I met Barbara online and have become good friends with her. I'm happy to introduce her novel The Gathering Storm. Her work has been compared to the writing of Terri Blackstock, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Hannah Alexander, and Colleen Coble. I'm sure you'll find this mystery intriguing.
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Apparently quite a bit. The manuscript I’m working on now has a sarcastic, smart-mouthed, older woman my friends say reminds them of me. I think we all put some of ourselves into our characters. It’s only natural.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Let Cheryl Hodde talk me into backpacking the Grand Canyon, not once, not twice, but three times, and all that, after I had promised God the first time if He got me out of that hole alive I would never do anything so stupid again. The last time I walked out I knew it would be my last trip down inside. I stopped at the top of every slope, looking back, trying to fix it in my memory.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think I’ve always known. I’ve scribbled in notebooks for as long as I can remember, and I loved writing themes in school. I didn’t get serious about it until after Charlie and I were married and moved back to the farm. Now, it’s an obsession. If I don’t have time to write I get cranky.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Since I review books, I read almost every genre, but my personal choice for fiction is mysteries. For non-fiction I prefer history, politics, and religious. I’m so addicted to reading, lacking anything else I’d read the labels on my spice jars. I can’t imagine a world without something to read.
A ton of them. Four private eye novels, three romantic suspense, one humorous inspirational non-fiction, two women’s fiction, and my current manuscript about five older women who start a club to solve murders, just as soon as they can find one. If I sell them all, I’ll be rich. Jireh has my second romantic suspense under consideration, and I have an agent interested in the older women mystery.
Good. I'm sure we'll see more of these in print soon. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I cherish the days I’m free to stay home, read, and work in my flowers. Unfortunately those days don’t come often enough. However my work as a freelance editor requires me to spend hours alone in front of my computer, and that helps. I need a lot of time by myself.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I don’t deliberately choose them. The names just seem to be there when I need them and they seem to fit. I’m not sure how that works, but it does. I don’t understand a lot about how writing works. I don’t mean the mechanics, we can learn those; I mean the way we know our characters, the way we know the story, the way it comes alive in our minds. It has to be a gift from God, because there is no reasonable explanation for the way a writer’s mind works. It’s amazing.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Teaching Sunday school in my church for forty consecutive years. It’s been a blessing and a privilege. The first lesson I taught, I was so nervous I had it memorized. If anyone had interrupted me I would have forgotten the whole thing. Now, of course, it’s much easier. I started out teaching women, then went to the young married class, then youth, and now am back teaching women. I have a wonderful class of sisters in Christ, and I love and appreciate them very much.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A puppy, of course, because I’m so cute and loveable, but there are times when I’m more like an old mama lion. I guess it depends on my mood.
What is your favorite food?
Fried chicken. That’s the way Cheryl got me out of the canyon the first time. I would stop after about twenty steps, sure I couldn’t go on and she would sing out, “Fried Chicken.” Got me going again every time. My motor doesn’t run on trail mix and Gatorade. It needs real food.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
The Gathering Storm is set in the beautiful Ozarks, where I live. Marty Walker, Stephanie’s famous songwriter father, hasn’t spent much time doing the Daddy bit. When someone murders him she becomes the prime suspect, simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sheriff Rob Daughtery warns her not to leave Harrington Lodge without his permission. A half-sister she never knew she had shows up for the reading of the will, and the knife that killed Marty is planted in Stephanie’s room. Perhaps the most troubling of all, to man-shy Stephanie, is her growing attraction to Brad Wilson, ex-con, turned preacher. And then there’s God, who won’t leave her alone. Everyone at the lodge, except Stephanie, seems to be religious, but if her suspicions are right, one of those dedicated, church-going Christians murdered her father. Will she be next?
Lena, thank you for having me on your site for this interview. I’ve enjoyed it very much. I think it’s great all you do to promote Christian fiction and your fellow writers.
Thank you, Barbara. God encouraged me to dedicate my blog to giving exposure to other authors, and He has repaid my obedience many times over.
Remember, Readers, to leave a comment on this interview for a chance to win a copy of The Gathering Storm. Also, there's still time to leave a comment on Muncy's interview.