Today Suspense Sisters welcomes Award-winning Mystery Author Lorena McCourtney.
Lorena is giving away a copy of her book, DYING TO READ. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing, please leave a comment and you must include your contact information.
I met Lorena (Elizabeth here) when I lived in Oregon. I hadn't yet sold my first novel to a publisher and was writing book reviews. Lorena contacted me to review her mystery, Stranded. We were both thrilled and surprised to have another Christian fiction writer living in the same small town in Oregon. So we started getting together for lunch once in a while. Over the years, Lorena has been a great encouragement and friend to me, and I'm so blessed that God brought us together.
We're honored to have her with us today.
S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?
McCourtney: I still write full time, more or less. Although I’m not quite as full time as when I was younger. I’ve been a writer for a lot of years now, but it wasn’t what I started out to be. I worked my way through college with a job in a seed laboratory, and earned a BS degree in agriculture. Which probably doesn’t often lead to a career as a romance and mystery writer! At the time what I wanted was a big ranch, or maybe do some writing on agricultural subjects. Unfortunately, I turned out to be less than thrilled writing about hog raising and making sausage, which was what they wanted at the meat-packing company where I got my first job out of college. I then worked at various office jobs until I quit to be a full-time Mom and write children’s stories, and eventually moved on to romances and mysteries.
S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?
McCourtney: I’ve had 42 books published, and sometimes I still feel like an imposter. Sometimes at the beginning of a new book, I feel as if there’s no way I can do this. A “real author” should know exactly what to do – and I don’t! So I guess I’m still waiting for the “real author” moment.
S.S: Why mystery? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?
McCourtney: I started out, when I left magazine-length writing for both children and the womens’ market, doing mass-market romances. I think I did 24 of them. When I decided to switch to strictly Christian fiction, I still wrote romances. But in one of them I tossed in a murder and a mystery, and I thought – hey, I like this. So after a couple more romances, I changed to Christian mysteries and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I like the more complicated twists and turns. Sometimes I don’t even know who the killer is myself when I start out, or sometimes the killer changes halfway through a book. So that’s fun.
Mysteries do take a fair amount of research, especially, for me, on police procedure and legal details. And I sometimes wonder if there’s some Big Brother out there suspicious of why I’m looking up how to embezzle a fortune or build an explosive device.
S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?
McCourtney: Faith is an integral part of my writing now. I want my writing to serve the Lord, and I think that means putting my beliefs into the story. I see reviews of my books occasionally that say there’s too much “religion” in some of them, but my own feeling is that if I haven’t put enough of a faith-based foundation in my characters and plot to bring some complaints, then I probably haven’t put enough in. But I do want to keep from sounding preachy or holier-than-thou. I want the faith to flow out of the characters themselves.
S.S: Tell us about your current release.
McCourtney: My latest release is“Dying to Read,” Book #1 in the Cate Kinkaid Files series from Revell. Cate, desperate for a job, goes to work as an assistant private investigator in her Uncle Joe’s Belmont Investigations business. Her first assignment is supposed to be quick and easy, no danger or mayhem, definitely no murder. Instead, she soon finds herself up to her elbows in Whodunit ladies, a paint-blobbed hunk, a deaf white cat – and killers.
S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
McCourtney: I’d been thinking a lot about so many people out of work. Even people with good education and experience may not be able to find a job, and my Cate is one of them. She first thinks of working as an assistant private investigator as strictly temporary, but the Lord often has different plans than we do.
S.S: How do you come up with such interesting and unique characters?
McCourtney: The world is full of interesting and unique people! I never use a character based exactly on a real person, but I do like to take bits and pieces of real people and meld them into a character for a story. Or I sometimes pluck out a little bit of myself to put in a character. This was especially true in my Ivy Malone character, the woman who feels she has aged into invisibility. A definite part of me! I like both real people and book characters who are on the quirky side, so that’s the way some of mine are too.
S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?
McCourtney: I often tend to use the theme that God is in control. He may not take care of things exactly the way we’d prefer, or the style to which we’d like to become accustomed, but he will never abandon us. He’s always there.
S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
McCourtney: My main character, Cate Kinkaid, of course! I like her because she gets herself into strange situations, but she’s fun and resourceful, never a quitter.
S.S: What are you working on now?
McCourtney: “Dolled Up to Die,” Book #2 in the Cate Kinkaid Files is already written and is scheduled for release sometime in mid-2013. So right now I’m working on Book #3 in the series, title not decided on yet.
S.S: Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.
McCourtney: One item has nothing to do with writing. I’ve long wanted to climb Ayers Rock in Australia (though I think it may have a different name now). Why? Good question. Especially since a recent fall off a ladder reminded me I’m not great in the climbing department. But I’d still like to do it.
Another is that I’ve long had a futuristic story simmering in the back of my head. It’s way out of my usual brand of writing in romance or mystery, so maybe no one would ever read it if I did write it. But it keeps simmering. Closer than that, however, on the “list” is doing another book in the Ivy Malone Mysteries series that readers keep clamoring for.
S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?
McCourtney: My website: http://www.lorenamccourtney.com
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lorenamccourtney
Or just put my name in a search engine such as Google, and you can never tell what might show up!
S.S.: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
McCourtney: Just that hearing from readers is one of the best parts of being a writer. I try to answer every letter or e-mail I receive, though I’m sometimes a little slow. You can go to my website and there’s contact information on there. Or I should get anything sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for joining us today, Lorena!