Friday, April 3

Friday Interview and Book Giveaway!

Anybody else have a list of things to accomplish in your lifetime? On my short list is “become a published author” but I haven’t yet crossed that off my list – unless you count our church newsletter, which I do not. However, Adam Blumer has accomplished that goal, with his first novel just released on Tuesday! I’m sure some of you remember Adam from Northland, and his work in the Publications Department. He is now living in Northern Michigan, and is a freelance writer and editor. He’s been working for awhile now on his novel, Fatal Illusions, published by Kregel Publications. I’ve been reading his updates during the writing process, and am pretty excited that the book is finished - I can’t wait to read it!

I asked Adam a few questions about writing in general and his book, and here is what he had to say.

What was the biggest surprise in the process of writing your book – something no one told you when you were starting out?

How hard it is to write a full-length suspense novel like Fatal Illusions. I had been reading novels by secular suspense author Mary Higgins Clark and Christian suspense authors Terri Blackstock and Brandilyn Collins and thought, "I bet I can do this." I guess this thinking sprang from arrogance on my part because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The novel was much more demanding than I ever dreamed and took three to four years of evenings and weekends to write and revise. So if you intend to head into a project like this, I recommend knowing what you're getting yourself into first.

My best advice? Plan every stage of the plot long before you try writing it. Yep, this planning will require a lot of time and work, but it's better to have the plot firmly developed before you try to write a story of this complexity. By the way, one renowned literary agent told me that Fatal Illusions was too complex and needed to be simplified, but Kregel thought the storyline was just fine. That's to show that there is some subjectivity in the publishing world. Just because one publisher (or, in this case, literary agent) doesn't think your novel is publishable, that doesn't mean no one else will. The bottom line is that God will open doors as He sees fit.

Another surpirse was how much time and work go into a novel between the contract signing and the finished product. I honestly thought an editor just made a few tweaks, and then the novel was ready for publication. Ha! I also never realized how airtight the timeline and plot need to be, especially in suspense. One of my editors actually checked flight times to be sure one of my characters could plausibly be at a certain location at a certain time. My eyes were opened to the importance of checking details, and I’ll never write another novel the same way again.

Do you have any hints for someone who wishes to start the process of getting published, or some things to avoid in the beginning?

I've written a whole article on this topic at my website here, but here are a few things to avoid: Avoid rushing. Writing a book and finding a publisher all take time. Even if you sign a contract to publish a novel, the process is going to take even more time. For example, I signed my contract in August 2007. I thought my novel would be out within one year, but my novel just came out. The process took considerably longer than I expected. Learn to be patient.

Another thing to avoid is thinking that your material is perfect and doesn't need to change. Going into the revisions, I had no idea what to expect. By the time the novel was printed, I had worked with four (if not more) different editors. Each brought a slightly different perspective to the novel. At this stage, the editor doesn't tell the author what to do. He or she kindly points out areas of the story that need to change and suggests possible solutions. Then the author chooses the best path and writes the changes, followed by a lot of back and forth.

It's definitely a collaborative effort that could never take place without experienced editors who know what makes a good story. Thanks to the dedicated editors who tirelessly worked with me on my project, my finished novel is much stronger than it was when I submitted it. The revisions stage is a humbling process but a necessary one. The author needs to be willing to change and grow.

If you could write a book about anything, in any genre, and were guaranteed that it would be a hit, what would you write?

I would write a fiction series on the lives of "famous" missionaries: Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, and others. I'm not sure why, but I haven't seen much fiction devoted to these heroes of the faith—and oh the stories their lives tell! Though I'm writing suspense right now, I've always loved history and would like to write historical fiction someday. I think our popular Christian culture has missed out on knowing more about these dedicated followers of Christ. I'd like to help educate believers while entertaining them.

Was there anything specific that inspired your storyline?

Frank Peretti's earliest supernatural thrillers taught me that Christian novels can do more than entertain. I wanted to write something not only suspenseful but also meaningful. My prayer is that the message will resonate with readers and maybe even challenge their spiritual thinking a little bit.

