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Interview with Carol Raj

Carol Raj's debut release is a humorous reminder of how God guides our steps even when we don't see His hand at work. Read on for an inside look at Carol's experiences as she wrote this book.

What was your inspiration for The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith?
My inspiration was my father, a high school English teacher. He flunked one of his freshman students but also coached him in wrestling. That student was so affected by my father’s character and imposing of consequences that he later said his whole life changed. He kept in touch for the rest of my father’s life.

Which character was easiest for you to connect with? Did a particular character prove challenging to connect with?
The character I connected with most was Muriel. Even as a child, my favorite characters on TV were the lovable, bemused older women.

The character I found most challenging was Stan. About the time of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, a local financial planner was also accused of running a Ponzi scheme. Stan seemed the perfect way for me to make a character or two destitute, but I never really understood him.

What spiritual truth do you hope your readers take away from The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith?
I hope readers are reminded that when God seems to not answer prayers, it’s because He has something better in mind. I have often seen this in retrospect, but it’s harder to see when I’m going through a crisis or dilemma. I always thank God for answered prayers, but I have often also thanked Him for unanswered prayers.

As you look back on your journey to publication, how did God open those doors for you? What’s one bit of advice you might give to your past Writer Self?
ACFW was instrumental in my getting published. First, an on-line critique group made me believe I was on the right track with Muriel. Second, a local critique group formed from the ACFW membership list. More encouragement! (One woman asked: “Did you know this is funny?”) Third, I found an interested editor at my first ACFW conference.

Advice to past Writer Self: (1) Don’t try to go it alone. It’s very hard to critique your own writing or to know if it has potential. (2) Go to writers’ conferences. Sign up for appointments with editors and agents. Their personalized feedback is invaluable. You might even get a nibble.

What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What challenges present themselves in making time to write?
I started Muriel when I was still working, and I wrote an hour each day after I got home. Now that I’m retired, it’s harder to have a routine. Doesn’t it seem it should be easier?

The biggest challenge for me has nothing to do with having the time. It’s getting stuck on plot points. In my next novel – a YA – I wrote each day to find out what would happen next. But the characters in the novel I’m currently working on are less cooperative.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
My favorite activities are reading and Bible studies. Currently, my husband and I are in the process of moving to another state after 40 years in the same house, so I’m busy packing. Lots of decisions to make! What to take, what to discard. Once we move, I hope to spend more time with family.


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance. Her contest wins include first place in the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest. Also a professional cellist, Amanda has been spotted onstage with the worship team at the ACFW Conference. A lifelong lover of the flatlands, she lives in Kansas with her husband and their three adorable Wenlets. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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