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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Author Interview--Loree Lough


Anne: Our interview today is with bestselling author Loree Lough. She once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada, and now and then, she still blows the dust from her six-string to croon a tune or two. Mostly nowadays she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, four- and five-star reviews, and five book-to-movie options. Her 100th book, Saving Alyssa, No. 3 in “A Child to Love” series for Harlequin Heartwarming, released in March of 2014. (To see my review of Saving Asyssa, click HERE) Loree is a writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" at http://www.loreelough.com to see the list.) She loves hearing from her readers, and she answers every letter personally.

Now, Loree, what inspired your 100th book, Saving Alyssa?

Loree: Well, I have several friends who are actively employed or retired agents with the Witness Protection program. Every time they told a story—minus any pertinent details, to protect the people who’d gone into hiding—I found myself filling in those details. The result? Saving Alyssa!

Anne: In the process of publishing, editors sometimes slash out scenes that we love--so which scene would you have fought tooth and nail to keep in?

Loree: I’ve been blessed that, throughout my career, editors and I have seen eye to eye on characters, conflict, plot, and conflict resolution. So far, none have suggested that I delete a scene that I felt attached to. (They might edit that sentence, though!) I think if authors encourage an open dialog with editors, these cut-and-slash episodes would be unnecessary, if not drastically reduced.

Anne: You are blessed! So, how much of your childhood is in this book?

Alyssa is very different from the child I was, and she’s different from the little girl my daughters were at her age. She’s a blend of two children whose moms passed away, and one whose mother “ran away from home.” These kids have a different outlook on life. On the one hand, they’re always on the lookout for Mother Material. On the other, they fear losing these women, if not to illness, to something or someone who can’t resist the allure of the horizon. I wanted Alyssa to reflect some of the longing, some of the trust issue-related traits, so that when she finally allowed herself to love—and be loved by Billie—readers would cheer when the threesome became a family.

Anne: I know I did! Cheer, that is. Why do you choose to write inspirational fiction?

Loree: The answer to that, in all honesty, is that inspirational fiction chose me. I tried writing other stuff, but quickly discovered it was impossible to keep the inspirational stuff out of the stories. My Heartwarming series, while not inspirational in the faith-based sense of the word, still provides ample opportunities for me to blend elements of my faith and my beliefs into the stories. And my Harlequin editors have been wholly supportive!

Anne: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

Loree: Wow. That’s a tough one! There are so many enjoyable aspects to the creation of a novel. I love choosing the time period and setting, and doing the research that provides readers with that “You Are There” feeling. And it’s great fun, developing characters to people the stories, men and women and children who face challenges, who don’t shrink in the face of hardship, who adapt and change, and eventually overcome adversity.

Asked to choose just one thing? I’d say my favorite part comes after the manuscript is finished, turned in, edited, and released to the reading public. Because that’s when I receive letters from the people who, after choosing my book over others on the shelves, write to tell me how they identified with Character A, or learned something new from Character B, or found an answer to one of life’s dilemmas by seeing how Character C handled and difficulties. There’s no greater satisfaction than when they say “I won’t loan this book to anyone, because I fell in love with the characters and they’re like family to me!”

Anne: I can see how they would! How long did it take to get your first book published? Were there lots of rejections?

Loree: See, this is another example to underscore why I say inspirational fiction chose me. After writing (literally) thousands of articles, I noticed a disturbing trend: Newspaper and magazine editors changing salient facts to appease advertisers. I said to myself, “If you’re gonna write fiction, why not try your hand at a novel!”

My first effort, Pocketful of Love, a Barbour Heartsong novel, sold just weeks after I submitted it. And it won the Readers’ Choice Best Contemporary award that year. I’m blessed to say there have only been a few rejections along the way, mostly because (prior to signing with an agent) I spent hours studying the market. On the occasions when an editor sent the dreaded “Thanks, this isn’t right for us. Good luck placing your work elsewhere,” I wallowed in self-pity for a day or two, then dug deep into that manuscript and tried to figure out why it wasn’t right for that editor.

When I started viewing rejections as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, I saw even fewer rejection slips!

Anne: Knowing you somewhat, that makes sense. So what's your next book about?

Loree: I’m writing two series, simultaneously.

One, a historical series for Whitaker House (Denver, 1880s) is called the Secrets on Sterling Street series. Book One: Currency of the Heart, releases in January 2015.

The other, Those Marshall Boys, is a contemporary series for Harlequin Heartwarming (Vail, Colorado). Book One: Summer’s Hero also releases in January.

Anne: I'm so glad you came by today, Loree. I surely do appreciate you taking time out of writing your next 100 books to talk to us! God bless!