Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m so happy to introduce you to Elizabeth Maddrey. Homeschooling moms who write are always so impressive to me, and Elizabeth is no exception. I always enjoy her when our paths cross in the writing community, and was thrilled to add her to my lineup of interviews. Elizabeth is giving away a paperback copy of her book, too! Read below to see how to enter!
Tell us a little about yourself. Well, let’s see – the first thing that comes to mind is how I always hate this question. I hated it when I was going on job interviews, too. I’m never sure what to say. I’ve been married for 21 years to my best friend from college (we met the first day of our first class freshman year). We have two boys, age nine and four (and he’ll be five very soon – this happened to catch me right between their birthdays.) I stay home with them (and am so incredibly grateful that I’m able to do this) and we home school. In addition to that, I run the Awana ministry at our church and my hubby and I lead an adult Sunday school class together. Despite those things, I’m actually incredibly introverted – Sundays wear me out.
Tell us a little about your current release. I’m so excited about this new release! It’s actually a collection of novellas, but they’re kicking off a series that five other authors and I have been working on for the last year. We created a fictional town in Idaho called Arcadia Valley and each of us is setting a full series there. What’s fun is the characters from my series interact with characters from other series (and vice versa) so, hopefully, it’ll be fun for readers to see the crossover interactions taking place as they read through the books.
My novella, Loaves & Wishes, is the kickoff to the Baxter Family Bakery series that will be set in Arcadia Valley. The Baxters are four siblings: Ruth (the eldest), Jonah, and then Micah and Malachi who are twins. In the novella, Ruth moves to Arcadia Valley from Washington D.C. because she’s inherited a bed and breakfast from her best friend. Because of various things that I can’t tell you since it would ruin the story, she and her brothers end up opening a community supported bakery. And it’s that CSB which serves as the primary focal point for the next three books in the series.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely. Honestly, I’d probably still write it even if it didn’t benefit anyone on their spiritual journey, because the books that I write often help me process things I’m working on and thinking about. I’m not sure I’d be able to shut off the stories if I wanted to, so it seems to make the most sense to write them and then put them out there with the prayer that if someone needs it, God will lead them to it.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? You know, I don’t. Part of that, though, I’m pretty sure is because I waffled about doing anything with my writing for a number of years and a large part of the waffling was because of this question. I could write secular stories, probably, but at the end of the day I don’t think that’s what God’s calling me to do. The stories in my head tend to address some of the trickier issues of Christian living. So I’m not even really writing fiction designed to lead people to Jesus – it’s much more geared toward helping believers wrestle with what it means to live authentic, Biblically based lives in today’s culture. And that’s not always popular, but I think it’s important. (And please don’t think I have big preachy books—I’m told by readers that the messages are subtle and wrapped in enjoyable stories 🙂 ) I could probably have a bigger audience if I didn’t talk about things like abortion and depression and whether or not it’s okay to question God…but those are the storylines that God impresses on my heart and I want to be faithful to them.
Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? This is kind of embarrassing…but if you’re old enough to remember 21 Jump Street (the TV show), it’s Johnny Depp as he was when he was Officer Hanson.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I probably already hit this one above – but definitely for my own enjoyment. I love to read, and when I try to think objectively about my books (which I’ll admit is really challenging), I think they’re the types of stories that many who read Christian fiction would want to read. But I don’t try to tailor stories or plots to any kind of current trends or anything like that. I suspect if I did I wouldn’t be able to make a cohesive, interesting story because it wouldn’t be organic.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? I pray. And then I sit down and make myself write. There are always words there if you put your fingers on the keyboard. They might not be keepers, but usually the act of writing will get the mental juices flowing.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? I usually do, yes. At a minimum, I need to know if I’m writing a novella or a full-length book. Full-length can vary though. I try to aim for 65,000 words when I think full-length, but sometimes the story needs a little more. Or a little less. With the Arcadia Valley books, because some of our authors also write for Love Inspired (who has contractual clauses that limit what length story the authors can indie publish without first giving LI a chance to buy it), we’re calling the full-length books 50,000 words (because that keeps us out of any issues.) So I have a general rule of thumb that I’m aiming for, but there’s wiggle room.
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