Friday, December 21, 2012

Interview with Mystery Author Lorena McCourtney

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.

Lorena McCourtney is a long-time resident of Southern Oregon and enjoys using Oregon settings in her books. She wrote numerous short stories for children before moving on to romances and now to mysteries, often with a bit of humor. She won the American Christian Fiction Writer's Mystery "Book of the Year" and twice won the Daphne Du Maurier Award of Excellence.

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:
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:

Thank you for joining us today, Lorena! 


  1. I'm wild about Lorena's books! I've read Dying to Read, and it's wonderful. Check out her Ivy Malone series, too. It's one of my all-time fav series! Great to have you here on Suspense Sisters, Lorena.

  2. I have never read one of your books. I would love to win this, review this, and share it with someone. Enter me please.
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com

  3. I loved Dying to Read and I'm a huge fan of Lorena's books, too. I love the humor she injects in them, and her way with words.

    Thanks for joining us today, Lorena!


  4. I love this post, though I don't think I've read any of her books, but be sure I'll look her up. My contact info is

  5. I'm so pleased to have an interview here on Suspense Sisters. And if you don't happen to win a copy of "Dying to Read," you can still get a free download of "Invisible," Book #1 in the Ivy Malone series, on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

  6. That was an interesting post. I have seen her books before at the library. I like that there's a cat in the book because I love animals.


  7. Hey, Lorena, so great to have you here. Good luck on that Ayers Rock climb. You're braver than I if you do it. And I enjoy futuristic stuff. Give it a try!
    Gayle Roper

  8. I LOVED the Ivy Malone series so much that I have to get the whole set from Kindle. I also got and read the Julesburg mysteries. Keep the good books coming.

    1. I goofed and didn't proof read.

  9. ooooh - ooooh! pick me! pick me!! I am an avid reader and love mysteries especially! I don't think I've read anything by Lorena so I'd LOVE to win Dying to Read!

    Dwaina Six

  10. I've read Ivy Malone stuff & enjoyed her :) Would love to read this one too.


    pmettert at yahoo dot com

  11. I loved the Ivy Malone series. I'm sure this one will be just as much fun.

  12. Really enjoyed getting to know Lorena McCourtney better. I thought it was fascinating that sometimes as you begin a book that you don't even know who the killer is. Sounds like a great series. Praying for your continued inspiration. Blessings & Merry Christmas, Susan Fryman

  13. What a wonderful website! I would love to read this book.

  14. Your new site sounds great. I'd love to win this book also.

  15. It's great to see posts from all you readers. If you haven't yet read The Julesburg Mysteries, here's a chance to get Book #1, WHIRLPOOL, for just 99 cents for Kindle and Nook in a short-before-and-after Christmas sale. Just put my name into the search line at the Kindle Store or the Nook Books. We have snow here in southern Oregon!

  16. I have read many of Lorena's books and would love to win this one .

  17. Lorena Mccourtney has been a long time inspiration of mine, love the way her books draw her in and don't let go. I would love to read Dying to Read!!! My contact info is!!!
    In Christs Love
    And Have a Very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!!!

  18. I absolutely love all the books you have written that i have been able to get my hands on. I always have to wait to check the books out of the library! You have such a way to present the Christian message and I appreciate that!
    My contact info is:
    Blessings to you this Christmas and much peace, health & happiness in the coming new year!

  19. love reading your books, can't wait to get more to read. loved the ivy malone series. i saw that whirlpool is out and a nother ivy malone book in her series is coming out.

  20. I have read most of your books and really enjoy them.. I'd love to win this new one...
    Merry Christmas,

  21. would love to win a chance to start reading this interesting looking series.


  22. It was a great day when I discovered you books in our public library several years ago. I couldn't wait to read the next one. I loved Ivy Malone and the smooth, wonderful way the story unfolded. I am proud of writers like you. Your books are a blessing.

  23. I LOVE Christian Mystery & Suspense! Looking forward to this new series!


  24. Lorena, you are a new author to me and I really enjoyed this interview. I love Mystery and Suspense books. Always trying to figure out who done it. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm not. It was nice getting to know a little about you.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas!

  25. I love having all my favorite authors in the same place! I really enjoy learning more. about you all.

  26. I haven't read Dying to Read, but I would love to read it. I love Ivey Malone and would and your other books I have read.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family Lorena.


  27. I've loved each and every book by Lorena McCourtney that I've been lucky enough to read. Can't wait to read any and all that come our way by this of my favorites! And a brand new series? My cup runneth over!

  28. This story sounds like something I would enjoy reading. I have put it on my TBR list and would love to win it.
    Have a blessed holiday.

  29. Hope you have a nice holiday season. Glad I found this website...I love to read suspense books. Maybe, I'll win!

    nhsarab at yahoo dot com

  30. Enjoyed reading about how you came to writing, and now I have a new author to enjoy! And especially one that is close to me here in Oregon!

    Lisa Richardson
    574 Bliler Ave NE
    Salem, OR 97301

  31. Thank you for the opportunity to win Dying to Read!

  32. I will check out your books at my library.
    Chirodad @gmail. Com

  33. I will check your books out at my library.
    Chirodad @gmail. Com


  35. I read the Ivy Malone Series & the Julesburg Series. I am on the 2nd book in the Andi McDonnell series. I just love all Lorena's books. They are well written & prove you can have good books w/out all the cursing, etc. Thx so much for the many hours of wonderful reading you have given me. My email is & would love to receive "Dying to Read". Thank you! Pascha Coonradt

  36. I wish you could all win "Dying to Read"! Thanks so much for the nice comments about my other books that you have read. I do intend to do another Ivy book, as soon as I get past some other writing commitments and medical problems that keep popping up.

  37. I love the Ivy Malone books. Just got the last one in the series for my Kindle. Am looking forward to start reading the newest series with the book Dying to Read.

  38. I have read many of Lorena's books on my Kindle and love each and every one of them! Looking forward to reading Dying to Read soon!

    Kathy Mann