I’m delighted to have Lorena McCourtney on Faith~Driven Fiction today. If you missed it, I reviewed the first book in her Cate Kincaid series, Dying to Read, on Monday. She discusses her career path as a writer and some of the glitches (hilarious and otherwise) along the way.
Marji: Did you start out intending to become a professional author?
Lorena: My early interests were in horses and having a ranch, with the thought that if that didn’t work out, I could always be a writer. Another thought was that, in the meantime, I could use writing to earn enough money to get that ranch I wanted.
Marji: Wait, you started writing to earn money to do something else?
Lorena: Looking back, I can only shake my head at how incredibly naïve I was. Writing has to be one of the slowest routes on earth to accumulating wealth. And when I finally decided I wanted to be a writer, not a rancher, I soon found it was much more difficult than I’d blithely assumed.
Marji: Oh that’s funny, but I can relate. LOL! What other jobs have you had?
Lorena: I worked my way through college in a seed laboratory, then, after graduation with a degree in agriculture, was hired as an assistant to the editor of a couple of magazines published by a mid-western meat-packing company. Where I quickly discovered writing about raising hogs and making sausage was not how I wanted to spend my life. I went on to several mundane secretarial jobs and finally started a writing career doing short stories for children and teenagers. I liked doing this. I once did a series of 49 stories about “The Christian Cowgirls.” But, after my son got older, I felt a big disconnection with children and teenagers and turned to writing confessions. From there I moved on to book-length romances, then to Christian romances, and finally feel I’ve found my real home in Christian mysteries.
Lorena: I’ve always loved to read, and writing just seems to follow naturally. I’m a natural introvert, and I like being in my office alone but surrounded by all these characters I’ve created. But, at the same time, one of the best things about a writing career is hearing from readers and knowing the characters you’ve created are real for them too.
Marji: It doesn’t surprise me that you hear from readers about your characters. I love Cate Kincaid! What is one thing you don’t like about your career and why?
Lorena: Deadlines! I have something of a love/hate relationship with deadlines set by publishers. I hate the feeling of having to get a book done by such-and-such a date. Sometimes I feel a book needs more re-writing, but the deadline is there and I have to send in what’s written. But at the same time I like the fact that a deadline forces me to get something done. Without a deadline I tend to procrastinate and do way too much re-writing.
Marji: How has the rise of e-books affected you or your career?
Lorena: E-books have had a very favorable effect on my career. The books in my Ivy Malone Mysteries series have sold way more as ebooks than in print, and an older series , The Julesburg Mysteries, that I made available as ebooks, has a steady stream of sales.
Marji: Ten years ago, where did you think you would be at this point in your career?
Lorena: I know we’re supposed to look ahead and plan where our careers are going, but I’ve always just kind of muddled along, doing the best I can along the way. Of course I had some wild hopes, but I’m happy that a recent book (Dying to Read) made a New York Times bestseller list, and I’ve won various awards along the way. I’ve had 43 (or is it 44? book published) altogether.
Marji: Ten years from now, where do you expect to be in your career?
Lorena: At this point in life, after being a full-time writer for many years now, I’m looking toward retirement. Well, make that semi-retirement. I’m not sure a writer ever totally retires. I have a number of backlist books that I want to make available as e-books. Readers keep asking for more Ivy Malone books, so I intend to write something more in that series (as e-books). And then I have this idea for another mystery series. . . Well, as I said, I’m not sure a writer ever completely retires.
Marji: I hope that remains true of you, and I’m sure most of your readers will agree with me!
Lorena: Readers are so much fun! Earlier on it used to be the occasional letter from a reader, but now that everyone has e-mail, readers communicate a lot more. Although my Ivy Malone Mysteries are about an older woman who feels she has aged into invisibility, I’ve had enthusiastic e-mails from eleven-year-olds to 90-somethings. Being “invisible” seems to strike a chord with a lot of readers – including a surprising number of male readers.
Then there are the other surprises. One was a reader who mentioned, after she’d read my Julesburg Mysteries series (set in a fictional town on the Oregon coast), that her mother used to work there. Another reader mentioned that she recognized the section of an Arkansas town I wrote about, even though I’d changed the name to conceal it. I was glad it sounded realistic – because I’ve never been to Arkansas!
I try to answer personally every e-mail I receive. (Although there are those computer disasters, like a recent one in which I lost all my e-mail addresses more recent than 2011.) But if you write to me (look at my website http://www.lorenamccourtney.com for an address to connect with me), you’ll probably get an answer. And I’m always glad to have new friends on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/lorenamccourtney
Or come visit my website: http://www.lorenamccourtney.com
Lorena McCourtney started out with a degree in agriculture and the intention of writing non-fiction on agricultural subjects. But, as with many plans, life went in a different direction, and her writing turned into a career in fiction. She first wrote numerous children’s stories, then short stories for women. Romance novels followed, then a switch to Christian romances, and now she feels she’s found her real home in Christian romantic suspense.
Lorena and her husband live in southern Oregon, where their only livestock now is one eccentric cat.
Oh and don’t miss Lorena’s latest in the Cate Kincaid Files, Dolled Up to Die!