one who wanted “more.”
Was becoming a writer always in your plans?
I didn’t always want to be a writer. I had other plans. Like becoming an actress or a singer. Once I hit college, I decided acting and singing weren’t for me. But there was always one constant: writing. When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a poem that an adult didn’t believe I wrote. I was shocked by his accusation because I had indeed written the poem all by myself. At the time, I didn’t realize his accusation was a compliment. I also wrote some short stories for a project in Junior High. The teacher thought one of my stories was true and shared with the class how important it is that we “write what we know.” I destroyed her point when I announced that the story was actually fiction. I don’t think she was too happy with me after that. However, by this time I was old enough to see the compliment. In high school, after convincing my mom that the 17 absences I had in English were a computer glitch (I still had an “A”), you’d think I would have realized I had a knack for words and for “telling stories.”
Personally, I don’t think of myself as a writer. After all, anything non-fiction is like work for me. Really, I see myself as a storyteller. As a kid, I used get excited when Mom told me it was time for bed. I’d dive under the covers and dream up stories. I’d imagine I was a princess running from a castle, but during my escape, thieves would attack. I’d take flight into the woods, but a handsome rogue would take me captive. Of course, he was really a prince disguised as a thief meant to rescue me. That one was always my favorite. Maybe I’ll turn it into an actual story someday.
Storytelling, is definitely a word I would use to describe this book. I was so drawn into the story. It was as if I were there on the streets of Rome or on the Vibian Hill roaming the estate with David and Alethea. What inspired you to write “The Master’s Wall”?
I wanted to know what it might have been like to grow up in an era when the church was under persecution. What if you were a kid and your parents were killed because of their faith and you were forced to be a slave? That just intrigued me.
The novel is scheduled for release in November of 2010. What is the book about?
Here’s a book jacket description for THE MASTER’S WALL:
He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.
After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master’s granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.
How long did it take you to write it?
That’s hard to say because when I started it, I realized I needed to learn more about the craft. So, about half way into it, I started another novel (I call it my “practice novel”) to learn the craft. I didn’t want to mess this story up because it was so important to me. So, I wrote my practice novel about five times in five different ways. Then I came back to this one. So, if I add up the time I did work on it, I’d say about two years. The first two were when I didn’t know what I was doing. As soon as I mastered the craft, I came back to it, and I wrote it in three months. Mind you, I didn’t answer the phone or play on the Internet. 🙂
Five times in five different ways? That sounds like a lot of work, but the result was well worth the effort and is much appreciated by this reader. What would you like other readers to be able to take away from this novel?
I want them to ask questions. To be so struck by some of the conversations between Alethea and David that they’re enticed to search the scriptures on their own for answers. I want my story to lead them to God’s word.
David was thrown into a situation where his Christian faith was tested many a time. But through it all, he was able to be a great inspiration to those around him. Speaking of inspiration, what inspires you to write? (people, music, nature, Scriptures, art, etc)
EVERYTHING. All that, and more. 🙂
What is a typical day writing like for you?
I’m afraid it’s not “typical.” I’ve got a toddler running around, needing my attention constantly. Sometimes she wants to be on my lap and there’s no room for the laptop. I take it in stride, and simply write when I can, whenever I can, wherever I can. I’ll carry around a notepad with me when I have to leave the house. You never know when the muse will strike!
Do you plot or outline your books before you write?
Not a plotter at all. I just come up with an event, and imagine what would happen to that person because of that event—something tragic, etc. After that, the story unfolds for me. I’m attempting to plot another novel, but I really don’t enjoy that. To me, it’s so much easier to capture the emotion of a character when you’re riding the ride with them, rather than telling them what they’re going to do. Instead, I have them tell me what they’re going to do.
An emotional connection with the reader is essential in writing. What are your tips on how to do that successfully?
