Find a Christian store

Interview with Elizabeth Goddard

Elizabeth Goddard is a master of romantic suspense. Having found a love for reading and sharing stories filled with love, hope and mystery by the age of 14, she has now gone on to publish more than 40 novels, many of which have been best-sellers or award-winning. Elizabeth has published across well-known and loved publishers like Love Inspired (Harlequin) and Revell. Her latest novel, Don’t Keep Silent, continues the story of Rae Burke and Liam McKade in what promises to be a tale of intrigue, action and forgiveness.

Elizabeth, how have I not heard about your earlier!? Your stories all sound fantastic. What first drew you to write stories in the romantic suspense genre?
I’m glad you’ve heard of me now! I started out trying to write historical romance, but my first published novel was a contemporary romance for Heartsong Presents and, as it turned out, contained a lot of mystery and suspense elements. Authors often have to write a few books before they figure out their voice and niche, and I realized over time that I truly fit within the romantic suspense genre. I love reading in that genre as well.

I am quickly coming to realize that romance and romantic suspense in general is a powerhouse in the fiction world. How do you make your style of storytelling feel unique?
The style should naturally be unique as we are all unique. I’m going to be bold here and say that even when you think you know what it is, and write twenty books in that style, you can still grow as a writer and change. Bottom line is that you just write the story, and your voice and style will come out. Write what you want to read, and that’s what I’ve done. As a result, my readers know they’re usually going to find wilderness scenes—I love nature and exotic settings—in my novels. Readers have suggested my settings are so well depicted they become characters in my stories. I love action and adventure to go along with the suspense, and a deep emotional romance as well. I try to wrap all of that into one package.

You shared that you didn’t begin working toward publication until later in life. This is a similar scenario to myself. How has this worked to your benefit or disadvantage?
I wish that I had started much earlier, but even if I had, I would not have had the life experience to inject into the heart of my stories. I believe years and experience will make for a much richer story.

Have you ever dabbled outside of the romantic suspense genre? If so, what did you learn?
I mentioned earlier that I had started my pursuit of publication by writing historical romances. I attended ACFW with my one sheets on those romances. One day, for fun, I wrote a short fantasy story for my daughter who requested that. My whole family loved the story much more than my historical endeavors. So for a time, I pursued writing Christian fantasy, but it was during a time when that genre struggled in the Christian market. I pitched my fantasy stories for about two years at the conference, then finally said no more, and went back to pursuing romance. However something good came out of those two years--I met my agent Steve Laube (who was considered friendly to fantasy and science fiction proposals). I’ve written cozy mysteries for Annie’s Mysteries, and also for Barbour Publishing, but let’s call cozy mysteries first cousin to romantic suspense. Hahaha! In the end, no matter what other genres for which I’ve written, I always end up back writing romantic suspense.

You share on your website that you enjoy writing stories with unique settings. How does setting help to mold your stories and plots? What has been your favorite setting for a book or series thus far? Where are you taking us in Don’t Keep Silent?
Setting is my inspiration for every story. I have no explanation for why certain places inspire me, but setting comes first for me. I see a place and know that I will write a story set there. Settings help mold my stories because I will make sure to include scenes that “showcase” the scenery. I’ll use a treacherous mountain road for a danger scene, for example. I’m a Texan, but since living in Oregon I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have set most of my stories in that region. In the Uncommon Justice series I moved over only a little to the Rocky Mountains—and have showcased Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole regions. In Don’t Keep Silent, readers can enjoy winter in Jackson, Wyoming. I’ve skied there and snowmobiled through Yellowstone National Park. I’ve used all my experiences to give the reader a full-throttle romantic suspense adventure.

Of all the characters you have created, which character do you feel is most like you?
What a loaded question! Actually no one character is most like me. As a writer it’s impossible to not include a small piece of myself in my characters—after all, I want them to be human. I want them to be life-sized, moving and breathing so they can walk off the page. So I draw deep from within myself to breathe life into them, and, in the end, the next thing I know, my characters have a heart and mind of their own. I just let them be themselves!

