I’m back with the conclusion to the interview with Lillian Duncan, author of the new suspense novel, Pursued. Today, Lillian will tell us more about herself and her life as a writer. Welcome back, Lillian.
Where are you from, Lillian?
I’m from a small town in Ohio. We’re located about half-way between Columbus and Cleveland. When I say small I mean small. There’s one traffic light. I love living in a town where I know the names of the people I see on a regular basis, like the store owner, the librarians, and the pharmacist. And in fact it’s one of the themes in Pursued.
When and why did you start writing?
I know this is going to sound a bit strange, but I’ve always “made up” stories in my head when I was bored. Very detailed stories with characters and problems and happy endings. After two very specific events, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Oh, these are the stories I should be writing down so I started writing that day and I haven’t stopped since.
How long have you been writing and did you ever feel like giving up?
I started writing 16 years ago when I was 40. Yikes, that makes me so…never mind. And absolutely, I wanted to give up many, many times. And in fact, I did give up many times but I always started up again.
I don’t know any writer who hasn’t felt that way. The uncertainty of becoming a published writer can be frustrating and overwhelming at times to say the least. But if being a writer is your dream,
you have to keep writing and waiting…and waiting…and…..
What books have most influenced your life?
Dick and Jane, Curious George, Pippi Longstocking, and The Cat In The Hat to name a few. I wish I could give a list of profound literary books but the truth is the first books I ever read changed my life. They opened up a new world to me. They created a lifelong reader who loved books so much that she wanted to create her own.
Do you have a person you consider a mentor?
I don’t have one specific person whom I consider a mentor but I do have several critique partners whom I go to for advice and help as well as encouragement and support. By the way I would love to have a mentor so if there are any writers out there wanting to mentor, look me up.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend time with my wonderful husband and our menagerie of animals. We have two dogs and four parrots so home can be a noisy place at times. In the summer, we like to camp Again, there’s that outdoorsy thing I never would have tried without my husband’s encouragement. In the winter, I’m on a bowling league–not that I’m
any good at it, but it is fun. And last but not least, and I hate to admit it but I like to watch TV–especially the crime shows. Go figure!
What does your writing schedule look like?
I try to write every day even if it’s only for 30 minutes or so. Most work days during the school year (my day job is a Speech Pathologist in a school) I write for an hour or so. I work part-time so on my non-work days, I will at least write for 3-4 hours at least two of the days I’m off work. In the summer, again, I try to work 3-4 hours most days but so far this summer, I’m working more like 6-8 hours each day.
What would you say is an interesting writing quirk you have?
I think my quirk is the fact I don’t have a quirk. I sit down at my computer and I write and write and write. I hear other writers complaining about how difficult the creative process is and I think I must be doing something wrong because I just sit down and the story comes to me one scene at a time.
What does your family think of your writing?
I’ve been blessed with a very encouraging and supportive family. My husband is an enabler (in a good way). He
cooks and does most of the household chores so I can find the time to write. He’s been such a wonderful gift from God for so many reasons.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
I hate thinking up names for my characters. I once wrote a manuscript and as I was editing it, I realized I had used the name of the characters and actors from the old TV series Gunsmoke. I had Miss Kitty, Matt Dillon, Amanda Blake, and James Arness. But no Festus!
Who is your favorite author and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love most of the suspense writers but two of my favorites are Terri Blackstock and Brandilynn Collins. I love their books because they are all about the story and the suspense and yet they manage to weave in a spiritual lesson along the way without the reader feeling like they are being preached at.
I love writing and rewriting my book but…after about the eighth or ninth time, it’s gets a bit tiring.
What did you learn from writing this book?
I actually learned a lot from this book. It was the first book I had critiqued with the large critique group from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Critiquing is a very humbling process. In the beginning of the critiquing process, I thought the others didn’t know what they were talking about. By the middle, I thought I should give up writing forever. By the end, I knew I was a much better writer than I’d been at the beginning.
And the proof is that this became my debut novel with a traditional publisher.
Do you have any advice for others who want to write?
Read as much as possible. Write as much as possible. Along with that, I’d say find a critique group. It makes all the difference. And never, ever give up your dream to be a writer.
What is your next project?
I have another book coming out in the fall, Deception. It’s full of intrique and action. Along with that I’m working on three other manuscripts in varying stages that will hopefully become books in the future including a sequel to Pursued.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I just want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to entertain them.
And I thank you for giving us more insight into your writing and your new novel Pursued, Lillian. Visit Lillian’s website at www.lillianduncan.net.