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Interview with Lillian Duncan

Lillian Duncan may live in the middle of peaceful Ohio Amish country, but her faith-filled suspense books hold your attention with murder, mayhem, and romance. Lillian recently retired as a speech pathologist, a job she’s done for thirty-four years. When she’s not finding ways for her characters to survive until the end of the book, she’s writing for a whole whack of blogs, both as a regular and guest blogger. Throw in her non-fiction books, and you have one very busy author.

Lillian, since 2004 you’ve used a variety of publishing methods to get your fiction and non-fiction books into the hands of the readers. Was this out of necessity for what was available at the time?
I’d say a combination of both, along with not knowing all that I’ve learned since joining ACFW. I’m absolutely positive if I’d joined ACFW sooner, I would have been traditionally published much sooner.

Will that experience affect your future actions?
Definitely. I consider myself a hybrid author. Now that I’m traditionally published, it’s given me the confidence to continue as an indie author as well. There are advantages to being traditionally published, but there’s more freedom to be found as an indie author.

Your current release, Betrayed, dives into the secret world of the Witness Protection Program and shows what could happen in a scenario such as your characters face. Where did this story idea stem from?
Betrayed is the second in my Sisters by Choice series. Deception, the first, involved a terrorist. Maria was the wife of the terrorist. My editor cut most of Maria’s story from the book and that made her very unhappy. Maria insisted I write her story! So, I did.

What can a reader expect in regards to faith, fear, and romance in Betrayed?
Wow. That would be a great tagline. Faith…Fear…& Romance. There’s lots of all three in this book. Can you imagine the faith it takes to give up your life and start over?

Why do you write suspense? Or do you write it because you enjoy reading it?
There’s no doubt about it that suspense is my favorite type of story to read, but I read other genres as well. But every time I try to write a different genre, a dead body pops up (or the threat of a dead body)!

So, I gave up. Now I embrace writing suspense with some romance thrown in.

From what I’ve read on various websites, your readers don’t want to put your books down, once started. Why do you think you keep them reading?
I am a pantser through and through. That means absolutely no outline of any sort. Each book is different, but I usually have some idea at the beginning. Where that’s going to take me is anybody’s guess.

I sit down and write. If I find myself getting bored I do something drastic to the character—with no idea how they are going to get themselves out of it! That’s what makes writing fun for me and, hopefully, for my reader as well.

Your blog appearances cover a wide range of topics including devotionals. How do you find time to balance them all along with your fiction writing, day-time job, family and church time?
Balance? I’m not sure that a balanced life can exist alongside a writing life! Still, it’s all about being organized. Which is funny—I’m not much of an organizer, but I try.

I no longer have my day job so that helps a lot. I retired in 2012 due to health issues. As much as I love being a full-time writer, I still miss working—especially the students.

But back to finding balance, I use a method I learned as a school speech pathologist. If you look at all you need to do all the time, it becomes overwhelming. Instead, focus on one task at a time. When that task is done move on to the next, but still keeping the big picture in mind as well.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I know it sounds arrogant, but I truly believe God created me to be a writer. In return, I try to find a way to honor God in each story I write.

You may not know that I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors in 2012. They call them benign, but believe me, there’s nothing benign about them. As a result of the tumors, my vestibular (balance) system is messed up along with a significant hearing loss. Because of that, I have what I call “yucky brain syndrome.”

The amazing thing is when I sit down to write the fog clears up, the creativity clicks on, and for a few hours I feel almost normal. What a blessing from God that I can still write!

As far as ideas go, they can happen anytime and anywhere. Sometimes, it’s a deliberate brainstorming session to get a story going. Other times, an idea or even a complete scene pops into my head. I literally dreamed one of my stories, and my current WIP came from a Dr. Phil show!

Like I said—anytime and anywhere!

Finish this statement: If I could take a research trip anywhere in the world, I would go to _____________.
Antarctica—oh wait. I think I went there this winter.

Any parting words?
Keep writing; keep learning; and keep God first place, no matter where life or your writing takes you.

Thanks for sharing with us, Lillian.

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