Author Interview – ELIZABETH MADDREY
Chat Thursday – Elizabeth Maddrey
I’d like to give a big welcome to Elizabeth Maddrey to my blog. Elizabeth, pull up a chair and let’s have a spot of tea, shall we.
rem: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
ELIZABETH: Let’s see, I’m a wife and mom. We homeschool, which either makes us cool or crazy, depending on who you ask (I think we fall somewhere in between on most days.) I was raised in Northern New Mexico and Northern Virginia and, after some detours for college and hubby’s brief stint in the Army, we’re back in Northern Virginia right now.
rem: Seems I have an inordinate number of friends in Virginia and West Virginia! LOL Tell us three things about yourself.
- I love archery (and I’m good at it.) (But I don’t kill living things.)
- I have a PhD in computer science that I finished just in time to quit my day job, stay home with kids, and write books. But I still love computers.
- Growing up, all the growth projections said I’d end up around 5’10” or 5’11. I’m 5’4”. But I really wish I was tall.
rem: I’m fascinated with archery; I’ve built computers and I’m aces on used end, but never quite got the techie stuff; and I’ve got the opposite problem—I’m 5’8”! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?
ELIZABETH: Jamoca Almond Fudge (it’s at Baskin Robbins, I realize that’s a very specific flavor.) Cookies are easier – chocolate chip.
rem: I know that flavor, Baskin Robbins was my first job! Superman or Batman?
ELIZABETH: Batman (though I’m more of a Marvel girl at heart, so I’m not super invested either way.)
rem: Vacation: beach or mountains?
ELIZABETH: Depends on the time of year. Mountains in the summer, beach in the fall.
rem: That’s a good plan. What is your greatest fear?
rem: You are not alone in that! What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
ELIZABETH: Loyalty. To me if someone is loyal, it sets the stage for everything else.
rem: I agree. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
ELIZABETH: I’m such an easy reader, it’s really REALLY hard to break a story, but I do get annoyed with heroines (it’s always the women) who keep doing stupid things and I have to wonder when it’s going to catch up with them because they are clearly too stupid to live. You see this most in thrillers and cozy mysteries. If it’s too bad, I’ll finish the book but not go back to the series.
rem: LOL Which is more important: plot or characters?
ELIZABETH: I guess I lean toward plot. I love well written, well rounded characters, but if they’re not doing something interesting…that kind of makes the book a flop to me.
rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?
ELIZABETH: Read even more. (Since I’m home raising kids, writing is my bonus time activity, so replacing it would be with another bonus time activity. And for me, that default is always going to be reading.)
rem: I hear ya! Can’t ever get enough time to read, “bonus” activity or not! Tell us a little about your writing journey.
ELIZABETH: I can’t think of when I didn’t write. Maybe not in a disciplined, every day manner, but there were always stories and I would type them up and they’d live on my hard drive. About four years ago, I finished a book and thought…you know, that’s not so bad. Maybe I should look into getting it published. So I did what every aspiring author does, I started querying agents and I went to a writer’s conference. At the conference, I had a paid critique and the woman absolutely HATED my book. So that was disheartening. But I also talked to a small press and they were interested in it. Writer’s conferences are kind of a merry-go-round of emotional upheaval. Anyway, I decided to give the small press a chance and the rest is history.
rem: And a classic example of not every book is going to appeal to all readers—or critique-rs! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
ELIZABETH: My routine. That’s funny. My process is fairly ad hoc – I work in writing in between herding my cats, er, kids and doing all those mom/wife things that simply don’t do themselves. Generally speaking, I write at the dining room table or in a recliner in the basement theater. My most consistent writing time is at night, after the kids are in bed. But I can also sometimes squeeze in an hour or two in the afternoon during quiet/nap time. (But sometimes I need that quiet/nap time for myself!)
rem: I do NOT envy moms of kids who are still at home trying to write! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
ELIZABETH: Honestly, I think my biggest struggle is with self-doubt. Are my books really worth reading? Why would people want to read them? That sort of thing. I’m not completely sure I handle it all that well, but I do a lot of praying. That at least gives me the peace I need to push through and finish what I’m working on.
rem: Peace sure goes a long way, doesn’t it.(by the way, I’ve read Hope Deferred, and you tell the story quite well!) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
ELIZABETH: Creating. When I’m creating I can let the words fly and the story kind of just flows. Editing is so…critical. It really ramps up my already huge quantity of self-doubt. (Though the end result is certainly better than the pre-edited draft, but it’s hard, hard work.)
