Renee here. Please help me welcome author Lillian Duncan to the Block.
Can you tell us where you are from?
I'm from a small town in Ohio. We're located about half-way between Columbus and Cleveland. When I say small I mean small. There's one traffic light. I love living in a town where I know the names of the people I see on a regular basis, like the store owner, the librarians, and the pharmacist. And in fact it’s one of the themes in Pursued.
I like that your town was an inspiration for your book. Speaking of, tell us about your upcoming release.
So, when did you start writing?
I know this is going to sound a bit strange, but I've always "made up" stories in my head when I was bored. Very detailed stories with characters and problems and happy endings. After two very specific events, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Oh, these are the stories I should be writing down so I started writing that day and I haven't stopped since.
Not so strange if you talk with other writers. How long have you been writing? Have you ever felt like giving up?
I started writing 16 years ago when I was 40. Yikes, that makes me so...never mind. And absolutely, I wanted to give up many, many times. And in fact, I did give up many times but I always started up again.
I don't know any writer who hasn't felt that way. The uncertainty of becoming a published writer can be frustrating and overwhelming at times to say the least. But if being a writer is your dream, you have to keep writing and waiting...and waiting...and.....
I'm in the uncertainty camp at the moment, but like you said if it's your dream you have to keep writing. How many books have you published?
PURSUED is my fourth book to be published, but the first with White Rose Publishing. But in many ways, I consider it to be my debut novel since it's my first book with what is considered a "traditional" publisher.
Wow, four. How long does it take you to write a book?
That's a question I get asked quite often and it’s really hard question to answer. First, the story rumbles around in my head for awhile and then I might write a few chapters and stop. If the story goes away, I give up on in for the moment but will go back to it somtime in the future. But if the story stays with me and I can't get it off my mind, then I start writing it more seriously. At that point it may take 2-3 months to get the first draft written and then it can take forever to edit, revise, and polish.
I understand taking forever on the polishing. I guess it helps to have some sort of schedule. What does your writing schedule look like?
I try to write every day even if it's only for 30 minutes or so. Most work days during the school year (my day job is a Speech Pathologist in a school) I write for an hour or so. I work part-time so on my non-work days, I will at least write for 3-4 hours at least two of the days I'm off work. In the summer, again, I try to work 3-4 hours most days but so far this summer, I’m working more like 6-8 hours each day.
6-8 hours? For some reason I can't write until after the sun sets. What would you say is an interesting writing quirk you have?
I think my quirk is the fact I don't have a quirk. I sit down at my computer and I write and write and write. I hear other writers complaining about how difficult the creative process is and I think I must be doing something wrong because I just sit down and the story comes to me one scene at a time.
I often plot stories around a title I've come up with. How did you come up with your title Pursued?
The original title was Just An Old Country Boy but that didn't sound very suspenseful so I changed it to Pursued. In the story, Reggie is being pursued by an unknown killer, by the hero, and by God, so it made sense to me as a title.
Tell us about your hero and heroine.
My hero, Dylan, is a good old boy with a heart of gold who just wants to make life better for everyone around him. He's sweet and kind, but in a very manly way! Reggie can be a little difficult at times, but she has her reasons. You have to admire her for all she's overcome in her life.
Is there a message in your novel?
One of the messages I want people to get is to be open to learning from, developing relationships, and loving people who are different from ourselves. God made us different for a reason. And one of the reasons is it makes life a lot more interesting and fun!
I am, of course, a bookworm and my husband is an outdoorsy sort of man who likes to fish and garden and do other things that gets his hands dirty. In many ways, we are very opposite of each other, but together we have a wonderful and fun marriage.
What makes this book special to you?
This book is about friendship. The kind of friendship where you put your life on hold to help someone in trouble. And that's what Jesus was talking about when He told us to love our neighbors--and our enemies. And since this book was about friendships, many of the secondary characters in the book were named after friends who were important to me in one way or another but died much too young.
Is this book based on something that happened to you or someone you know?
Absolutely not. I've never known anyone who was chased by killers.
I'm making a call here and saying that is a good thing. What books have most influenced your life?
Dick and Jane, Curious George, Pippi Longstocking, and The Cat In The Hat to name a few. I wish I could give a list of profound literary books but the truth is the first books I ever read changed my life. They opened up a new world to me. They created a lifelong reader who loved books so much that she wanted to create her own.
Oh, I love those titles. I'd forgotten how much Curious George has inspired me. What makes Pursued a must read?
If you love suspense or romance, then this is the book for you. The suspense plot will keep you reading past your bedtime and the romance will make you say "aaahhh."
I love a good romance and I crave suspense in all the books I read. Do you have a person you consider a mentor?
I don't have one specific person whom I consider a mentor but I do have several critique partners whom I go to for advice and help as well as encouragement and support. By the way I would love to have a mentor so if there are any writers out there wanting to mentor, look me up.
Oh, yeah my hand is raised too. I'd love a mentor. So, what is you next project?
I have another book coming out in the fall, DECEPTION. It's full of intrigue and action. Along with that I'm working on three other manuscripts in varying stages that will hopefully become books in the future including a sequel to PURSUED.
I've noticed that as I write sequels I find minor things that I would have changed to previous stories. If you could what would you change about Pursued?
Nothing. I love the characters and the story. So much so that I’m working on a sequel to PURSUED right now.
That's great that you love your story and characters. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I spend time with my wonderful husband and our menagerie of animals. We have two dogs and four parrots so home can be a noisy place at times. In the summer, we like to camp Again, there's that outdoorsy thing I never would have tried without my husband's encouragement. In the winter, I'm on a bowling league--not that I'm any good at it, but it is fun. And last but not least, and I hate to admit it but I like to watch TV--especially the crime shows. Go figure!
Oh, I love crime shows. What does your family think of your writing?
I’ve been blessed with a very encouraging and supportive family. My husband is an enabler (in a good way). He cooks and does most of the household chores so I can find the time to write. He's been such a wonderful gift from God for so many reasons.
Does your husband hire out? Just kidding. Gotta love my dh in all his supportive ways, but there are times when I wish he'd cook so I could write. Taking care of a household can be a destruction to my writing. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
I hate thinking up names for my characters. I once wrote a manuscript and as I was editing it, I realized I had used the name of the characters and actors from the old TV series Gunsmoke. I had Miss Kitty, Matt Dillon, Amanda Blake, and James Arness. But no Festus!
Lol! I've had a few Matt Dillons. Who is your favorite author and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love most of the suspense writers but two of my favorites are Terri Blackstock and Brandilynn Collins. I love their books because they are all about the story and the suspense and yet they manage to weave in a spiritual lesson along the way without the reader feeling like they are being preached at.
What is the hardest part of writing a book?
I love writing and rewriting my book but...after about the eighth or ninth time, it's gets a bit tiring.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I think I lost count at eight. hopefully I'll learn how to cut those revisions down to four or five. Did you learn anything from writing this book?
I actually learned a lot from this book. It was the first book I had critiqued with the large critique group from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Critiquing is a very humbling process. In the beginning of the critiquing process, I thought the others didn't know what they were talking about. By the middle, I thought I should give up writing forever. By the end, I knew I was a much better writer than I'd been at the beginning. And the proof is that this became my debut novel with a traditional publisher.
Do you have any advice for others who want to write?
Read as much as possible. Write as much as possible. Along with that, I’d say find a critique group. It makes ll the difference. And never, ever give up your dream to be a writer.
Great advice! Do you have anything you'd like to say to your readers?
I just want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to entertain them.
How can readers contact you?
My website is: http://www.lillianduncan.net/
Thank you, Lillian for being here with us today.