Lorena McCourtney started out with a degree in agriculture and the intention of writing non-fiction on agricultural subjects. But, as with many plans, life went in a different direction, and her writing turned into a career in fiction. She first wrote numerous children’s stories, then short stories for women. Romance novels followed, then a switch to Christian romances, and now she feels she’s found her real home in Christian romantic suspense.
Lorena and her husband live in southern Oregon, where their only livestock now is one eccentric cat.
Q&A WITH LORENA MCCOURTNEY:
How did you create your character Ivy Malone?
Ivy is an older woman who is dismayed to realize she seems to have aged into invisibility. This came out of my own personal experiences with getting older and turning invisible, so Ivy is really a part of me with some differences and additions to make her a full-blown character. She’s more adventurous than I am – I wouldn’t, for example, want to spend the night alone in a cemetery as she did! She’s more outgoing. She’s tossed into becoming a sleuth because of circumstances in her life and quickly realizes that “invisibility” can be a handy asset. I didn’t fully create her before I started writing, and other facets of her personality simply pop up along the way. Ivy, I discovered, is not an arts-and-crafts sort of person. Neither is she a great gardener. Some writers develop a character fully before they ever start writing, but mine kind of grow along the way.
What is your process for writing a mystery?
Idea comes first, of course. I think of any story – mystery or otherwise – as kind of a circle, with the necessary elements of a story spaced around it. These necessary elements are plot, characters, setting, theme, and title. An idea may enter at any point on that circle. The Ivy books started with the idea of the character of Ivy. The Julesburg Mysteries started with a plot point – what if a woman is accused of murder and isn’t sure if she did it or not? The idea for the Andi McConnell Mysteries started when I saw the huge trunk of a limousine at a car show and thought – hey, wouldn’t that be a great place to stuff a dead body? I’ve done a couple of books where a title popped into my head and I wrote a story to fit it. (I do like to have a title early on, as it seems to give me a sense of direction, but it may be one of those well-known exercises in futility, because someone at the publishing house usually comes along and changes it.) And setting – well, I simply wanted to set a story in the Grand Canyon, where we took a great raft trip, and so I thought of a story that fit that setting. Which resulted in a romance titled “Canyon.”
Where/ how do you come up with your story lines?
I probably answered that in my answer to “what is your process for writing a mystery?” but I might add that I think of plot in a fairly simple way. A mystery starts at Point A, commission of the crime, usually murder (called the “inciting incident” in some teachings on writing) , and ends at Point B, the apprehension of the killer. So it’s a matter of getting from point A to point B in the most interesting and tension building way possible, with a final climax scene of danger and revelation.
How do you create realistic humor in your novels?
I’m really not sure. My main characters often have a wry or quirky sense of humor and so they simply see the world from that viewpoint. Since my stories currently as usually classified as “cozies,” I go for a lighthearted view of life, including crime, rather than the dark side. Circumstances simply seem to pop up that have a humorous twist. I don’t deliberately try to manufacture them.
ARE YOU DYING TO READ A GOOD MYSTERY?
Cate Kinkaid is just dipping her toe into the world of private investigating until one of the many résumés she has floating around lands her a real job. All she has to do is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? When the big and brooding house happens to contain a dead body, this routine Pi job turns out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
READY TO READ?
BARNES AND NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dying-to-read-lorena-mccourtney/1106874146?ean=9781441238221
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