Note: I initially met Lynne Walding when I agreed to write a review for her first book, Handful of Demons, which I found utterly riveting. This and her second book, Devil’s Digs, are novels that deal with spiritual warfare, featuring ordinary people caught up in the timeless, titanic struggle between good and evil. As she explains in the interview, these same books will soon be released under new titles: Pastor McAlester's Bride and Winnoby Cabin, respectively.--E.E. Kennedy
**Be sure to leave a comment in the section below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Pastor McAlester’s Bride!**
S.S.: Lynne, Can you tell us something about yourself?
LWW: Well, on my seventeenth birthday, my family moved from Illinois to the Rio Grande Valley, and from my viewpoint, we may as well have moved to a foreign county. I cried all the way there. That was more decades ago than I care to admit, and I’m still in Texas. And love it. I like to say that I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got there as fast as I could.
My dad was a Renaissance man, interested and skilled in so many things, and for a while, I led a pretty exciting life: dancing lessons, piano lessons, spending time at Daddy’s airport, flying (sometimes upside-down) in a Navy fighter plane (with Daddy at the controls), hanging out with the equestrian crowd, and flying to Mexico in Daddy’s five passenger Cessna to vacation at his hotel in Cuidad Victoria. I felt like a real-life princess. But my mother and father divorced shortly after our move to Texas, and Daddy remarried — thrusting me headlong into the real work-a-day world.
With some college, but no degree, I took the first job I could land, a boring one as a bookkeeper. But I’d learned from my father his love of antique clocks and his expertise in restoring them, so I opened my own clock repair shop. And I wrote my first book, a manual on repairing clocks. What was done simply to as a means of earning money turned into a lifelong love, the craft of writing.
Thirty-five years ago, I married an established pastor and my name became Lynne Wells Walding. When Dee and I married, I was immediately plunged into the toughest, yet most rewarding job of my life, that of a pastor’s wife. My rather shallow Christianity deepened into a devout love for the Lord as I served beside, and learned from, my husband. I was soon composing songs to God’s glory, playing the keyboard, and ministering to women. I continued to write as I was able, freelancing and doing some syndicated work. But more and more, I felt the call of God to drop the secular articles and columns to write for Him alone.
SS: Lynne, you indicated to me that you weren’t sure that your books would fall into the suspense category. Why?
LWW: Well, I suppose I just wasn't thinking outside the box. When I think of suspense, I lean toward the "Whodunnit" genre. But now that you ask, I suppose my writing would be considered suspenseful. It's actually kind of odd that I hadn't thought of it that way before. Any time your readers are on edge and can't put the book down, that would be suspense. It doesn't have to be a killer on the loose. It could be a Godly man being tempted beyond his endurance, with his very soul hanging in the balance that keeps the reader turning the pages. And isn't that what all authors are aiming for: a page turner!
SS: I found Handful of Demons and Devil’s Digs very suspenseful and chilling, but also triumphant, in a way. Was that what you were going for?
LWW: Absolutely. The whole point of everything I write is for God to get the glory. I personally don't like to invest my time in a book that has a sad or tragic ending. I don't mind going through "hell and high water" with the characters, as long as there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That's not to say another style is bad or poorly written. That's just the way I feel. And I couldn't be happy with my own book if it ended any way other than triumphant in the Lord. I've also injected a small amount of humor in with the suspense, love, and spiritual aspect. At least one of my reviewers referred to the "gritty (and often funny) spiritual warfare."
SS: Lynne, what kinds of other authors’ books do you like to read? Favorite movies?
LWW: I like a wide range of genres: uplifting adventure, mysteries, suspenseful Christian fiction, anything by Frank Peretti or John Grisham. And I like heart-rending romance without explicit sex. As for movies, I have a few all-time favorites. Ghost, Return to Me, and the original Unfaithfully Yours. Also, the scene in Ghost where the dark spirits came from under the ground to claim the soul of the "bad guys" gives me goose bumps every time. There were no angels fighting for their souls, but there's always a battle between the angels and the demons for the soul of a saved person.
SS: What authors have inspired you in your work?
LWW: I have to give credit to Frank Peretti. My novels have been compared to his work, but I'm not so vain as to think I'm in the same league. A member of a church we were pastoring in the eighties introduced me to his work nearly thirty years ago. She had a ministry of spiritual warfare, and the first thing she taught me as a newbie was, "Don't go to seed on demons,”--in other words, don't let them occupy your mind 24/7--“but stay alert to their wiles, because they are very real, and very destructive."
LWW: Is there any other way? No, seriously, most of my characters are patterned after one or more people from my experience. Being in the pastorate for twenty-five years gives me, as a writer, plenty of fodder for characters and situations. Indi, the spiritual spitfire in Handful of Demons (AKA Pastor McAlester's Bride) was patterned after two people. Anita, (the minister I mentioned above) and Valleta (a precious sister-in-Christ who could pray the horns off a Billy goat.)
SS: What led you to write these books?