Boy, that’s a hard one. I could go through and explain all the emotional mechanics a writer should use, but there’s a fine line between being melodramatic and sincerely capturing an emotion. All I can think to say is what I wrote above. Don’t tell your characters what to do, let them tell you (not that plotting is a bad thing; even plotters listen to their characters). Delve into their hearts, their minds. Find out what makes them tick. What would set them off, move them, hurt them? The answers will be different for each character. Be true to their personality. Be honest, be real. Real in the sense that the reader can relate. One thing I can’t stand are pious characters who act perfectly under every circumstance. I can’t relate to that at all, and I don’t think most the readers can, either. In my next book, the second book to this series, my main character, David, comes in contact with the man who took his parents away. This man practically raped David’s mother right in front of him, and as an adult David is expected to accept this same man as his brother in Christ. The man has repented, and he admits to his past faults, but David can’t forgive him, and even tries to kill him. To me, that’s real. That’s honest. I love delving into that kind of controversy because I believe it’s something we face every day, maybe in most cases on a smaller level, but ultimately still the same. When someone harms us, then asks for forgiveness, how easy is it to forgive?
A book’s characters not only have to be believable, but memorable as well. Fortunately, an author can have fun with this aspect of writing, whether it’s a cute dimply smile, a funny little quirk or an irritating habit. What are some of your favorites you like to implement?
It depends on the character. For example, take David and Alethea in THE MASTER’S WALL. Both are total opposites. David is very serious and controlled, and Alethea anything but, or her seriousness is so dramatized, one can’t help but either be shocked or laugh. David has a hard time forgiving (hence, the second book), but in this book, Alethea betrays him by telling a lie. It’s so bad that he gets flogged, branded, put in chains and forced to work in the fields. Three years later, he returns because Alethea finally admits the truth. She begs his forgiveness, but he still refuses to forgive her.
Here’s a scene just after he arrives back at the villa because she finally told the truth. This will show those “quirks” you talk about (and the cultural thinking about slaves), but in a more intricate way, such as in Alethea’s thoughts, David’s mannerisms, Alethea’s speech and their personalities.
This is the first time they see each other after three years. Alethea has just fixed a meal for David while the family is away. Normally, Alethea refuses to cook, or reveal that she can, for fear of being married off to her betrothed. So, the fact that she cooked anything at all is a big deal. When David realizes the food is from Alethea, he gives it to the dog. Furious, she storms into the chamber, and here’s the scene:
“How dare you!” Alethea stood with trembling hands on her hips.
David leaped to his feet, his eyes widened. He went to bow, but stopped and met her gaze. “Alethea?”
“How dare you throw my food on the floor and then address me in such a familiar manner.” His calling her by her name had come to an end. It wasn’t until now that she realized just how proud he was. He should be happy he hadn’t been killed for her lie. He should be happy she wanted anything to do with him at all. “How dare you refuse food from the master’s table.” Her eyes burned with tears. All that hard work. Wasted. He didn’t even get to taste the wine rolls. They were perfect.
“Alethea, I . . . .” His gaze swept over her, then met her face.
She marched up to him and slapped him.
He straightened, his broad shoulders towering over her. She swallowed at his massive height. She’d taken on a warrior. But she refused to let that daunt her. He was still her David. His eyes narrowed and the side of his jaw pulsed. Would he strike her back? He wouldn’t dare. He was her slave. She reached up to slap him again, but stopped in mid-air, taking a step back. God wouldn’t want her to behave this way. She shouldn’t abuse a slave, especially when one was her brother in Christ. How dare he tempt her to strike him. She trembled with anger and hurt.
“I told Grandfather the truth! Now it’s your duty to forgive me,” she said, choking on his lack of forgiveness.
Rage built in his eyes.
She stepped back.
Closing the distance between them, he flexed his arm. “Do you see this?”
She stared at the large, tanned arm he bent near her face. “Your muscle?” she asked, not understanding why he’d wish to show off his body at a time like this.
“No,” he said with disgust, dropping his hands at his sides. He bent his arm again and pointed.
Her gaze fell on the V burned into his flesh.
“This is only a part of what they did to me because of your lie.” His eyes flashed.
She shook her head. What could she do? She was sorry. He’d never know how sorry. God had forgiven her, hadn’t He?
