Thursday, October 1, 2015

She came to Foxxemoor to write a mystery, not to become part of one.

Devastated by the death of a child in her care, Lyssie's heart strings are tugged when she finds another child in danger. Amid past secrets, lies, and betrayals of an old college friend's family, she must choose a twin brother to trust. If she makes the wrong decision, she could not only lose her own life, but also the life of the child she's come to love.
Welcome, Alice K Arenz, and congratulations on the publication of An American Gothic. It’s such a pleasure to offer one fortunate person in the lower forty-eight states a print copy. Where did the title come from?
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
In her great generosity, Alice has offered ebooks of her other publications IF there is a good response to this blog. So leave us a message and your email address (so I'll be able to notify you of a gift) disguised like Lee(no spaces)Carver2 at aol dot com. Answer this question: How strong a suspense novel do you enjoy? Tingling, awake-all-night reading, on the ledge? And does it need romance to keep you really interested?


Anonymous said...

Great interview and a fantastic book! I'm so impressed by all you have accomplished with everything you are going through---you are an inspiration!

Carlene Havel said...

What an inspiring interview. My heart goes out to Alice in admiration for her perseverance.

Author Peggy Blann Phifer said...

Thanks, Lee, for this great interview with my online BFF :)
Alice and I go back a ways and I'm so excied over her new success with An American Gothic, and the re-releases of her other books.
Go, Alice! I'm so proud of you.

Bonnie Engstrom said...

I have read all of Alice's books except one. She is a fantastic writer, especially good at capturing the nuances of her characters. I am constantly intrigued by her diversity, writing humor and serious suspense.I pray God is moving to heal her and to nudge her to write more.

Bonnie Engstrom

Cathy Elliott said...

Thanks for the nice interview with Alice, a fine writer! The other day, a friend was telling me about a new book he was reading & how much he liked it. Turned out it was AMERICAN GOTHIC! The word is getting out. I better get to reading it myself! :-)

Anne Baxter Campbell said...

I love your writing, Alice--please, Lord, let her continue!
Hugs and prayers, my friend!

Lee Carver said...

Remember, people who leave a comment in hopes of receiving the free book must also leave contact information.

Carol Bruce Collett said...

Great interview. Alice, praying your health continues to improve. I have all your books, so don't need to be entered in the contest. Can't wait to read American Gothic!!

Lee Carver said...

May I suggest that Alice's friends spread the word to your friends about this post? I'll keep the drawing open another week.

Lee Carver said...

Alice writes me that she has had difficulty leaving a comment. I know how frustrating this can be. Every time I successfully post a comment, I get an email that it didn't post. I've learned to ignore that. She asked me to post this message: Thank you all so very much for your wonderful comments and stopping by. God Bless, Alice

Nancy Herring said...

I enjoyed the interview and am looking forward to reading some of Alice's work. In answer to your question; I enjoy all levels of suspense in a novel and added romance is a plus for me. I really enjoy the combination on the two. Blesssings, Nancy

Lee Carver said...

And the winner of a print copy of "An American Gothic" is Nancy Herring. Thank you for participating, Nancy. I'm sure you'll enjoy this novel.