1. Tricia: Lenora, when I was checking out your books on your website, the images of covers went on and on. Just how many books have you written? Who is your publisher?
Lenora: I’ve written 30 books. Working on number 31 right now! I started out with Avalon, then Leisure. But I found my heart with Steeple Hill. I was in on the launch of Love Inspired and I’ve been there since. In 2007, Steeple Hill will celebrate ten years!
2. Tricia: There are many people who don’t think the words “inspirational” and “romance” go together. What do you say to that?
Lenora: I say, bless their hearts, they just don’t get it. God wants us to find love and a mate for life. Isn’t that romantic? Christians fall in love all the time! I believe in love–the love of God, and the love between two people. What would life be without love? I am a hopeful romantic. Being able to write about love and faith together is one of the joys of my life! If we can have Christian crime novels, if we can have Christian suspense novels, if we can have Christian self-help books, then why can’t we have Christian romance? It’s a part of life!
3. Tricia: One of your tips to writers is “Get your characters into tough situations, then get them out.” What tough situations do the characters in your most recent book face?
Lenora: In the book I’m working on right now, they face just about everything. They go on the run from the bad guys, they get shot at, the heroine is poisoned, they have to jump out of a plane, trek through the mountains and face down the bad guy in the end. But that’s not the hard part. The tough situation in this case is a real test of faith and all of their actions mirror their inner struggles (facing fears, climbing mountains, overcoming evil). She always thought of him as meek and mild, but strong in his faith; he always thought of her as pretty and plain, but strong in her faith. The challenges they face while on the run only reinforce their faith challenges. The title is Secret Agent Minister–it’s definitely a “thinking outside the box” type suspense story.
4. Tricia: Who is your favorite character you’ve written lately? Why?
Lenora: My favorite character this month (grin) is Lydia, the above mentioned heroine in Secret Agent Minister. She came to me full and sure and I knew her heart the minute I saw her. She is a solid Christian, with very little doubt. She works hard, is happy with her normal, small town life and she’s thrown into this extraordinary situation. She has to realize that she is much stronger than she ever imagined. And throughout all of the danger, she keeps her solid faith and uses that to save her life and the life of the man she loves. Lydia is so much fun, I will miss her when we’re done!
5. Tricia: What inspiration romance writers inspire you? Why?
Lenora: Oh, that’s tough. I have so many favorites, so many I admire. I admire Deb Raney because she writes great books and because she gave a devotional at an ACFW conference that changed my life. She showed us that past hardships could have been blessings in disguise. I grew up isolated on a farm in Georgia and I always resented that, but had it not been that way I might not have been such an avid reader and thus, a writer. So thanks, Deb Raney! I admire and appreciate my fellow Love Inspired authors because we all started out together and we fought against the odds. Everyone doubted Steeple Hill would last, but we have so far. These women are true Christians, devoted and hardworking. I’m amazed that I get to be among their ranks. Marta Perry, Carol Steward, Gail Martin, Margaret Daley, Irene Brand, Lois Richer, Kate Welsh, Patt Marr, Lyn Cote, Ruth Scofield–that’s just a few. All of the LI writers are wonderful and diverse, so I salute all of them.
6. Tricia: What other genres and authors do you enjoy reading?
Lenora: I read a lot of different things. I love romance and I appreciate my fellow romance writers–too many to name. I sometimes go back to the classics–the Bronte sisters, Jane Austin, Shakespeare. I love Southern writers–Flannery O’Connor, Elizabeth Spencer, Kate Chopin. I just love reading, period. I read to learn, to expand my horizons and to have an open mind.
7. Tricia: What has surprised you most about being a published author?
Lenora: That I did it! The odds were so against me. Growing up poor on a farm, not finishing college, getting married very young, taking some wrong turns. But through all of that, I kept this dream a secret in my heart. Then one day, I thought “What are you waiting for?” I tried, got rejected, didn’t have a clue as to what I needed to do. But I stayed the course. I started listening, learning, reading, writing. When I turned to God and asked for His help and guidance, things just fell into place. I can see His hand in the journey. That is the most amazing thing–that someone so unworthy has received the gift of a dream come true. I will never take that for granted, and I try not to complain because this is a gift. And as with any great gift, there is a responsibility to always honor and nurture that gift.
8. Tricia: In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing a novel? Why?
Lenora: The hardest part of writing a novel is all the self-doubt that comes before I hit my stride and just do it. I always wonder if there has been a mistake and my editor will call and tell me they have changed their mind! Getting through that self-doubt and that “I’m not worthy” mode is tough. I never think the work is good enough and I always want to go back and improve on the finished product. But I’ve learned to just tough it out and get the job done!
9. Tricia: Tennis shoes or high heels?
Lenora: Oh, high heels, honey. I am a girlie girl. I love shoes! I write for shoe money!!!
10. Tricia: We live in a time when people have numerous choices for entertainment. What would you say to someone who hasn’t picked up a book in a while?
Lenora: I’d say you are missing out on a wonderful experience. I’d say that reading a book is like taking a long slow boat ride where you get to view all the scenery at your leisure, where you can de-stress and rewind and escape into a world that takes you on your own journey–your choice, your time, your place. Thomas Jefferson said “I cannot live without books.” I feel the same.