She turned to leave, then stopped and faced him again. “Elohim has forgiven me, why can’t you?” To her dismay, a sob escaped her throat. “You put yourself above God. Are you more perfect than Him?”
Her words had a surprising effect, for a stunned reaction reflected in his familiar blue eyes. He may have grown into a man, but he was still the boy she had known so well.
With her final words still hanging in the air, she threw up her chin, turned on her heels, and went for the door, but her foot came down on the dog. He yelped and she tried to regain her balance. She squealed, twisted, and landed with a hard thud on her rump.
She sat facing David. Her eyes fell on his feet, his legs and then his tunic.
He bent down to help her.
“Don’t touch me.” She slapped his hand away.
He straightened as she tried to climb to her feet, but knifelike pain stabbed her back. She blew out a frustrated sigh.
“You may help me to my feet, but after that, don’t ever touch me again,” she said.
He pulled her to her feet and continued to aid her.
“No,” she said, gasping from the pain.
He released her, and she limped toward the doorway, trying to keep her nose in the air, but the pain was too much.
When she turned the corner and couldn’t be seen, she slumped down against the wall, releasing a deep breath. How humiliating. She had put him in his place and immediately made a fool of herself. She had to regain her pride.
“I expect the mess you made to be cleaned up before the rest of the family returns to the house.” She called out orders and pointed her finger. “They’ll wonder what the master’s food is doing sprawled out all over the floor in the slaves’ dining chambers, not to mention why the dog is eating it.” She clenched her teeth and her blood boiled with renewed vigor. “Since you are so disrespectful, Damonus,” she emphasized his slave name, “you can come downstairs when you are finished and entertain the family during the evening meal.”
Really, she was hoping to look at him some more. She pushed up to stand but her back pinched. She slumped back down. She’d just have to wait it out. After a bit of time, the pain would subside as it always did.
But while she was recuperating, she decided to continue her speech. “I also expect you to keep your eyes downcast when you look at me.” Oh, how she loved the way he looked at her. “We are no longer friends, Dav . . . Damonus. If you ever look me in the eyes again, you will be flogged.” Really, she had no intention of ever flogging him. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. “Do you hear me?”
Her breath caught in her throat. He stood in the doorway, arms folded. How long had he been there?
Without warning, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her down the stairs.
“Put me down, you . . . you barbarian!” She balled her hands into fists and pounded his chest.
He didn’t frown, nor did he smile.
“How dare you.” Warmth coursed through her body from the strength in his arms. He carried her down the stairs as though she weighed nothing at all. Again, the pain in her back pinched, and she winced.
“I should have caught you when you fell.” He shook his head. “I was afraid to touch you.”
She slammed her fist against his chest again, but the zeal was gone. “I hate you!”
“Hate? Are Christians supposed to hate?”
“Don’t preach to me, you . . . you . . . slave. Aren’t Christians supposed to forgive?”
“Why were you afraid?” She couldn’t imagine that he would be afraid of anything, least of all her.
“It’s not good for a man to touch a woman.”
“Do you find me attractive then?” An uncontrollable grin spread across her face.
“Yes.” His eyes smiled, but not his lips.
“As lovely as Vibia?”
“You are beautiful. I haven’t seen Vibia yet, so I don’t know who is more attractive.” Now he smiled, and that dimple snagged her attention as it always had in the past.
“That slave girl thinks I’m prettier than Vibia.” She hoped he would think so too. “She said I was as beautiful as the Greek goddess Athena.”
“I’ve never met Athena. Last I heard she was made of stone. Are you sure that little slave girl wasn’t implying something other than beauty?”
Is “The Master’s Wall” your first published novel? If not, where would our readers be able to find other works by you to enjoy?
Yes. THE MASTER’S WALL is my debut! 🙂 Readers can find some of my shorter works on my website: www.sandirog.com.
The fun question of the day, what do you like to snack on when you’re writing?
How can you be contacted?
To purchase “The Master’s Wall” just copy and paste the links below:
And here’s the link to the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Wall-Iron-Stone-ebook/dp/B0049B31EI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288761412&sr=1-1
Thank you, Kara, for having me here. I enjoyed this interview!
