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Interview with Lillian Duncan

Words have played an important role in Lillian Duncan’s life. Her years of work as a speech pathologist prepared her for her second career as a fiction writer. And with numerous titles to her credit, she can’t pick a favorite because they’re all special in their own way. Read on to discover how she mingles murder, mayhem, and faith in her books and find out where she her story ideas come from.

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You worked as a speech pathologist for years. When did you begin writing? And how did your work influence your writing?
I started writing when I was 40 but I’ve loved books all of my life. From the time I could read books went with me wherever I went. Yes, I was a bookworm!

Being a speech pathologist gave me a “good sense” of the English language. But I think where it gave me the biggest advantage was in dialogue. As a speech pathologist, I learned to listen to all the nuances of conversations and dialogue and was able to incorporate that into my writing.

Murder. Mayhem. And faith? Tell us more about how these things come together in your books!
I like to describe my books as stories that demonstrate God’s love for us in difficult situations. And I make sure my characters experience really difficult situations.

On a scale of cozy to creepy, where do your suspense novels fall?
Just a tad past the middle. There’s lots of action and suspense but I keep the gore to a minimum. I leave out the graphic details—imagination can fill those in.

What keeps you up at night?
Nothing! I’ll tell my husband good night, then I close my eyes and thirty seconds later I’m asleep. Since my husband’s an insomniac, he finds that irritating for some reason.

You're a prolific author, and maybe you're not supposed to have favorites, but is one of your books more special than the others?
My first published book, Pursued, holds a special place in my heart. My Deadly Communications series features a speech pathologist so…love that series. Then there’s my Christmas novellas…so fun to write. And then I have an upcoming book, Puzzle House that is a complete departure from suspense and mystery so I’m really excited about that one as well.
And then there’s my latest book, Broken Trust… What can I say? I love all my books for one reason or another.

Where do you look for story ideas? Name one surprising place you found an idea for a story.
A story idea can happen at any time and any place.

Sometimes it starts with an idea like in Pursued, I wanted to put a country person and a city lawyer together then gave it the twist of the female character being the lawyer. Sometimes an actual scene pops into my head like in Deception. I visualized a woman getting a phone call from a little girl asking for her aunt but she didn’t have a niece—or does she?

One of the most surprising places was while I was watching a well-known talk show. No I won’t say what talk show but the book was Game On.

We have to know about your pets! Two dogs and TWO parrots? Names, please, and do the birds talk?
Abby is a Jack Russel terrier who lives up to their reputation. To say she’s a bit active is an understatement. My other dog, Snickers is a King Charles spaniel and is the sweetest dog ever. Even though he’s bigger than Abby, he lets her boss him around.

We have two parrots. Rocky is an Amazon parrot and is so sweet and loving. Jasper is an African Gray. He’s not a cuddler but loves to play. Both of them talk and whistle, especially when we’re on the phone.

Finish this statement: When I'm not writing, I’m …

thinking about writing! But of course I do have another life other than writing.

What passage or verse from Scripture inspires you the most?
Romans 8: 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. The tumors were benign, meaning non-cancerous, but they certainly weren’t harmless. It’s been a difficult journey but this verse has reminded me over and over that God has my back!

One of your websites is called Tiaras and Tennis Shoes. What is the significance of that title?
All of us have many different aspects to ourselves. For me, I love glittery jewelry (tiaras) but mostly wear casual clothes (tennis shoes). The challenge is to make all the parts work together so that you become the unique person that God created you to be.

What's the most challenging part of writing suspense novels? And the most rewarding?
I’d say one of the most difficult things is to come up with new ways to make my characters suffer. I want all my novels to be unique but there’s only so many bad things that can happen.

The most rewarding would be just finding an ending that remains true to the story but still makes my readers say, “Awwww.”

Any parting words?
I’d like to take a moment to praise ACFW. I believe ACFW was the last part of the puzzle I needed to become a traditionally-published writer. So if you’re pre-published, I’d say keep writing and learning and using ACFW to help you reach your dreams.

Thanks for sharing with us, Lillian!


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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