Enter your Email

Powered by FeedBlitz

Monday, May 05, 2008

Interview with Colleen Coble

Congratulations to Jenny in Australia (AusJenny)! She won a copy of A Bride So Fair by Carol Cox. If you'd like to be entered in the contest to win Colleen Coble's Anathema, please post a comment below.

Beth: Tell us about your writing journey.

Colleen: I can still remember the first story I ever wrote. It was in first grade and was about twin colts. Even back then I liked to write about animals! My teacher praised my writing, and the seed was planted. Someday I would be a writer.

The seed lay dormant through the early years of marriage and raising a family. “Someday” I was going to write. I devoured books by the armloads from the library, and it bothered me to read the hopelessness in them that assumed there was no God. Through those years, I told God if he’d give me a story, I’d love to write from the viewpoint that he exists and cares about his children. But nothing came. Someday, I told myself.

August 25, 1990 changed everything. The phone rang late that night with the news that my younger brother, Randy Rhoads, had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on. I told God I was ready, but still nothing came.

As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. We hadn’t made it to see him while he was there, and he loved Wyoming. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years.

It still wasn’t easy. Getting published is hard and takes work and commitment. But I never gave up on the long road to the first sale because God wouldn’t let me. Every time I was tempted to let the computer go dark, God whispered in my heart that I could do it. That he had given me everything I needed to go on, that I must go on. Seven years later (seven is God’s number so that was perfect!) I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.

I started out with prairie romance but I always wanted to kill people. LOL I loved mystery and suspense. Eventually I found a great agent who helped me hone that first mystery proposal for Thomas Nelson and I’ve been there every since.

Beth: When do you feel like it all began to come together for you as a writer—was there a particular moment?

Colleen: Oh yes! My agent kept talking about layers and adding in more substance. She kicked that Rock Harbor proposal back to me I thought it was a tennis ball. Then one day something just “clicked” about all those layers that are needed for a book to have resonance. It take experience and practice to get it.

Beth: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

Colleen: I’d have to say my editor Ami McConnell has most shaped me as a writer. She has such insight into story and character and I grow with every book I write under her tutelage.

Beth: Tell us about the writing process for you? Does it begin with a character, setting, or plot?

Colleen: I’m weird. It usually begins with setting. LOL People are different in different places. I often start by thinking about where it would be fun to set a book, a place that has a certain resonance for me. Then I research news stories and current events that are going on in that area. That’s the USUAL, as I said. Sometimes it starts with character or plot. The Rock Harbor series started with the character of Bree Nicholls. Abomination started with plot. So it can be different depending on where the idea comes from.

Beth: Tell us about your latest book.

Colleen: Anathema has just shipped to stores. It’s an Amish romantic suspense set in Parke Co, Indiana, covered bridge capital of the world. A young Amish woman who sneaks out on a tryst comes back to find her family dead of strychnine poisoning. Though she flees the community by marrying her English boyfriend, she comes back ten years later to find out if the daughter she thought was dead could really be alive. And faces down a killer in the process.

Beth: What inspired you to write this particulate story?

Colleen: I was talking with my agent after the Amish school setting. Karen said, “What would happen if an Amish person was faced with something that horrific and couldn’t forgive?” The idea was born out of her question.

Beth: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?

Colleen: I hope my readers take away the realization that forgiveness is always best. An bitter heart hurts mostly the owner of it.

Beth: What do you think is the hardest part of writing suspense?

Colleen: Sometimes keeping all the plots lines straight can be a challenge. Also making sure every new story is fresh and exciting.

Beth: What are problem areas you see in aspiring writers who want to write suspense? Advise?

Colleen: I read first chapters a lot, and many writers don’t start with an exciting premise. It needs to be something fresh and different that hasn’t been done before. And it needs to have those layers I was talking about: interesting personal issues, an interesting profession, a setting that adds to the “feel” of the book. All those things are necessary.

Beth: You mentioned to me that when you first acquired an agent, she shopped a historical you’d written but it was never picked up. Then you came up with the Rock Harbor suspense series. Obviously, the suspense genre has been a success for you. Can you share some pointers for those of us who are still searching for the right niche? (Colleen, this was just something I remembered from a brief conversation we shared at an ACFW conference. If I’m remembering incorrectly, we can just delete the agent part. )☺

Colleen: Even when you look back on my prairie romance novels, I had an antagonist, a bad guy. My heart has always run to suspense, murder and mayhem. I think every writer knows what they really LOVE. Not just oh I like to read that, but what do you pick up FIRST? What section of the bookstore do you gravitate to? What elements do you find yourself daydreaming about when you’re plotting? And when you figure out the genre you like, what makes yours stand out? This can take a lot of thought but it’s worth it!

Beth: What are your future writing plans?

Colleen: I want to keep coming up with fresh, interesting ideas. I love writing for Thomas Nelson too and have a Dream Team there. My next book I’ll be starting is a psychological suspense set in the Charleston area. I came up with the idea after the Taylor University student switch (I live near Ft Wayne so I was riveted to the news stories) and it’s a twist off of a mistaken identity/amnesia plot.

Beth: What is the best advise you ever received?

Colleen: Never give up. Never give up. Never give up!

Thanks so much for the interview Colleen.

You can visit Colleen's Website at: www.colleencoble.com

Blessings to you!


Blogger windycindy said...

Hello! I really enjoyed reading your journey leading up to becoming a writer! She never gave up. That is such an important life lesson. I really enjoy reading books set in
Amish country. This suspense/mystery story line really intrigues me! Please enter me in your book drawing.
Thanks for an inspiring interview.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Ausjenny said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. the what if stories often are really good.
Please enter me.

(Oh im so excited to win A bride so fair)

2:03 AM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Sounds like a great new suspense!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Ani said...

Great interview Beth and hi Colleen. Your book Anathema sound like a delightful story to read. Full of suspense and adventure, and as always an inspirational.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Ruth Dell said...

Hi Colleen and Beth

Many thanks for an interesting interview.

Please enter me in the drawing for Anathema- you have whet my appetite!

Thank you

God bless

Ruth Dell


12:30 PM  
Blogger Carolynn W. said...

Thank you for the great interview, it was fun to learn more about you. Please enter me in the drawing, the book sounds fantastic!

11:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home