The novels of Mary Higgins Clark also inspired me. I studied the organization and plot lines of her novels and wondering if I could write something as good. I also like her shifting points of view and her short, numerous chapters. (Readers might notice a resemblance.)
Her novel You Belong To Me especially inspired me to try my own hand at a serial killer, "female in jeopardy" suspense tale. Because most Christian readers are women, I decided to make my main protagonist female—in fact, a pastor's wife, a protagonist you don't read about very often. Add to that my love of true crime and forensic science, and I was on my way.

A past experience also provided a creative springboard. A church voted to remove from membership a believer who was sincerely repentant of immorality. I began to play the "what if" game in my mind. What if the person who was disciplined got really ticked? What if he or she became mad enough to kill? I thought a church discipline scenario created an unusual motive for murder—hence one of the subplots in
Fatal Illusions.

I also read Ruth Brandon's
The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. This biography of the famous illusionist fascinated me and helped me develop the characterization of my serial killer. In fact, readers will discover an important plot clue connected to Houdini.

Can we hope to see more of your work in the future?

I'm currently working on the sequel to Fatal Illusions, so hopefully so. But no guarantees. Perhaps the Lord will return before I get the novel done. (The way the world is going right now, you have to wonder.) I've also written a young adult novel about a Christian family trapped in Nazi Germany at the outbreak of World War II. This novel is based on the true childhood story of Dr. Arthur Raske, if any of you knew him at Northland Baptist Bible College. Hopefully, that novel will be published someday too.

Wow - that novel based on Dr. Raske's life sounds fantastic - I hope it is published soon! Also fantastic is this bit of news – the publisher of Fatal Illusions has generously agreed to sponsor a giveaway! Those of you living in the US or Canada (or those of you who will be here soon*) can win a copy of Adam’s book. Just leave a comment, telling me why you want to win the book or tell me what your favorite genre is – I will select a winner next Friday morning!

*if you win, you must provide a US address where Kregel can mail the book

***This giveaway is now closed***


The Two of Us said...

Sounds like a great book. I would love to win it. I also seriously would like to read the book about Dr. Raske. I hope that gets published soon too. Thanks for the article, Jenny. Neat to see that someone we crossed paths with has accomplished something so amazing.

randtwagner said...

I think Adam has done a great thing. So excited for him to reach the goal he set to write his own book. I would love to read it as my fiction of the semester. I think my favorite genre is action suspense, but I read a whole bunch of genres.
I love that the publisher ok'd a giveaway too. =D

Sara Rivera said...

Hey Jenny, Thanks for posting your interview with Adam. I really enjoyed reading it. I hope that the book about Dr. Raske gets published too. His would be an amazing story to tell I'm sure!
My favorite books are suspence and historic fiction. I would love to win Adam's book because the library here in Billings is not very good so I doubt they will get it in anytime soon.

ruth said...

One of my dreams is to one day become a published author, too, though I don't know if that will ever happen. (I did get my name printed in an engineering magazine recently... long story, and kinda goofy, but it wasn't for anything I had WRITTEN)

How exiting! I'd like to read the book for several reasons. One, I know Adam from NBBC, so that's cool. Two, I love suspense/thriller novels, and I'd like to see a Christian author do it well. There is a real need for quality Christian fiction out there! Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favorites, and if he took a cue from her, I look forward to reading it. I also would LOVE to read the novel based on Dr. Raske's story.

If you don't pick me for the giveaway, that's fine. I think maybe I'd like to purchase the book anyway just to show my support.

Crystal said...

Sounds like a great book - I would love to win it. My favorite books are suspense, romantic suspense, mystery, anything along those lines.

Stephens said...

Sounds interesting, Jenny. I never knew that you wanted to write a book. Cool! I would love to win this book. I need to read more.

Rachel said...

WooHoo! A give away, what fun! I'd love to win the book because I'm a reader, and do enjoy a good book! Thanks Jenny

Mary Ann said...

I'm excited to hear that Adam has accomplished such a difficul goal. I would love to be published too, but I don't know if I'll ever have the time or discipline to get it done. I'm a big chicken (esp. about serial killers)so I probably won't read it, but my mom would LOVE it. If you pick me for the giveaway I would pass it on to her. She would also love the Northland association. Thanks for this interesting post, Jenny!
*if you get published & it's not about a serial killer, I would SO read your book ;-)

Adam Blumer said...

