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Interview With Alice K. Arenz

A.K. Arenz has already published two cozy mysteries in her Bouncing Grandma series and is now branching out with Mirrored Image. I have met Alice on several occasions and think she is just the sweetest lady, who must be harboring a dark side somewhere beneath that smile since she dreams up murder when she writes about Glory (the bouncing grandma). Her husband, Chris, is her biggest supporter and was there to cheer her on at the 2010 ACFW Conference when Alice went up to receive her first Carol Award (formerly Book of the Year Award) for her book The Case of the Mystified M.D. in the Bouncing Grandma series. I am curious to see how her new book Mirrored Image fares with audiences and reviewers this year — a good idea, great writing and then to be blessed with a great cover — it sounds like Alice is set to hit a home run with her newest book!

Alice, what a great time to win the award, in a very special year — how did it feel to win “The Carol Award” for Best Mystery with Carol Johnson and Janette Oke there to see you win it?

Absolutely, totally, and completely AWESOME. These women changed the face of Christian fiction and opened up a new world/market for every author who prefers to write with a Christian world view. Clean fiction isn’t always synonymous with Christian Fiction, but it soon will be.

I just wish I actually knew what I said up on the stage. Um . . . pictures would be nice, too.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
I’d have to say the day I decided to email Brandilyn Collins and she responded with information about ACFW.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
What I need is to find a way to balance those without giving into my OCD tendencies, which frequently have me wasting time. I’m working on it, though – with a lot of help from The Big Guy!

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
This is really an interesting question. You see, even when I had an agent from a big New York literary agency, I knew there was something not quite right. I wrote from my heart, what I felt God led me to produce . . . clean fiction, no gratuitous sex, violence, and never excessive swearing. I was told my writing was good—sometimes they said great—but they said it was too nice. I didn’t understand what they meant until I found ACFW and the CBA. All of a sudden there was this “Ping.” This was where I belonged.

So, I guess I’d have to say that even when I didn’t realize it, my faith, God, guided me. And I’ve always said the stories come from Him because I’m just not smart enough to come up with them on my own.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Being accepted as one of Sheaf House’s first authors was monumental and resulted in both my first and second books being finalists in the 2009 Book of the Year and the 2010 Carol Awards. And winning the Carol this year was incredible. I can’t separate these things—they’re all a part of the same thing.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
A single, simple answer: God. Without the Holy Spirit urging me forward, giving me hints and insights, I’d be nothing and nowhere.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries have a very special character in Glory Harper. Her voice is strong and fun. These books are totally different than the others I’ve written, and I’m thrilled to be taking on a more serious mystery/romantic suspense.

I’ve been told that my voice changes from one book to the next – except in the case of the Glory books. I think that’s a good thing. I hope it is. I wouldn’t want all my characters to sound alike from one book to the next.

Finish this question. When you wrote this story I wanted to leave my audience feeling that…
When I wrote Mirrored Image I wanted to leave the audience feeling fulfilled and happy they had chosen this book over all the others they could have read. My hope is that they will be entertained, confused, and ultimately satisfied with the way the book ends and with the lead characters. If they are, and if my publisher is willing, I’d like to add to the books containing Cassandra Chase and Detective Jeff McMichaels. I believe they have more they’d like to share with us.

Any parting words?
Um . . . sorry, I say that a lot. Probably too much. I’d like to invite people to check out The Case of the Bouncing Grandma and The Case of the Mystified M.D. – people often confuse them for YA books, so I have to explain that they’re cozy mysteries. I always say that I guarantee they’ll make you laugh. And I honestly believe that.

Then, clear your mind, take a look at the cover of Mirrored Image, and prepare yourself for a psychological roller coaster on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Bouncing Grandma mysteries. I think, hope, pray, I’ll surprise you.

Thanks for sharing with us, Alice!
Thanks for such a wonderful interview, Janna!

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