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Lorena McCourtney is the award-winning author of Whirlpool, Riptide, and Undertow (the Julesburg Mysteries) and dozens of  novels.  Her best-selling work has drawn acclaim from both the Romance Writers of America and the American Library Association's Booklist. Her series include the cozy mystery series, the Ivy Malone Series and her latest cozy mystery, An Andi McConnell Mystery Series.  She resides in Oregon.

Favorite Scripture Verse: Philippians 4:6 (NIV) - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

 

 Our Interview with Lorena McCourtney


 

What led you to become a CBA author?

I started out writing children’s stories, mostly for the Sunday School publications. A need to earn more money (unfortunately, one of the necessities of life!) led me into women’s short stories and then romance novels, all the while promising, yes, Lord, I will get back into Christian writing eventually.  Then, after 24 published romances, He made it plain that this was the time. So I abruptly quit secular romances and turned to Christian fiction. First Christian romances and now Christian mysteries, with just a smidgen of romance.

How did you come up with the concept for Your Chariot Awaits?

I happened to read an article in the local newspaper about a new limousine service business starting in our small town. My thought then was, hmmm, is there a mystery story in this somewhere? Then, at  a car show, I spotted a limousine for sale. I’d never ridden in one so I looked it over quite thoroughly. I was especially intrigued by the huge trunk – the perfect spot for a body!  Oh, yes, definitely a mystery story, several mystery stories in fact, in the situation of a lady with a limousine.

 

Is any part of Your Chariot Awaits factual?

The book certainly has elements of fact.   The setting, the small town of Vigland in Washington, is based on a real town in the Puget Sound area of the state.   The crime behind the murder is one that has affected many people.

How closely is this Your Chariot Awaits based on your life?

I can’t say that any of the story, other than that some elements of  Andi McConnell’s character, are based on my life.   None of the events specifically happened to me.   Your Chariot Awaits is my 39th book, so if I’d been basing books on my life, I’d have run out of life a long time ago!

How long did Your Chariot Awaits take you to complete?

Approximately nine months, which is the usual amount of time I allow to write a book. 

Do you have a favorite character? Why?

 I feel quite attached to all the characters I write about. In Your Chariot Awaits, I’ve had fun with all of them, especially the former TV detective “Fitz.”

 

How much research did Your Chariot Awaits take?

A surprising amount, actually, since it isn’t a highly technical book.   But it seemed as if every few pages I’d run across some point I had to research.   Limousines, of course,  and what it takes to be a limo driver.   I also researched bulletproof glass, stolen identity crimes, the Puget Sound area of Washington, job hunting, charter sailboats, search warrants, date rape drugs, Rolex watches, computer flash drives, emergency childbirth, police searches – and daisies. 

Do you prefer to write Cozy Mysteries?

I especially enjoy the freedom in cozy mysteries to take a fun, lighthearted approach to the mystery, and to inject a little humor, rather than being deadly serious all the time.   I enjoyed doing this in my Ivy Malone Mysteries series and look forward to it in my Andi McConnell Mysteries series.  (Your Chariot Awaits is the first book in this series.)   However, I also did a considerably more intense and serious series with The Julesburg Mysteries.   So, who knows?   I may do more along that line someday too. 

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Meeting deadlines, for one!   Balancing a writing life with a normal home life, so my husband doesn’t feel neglected because I’m spending too much time on the computer.   Taking care of the publicity and promotional type duties that go along with being an author.   Trying to improve my craft.   Trying to write to glorify the Lord, not to glorify me as writer.

 

How many books will be in the Andi McConnell Mystery Series?

Five books are planned for the series.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

At the moment, I still have three more books to write in the Andi McConnell series, so that’s going to keep me busy for quite some time yet.   Beyond that, my mind, like the minds of most authors, is teeming with projects I’d like to try “someday.”

 

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

My mother.   She never sat me down and tried to teach me how to write, but even back in grade school, when I first started trying to write, she always encouraged me.   She also, having written a number of magazine articles herself, could show me how to prepare a manuscript and how to submit it.   Which enabled me to make my first magazine sale while still in high school, an article titled “Dad Has Plans” which was published in a magazine then called The Alaska Sportsman.   The article was about my father’s wish to move to Alaska, which, as soon as my parents got me through college and married, they did.

 

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

I think the first thing any writer has to be is a reader.   This seems obvious, but I’ve had letters from author-hopefuls saying something such as they don’t really read mysteries, but they think it would be a good field to break into, and how do they go about it?  

1)    So my first advice is read, particularly in the area in which you wish to write. When you read a book that is great and really holds your attention, read it again, slowly, and try to figure out why it’s great. You can also do this in reverse: when you read a book that strikes you as awful, dissect it to figure out why it’s awful.

2)    The second point of advice is persistence. I know, we occasionally hear about a debut writer who strikes it big instantly, but there are a good many more successful writers who’ve spent years getting to be the success they are today. Hang in there!

 

What message would you like your readers to take away from this book?

That sixty can be a beginning, not an end!   It’s never too late in life for a new occupation, a new love, and a new relationship with the Lord.

 

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To serve the Lord with my writing.   Not by filling it with preaching but by writing books with a solid Christian foundation that readers will find both uplifting and entertaining.