Carol Steward’s interview

» Posted on Apr 9, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Carol Steward’s interview

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1. What made you start writing?

That’s a little like asking which came first the chicken or the egg? I’ve always written, just not fiction. I was “newsletter editor” for several organizations as my kids were growing up and had a lot of comments on how much the readers enjoyed the newsletters that I worked on and wrote for.

I didn’t read much fiction when my kids were growing up because I was so busy with everything else. My mom gave me a few New York Times bestselling novels and after reading a few, I secretly started writing this story that had been “writing itself” in my heart for years. This one story wouldn’t let me go. Finally I started writing it out, hoping it would leave me alone. It didn’t. I even prayed that God would take away the desire to write romance. He didn’t.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

It was about fourteen years ago that I showed my husband and my best friend my first story. I’m not sure what I expected exactly. I think I wanted them to say it was terrible so I could tell that little voice to get lost. Instead, they both saw promise in the story and encouraged me to keep working on it. This was at the point I needed to come to terms with this gift, I realize now. So while I was praying for God to quiet the voice in my head, He had other plans. Instead, He guided me to about four critique group, two writing organizations and opened up a place in the publishing world for the stories that He has put upon my heart. That book that wouldn’t leave me alone was my first novel, There Comes a Season. I started it in longhand moved to a word processor, and had to retype it three times when I was learning to use a computer. God was pretty determined that I was going to get that book “right” and even opened the doors to Steeple Hill Books when the time was right. At that point I’d been “learning” to write for about four years. I honestly never expected it to end up selling.

3. How do you handle rejections?

I celebrated my first rejection. Even though I didn’t have this plan to become published, I knew that all “real” authors were rejected. So I’m a little odd that way. I wasn’t doing this for my own satisfaction. Even now, I realize that not every idea is going to hit the right mark. I have two or three stories that I still want to tell, but I guess it’s just not their time to be told yet.

4. Why do you write?

I can’t answer that. Unlike so many authors, I don’t consider myself a storyteller. I’m not really sure, except that God seems to have given me this imagination that won’t stop. It sleeps long enough for Him to refill my cup, and then we’re off again on another adventure. Sometimes the cup takes longer to fill than others, depending on the trials that God is getting me through in my ‘real’ life. My writing life is still somehow more of a dream.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

First, I’d play with my grandchildren and redecorate my house. Garden, finish the counted cross-stitch I started while I was waiting to hear if my first book sold. If I weren’t ever to write another book, I’m sure God would find some new project for me. God didn’t give me a “sit still” gene. Sometimes my family wishes He would have!

6. What are you working on right now?

IN THE LINE OF FIRE is a series about four siblings working in different areas of the justice system who find love while struggling to keep peace in their communities and in their family. Drugs, assault, and corruption are all part of the Matthews family’s daily battles. Someone is terrorizing Northern Colorado communities throughout the series; assaulting, kidnapping, and eventually killing female victims and threatening even the heroes’ and heroines’ safety. Will the forces against the Matthews siblings break through their armor of faith (Ephesians 6: 10-17), or will they overcome the enemy, allowing God’s light to shine?

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

That’s kind of a dangerous question. I don’t know if all authors do, but I suspect it’s natural that we would draw from what we know. I try not to limit my characters actions to react the way I would in a similar situation, but I suspect there’s a lot of my own experience and struggles instilled within my fiction.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

In His Sights is book four of the Reunion Revelations continuity series. Reunion Revelations brings friends back together at their 10-year college reunion. Soon thereafter, during a construction project, a skeleton is discovered. The classmates begin to try to figure out who the victim could have been. In the process they reveal dark secrets about several people on campus. In His Sights is the story of Dee Owens, a public relations specialist who is hired by the hero, Edgar Ortiz, Assistant Director of Admissions, to spin the damage caused by the murder investigation and accompanying scandals.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

The same for all writers, write what you believe, what you have a passion for, and what you want to read, and from there, do research to make the facts right and the story believable. The market moves too fast to try to write to follow a trend, and life is far too crazy to spend this much time doing something you don’t enjoy!

10. How important is faith in your books?

Without faith, my books wouldn’t exist, so whether obvious or not, faith in God is part of all of my writing. When I was “learning” to write that first novel, an editor came to Colorado to do an intensive all day workshop on writing the synopsis. We were to bring the synopsis for our current work in progress. I spent all week taking out all evidence that this was a Christian novel since she was not an editor for a Christian line. She zeroed right in on it, and told me that the company would be opening a new inspirational line soon and told me to call and find out who to send the synopsis to. So evidently, even when I try, I can’t take faith out of my stories. Not all of my characters are at the same place in their spiritual lives, and I try to write with the same sensitivity that I live my daily life. Faith is a deep part of who I am, but I don’t feel comfortable telling others what they should believe. The last thing I want to do is to turn anyone away from searching for God’s plan for their life. I’ve seen people turn off of Christianity by a well-meaning messenger who says the wrong thing at the wrong time. I try to respect that God didn’t give me the gift of preaching, he gave me the gift of writing. I know He has a plan for my writing, just like He has a plan for those whose gift is to handle the faith-message in a much stronger voice. I’m okay with that. Very okay.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

I suppose forgiveness is probably my most common. I don’t pay much attention to theme as I’m writing, lest I journey into that “un-gift” of preaching.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

They are all unique and special, but I think one of my favorites was Second Time Around. It was a reunion story. Then again, I also love writing suspense. Her Kind of Hero was my first journey toward suspense, and while it’s nowhere near as suspenseful as the new Love Inspired Suspense, I still love it.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

I work full time as an administrative assistant at a state university, so I sit for long periods of time. Because of that, I have to stay on a strict schedule. When I come home from work, I need to have a little time to turn off the editor from my day job and switch gears. After dinner and some time to stretch and get ready to sit again and try to become creative. I try to read a little of the writing from the previous day and get into the mindset of my characters again. I turn on some music and pray that the words will come.

14. For Love Inspired you write for both the regular line and the suspense line. Which one do you like to do the most and why?

I’ve written 8 books for Love Inspired Romance but that was before they created the Love Inspired Suspense line. I wrote two “suspense” novels for the regular line, hoping for the day when Steeple Hill would start a suspense line. Finding Amy was part of the continuity series that Love Inspired issued to see how gritty of stories the readers would enjoy reading. It was a hit. Unfortunately, crime and evil are as much a part of society as love and peace. Readers want to see how justice can prevail, how our faith can survive such dark times.

I seem to fit nicely with suspense, so for now, I’ll continue to write what’s working. I think it’s a good place for me, but God certainly may have other plans in mind, and that’s okay too.