Thursday, February 12, 2015

INTERVIEW WITH LORA YOUNG by Cynthia Hickey


 Lora Young has never lived outside the state of Missouri. She grew up reading the Little House books and Trixie Belden mysteries, so it makes sense that her first novel would be an historical mystery set in Missouri. Lora lives in rural Platte County with her husband, four cats, and the constant interruption of her children and grandchildren. She enjoys riding her tadpole recumbent, ballroom dancing, and making stuff up. She is a member of the Kansas City West chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers.

When did you decide to pursue writing and eventually publication?

As a voracious reader, I could easily go through a novel a day. When homeschooling my three children got in the way of my reading, it slowed to about one every two days. One day, when my daughter was about twelve, I was griping about having nothing good to read. Since this wasn’t a new whine for me, she rather impatiently said, “Why don’t you write something that you want to read?”

So, I did.

With all the stories I had running around in my brain, I’d never actually written any down. Writing them down was commitment. It meant I was a writer. I wrote in secret though. No one knew. Not my friends. Not my kids. Not even my husband.

The experts say, “Write what you know.” So I wrote a murder mystery about a homeschool mom whose children played basketball. It’s still on my computer. I pull it out and read it sometimes. It gives me a laugh and reminds me of how far I’ve come as a writer. I’m pretty sure that story will never see the light of day.

After two or three years of playing with writing, I felt a nudge from the Lord to pursue publication. Whoa! Let’s not get crazy here, God. There’s a huge difference between playing with stories and writing for publication.

But the nudge wouldn’t go away. I had to come out of the closet. In November of 2009, I went to my first writers’ conference here in Kansas City. I talked to a literary agent who encouraged me to write a romance. Well…I hated romances. Visions of my mother-in-laws bodice rippers invaded my mind. Mainstream romances are often filled with graphic sex and horrific language. Christian romances are super clean, but so many of the ones I’d read were…sappy. Everyone was a goody-two-shoes. So I decided to write a parody of a romance.

In January 2011, I finished my first historical romance. Halfway through, a bad guy popped into the story and wouldn’t go away. It wound up being a romantic adventure with shades of suspense. I’d gotten so wrapped up in the story, I forgot to make it a parody.

 

What is your writing process like?  Do you write daily?  Are you a plotter or a pantster? 

I’m halfway between a plotter and a pantser. I can’t really start without having some direction, but I don’t want too much direction to stifle the story. I “plot” ten or fifteen key events and start writing. Sometimes I have to go back and change those scenes, but I’m not discouraged by that. It simply means the story is taking shape organically. I also write the scenes as they come to me, which means they’re out of order. That also means revising and re-writing.

Although I’d love to write daily, life tends to get in the way of that. (Even an empty nester has her chicks returning to ask for favors or lend a listening ear.) Every now and then, I’ll take off for a day or two, turn my phone to blocking mode and write. I love those days!

 

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

I hate the first draft. Staring at a blank page discourages me. I don’t really have much momentum until I reach about 35,000 words. (That’s a novella right there. <sigh>)

I love editing! Finding just the right word. Painting just the right picture. Love it!!!

 

What is one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered in your research? 

When researching the Old West, I discovered how very independent women were. After the Homestead Act of 1862 made land grants available to anyone who hadn’t taken up arms against the Union, between five and twenty percent of all grants were claimed by single women. Although women east of the Mississippi were pressured to follow Victorian conventions, women in the West were of a different mindset. Perhaps the trip west created the mindset. Perhaps the women who made the journey already had independent personalities. Either way, these women had a fortitude and a faith I find admirable.

 

Please tell us about your latest release. 

Once a Thief is the very first novel I wrote. (The one that was supposed to have been a parody.)

Convicted thief and con-woman Teagan Copperfield is willing to do anything to avoid prison--even become an honest woman. Earning a full-pardon for her crimes should be a piece of cake. All she has to do is gain the trust of Jared O’Neill, the cynical lawyer in charge of her rehabilitation, and help him root out the political corruption in Colorado Territory’s capitol. Oh, and keep him alive until her pardon comes through.

The task isn’t without pitfalls, however. The unconditional love offered by the O’Neill family threatens to break through her emotional defenses. Ellie, a six-year-old orphan, has a faith in God that Teagan finds intriguing. Then there’s Jared O’Neill—a man unlike any Teagan has ever known.

 

Who or what inspired this special story? 

Jared and his brothers, Claire, and Teagan doodled around in my brain for years. I’d pull them to the forefront and play with stories for them for a while, and then let them sink into the background. One day, I read about the territorial governor of Colorado being recalled by President Grant due to allegations of corruption in his office. The setting for lawyers and thieves was perfect, so I started writing in earnest.

Is there anything else you would like to share?  What will you be working on next? 

Book 2 in the Katy Railway Mysteries is scheduled to be released in late August. It’s called Malicious Intent. I don’t have the back cover description written yet, but here’s a sneak peek.

Meet Eleanor Grace (AKA Ellen Potts). Eleanor has turned lying into an art form. She does it to protect her heart, but one of her lies might spell disaster for the MK&T Railroad.

 

Enter Seth Brady—a man who is torn between supporting his family as a station agent for the railroad and following his dream of a being a concert pianist. When his railway station receives a series of bomb threats, both careers might blow sky high.

 

Can you tell us something about yourself that few people may know?

Before I started homeschooling my three children (and long before I started writing down my stories), I got my degree in Elementary Education and taught a first and second grade split classroom for a number of years. I’m still friends with some of my former students. (How weird is that?)

 

What is your most treasured possession?

While I love my things, I’ve learned to hold them loosely. If pressed, I’d have to say my engagement and wedding rings, and my mother’s engagement ring would be possessions I would sorely miss.

 

If you had to leave your house suddenly, what is one thing you would grab, other than family and pets?

Besides the aforementioned rings, I’d grab my Bible. The worn out, marked up Bible I read daily has so much of my history with God in it. Scriptures that meant the world to me during certain periods in my life. I’d hate to lose it. But, I also know that God makes all things new. If something happened to that old Bible, I’d fill a new one with fresh revelations and scriptures that would carry me through new seasons in my life.

 

Thank you so much!  Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

One of the best parts about writing stories is connecting with the people who read them. I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lora.young.79 and Twitter at https://twitter.com/lorayoung79 . My website is http://lorayoung.com/ . You can sign up for my quarterly newsletter on the contact page of the website. I keep subscribers up to date on my writing world as well as share a few recipes.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Lora’s book!

9 comments:

  1. Oh, this sounds like a good read. Definitely going on my TBR list. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

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  2. I would love to be a winner!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  3. Ah!! This sounds like an amazing book and I really can't wait to read it :D Con artists, gotta love 'em <3 Also, so cool to read about another writer's journey!!

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  4. Sounds like an interesting book, thanks for the chance to win a copy!

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  5. Great interview with Lora. ONCE A THIEF sounds like an awesome read. The cover is beautiful. Gotta love those Colorado mountains....

    psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com
    Print copy please......

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  6. I have enjoyed Trixie Beldon books, living in Missouri and reading books, too! Thank you for writing this book - it sounds like a winner! Thank you for the opportunity to win this fascinating-sounding book!
    Janice
    pjrcmoore@windstream.net

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  7. Thank you for your comments. I will have Lora choose a winner :)

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  8. Enjoyed the Interview and would love to win a copy of this book to read.
    tissakay at aol dot com

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  9. The winner of Once A Thief is Jennifer Sauer! Congratulations. Lora will be contacting you.

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