Tracy Krauss grew up in small town Saskatchewan and has enjoyed writing numerous stories, plays and novels for over twenty years. She received her Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Saskatchewan and has lived in many interesting places in northern Canada, many of them ‘North of 60’. She is a full time teacher of Art, English and Drama at the Secondary School level, and has four grown children. She currently lives with her husband in scenic Tumbler Ridge – BC’s waterfall capital.
Welcome to Fiction With Faith Tracy! We’re excited you could join us. One of the first things, I’m sure our readers would like to know…who is Tracy Krauss and why does she like to write fiction that incorporates elements of the Christian faith?
I accepted Christ as a young adult and have been serving the Lord for many years. Since my faith is such an integral part of who I am, it just seems natural that my stories reflect that part of my life. I suppose in a way, I feel it is part of my calling. I have always been a ‘writer’, even from a young age, and I think you would agree that most writers are compelled to write what they are passionate about – what they know. Also, my husband is an ordained minister, although he went into the ministry later than most at age 40. So although I never saw myself as ‘Pastor’s wife’ material, I also had that role thrust upon me, so to speak, (not that I’m complaining!) which really has nothing to do with the fact that I write Christian fiction, but it seemed like a good place to mention it here!
You’re right, this is a great place to mention it! Readers are always interested in their favorite author’s life outside of writing. Speaking of “mentioning”, your latest release, “And The Beat Goes On”, is a sequel to your first novel, “Play it Again” Can you give us a quick summary of both and also where does “And The Beat Goes On” pick up?
Actually, both novels are totally ‘stand alone’. Interestingly, Play It Again is the first novel I ever completed. (It took me sixteen years to finally finish it while raising my kids, homeschooling them, working, and pastoring! Writing was not always on the top of my priority list in those days!) It is the story of an ex rock and roll junkie and a rather stuffy accountant who have an ‘encounter’ (a one night stand) and then have to deal with the fall out. It is a Romantic suspense set in the 80’s and is definitely a redemptive story about God’s unconditional love. It is currently under review with a major romance publisher which I am not at liberty to name at this time. So, in fact, it is not yet in print, although I am hopeful that this will soon be remedied!
And The Beat Goes On is the story of their son, Mark Graham. Mark is actually in the first book, but is only eleven years old. He was a studious child interested in arrow heads and other archeological artifacts, so when I got the idea for the next book, his character seemed like the perfect jumping off point. Because of the musical theme in book one, the title for the second book seemed like a logical choice, although I do get some references to Sonny and Cher!
In any case, Mark is now a respected archeologist in And The Beat Goes On, who discovers some controversial remains – that of dinosaurs and humans buried intentionally together. The whole book revolves around the Creation vs. Evolution debate and the controversy that this kind of find could have in the scientific community (and elsewhere). There is definitely lots of intrigue and action, and of course, a dose of romance thrown in for good measure.
An archeologist. That’s a unique profession for a main character.
Like I said, it seemed like a logical way to get to the topic that I wanted to write about – the potential cover up of scientific facts that support Intelligent Design. I’ve tried to incorporate as much evidence as possible without making the story sound pedantic or expository. It is, after all, a good story (I hope) and I want the reader to come away with that first and foremost, not just a whole bunch of facts.
The plot of your book is intriguing. It speculates a theory about the Nephilim. What inspired you to write about that subject?
I have always been fascinated by the topic as it is presented in the Bible, even though there is really not that much said about the Nephilim. Much of what you read etc. on the subject is speculative, so I have added my own speculations here. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I have just given another angle on the possibilities, most of which is straight up out of my rather strange imagination! I am a long time fan of Sci-fi and fantasy, so I suppose I wanted to incorporate some of those elements as well, although the book is not really of the Sci-fi or Fantasy genre. I managed to tie the existence of the Nephilim to some other research that I did on Young Earth Creationism. Ultimately, though, it is a work of fiction. I’m not trying to claim that I have all the answers, and in fact, if you read the book, you will see that in the end, Mark doesn’t have all the answers either. My philosophy on most ‘mysteries’ – especially Biblical ones – is that no one can really know for sure. Only God Himself can, and anything we humans might have to say on the subject is just speculation.
