ICRS 2014 brought several
authors to Atlanta. While it’s impossible to catch up with all, let’s
peek into what’s going on in the world of Christian fiction with
excerpts from the following interviews.
Angela Hunt shared
a message she hopes people will take away from her latest release, Passing
There is an angel character, the
man with Morgan Freeman’s voice. At one point Janette is sitting there
feeling sorry for herself, and he says, “... you’re not the only one
suffering from heartache. The people you passed as you walked out this
morning—your eyes only grazed the woman whose son is in prison for
life, you nearly tripped over the foot of a young mother who just
miscarried her baby, and you barely noticed the old man who is so
lonely he comes downtown just to be near other people.” And of course
he knew, because he was a supernatural being, what was going on all
around her, and he reminded her how much she missed by focusing only on
herself. I think, especially when we’re not dealing with a problem, we
sit and we’re fine, but we still don’t pay any attention to the people
around us! Maybe you’re sitting somewhere and there’s a woman who is
quietly crying. How many of us would even have the courage to go up and
say, “Can I help you with anything?” A lot of us think, “That would be
too intrusive, too personal. It would be prying. I can’t do that!” I
think we’re all on this planet together, and we ought to pay attention
to passing strangers.
Cynthia Ruchti discussed
the theme from All My Belongings of laying down our
lives and doing the hard thing, even when it isn’t convenient.
There have been caregiving times
with my sick kids or grandkids that were hard to get through. Sometimes
it can be as a new mom getting up with a newborn and wondering if he
will ever sleep through the night! A little bit of
reflection when I went through that time in 2012 caring for my husband
after an injury and he needed total caregiving. There were days when I
behaved very well as a caregiver and other days that I did not. In the
middle of all that was that call to lay down my life. There’s that
call! But we are so good at ignoring that call. I love how the friends
in All My Belongings lay down their lives for one
another. How the core group of men—strong, tough, rugged, funny men—try
to hold one another accountable. And when there was a crisis, they were
there because they were laying down whatever was on their schedules for
whatever the need. There’s a lot of that in the novel. Some of it I
didn’t even realize until I was done with the book, and I traced back
and saw that it came up again and again and again.
author of Hallowed Halls, shared that she’s a
combination plotter and pantser. I asked if she hears her character’s
voices in her head.
No, but I have seen some of my
characters on the street. Went running after one! And Mel went right
along behind me. “Mel, that’s Lauren!” Lauren McCaffrey, from one of
our old medical books. “It’s Lauren, it’s really her! Wait a minute! I
can’t go up and talk to her.
She’s going to freak out!” I
have cried with my characters as I write. And I found myself praying
for one of them. It’s really creepy when you think about it!
final book in her Private Justice series, Deceived, releases in
October. She shares about an unusual experience she had writing one of
I can’t say I’ve ever been
totally surprised by the direction of a story, because it evolves
naturally, and I let it go where it needs to go. I don’t try to control
it that much. I have been surprised, occasionally, by my characters.
One of my darkest villains was really spooky and he scared me. I
thought I knew him pretty well, and then five or six chapters in, he
revealed he had killed his mother, which I had no idea he had done! I
stopped typing in the middle of the page and said, “You did what?” But
it made him a much more interesting character. The way the writer’s
mind thinks is pretty weird sometimes!
author of Full Steam Ahead, discussed her unusual
I’m also one of those strange
authors who likes to edit as I go. I don’t have a big session of
writing creatively and then going back to layer and fix it. I’m a
perfectionist. If I can’t find the right word, I will sit there and
work on that word until it comes to me, and then I’ll move on! So I
pretty much write one draft. I send each chapter to my critique
partners, so I polish it as I go. When it’s The End, it’s the end, and
I submit it. Of course, I get my editorial feedback and go back and
make changes based on that. I’m odd. I think I’m in the low percentage
of authors who do it that way!
debut novel and 2014 Christy finalist, Dear Mr. Knightley,
will be followed by Lizzy and Jane in October. She
shares her thoughts on being an author.
The community is amazing. I
didn’t really expect so many interactions with readers. So many new
friends who are writers. So many friends in the industry. Everyone is
welcoming, generous with their time, their knowledge, their support,
and their love. That’s been incredible. I love what
I do! I love wrestling with different aspects of faith and presenting
it in different contexts for both Christians and non-Christians. I’m
finding that there is a lot of nonfiction that goes into fiction, and I
love bringing those themes in, hopefully in subtle enough ways, so they
feel organic to the characters and to our lives.
writes award-winning suspense. Her second Hidden Identity novel, Nowhere
to Turn, releases in September. She shares the most bizarre
experience she’s had as an author.
I visited the morgue. My
mother-in-law was a hospital nurse before she retired and was good
friends with the morgue technician. The technician took me on a tour of
the morgue and pulled out an unidentified John Doe, only he was just
bones. She showed me how they identify different things, such as age,
and how they know it’s a male, medical stuff. Then she put him away and
got a call that they were bringing in two car-wreck victims. And she
knew one of them. It was an older lady who had been a nurse at the
hospital and had been hit and killed by a drunk driver. It was awful
but it was interesting, too, if you can remove yourself from the
emotional aspect of it to see what she had to do to prepare for them to
come in. She also showed me all the autopsy stuff and explained how she
used the saw and opened people’s heads. It sounds sick, but it was
author of the Heroines Behind the Lines series, including the recent Yankee
in Atlanta, talks about the challenge of writing Civil War
I love research, but battle
details, for example, can get tedious. I only put as much in as my
character would experience, which means I don’t have to explain the
generals’ strategies and exactly how many troops were where, etc.
Plenty of other books do that. I strive to boil the Civil War down to
the personal experiences of my characters. What did they feel, see,
hear, smell, taste? If it’s personal to them, and only if it helps move
the plot forward, it will probably be interesting. If it isn’t, I chop
it out. I have pages and pages of “chopped copy” that just didn’t make
the cut. Battle scenes are always hard. Especially after writing the
Gettysburg book, it was a challenge for me to describe shooting, being
wounded, artillery, etc., in a
different way. I want the scenes to be
vivid but not graphic. The scenes that made me cry or feel sick to my
stomach were the ones in which Ruby’s son is in danger, and one in
which a group of deserters were executed.
lead singer of Anthem Lights, has a Christian fiction connection with
his upcoming movie The Song.
I am passionate about this film.
It’s about a musician who’s touring and gone from home a lot, and all
the things that goes with that. I’ve been there. I play Jed, and in the
film he asks Rose to come with him on multiple occasions. He’s
attempting to do everything he can to hold this thing together, and it
goes awry. What I love about this movie from a marriage perspective is
that it shows the flip side as well. But I drew from those similarities
and conversations I’ve had with my wife, frustrations and ongoing
issues we’ve had and what that does to a relationship. It was very
exciting for me to be able to use those experiences to help encourage
other people to prioritize their marriages. The film releases September
26, and there will also be a novelization, which will release between
the film and the DVD releases. "We've been talking with the author,
Chris Fabry, and he's been coming up with some back story. "We’re
excited to see what he does.