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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Author Interview--Elizabeth Ludwig

Anne: Our interview this morning is with one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Ludwig. She's a magnificent writer who has learned how to keep you turning the pages way past your bedtime. I reviewed her latest book in the  yesterday, and you can read that review by clicking HERE.

Liz, tell us what inspired Tide and Tempest.

Elizabeth: To be honest, if everything had gone as I planned, this book would never have been written. You see, when I first proposed my idea to my publisher, I was only planning for a two book series. Later, I was asked if I could expand my idea. Of course I said yes, though at the time, I really wasn’t sure what the third book would be about.

It wasn’t until I finished the first book, No Safe Harbor, that inspiration struck. I realized that everyone I’ve ever met has carried some kind of wound—either pain from a broken relationship, or grief, sometimes even loss. When I sat down to write Tide and Tempest, I wanted to reach out to those who were hurting and offer some kind of hope. To do that, I had to reach into my own past, and touch on the pain and guilt I carried after the loss of my son. The grace I experienced through that traumatic time, the healing and restoration that God fulfilled in my life—that was the inspiration behind Tide and Tempest.

Anne: God bless you for that. Anyone who has lost a child at any age can relate to those feelings. It looked to me like you laid the foundation for Tide and Tempest way back in the first book of the series, No Safe Harbor, when Tillie was on board Morgan's ship on the way to America. Sounds like you were "layering" even when you didn't know it.

Elizabeth: Normally I would say I was layering, but since I had originally planned for this to be a two book series, I really had to adjust my thinking and my storyline! Strangely enough, that wasn’t difficult once I had a grasp on what Tillie’s story would be about. From there, I was very careful to plot all the story lines to make sure that everything stayed consistent. Also, it doesn’t hurt that I have fantastic editors and a patient critique group who helped me keep everything straight. My editor even gave me suggestions for deepening my storyline! God’s grace, beloved. I have come to depend on it.

Anne: Do you ever go back and read one of your own books once they're published?

Elizabeth: LOLOL! Yes, and my husband teases me SO much about it. The day my copies of Tide and Tempest arrived on my doorstep, I ran back into my bedroom and began reading. When my husband caught me, he said, “You know how that book ends, right?”

I tried to explain that it’s different when the story is bound and in book form, but I don’t think he believed me. Ah, well. Writers are supposed to be a bit quirky, right?

Anne: What is your favorite part of this book?

Elizabeth: There is so much that I love about this book. Even though it wasn’t planned, it has turned out to be my favorite! One of the things I enjoyed about writing about it was the characters. They are so complex…they have so many hidden secrets.

For example, for the longest time, I didn’t know why the hero, Keondric Morgan, refused to use his first name. He made everyone call him “Morgan.” Then one day, he whispered the answer. Here it is, from Tide and Tempest:

Tillie pressed Cass’s arm. “Cass, why doesn’t your brother allow anyone to call him by his Christian name? Seems odd, given you are both Morgans.”
His gaze flitted to her and away, but in that one brief moment, she read a wealth of pain. Not his own, she realized, but hurt for his brother.
“Keondric was our father’s name. Morgan doesn’t use it because he doesn’t feel he measures up.” Tilting his head to her, he reached out and covered her hand. “He’s never said as much, but I know. Ma’s the only one who still calls him Keondric even though it grieves him.”

Anne: What do you find hardest about the writing process?

Elizabeth: The first draft of a novel takes me so much longer to write than the second and third drafts. I think that’s because it is very hard for me to be creative. The research, I understand. The editing and mechanics, those come easy. But the creative process…oh, that is so very hard!

Anne: And the easiest?

Elizabeth: I actually enjoy editing; so for me, getting my manuscript back from the publisher after I’ve bled, sweated, and cried over the first draft is easy. Of course, I can only say that if I’ve been diligent in creating a proper storyline and synopsis. I’ve found that being exact in the plotting stage keeps me from pages and pages of excruciating edits later on. It’s well worth the extra work!

Anne: Finally, would you like to tell us about your next book?

Elizabeth: I am so excited to be releasing a Christmas collection this coming September. It’s called Christmas Comes to Bethlehem, Maine (Barbour Publishing, 2014). It’s about a small town in Maine that hosts a live nativity every year. My novella, One Holy Night, is about a young veterinarian struggling to come to grips with her sister’s betrayal. The other stories in the collection are The Christmas Gift, by Virginia Vaughn, A Christmas Promise, by Sandra Robbins, and The Last Angel Song, by Lorraine Beatty.

This is my second anthology with Barbour Publishing. The first, Christmas Homecoming, released in 2009, so there’s been some time between collections. Still, I learned so much about tight writing with that first novella, and I was anxious to see if I could do it again.

That’s the thing about writing. I never stop learning. Every manuscript has been different, and each one has taught me something about the craft. If I could give advice to anyone just starting out, it would be to accept the fact that from now on, learning will be a lifelong process.

Anne: Boy do I agree with that one--there's no end to learning, perhaps especially for writers.

I love reading Christmas stories, and it doesn't really matter to me if it's July or December. I'm looking forward to your Christmas stories!

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