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Interview with Cynthia Ruchti

If you’ve been around ACFW for any length of time, you’ll probably recognize the name “Cynthia Ruchti,” especially if you’ve published a book as she is tasked with connecting authors with booksellers, libraries and readers. She credits ACFW as a major stepping stone in her writing journey, one that has seen 30 publishing books. What keeps her going as a writer? And how does she keep her writing fresh? She tells us in the following interview!

Welcome, Cynthia. You have quite the writing career! More than 30 books published, more than 30 years with a radio ministry (now retired), and as faculty for numerous writers' conferences. What keeps you going as a writer (and as a person)?
Intriguing question, because at first glance, I thought I’d have two different answers. Readers and coffee. But it’s one, with a caveat: Hope. Hope keeps me writing. Hope keeps me breathing. But underneath the layers of that word lie a vast array of supporting cast members—joy, peace, love, endurance, encouragement—and they all come from one supply source—Jesus Christ. Combining Romans 15:13 and Romans 15:5, all those cast members show up on one page and form the story of what keeps me going.

Tell us about your newest book. What was the inspiration for it, and what can readers expect from the story?
Sometimes a writer is inspired by what he or she knows well—medical technology or southern living or wilderness survival. But in this case, I was intrigued by all I didn’t know about hoarding disorders and addictions. I knew there had to be backstories for what leads to hoarding and what makes a hoarding addiction so devastating to families. Through Camille Brooks, the clinical psychologist who is devoting her life to help hoarders and their families through her work and her podcast, I could explore those behind-the-scenes stories as if listening to their hearts.

And I knew anyone who chooses to devote her career to specializing in counseling hoarders and their families must have an intriguing backstory of her own. Which she does.

Readers can expect that, as with my other novels, Afraid of the Light is a tough topic handled tenderly, with compassion and even humor, without dishonoring the characters’ heartaches. I’m interested to see who readers name as their favorite characters and why. Each one won me over, but for different reasons.

With more than 30 books to your name, how do you keep your writing fresh? And what's different now when you sit down to start a story from the first time you wrote one?
My goal as an author is to always work toward making my next novel better than the last. If I’m doing this right, I should be learning as I go, growing as a person even as I’m growing as a writer. Keeping the writing fresh usually requires a willingness to keep digging deeper, and depending more heavily on the God who invented creativity. And there’s that listening word again. I’m learning to listen for the unspoken cries of the human heart, and keeping an ear tuned to its echo in the heart of God.

Sounds like family keeps you hopping in your free time. What do your grandchildren call you (i.e. Grammy, Nana, Grandma) and what's your favorite thing to do with them?
The babies start out calling me Grammie. Now several of them are old enough that they’ve converted to using Grandma. Or, in moments of affected British accents, “Grandmother.”

How and when did you know writing would be your life’s pursuit and passion?
The radio ministry years were well along before I dared consider myself a writer. I think many writers go through the process of when it’s “legit” to start viewing themselves not just as someone who writes but as A Writer. Then, convinced of the value and power of story, when I started exploring what it would take to become a novelist, I went through that process all over again. If I write novels but no publisher is interested, am I still a novelist? Yes, but, it didn’t feel like it.

ACFW membership helped so much with that. I began to take myself seriously as a novelist. But in September of 2008, after years of study and relationship building and practice and submitting and unpublished contest success, I had a conversation with the Lord that went something like this: “Jesus, if this is of You, if writing fiction is Your assignment for me, I’m all in. But if this was just my idea, I will lay it down forever. I’d rather have Your will than my way.”

Within six weeks, I had an agent and a contract for my first novel. It released in 2010. More than 30 books have been published since then. When God says, “Now!” He means it!

Name one thing people might be surprised to learn about you.
If I said, “This isn’t my real hair color,” that might not be surprising. So I’ll say I have very eclectic tastes in music. Classical, contemporary, oldies, some country (limited there), a capella, orchestral, high energy worship, Gregorian, cathedral organ, Appalachian, piano, woodwind quintets, bassoon concertos, The Voice, dulcimer, cello (Oh! Cello!), but I pray there are no accordians in heaven. Pretty sure there aren’t.

Who are some of your favorite authors (or writers who inspire you)?
For a variety of reasons—from storytelling skill to tenacity to personal character to connections with readers to impeccable research—on my list would be Lynn Austin, Liz Curtis Higgs, Janette Oke, Francine Rivers, Lisa Wingate, Deborah Raney, Gayle Roper, Leif Enger, and so many others (including my agent, Wendy Lawton) I envision right now in the choir of excellent writers and excellent people who inspire me and push me to grow as a writer.

Any parting words?
ACFW has been with me on so much of my journey. It’s an honor to tell the story of how God used it as one of His tools to shape me as a writer. Thank you for this privilege.


Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at

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