Your writing could be described as having more of an edgier style than would normally be considered for the Christian market. Why do you feel stories like that need to be told and what are some of the typical responses from your readers?
So far I have had extremely positive responses to the book. I must admit, I wondered how mainstream ‘Christian-dom’ would take it at first, but I’m not one to worry much about what people think. I’ve learned that as a Pastor’s wife. People have expectations, but you have to be true to what you believe God is calling you to do, and ultimately be the person He created you to be, not a cookie cutter image of someone else.
I also think the face of the church is changing. (Some might say this is not such a good thing, but it depends on how you view it.) People are less likely to be ‘shocked’ these days since we have all been desensitized to some degree by the media etc. Also, the younger generation of believers are tired of playing church. They want real encounters with a living God and a life of discipleship that has true meaning. I rather like to look at my writing style as a way to talk about what’s ‘real’, not a sugar coated story that doesn’t read as believable. This does not mean I purposely include gratuitous violence, sex etc. but it does mean that my characters are flawed, and I will include certain scenes if they are necessary in getting the message or mood across. In the end, I am trying to tell a redemptive tale about God’s grace.
Sounds similar to what the book of Hosea is about, and well…so many other parts of the Scriptures as well. Besides the Bible, what other author’s have influenced your writing?
Without question, my favorite Christian author is Frank Peretti. I could read his books over and over. Monster is probably my favorite. I also enjoy Francine Rivers because of her honest and frank treatments of topics that could be controversial. (Plus she writes a great story!) I also enjoy lots of the classics – Jane Austin, Margaret Atwood, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien …there are so many other great authors I can’t begin to name them all. Mostly I like a good twist. I’m not really into what I affectionately call ‘sappy’ romance. J So even though my novels so far have all been romantic to some degree, I wouldn’t say they are category romances by any stretch.
Are you currently reading any books?
Let’s see. For pleasure I just finished a Ted Dekker book called Chosen which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also read A Skeleton In God’s Closet which was good but a little too scholarly in places. I’m in the middle of The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre which is about the scandals within the Catholic priesthood, and I’m about to start Powers and Principalities by a new author named Dan Calabrese. I’m looking forward to that one since it deals with spiritual forces etc. I also read a lot because of my job (High School English) so I just finished The Hobbit for the third time, The Tempest for the umpteenth time.
Are there any other projects you are working on?
I am excited about the fact that my next novel is in production and will hopefully release before Christmas if all goes well. It is called My Mother the Man Eater and is about a forty something ‘cougar’ who is trying to find satisfaction through multiple boyfriends. Unfortunately for her, her prospects keep falling for one of her grown daughters instead. It also has lots of intrigue and action as her ex, a former drug dealer and con artist, is out of jail and out for revenge.
I also have another book ready to go called Wind Over Marshdale which deals with spiritual forces in a peaceful small town. I’m waiting on that one since I have so many irons in the fire already. Naturally, I have three other manuscripts on the go as well, and a plethora of ideas. Finally, I am also an artist, so I am working on a Children’s Illustrated book. Life is definitely never boring!
An author, pastor’s wife, teacher and artist, wow! God definitely likes to keep us creative types busy doesn’t He? Ok, now it’s time for my “stay curious” question of the day: There is a theory out there (okay, okay. Yes, it’s my theory) that you can tell a lot about a person by what they like to snack on. What do you like to snack on when writing?
That is such an interesting question! The truth is, I never snack when I’m writing (or painting or doing anything creative) I get so caught up in what I am doing, I forget to eat, drink or go to the bathroom! I have to force myself to take breaks and at least get a glass of water so I don’t get dehydrated. I have literally gone for an entire day without eating, and then I’ll gulp down whatever just so I can get back to my computer/easel. I think it is definitely a compulsive thing, and certainly not very healthy. That isn’t to say that I don’t snack at other times, like watching TV …!
Thank you again Tracy for taking the time to be with us today. How may our readers contact you?
I currently have two blogs: