(Be sure and checkout Lillian's awesome contest opportunity at the end of her interview!)
Tell us a little about you.
My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. But I love being back. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.
I was a school speech pathologist for many, many years, but now I’m a full-time writer. So in a way, you could say that words have been a big part of my life for all my life.
In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors which led to another diagnosis of something called neurfibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). In spite of difficult health issues, God has blessed me and keeps on blessing me with the ability to keep writing stories—for which I’m very grateful.
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
The answer to both is Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in from time to time. I guess writing is sort of like eating. You are what you read, and for me that means I’m a suspense/mystery writer.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it?
I would! It’s just like the story of the boy who walks along the beach throwing the stranded starfish back into the ocean. He knows he can’t save them all, but it makes a difference to the ones he does throw back in.
Tell us about NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
No Home For The Holidays is a Christmas-themed story. It’s part of my publisher’s annual Christmas Extravaganza. Each year, they release twenty-five novelettes (meaning short novels) that all have a Christmas theme in all different sorts of genres. So there’s something for everyone, no matter what you enjoy reading.
I love finding a way to mix suspense into a Christmas story. There’s always so many possibilities for what the characters can learn as they journey through the story. And, of course, I love all the Christmas symbolism available during my favorite time of the year.
In No Home For The Holidays, Chloe Sullivan needs a miracle but has given up on getting it. As sad as it is, she’s resigned to the fact that she has to stay in hiding if she wants to remain alive as well as keep her family safe.
Ex-FBI turned preacher, Colton Douglas believes in helping others. When Chloe enters his life, he’s sure God has put her in his path for a reason—to help her. And that’s just what he plans to do, whether she likes it or not.
Both Colton and Chloe learn a great deal about themselves and about life as they face death.
How long did it take you to write this book?
NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is a novella so it didn’t take anywhere near as long as a full-length novel. I would say I finished the first draft within a month. Then another month to revise and polish before I submitted it to my publisher.
Tell me a bit about your main characters. Who did you have the most fun creating? Why?
Chloe Sullivan is a good girl gone bad who wants to be good again. So she was a lot of fun to get to know more about as I wrote the story. Colton on the other hand is your classic hero, wants to help anyone and everyone, except himself.
What’s the setting for No Home?
The story starts in the city of Wooster, Ohio. Coincidently, it’s a city I’ve lived near most of my life. But, of course, the story is fictional and not based on reality! But that’s just the beginning, they travel to Akron and then on to the state of California.
Is NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS the first book you published?
I’ve been blessed to have several books published in the past several years. My last release was DEADLY INENT, part of the Deadly Communications series that features a crime-fighting speech pathologist. . NO HOME is actually my second Christmas story with the first being THE CHRISTMAS STALKING. It features a country singer with a stalker, of course!
So, you were a speech-language pathologist. Tell us a little about that job.
I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.
I loved my job and would still be doing it except for some serious health issues.
What sort of serious health issues?
In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. Fortunately, they weren’t cancerous, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t wreaked havoc on my life but…I recently finished treatment and am looking forward to getting healthy again—with God’s help.
What do you want readers to take away from NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
I want everyone to know that they always have a home with God. He never turns anyone away if they’re sincere. Just like the prodigal son, he’ll always welcome you home.
What is your writing process?
I’m what they call a “pantser” meaing I write by the seat of the pants. I never know what’s going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.
When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.
How long does it take to write a book?
That's a questions that I get asked a lot, and I still don't have a good answer for it. Because I might work on a story for a few weeks or a month, then move on to another project, then come back to it at a later time. Another thing I do is work on several writing projects at a time. That means I might spend 30 minutes on a story one day or 2-3 hours on it another day.
Once the first draft is finished, I always set it aside for a while, then come back to it to edit, revise, and polish. I do this several times before I send it to my publisher.
So as you can see, it's really hard to estimate how long it takes me to "write" a book. But I can say that from start to finish, any full-length book is worked on for at least a few hundred hours. My novellas would be a shorter time, of course.
Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers. Sometimes, I think I know who the killer is through most of the book, but then throw in a shocker at the end.
Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?
I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.
I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.
What are you working on now?
I just finished the final edits on the third in the Deadly Communications series. Its title is DEADLY SILENCE. In it, Maven will be back and facing some very difficult life circumstances.
Along with that, she’s working with a late-deafened adult as a client. A subject near and dear to me since I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other because of the brain tumors.
I also have several other stories in various stages that I’m working on.
HOW CAN READERS FIND YOU ON THE INTERNET?
My website is www.lillianduncan.net and I have a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at www.lillian-duncan.com. I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan
To celebrate the release of No Home For The Holidays, Lillian is running a contest on her blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes. Five lucky winners will receive a $10 Amazon Gift card. So hop on over to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under the No Home For The Holidays blog post so you’ll be entered to win one of the gift cards. Winners will be picked on Dec. 23—just in time for Christmas!
Tune in tomorrow for one of Lillian's wonderful devotionals. Thanks so much, Lillian, for stopping by!