It’s my great pleasure to have the ever gracious and wonderful Colleen Coble on my blog today. Colleen is a fabulous suspense author. She’s been voted American Christian Fiction Writers’ Mentor of the Year two years running now and has a huge heart for us fledgling writers. She appears frequently on the CBA Bestseller list, and her twenty-eight novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious Rita award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, and the Booksellers Best awards. Her newest title, ALASKA TWILIGHT, is a Women of Faith fiction selection.
DM: Colleen, thank you so much for being here. (laughing) I have to ask, how do you manage to write so fast? How do you manage your writing time?
CC: Thanks for inviting me, Dineen! I love to talk about my passion—writing! As far as managing my writing time, it’s more that I’m obsessed! It’s harder to tear myself away from the computer than it is to make myself sit there and write. I don’t have kids at home, and writing is my full-time job. So it’s not so much a matter of writing fast as it is that I spend lots of time doing it.
DM: How do you balance your writing life with your spiritual life?
CC: I make sure my devotions are in the morning. My day always goes better after spending some time with God first, and I find if I don’t do it in the morning, the day crowds in and I don’t do it at all.
DM: Now I know Romans 8:28 is a kind of life verse for you. How did you come to choose that Bible verse?
CC: My spiritual journey started out badly, yet I found God brought good out of it. We had been at my in-laws for a birthday party—mine and my son’s. An icy rain had started falling while we were in the house, and we didn’t realize it. They lived out in the country, and we had to drive back to town. We thought about staying, but it wasn’t that far, and we thought we’d be fine. I was tired and had just dozed off with Kara in my arms in the front seat (before the child restraint laws). I heard my husband exclaim, and my eyes opened to see another car in our lane sliding toward us.
In that moment I knew we were going to die. I held Kara close and waited for the end, knowing I wasn’t ready to meet God. I’d gone to church with my beloved grandmother, and I knew I wasn’t right. God was merciful and spared us all, though a boy in the other car had been killed. We were all pretty battered. Kara’s jaw had been shattered, my husband had teeth knocked out and his wrist was badly damaged. Our son was in a neck brace, and I had a piece of the dash sticking in my leg. We were in the hospital about ten days. The first people at the scene were Christians, and they rode with our kids in the ambulance, their church brought in food when we got out, and we began attending and committed our lives to Christ within about six months.
I really didn’t see anything good in that accident. Then about a year later, I took at look and at the time, 10 people had come to Christ as a direct result of the accident. So I learned the truth of that verse very early.
DM: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of writing?
CC: The initial rough draft. I love all aspects of writing, but once I can get the rough draft down, it really gets fun!
DM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
CC: I’m a junkie for the revision process. Waiting to get the feedback from my editors is exquisite torture. Will they like it? What suggestions will they have? Then when it comes, I dig in and see the bones of the story flesh out into something even richer.
DM: Colleen, your books have very rich characters. How do you go about developing and researching them?
CC: I try to make sure they’re not perfect. I’m not perfect so I don’t relate to perfect. (laughing) I spend some time trying to figure out their quirks and their flaws. And I always try to create strong characters. Wimpy heroines make me ill.
DM: Many of your books have an animal or mammal as an important character. Can you tell us more as to how or why you like to do that?
CC: You know that was just a fluke. Shocking huh? I wrote the Rock Harbor series and everyone just loved Samson. I love animals and it came through I guess. When I was creating the new series, I asked my editor Ami McConnell to help me figure out what my brand was. To my surprise, she listed an animal as being an important element. Then when I looked back at my Barbour books, I realized I often had either animals or children. I’m a nurturer at heart and I guess it just came through.
DM: Tell us a little about the research you did for ALASKA TWILIGHT.
CC: I’ve been an Alaska junkie for years. I bet I’ve seen North to Alaska twenty times. I read all the Jack London books over and over again as a teenager. Something about the wilderness calls to me—maybe it’s my Native American heritage (I’ve got Miami and Cree blood). I got quite a few travel books to read as well. And I was blessed to have Amy Bang and Kristin Blincoe read the manuscript for me. They’re both from Alaska.
DM: ALASKA TWILIGHT is a Women of Faith book. Will you be touring with Women of Faith? Can you tell us a little of what that will be like for you? What cities will you be in?
CC: I’ll be at six Women of Faith conferences this year: Atlanta, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and St Louis. I’ll be signing books though, not speaking.
DM: What’s next on your writing schedule. I hear we’ll be seeing more books set in Hawaii? Will that be a continuation of your Aloha Reef series?
CC:The next book out will be Dangerous Depths, book three in the Aloha Reef series, releasing in May. Then Fire Dancer, the first book in the Fire Jumper series will be out in October. Book four in the Aloha Reef series, Midnight Sea, will be out next February. It’s a Women of Faith book also. I’m working on Midnight Sea right now.
DM: Colleen, thank you so much for being with us today. And thank you for all that you do for the faith and writing communities.
CC: Thanks for having me, Dineen. Great questions, and it’s been really fun!
Be sure to check out Colleen’s website for the latest information regarding her books, writing, and her speaking and touring engagements.