Hey, everybody! So good to see so many of you here. Thank you for your kind comments about my novel. I realize that not everybody is going to "get into" a suspense novel that features a serial killer (and, truth be told, the cover wasn't my pick. Too creepy for me.). I wanted to say, however, that I took great pains not to go too far in the violence department. There are some intense moments, though; I definitely didn't write the novel for kids, but I don't think adult Christian readers will find anything objectionable. I also did a lot of work to weave in several spiritual themes that I hope are encouraging. If you are able to read the novel, I hope you enjoy it and find it edifying too.

I would like to publish the novel about Dr. Raske, but my editors tell me that with the economic downturn, youth fiction is a struggling market right now. Publishers are going to stick with what they know they can sell (and others will buy) right now. That's just reality; money drives what is published. So hopefully the novel will be published someday. For now, it's on the back burner waiting for the right time as the Lord leads. Thank you!

Tim and Richelle said...

I'd love to win a copy... I can't keep enough reading material around and can't wait for something new!

EmmyLDaniels said...

I would love to win a copy of Adam's book. Christian suspense is my favorite genre, and I have been eagerly anticipating reading Fatal Illusions.

Rick & Laura Wright said...

We would love to win a free book. We are looking forward to reading it b/c we love Christian thriller/ suspense books.

Carrie said...

Awesome giveaway, Jenny!! I would love to win Adam's book--and I put it on my wishlist for next Christmas, in case I don't win. :) I love suspense novels and Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favorite authors in that genre, so I'm sure I would really like this book, too.

I would also love to be a writer someday, but I have a feeling it won't happen till the children are grown and gone, if ever. :)

Jennifer said...

I am so thrilled for Adam that his book has been published! I'm pumped about reading it, but who knows when a copy will make it to the little island of Kauai. I'm hoping I win this drawing just so I can delve into the story that much sooner!

mindy said...

sounds like a fabulous read and my favorite genre is true crime thanks for the opportunity to win this

liane66 said...

My favorite genre is mysteries -- love Agatha Christie.
Thanks for the giveaway!

Tim, Kristen & Megan said...

I would love to win the book as well because it sounds like a great book! Plus, I went to the same church as Adam at NBBC so I think it would be neat to read a book by an author I know personally!

BUSY BEE said...

I don't have a lot of money to spend on books currently. I am hoping to win interesting and exciting books. This book is definitely that!

THanks for the giveaway!

Carole said...

My favorite genre is drama (I believe the new term is "upmarket fiction"), but I love a good mystery - and this certainly sounds like one. I also like the setting. Thanks for the chance to win a copy and discover a new author.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Tricia said...

I can't say that I really have a favorite genre...I usually stick to the "classics" but would enjoy reading Fatal Illusions, I'm sure. Thanks for doing the interview and the giveaway!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a good read! I love to read and the suspense will be great!

Linda said...

WOW! If your writing is like Mary Higgins Clark, Terri Blackstock, and Brandilyn Collins, we are in for a TREAT!

Count me in on the drawing.


Karis said...

I'm just commenting in support of Adam I guess. :-) I actually won a drawing for one of his books on another blog which shocked me because I never win anything! :-) I just hope someone comes to visit me pretty soon so they can bring it to me. :-) I LOVE to read, but I haven't done it much at all since deputation and kids all happened around the same time.

Edna said...

The book sounds so good, I would love to win it. I love to read and do so a lot at night. We old folks don't sleep as well as we used to.

May God Bless

Laureen said...

Hi I would like to thank you for hosting this giveaway! I love to read and am trying to increase my Christain book reading these days so I would love to win! My favorite genre changes all the time but currently I am doing alot of reading on studying different religions. Thanks!

A Keeper At Home said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. I would love to read this book because Adam sounds like a great new writer in a much needed Christian fiction genre. My favorite is Mystery/Suspense Christian Fiction. Thanks so much!

The Boojes said...

I'd love to give the book a read! My fave genre is generally fiction, specifically classics, romance (if it's clean).

susanheindel at hotmail dot com

Mandy said...

My daughter would love this book. She's been reading tons of Christian novels from our church library...thanks for the offer.

rebecca said...

I would love to read this book! I usually like science fantasy or historical fiction.

gitrecca at gmail dot com