How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I’ve been writing since before I could write—that is, I’d draw pictures (badly), then make up a story to tell Mom to go with it. I worked on a horse story in elementary school on our old typewriter, hand-wrote Beatles love stories for the entertainment of my friends in junior high…I guess I always felt I had a gift I should use, but I never really felt a "call" till I turned to Christian fiction (from secular).
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write Christian historical romance—I prefer to call it "Christian" rather than "inspirational" fiction, which just sounds like political correctness to me. Call it what it is! A salesgirl at Barnes and Noble didn’t even know what I meant when I asked for the "inspirational fiction" section.
Christian fiction incorporates the faith journey of the characters as well as the romance, if there is one, and the rest of the plot. It should organic to the plot, not something that feels "added in" to a secular story. These books should not be preachy, "like a religious tract enclosed within a story," nor is there always a conversion for one of the characters or both. Sometimes it’s just about Christians going through the stresses of everyday life, experiencing the conflicts that people do. Often the hero and heroine may be at different points on their faith journey, which may cause the conflict.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I still work outside of writing—I’m a nightshift ER nurse—so I write in the afternoons after I get up, or after doing chores if I didn’t work the night before. No, I don’t set words-per-day goals—that would make me anxious if I didn’t reach my goal. But I do watch the calendar and orient my life around when the deadline is, and start writing more hours as the deadline gets close. I always resolve to just write steadily along, but my process seems to work only as I just described it. I take about 6 months to write a 80-85,000 word book.
I’m going to talk about the book that was out in August, THE OUTLAW’S LADY, since my next book won’t be out for a year. It’s off the bookstore shelves, but it can still be ordered online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors, etc. It’s the story of Tess Hennessy, a lady photographer in the 1880’s in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and Sandoval Parrish, a half-Mexican, half-Texan who may or may not be an outlaw in the notorious Delgado band of raiders. Tess is kidnapped to photograph the exploits of Delgado. Sandoval, as well as a secondary character related to him—feel they are beyond forgiveness—so I would say my spiritual message is that no one is beyond God’s forgiveness.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
Many times it’s hard for an author to answer this question, unless they received the plot as a dream or something. I don’t know why I get ideas, and non-writers don’t, but then I don’t get the urge to paint or build a house, either. As for character names, I just pick names I like, but which were current for the period. Nothing throws me out of a story faster than the author using a name that I know was not current then. In historicals, the hero tends to have a name that’s very masculine or somehow out of the ordinary—they’re rarely ordinary, like "Bob" or "Bill," are they? Sometimes that can be overdone and become clichéd, like "Colt Travis" in a western. My female characters may have some similarity to personality characteristics I have, but it’s probably an unconscious thing. My heroines are certainly thinner, prettier, and sometimes richer than me!
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
Timely question in that I just got a royalty check for the first Christian historical I wrote that was out in Oct. ’08. It’s frustrating when a line seems to be selling so well, as Love Inspired Historicals is, yet the amount of the check is so small. Most of the money for me is still in my advance check. But publishers hold increasingly larger "reserves against returns"—i.e., they can hold back a large percentage of the royalty since booksellers can return unsold books for so long, but they must release the reserves held by the third check. Royalties are paid twice a year by my publisher. So the spring check hopefully will be larger, and since they sell all over the world in different languages, it should continue to earn out for a long time.
The only time I came really close to quitting was when I stopped being able to sell my historical romances (before I wrote Christian fiction.) I was ready to stop writing altogether, let my writing organization memberships lapse, etc. But I think it was a "God thing" when my agent urged me to try writing for the new line Love Inspired was planning to launch, Love Inspired Historicals. So now I’m working on my 5th book for them, writing under my own name, after selling 16 secular historicals as Laurie Grant.
Would you explain how you "chose" (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go "eenny, meenny, miny, moe?" Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
I write historicals because that’s what I like to read most. It probably helped that my editor for Love Inspired Historicals, Melissa Endlich, was my editor for Harlequin Historicals too. We already had a relationship, and she knew I turned in my manuscripts on time, was receptive to doing revisions, etc.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I love to read—that’s how most writers start. And I have to continue reading—it’s a deep innate need. I don’t understand when some authors say they’re too busy to read now. So collecting books seems to be my hobby. Outside of reading and email, I’m interested in my grandchildren (6), my dogs (3) and in history—all history, but especially Texas and medieval England . I’d love to see more of the West— Montana , Wyoming and Colorado —especially, and I always love going to Texas . I wouldn’t mind going to England , Ireland , Scotland and Wales again, or Australia and Europe . Then there’s cruises…I have more desire than money in that regard!
What do you have coming out in the future?
My next book, MAIL-ORDER COWBOY, out in November 2010, will be the start of a series called "Simpson Creek Brides." It’s about a town without eligible bachelors…and mail-order GROOMS. I’m enjoying writing those. Each story will stand alone, but it’ll be more fun if you read them in order.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?www.lauriekingery.com
My blog is right on that site. I love it when readers comment.
I’m also on Facebook, Goodreads, and Shoutlife, where I want to make friends and build relationships, rather than secure email addresses so as to "push my book" at people.
Thank you, Laurie for joining us today! Loved reading more about you and your books!