Who was your favorite character to write in Don’t Keep Silent?
This is a tough one to answer. I absolutely loved Rae because of her drive to respond to that deep call in her life—to be a voice for the voiceless. How could I not love her? But I also loved Liam. . . he’s that brother I’ve been waiting to write for two whole books now, and finally get to explore his life in book 3. I loved discovering his story and his deep anguish and then seeing him find his way. As much as I loved these characters, I have to say I had a lot of fun writing Alan’s (Rae’s brother) story, and displaying the love he had for his little girl, whom I adored. I have a special needs child myself and I tried to infuse Alan with all the love I would feel for my child and turmoil he experienced when everything is turned on its head.

Writing 40 plus books is no small feat. How do you write this fast and not get confused about storylines, characters and commonly used phrasings?
You're funny. Who said I didn’t get confused about storylines and characters? Fortunately that doesn’t happen often, but a couple of years ago I was writing two books at a time, and I would work on one in the morning and the other one in the afternoon. As I was reading through I spotted a character in the wrong book! Actually I laughed and asked my character what she was doing there, and promptly removed her. I rely on my editors to point out commonly used phrases, but some of those phrases are also a part of voice and are just going to show up.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Other responsibilities? What are those? Are you laughing now? I am. Balancing writing with other responsibilities will always be a challenge because for some reason the reality of the writing life isn’t how it’s depicted in movies or perhaps solely in my wishful thinking. I can’t write a scene and then take a long walk on the beach and then go back to writing. There will always be the unexpected interruption to go with the expected distraction. If I have to leave the house to run an errand, that completely blows my writing day, so I would say that any event outside of household chores is the biggest challenge. I try to avoid those events at all costs. My best writing days happens when I can write a scene and then maybe do one chore during which time I’m also formulating new ideas for that scene or the next. Then I can go back to the scene, and do that back and forth all day. I aim for that rhythm on most days, but even that’s a struggle.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
I have to decide between four events to choose the greatest moment, and I’m not sure I can. Of course one great moment will be when I got “the call” which was actually an email from the Heartsong Presents editor who wanted to buy my book—my first book sale. The next big event in my mind is when my agent Steve Laube signed me—I knew that my bigger publication dreams had the possibility of coming true. Next when my cozy mystery, The Camera Never Lies won the Carol Award—I couldn’t have been more thrilled. But my biggest dream has really been to write for trade and I signed with Revell in 2017. Lonnie Hull Dupont chose my story, Never Let Go and the Uncommon Justice series. So perhaps after this long publishing journey, that moment is a dream come true and is the greatest moment. I hope there are more such moments to come in the future. I give God all the glory because He opened every single door for me to walk through.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Hanging out with my family and watching movies and going out to eat. Going on walks and hikes. I play around a bit on the piano and guitar for my personal enjoyment. Oh and of course I love to read! But I spend a huge part of the day writing, so there’s not much time left for other endeavors.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
A couple of different versions of the Bible, a devotional, Lisa Harris’s The Traitor’s Pawn, Dani Pettrey, Susan May Warren, Lynette Eason’s, and Susan Sleeman’s latest novels. Several other romantic suspense titles. Exercise and diet books. Should I stop now?

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
It’s impossible to separate my faith and spiritual life from my storytelling. God’s Spirit is living and breathing inside of me and with each book, each scene, each word, I pray for his guidance in the writing. Sometimes the spiritual message is more subtle than other times, but again I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me in that. I’ve loved that some readers have said they could simply feel God in the book. One reader said, “you just feel God is there in the story, in the characters’ lives and in their decision making.” There’s no greater compliment.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Don’t Keep Silent is about exposing evil in the world, and helping those who can’t help themselves. That message is overt, but some of the subtle truths are about forgiveness and second chances and self-discovery—learning who we are in this world and in Christ. My hope is that readers will come away changed in even the smallest way—whether they simply enjoyed an escape from their busy lives, or they take away something deeper such as the power of love to change lives.


As a teen, Tara Ross first discovered how hope-filled prose can change the entire trajectory of a person's life. Case in point: her life. She now has the joy of sharing this truth with youth every day - as a Speech-Language Pathologist, youth ministry worker and YA author.

Her soon to be released debut novel and blog, were created to ignite sparks of faith for Generation Z. You can follow Tara on instagram (tara.k.ross) or twitter (tara_k_ross) for more book reviews, tattoo worthy quotes and updates on her publishing journey.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.