rem: No doubt about that! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
ELIZABETH: I love putting down the stories living in my head and sharing them with others. Because there are always a handful of people who end up enjoying my books. And it makes me happy that the words I write mean something to someone other than me.
rem: Well said, and I would tend to agree. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
ELIZABETH: Now that I’m an indie, the hardest thing for me is balancing all the hats that go into being author and publisher. Marketing, in particular, is probably my biggest Achilles Heel. Easiest is coming up with stories. I usually have three or four story nuggets rattling around in my head, percolating, and waiting for their chance to be written.
rem: (again) No doubt about that! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
ELIZABETH: Top three are easy: keep writing and perfecting your craft, read (I contend you can’t be the best writer you can be if you’re not reading), don’t panic (remember that God’s got this and you only need to do the things you can control and then leave the rest to Him.)
What not to do? Compare yourself and your writing journey to other people’s. Dwell on your reviews – good or bad. And finally, don’t stop writing – when your book is finished, start the next, don’t wait.
rem: All so true! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
ELIZABETH: This is hard – I’m not sure I can consciously pin that down. They come to me while I’m doing my thing day to day. Sometimes it’s something I overhear or something I observe and it gets me asking “Hmmm…what if?” I think it boils down to that “what if.”
rem: I think those are the best ideas. As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?
ELIZABETH: Hmmm…I don’t think so. But I’ll keep an eye out in the future!
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
ELIZABETH: This is funny, I started to write down a title and then was like, “Oh, wait what about…” It’s hard to choose a favorite. I love them all for various reasons.
rem: I know, kind of like which kids is your favorite… Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
ELIZABETH: I think all of my characters have a tiny bit of me in them – a quirk here or there. But if I had to choose a character who was most like me, it’d probably be Jen from A Handful of Hope. Least like me? Lydia in Wisdom to Know.
rem: So now I know what to look for when I read those… LOL I’ve read your story, Hope Deferred, from your Remnants series. I understand that’s drawn from personal struggle. What can you share about that?
ELIZABETH: The Remnants series wasn’t one I planned to write, honestly. My husband and I went through more than ten years of infertility treatment before ultimately adopting. And it occurred to me that those struggles certainly weren’t unique to us, but they weren’t things that I saw addressed—at least not in a real, gritty way—in fiction. So I thought I’d play around with those experiences and struggles and see if I could also turn it into something that people might want to read. And that became the Remnants series.
rem: I truly enjoy reading “real and gritty” in fiction! And your Grant Us Grace series is also based on your experiences serving at crisis pregnancy centers. Tell us about that.
ELIZABETH: Working alongside my mom as she ran a crisis pregnancy center for twenty years opened my eyes to the fact that out of wedlock pregnancy, abortion, and so forth aren’t relegated to outside the church. But the church very often overlooks the folks in their congregation who are dealing with an unwed pregnancy or the aftermath of abortion. So I wanted to show a little of what the church ought to look like—how Christians should be looking at these issues and loving the people in their midst as they struggle—all cushioned in happily-ever-after romance.
rem: Thank you for that! It is very much needed, especially in our world today! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
ELIZABETH: I released A Handful of Hope earlier this month. This is book 4 in my Taste of Romance series. It ended up being a completely different book than I intended when I started writing it, but I’m super happy with the direction it went (now, I wasn’t super excited when I was trying to get my story to conform to my original plan.) In addition to being a clean, inspiration romance, it takes a peek at the topic of depression (and I promise you, just because Jen struggles with depression, the book itself isn’t depressing.)
Now that A Handful of Hope is out in the world, I’m busily working away on Operation Fireworks, book three in my Operation Romance series. I hope to release it in early July.
rem: Oh, depression is a topic I am well too familiar with. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
ELIZABETH: Overall, I hope readers see people who struggle with living out their faith in the face of the real world we live in – and who come out on top. Because if the characters in a book can work through a real-world challenge, then I hope readers will be encouraged to hang on and realize that they can, too.
rem: That’s a wonderful thing to give to anyone! Anything else you’d like to add?
ELIZABETH: Thanks so much for having me!
rem: Delighted to have you join me today, Elizabeth! Please come again soon.
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey
Elizabeth Maddrey, Author Interview, Chat Thursday, Faith Departed, Hope Deferred, Love Defined