Greetings from Sarah Sundin in blistering hot California! Today I have the joy of chatting with multi-published novelist Lena Nelson Dooley. Lena is well known in the Christian writing world for how she gives back to writers through mentoring and through her excellent blog. I know you’ll enjoy our chat today!
Lena, welcome! Please tell us about your novel, A Heart’s Gift.
Because of an earlier betrayal, Franklin vows never to open his heart to another woman. But he desires an heir. Lorinda promises herself she will never allow a man to control her again. How can she provide for her infant son? A marriage of convenience seems perfect until two people from Franklin’s past endanger Lorinda.
What inspired you to write this book?
A Heart’s Gift is a book of my heart. The story lived in my head for a long time. And since I seek God about what to write, when it was His time for this story, it was published.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
God gave me a new revelation about how a particular Scripture applies to a marriage of convenience. And I do a lot of research to make my books authentic to the time period. The novel is set in or near Breckenridge, Colorado. During researching the area, I found that one winter, the snow was so high in Breckenridge that they dug tunnels between stores and across the streets. There was even a photograph of a couple, all dressed up, walking through one of the tunnels.
What a treasure! Which scenes were the most difficult to write?
In my real life, I’m a peacemaker, so it was hard to write the scenes that weren’t peaceful. But I’m learning to do it better. And there was a pivotal point the when the Lord had me do one thing to the villain, I didn’t know how I was going to get the hero and heroine back together.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
God often has me write about forgiveness, even unmerited forgiveness. In The Gold Digger, the unmerited forgiveness became a catalyst to turn the hero toward God.
Tell us about your funniest moment with a reader.
I got a letter through the publisher about my first novel. It was at least ten years after it was out of print. The woman said they had bought the book at a garage sale. (It couldn’t have cost more than a dime or quarter.) In the book, a high school student was killed in an accident in the Ozark Mountains by running into the flatbed truck of a drug dealer that was illegally stopped on the highway. The woman said she was reading the book to her husband while they were driving on vacation. She said when they came to that scene, she stopped reading the story. And she said they would never read another book written by me. It was kind of funny to me that they would take the time to write a letter about it, since I hadn’t made any money off of their purchase.
What ministries are you involved in, and why?
Over the years, I’ve been in a variety of ministries—children’s choir, adult choir, drama ministry, etc. Right now I’m involved with prayer, women’s mentoring, author mentoring, and I volunteer in the church bookstore. I love ministering to people. It’s a way that I give a tithe of the talents God has given to me. And I’m so blessed me that I need to pass on the overflow of His mercies to others.
I love your attitude! Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’ve been a fulltime author since 2003. Before that, I’d had a wide variety of jobs. Each position I held has contributed to my body of work with things I’ve actually experienced or things I’ve known other people who were involved. These jobs have given my books an authenticity I wouldn’t have had if not for those jobs.
Tell us about your favorite library memory.
Libraries have long been an important part of my life. I’m in my seventies, and when I was a child, we were poor in material things. We didn’t get a TV until I was in junior high. As long as I can remember, my family went to the county library weekly to check out books. I feel those books opened my mind and heart to the strength of story. It’s one part of why I write them.
Please tell us about your next project.
I’m working on a novella that will appear in the collection Summer Fireworks that will release near July 4. I’m really excited about this collection. Every author in the collection is either in my critique group or our local ACFW chapter. I’ll be featuring this collection on my blog, which always features a giveaway.
My novella Strange Voices in the Night is a light romantic suspense.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Lena!
Writing for Him,