Let’s begin with... Do you have a favorite author?
There are some names that come to mind, but I’m not going to say any of them because I’m afraid that would invite comparisons. Either I would come out on the wrong end of that comparison or... just because I enjoy someone’s work doesn’t mean I’m trying to write the same sort of thing, and I wouldn’t want to raise incorrect expectations.
Have you ever based a character on a real person?
I think I’ve answered this question before.
You have. You said, “No.”
Well, it’s a good thing it’s come up again because I have a different answer. In They See a Family, there is a character named Michael, a very minor character, who is mentally disabled. I thought the safest way to avoid accidentally veering into stereotypes as I wrote him would be to have a particular person in mind. I was definitely thinking of my uncle as I wrote him. Michael is still a fictional character though. He is not intended to be my uncle. It was more like... how do I think he would act in this situation, not what has my uncle done in the past that I could put into a book.
Many of your books are Christian fiction. Just how preachy are they?
First, I just want to say I think it’s too bad that preachy has become kind of negative. And I know that I have been guilty of using it to describe other books in a negative way. But preachy isn’t always a bad thing. I think, like a lot of things, there’s... there’s a time and a place. And with fiction... it can work. It has to fit into the story. I’ve read a lot of books where it felt like the author was kind of taking a break from the story in order to start evangelizing. And that is a turn-off, even for myself as a Christian. As far as how preachy my books are... I think the level of preachiness varies in my books. I am first and foremost telling a story. But all of my main characters are Christian. Sometimes they mention saying a prayer or they mention going to church. But I think in most of my books the characters don’t really sit down and have deep, meaningful discussions about their faith.
Can you rank your books on preachiness for us?
Oh, that would be really hard. I think I would have to go back and read all my books with like a preachiness journal rank them and I... I’ve never done that.
How about a few examples?
Said and Unsaid was the only book where my main character was a convert, and it’s just been my personal experience that converts tend to be a little more excited. Since the faith is new, they want to talk about it a little bit more. I don’t remember exactly how detailed any of those conversations were. I hope it was more about her experience and never sounded like she was trying to convince the reader of anything.
I don’t remember a lot of preaching in Collecting Zebras. I feel like that was one of my more lighthearted ones. I don’t think there were any big catalysts for discussion in that book that I can remember.
There may have been a little preachiness in A Perfectly Good Man. The main character in that one had a bit of a... not really a crisis exactly... but at one point she did kind of realize that she’d become a little lukewarm in her faith so there was a little discussion.
Let’s talk about your covers.
You’ve mentioned repeatedly being bad at covers.
Repeatedly? Have I talked about being bad at covers too much?
Depends who you ask. Some people might say yes. Most of us think it’s great that you are humble about your limitations and have a sense of humor about it.
Humble and funny? Now that is a positive spin on a lack of artistic ability. I guess I’d like to say though that I have not been complaining and doing nothing. I’ve tried to make up for some of what I lack in natural talent by reading and... there are some things you can learn about design. Hopefully, I have made some improvements over the years.
Unfortunately, the process is still largely trial and error. I can look at a cover and see that it’s not working. I see that it’s maybe unbalanced or maybe the colors are wrong. I know it’s bad, and I don’t know how to fix it so I usually end up making lots of covers until something... Trial and Error is kind of a frustrating way to do anything.
What else is frustrating?
Sometimes just typing my books can be frustrating because I can’t read my own handwriting. I write everything out first and my handwriting had not gotten better. You would think that with context I could figure out all the words... that’s not always the case.
Your bio mentions pen names. Are you willing to talk about those?
Well, I’ll talk about one. This was an experiment. I prefer contemporary romance, both to read and to write, but historical romances seem very popular, particularly there seems to be something about mail order bride stories that people enjoy. I wrote a four novella series using the name Charlotte Thorpe. My goal for those stories was to try to capture some of the things that people enjoy about mail order bride stories without actually having a mail order bride in any of them. Those books have been some of my most popular works and that is... interesting. When you are outsold by your own alter ego, is that success? I don’t know.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Do you have any final thoughts?
I guess my final word would just be thank you. If anyone has read any of my books, thank you.