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Interview with Elaine Stock


Elaine Stock didn’t follow the typical advice of “write what you know” when she penned her first novel, Always With You, which debuted in January. She gave it a twist that combines the often-volatile family dramas with suspense elements. And, though, she’s no fan of a particular season of the year (brrr!), you’ll often find it in her stories.

Your debut novel is out in the world. Yay! How did you feel holding it in your hands? And what has your writing journey been like?

For years I’d pictured that final glorious moment of holding my novel in my hands as me shouting so loud in joy that friends in different states could hear me. The reality was incredibly different: a peace and stillness filled me from head to toe. It was a lovely, special feeling.

My writing journey? One word: Long. As I said in the dedication to my husband, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I’m glad I remained in my seat for the ride.

Your tagline reads "fusing family drama with psychological suspense." Intriguing! How did you choose that? And can you give us some comparisons to other books, TV shows, or movies that would have a similar description?

For years I’ve read the advice to “write what you know.” Well, it took me a while to realize that what I know doesn’t keep my own interest as a writer! When I put a spin on it—writing what I enjoy reading—then I was able to finally swing into the right gears to enjoy telling the type of stories I find compelling. I can only hope and pray that this discovery pays off in that others enjoy my novels.

As far as developing my author brand, it took a little experimentation. However, when I was designing my new website that tagline just popped into my head. It made my agent chuckle!

I love exploring the dynamics of family: what makes a family strong or weak, what defines family, what will test a family. And the former psychology major I was, I also enjoy a twinge of psychological suspense to add to the tension of an already fraught situation for family members.

Though I believe my Always With You is quite different from these two amazing Christian reads—They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti and Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley—I admire how these authors captured emotions and mixed them with a bit of suspense. ABA wise, I’m also a big admirer of Jodi Picoult and am amazed at the stories she weaves through family complexities. Another comparison is Diane Chamberlain—she writes these great family stories but also with an element of suspense.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I work at a day-job with what others may think of as absurd hours (waking up at 3 a.m. to begin the day at 5 a.m. and to arrive home late afternoon), but I’ve whittled it down to 4 days a week. Because I’m really striving to advance my writing, I write over the weekend. I admit to not having much free time these days. I’m not complaining, but rather praising God for His blessings. I do indulge in watching DVDs at home—I love movie musicals.

I also love taking walks with my husband. Since we live out in the country, there are some great scenic places to enjoy.

From your bio, it sounds like winter is your least favorite season. What are your best ways to cope with the cold? What season is your favorite, and why?

Winter in upstate NY can be wicked, though this current winter has been full of mercy. After driving in steering-wheel-gripping road conditions, praying constantly, and arriving home to find my husband scraping the snow off our slate roof, winter has lost its appeal. However, and ironically, I enjoy setting a story in winter: A particular season can add flavor to a story’s mood.

My best way to cope with the cold is to sit a few feet away from my woodstove, next to a hot mug of coffee or cocoa (with my laptop), while ignoring the outdoors. My favorite season is spring.

When does your best writing happen?

I’m a morning person, but I’m learning to write all kinds of hours if need be. When do the best story ideas occur? When I’m away from the computer! There’s a reason why God invented scrap paper.

What's next for you?

I’m finishing a story that involves three different family members that all need rescuing within 1 week’s time—and for different reasons.

Finish the following sentence: If money were not a factor I would ...

Quit the day job and write full time. I’d also enjoy making up for lost time socially: becoming more involved with my church and outreach in my community, inviting company over, and taking up a few new pastimes such as social dancing. And read a lot more! Ah, a gal can dream, right?

Any parting words?

Yes, two. First, thank you ACFW for all you’ve shared and taught me. It’s through the wonderful friendships and connections that I’ve made through this amazing group, on top of His grace, that I’ve seen my first novel published.

Second, a word to those trying their hardest to become published: Do Not Give Up! Keep moving forward when others have doubts about you and your goals. Learn to silence your negative inner voice.


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 her website.

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