Thursday, October 1, 2015
She came to Foxxemoor to write a mystery, not to become part of one.
Back in the late sixties, early seventies, the books I loved to read—romantic suspense—were suddenly listed as “Gothics.” It took a long time for me to realize they’d lumped together all romantic suspense novels involving young women in peril at a castle/mansion, with romantic undertones. These could be set in the 17 or 1800’s or, as in Phyllis A. Whitney’s and Mary Stewart’s novel, modern day. I loved those books. So, when the idea came to have a character want to write a Gothic novel and put her in a similar situation in the present (sort of), giving a two-stories-in-one-effect---the play on the title seemed appropriate. ;)
How does the feel of this novel differ from your Bouncing Grandma mysteries?
The Bouncing Grandma mysteries are cozies, light, comedic mysteries that are . . . fun. An American Gothic is a serious romantic suspense with a kind of old-fashioned yet contemporary mix. I like to call it “classic romantic suspense.”
Your reviews make it clear that you write well in suspense. Does this come naturally, or have you studied the technique?
Why, thank you. Suspense is my original love. Mirrored Image is more a mystery/suspense, originally written about twenty-five years ago---Gothic about twenty years ago. Both have gone through a zillion incarnations to be where they are today. With Mirrored Image, I restricted myself a bit more. I think writing in third person does that to me. In Gothic, I prayed for God to use me, then let Him and the character Lyssie take over. A convoluted answer to your question (no, I’m not a politician). I used to be an avid reader. Devoured four or more books a week, all different forms of suspense. I guess that’s a form of studying.
Yes, it’s the most practical form of studying. You see what works in a story you enjoy. What do you plan to write next?
God willing, the next book will be a first person suspense. That’s the plan, anyway. I also want to finish a women’s fiction about spousal abuse and survival. Right now, they are just hopes and dreams, waiting for God to show me what I can do.
How much of yourself do you write in your characters? Though I don’t do it deliberately or consciously, since they are my creations—with a generous helping from God—I would imagine that to some extent they all have minute pieces of me. Glory Harper from the Bouncing Grandma Mysteries probably more than any of the others. Many of my characters have the same phobias I do. It’s easy to relate to something like that. But I don’t believe could have much of me—I’m too boring.
Is it okay to ask about your unusual challenges to writing? In fact, to life in general? Nearly three years ago, the many concussions I’ve had since I was a kid kinda caught up to me. It was bad enough when I had to use pencil erasers to type because the hypersensitivity in my fingertips often prevented me from doing it the normal way—but both of the Grandma books were written that way. God had shown me a way around the pain and difficulties—but my brain worked then (some people would disagree with this statement).
How do you continue to write despite your various health issues? The thing is, I don’t have an answer to that. An American Gothic was scheduled for publication five years ago, was ready to go and then fell through. When I signed with Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications, Gothic was first in line. After it was released, I started working on the two Bouncing Grandma mysteries and Mirrored Image for re-release. They’re all available now, and I feel awesome about that. But can I write again? I don’t know. I hope and pray so.
For the first time in three years, I’ve read a book—mine, but I read them both on the computer and in print form. It took a while, but I did it. That’s a monumental accomplishment for me. Just like doing these interviews. I’m composing, hoping I’m making sense, and praying that this is a lead-in to actually WRITING. I just have to wait and see.
Please give us a few lines of biography, Alice.
2010 ACFW Carol Award winning author, Alice K. Arenz, aka A.K. Arenz, has been writing since she was a child. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Award: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist)—all re-released by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications. Her newest book, a mystery/romantic suspense, An American Gothic was released in August 2015. Visit her at her website www.akawriter.com