Lorena McCourtney impressed me from the first book I read which she had written. I had intended to read additional books she wrote but, soon afterwards, became introduced to the works of authors such as Max Lucado, Dee Henderson, Deborah Bedford, Terri Blackstock, Kristen Heitzmann, Karen Kingsbury and a few others. Though I haven't read every book each of these authors have penned, the journey was too long before I made my way back to Lorena McCourtney.
When reading through Lorena's listing at Amazon, the character of Ivy Malone caught my attention so the first book I read to re-acquaint myself with this fabulous author was Invisible. In spite of featuring other authors and their books, I know I'll never go that long before picking up a book Lorena McCourtney has written - unless I read them all and she stops writing. Then I will have no choice but to take an indefinite break; I pray that doesn't happen.
I must admit that, when I first contacted Lorena McCourtney through e-mail about a potential interview, I wondered if she would respond. Not because it was Lorena but because she has so many books to her credit that I thought she wouldn't have time to consider any requests from relatively unknown me. I must admit to rejoicing when she not only responded but agreed to do an interview! I felt I had won the lottery - though I really must admit that it's how I imagined I'd feel if I won a lottery, since I have no personal experience to back up such a statement.
I must admit that Lorena McCourtney has a sense of humor and it's refreshing. Every time I read an e-mail, she gives me something to smile, or laugh, about. Strangely, I don't get the feeling she is laughing on the other end so it's comparable to dry humor, I guess - when a person can talk as though nothing out of the ordinary is being said and the person standing nearby explodes in gales of laughter. She truly is a breath of fresh air and I still can't believe she e-mails little ole' me.
Anyway, she took time out of her busy writing schedule and decided to answer a few questions for me; I'm excited to share her responses below.
Norma: What does being an author mean to you?
Lorena: Sometimes I think that when the talents were being handed out I must have been off in a corner reading a book, because I certainly got shorted on most of them. No musical, artistic, athletic or teaching talents. No talent for doing crafts, mathematics, or a lot of other things. But I did get a smidgen of talent for writing, and so what being an author means to me is that I can use that bit of talent for serving God.
Norma: When did you first realize that you wanted to write and publish a book? How old/young were you at the time?
Lorena: I made my first attempt at writing a book when I was in the 6th grade. I don't remember the story line, but the title was, "Rodeo Summer." It did not survive for posterity, which is probably a good thing. Later I wrote a lot of children's short stories, and some women's short stories before getting around to doing a book. Being a writer/author was not my big ambition in life, however. Horses and ranching were my big interest (I have a B.S. degree in agriculture!) and my naive attitude was, "Well, if those don't work out, I can always be a writer." When I actually decided I wanted to write, I found out, of course, that being a writer was way harder than I figured.
Norma: From its inception, how long did it take you to write and publish your first book? Was the experience mostly rewarding or filled with varying levels of frustration?
Lorena: "First book" gets kind of confusing! Years ago I wrote many children's short stories. One just got longer and became a book that did get published. (Never to be heard of since.) Then I wrote a couple of Gothic romances that were sold, but the publisher went out of business before they were published. Then a friend put me in touch with her agent, and I started writing a historical romance set in France. After a half dozen chapters, the agent and I both decided historical books were not for me. He suggested I try a contemporary romance, which I did. I consider that one my first "real book." It was published by Dell in a romance line that no longer exists. So I'd say that altogether the experience was both rewarding and frustrating.
Norma: Are you currently writing another book which you hope to publish at some point? If so, we'd love to hear more about it.
Lorena: I have a contract to write a new 3-book mystery series for Revell. The series is called, The Cate Kinkaid Files, and the first book is, "Dying to Read." Cate hasn't been able to find a job for almost a year, and out of desperation, she accepts her uncle's offer for a fill-in job with his private investigative agency. Her first assignment is supposed to be easy and uncomplicated - but she all too soon finds herself up to her armpits in killers. The first book is scheduled for release in August of 2012.
Norma: If you have published multiple titles, which book is your favourite and why? If you can't decide on one favourite, that's OK; break the rules and give us two or three.
Lorena: I've had 41 books published, and I'm fond of most of them. I don't have a single favorite book, but my Ivy Malone character is definitely my favorite. Ivy was written because I began to notice that as I got older, I was becoming more and more invisible. I did a little research on this and found a lot of women felt this way, including some rather well-known women whom I wouldn't have thought of as "invisible." I've done four books about Ivy: Invisible, In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded, and I'm planning a Book #5, if I can ever squeeze in the time to write it. Since the Ivy books have been published, I've heard from a good many women, not all of them particularly old, who certainly identify with that feeling of invisibility.
Norma: Who has been a major source of inspiration for you as a writer/author?
Lorena: That would be my mother. She never wrote any books, but when I was a girl she was writing and selling articles to magazines. So I grew up knowing that you could write something, send it off to a magazine, and they might send you money and publish it.
Norma: What is your ultimate dream, in terms of being a writer/author?
Lorena: I used to think about the big bestseller lists, but I've come to see that as less important. I find that my greatest satisfaction in writing comes from hearing from readers. How they've enjoyed my books, how the books have brightened some difficult time in their lives or impacted their lives in some way.
Norma: What is one of your favourite quotes? It can be from a book you wrote or something you heard throughout your life. If you did not write it, please cite the source, if possible.
Lorena: There are so many favorite Bible verses that I couldn't begin to list them all. But one that has long been a favorite is Philippians 4:6 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
On a lighter level, concerning the current publishing world, I like a quote I believe came from Elmore Leonard about the dangers of your literary work being stolen or pirated: "Piracy isn't my problem; obscurity is." I relate to that!
Norma: Tell us a little about your life. What does an average day look like?
Lorena: My average day would have to be titled: The Unglamorous Life of an Everyday Author.
After breakfast with my husband, I get to the computer. My intention is always to jump right into writing, but I usually think I'll take just a peek at my e-mail first. Sometimes it is just a peek, but just as often I spend about half the morning with email from friends and readers and various lists I'm on. When I do get into writing, I go over what I wrote the previous day, or sometimes the last several days. On a bad day, I delete most of what I wrote before. On a good day I just do some minor revisions and then get into the actual writing.
I don't do complicated outlining, which means I sometimes write my characters into a corner or get headed in a wrong direction and have to backtrack. Some days I spend my time not actually writing but in trying to figure out where the story is going. (If all this sounds rather disorganized, I'm afraid it is!) I don't have any daily word count goal. I simply work until about 4:00 (my mind tends to turn to mush about that time) and take a walk if the weather isn't bad. In the evening, I usually tackle what remains of the e-mail that needs attention.
Norma: What are three of your favourite hobbies?
Lorena: I don't know that I actually have "hobbies." I do collect pocket knives and spurs, if that counts, but it isn't something I put much effort into. If I see something I like, I add it to my collection. As for doing things that might count as hobbies, we enjoy prowling around yard sales and flea markets, and I like walking. And for relaxation, it's reading, of course. Reading will win out every time over TV.
Norma's closing thoughts: Lorena, it's an absolute pleasure getting to know you. In fact, given your love for horses and ranching, I'm sure you and my oldest daughter would get along famously. She adores horses and always dreamed of being a rancher - an impossible feat in Arctic Canada. I look forward to reading more of your work over the coming weeks and months and look forward to a blessed friendship continuing to develop between us. May God richly bless you in your endeavors!