LWW: One word: God. He got on my case years before I was able to actually sit down and write a novel. Oh, I wrote magazine articles and newsletters for the church, but I was too busy to dedicate myself to a novel. Looking back, I realize I should have followed His lead immediately. I'm blessed He didn't remove the call before I managed to get serious. He's laid it on my heart to make people aware of Satan and his minions. Too many people don't believe in hell, much less the Prince of Darkness and his crew.
If I can write a story interesting enough to keep my readers turning the pages, yet scriptural enough to make them aware the Enemy seeks to devour them --and that Jesus is their refuge--then I've accomplished what I think God has called me to do.
SS: Is there to be a third book in your series?
LWW: That was the plan, but I'm having a little trouble making it happen. I feel like God is saying, "That was your plan, not Mine." I'd never had writer's block until I tried to work on the third book in the series. The usual inspirational thoughts God faithfully supplied in the past didn't come. Other ideas kept dropping into my head, ideas that wouldn't fit into the novel I was supposed to be working on. But they were good ideas that I couldn't dismiss, so I took a break and wrote Ian's Song. I figured after that I could go back to work on the series. But then God burned A Man of God (working title) into my soul. So that's my current work-in-progress. I guess when God's ready for me to wind up the series He'll let me know.
SS: What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
LWW: Handful of Demons (AKA Pastor McAlester's Bride) is built on a scripture found in 1st Samuel 15: 22, paraphrased: Obedience is better than sacrifice. God chose his servant Witt Gregory to do His work in a particularly dark situation because He knew He could trust him to be obedient. But could Witt live up to God's expectations? It's my hope and prayer that readers will come away with a better understanding of what it takes to please God.
Devil's Digs (AKA Winnoby Cabin) emphasizes our need to keep in constant communication with the Lord, especially when we're surrounded by temptation. Sometimes the temptation is not so much to do something sinful, but rather to sidestep what we know the Lord wants of us. Gary Lanier, a pastor friend of ours, is a very prolific spiritual song writer. My favorite is "Trust in the Lord." Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding . . . I must have sung that song a thousand times while writing Devil's Digs.
The theme of my third novel, Ian’s Song, is "With God there are no coincidences." Many miracles are dismissed by skeptics this way. But I was personally blessed by one of God's miracles that could never be dismissed as a coincidence. The seemingly improbable events that occur in Ian's Song are a part of God's plan to show two mortals that when He is in control there are no coincidences.
SS: With titles like these, are people surprised to find that you’re a devout Christian?
LWW: If they make it as far as the interior and read the dedication, acknowledgements, and “About the Author,” they may be convinced. But I'm going to be perfectly honest with you: many in my intended audience don't make it that far. I've learned the hard way that many Christian women will pick up one of my books, take one look at the cover--of Handful of Demons in particular--and put it back down. My original cover designer took the ominous-sounding title and ran with it. What she produced was a gorgeous and very frightening cover. I loved it. It just didn't occur to me the title and cover would turn off the very people I was trying to reach.
You may have wondered why I refer to Handful of Demons and add "AKA Pastor McAlester's Bride." This is the reason: too many people think my novels are the same genre as a Stephen King novel. Though I admire his talents, nothing could be further from the truth. So now, before too much time passes, I'm republishing my first two books with new titles and gentler covers that will hopefully appeal to women readers. Within weeks, the titles Handful of Demons and Devil's Digs will no longer be available. But not one word of either novel will be changed. They'll be republished as Pastor McAlester's Bride and Winnoby Cabin, respectively. I'll admit this is a scary move for me. And it's coming only after much fervent prayer. With God's blessing I won't lose the momentum I have thus far achieved. I covet your prayers as I make this change.
SS: C.S. Lewis said when he was writing The Screwtape Letters, he felt opposition from the enemy. Did you have a similar experience?
LWW: Yes. My computer, which is fairly new and works flawlessly on daily chores, is a terror when I begin to write for the glory of God. It shuts down for no reason. The printer refuses to work. I lose entire chapters through no fault of my own. My editor said "not to worry. It's usually better the second time around." Since I've taken that attitude the persecution has slowed down. Satan certainly doesn't want anything that's done for the Lord to be done even better. There was a period, though, when every day I had to gather all my materials and go the library to write. I'm sure you'd agree this puts a damper on creativity. All the while I'm paying experts to figure out the problem. As soon as one problem was solved, another popped up its ugly head. But I managed to take joy in the fact that I must be doing something right. Of course there were other, less obvious obstructions - perhaps not all from Satan. I think as a rule we tend to give the devil too much credit. Sometimes all he has to do is sit back and laugh as we do dumb and destructive things with no help from anyone.
SS: Where can readers find your books? Are they available in e-books? Paperback?
LWW: All three of my novels-- Pastor McAlester's Bride, Winnoby Cabin and Ian’s Song--can be bought at Amazon, both in paperback or Kindle. You can also get the paperback edition through my web site, LynneWellsWalding.com. All things considered they're less expensive through my website, with the added advantage of a personalized autograph if you wish. If you're buying one for a gift, I'll be happy to personalize it and send it to the recipient. If you have any questions, just drop me a line at Lynne@lynnewellswalding.com.
I love to hear from my readers and potential readers, if it's only to say hello.
SS: Thank you, Lynne.
**Be sure to leave a comment in the section below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Pastor McAlester’s Bride!**