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Interview with Luana Ehrlich

Welcome, Luana, and congratulations on your latest release! This is book 4 in your Titus Ray Thriller series. What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Thanks! There’s an underlying message I hope both believers and unbelievers take away from this book and all the books in the series.

For unbelievers, it's the message that God is always at work to bring them to faith in Christ. Titus is a career intelligence officer, dedicated to carrying out deceptive, treacherous, and sometimes violent operations against both individuals and governments. He was raised in a dysfunctional family with no spiritual upbringing. Yet, while hiding out from Iran's secret police, he is confronted with the truth of the gospel by a group of Iranian Christians, demonstrating that a conversion experience often happens to the most improbable people in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In each of the books there’s also an underlying message for believers as Titus is forced to deal with what it means to be a follower of Christ in the shadowy world of espionage. Primarily, the message is that living out the Christian faith is never easy, no matter where you live or what kind of work you do. In the first book, One Night in Tehran, Titus attempts his first prayer, shops for his first Bible, and attends church for the first time while being pursued by an assassin. In the books that follow, he confronts past sins and learns to control his temper, and in Book Four, Four Months in Cuba, he deals with doubt when his prayers go unanswered during a crucial operation. These are gut-wrenching issues, and, like all believers, he’s not always successful in overcoming them.

What do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Most significant to my publication journey was the day I realized writing fiction books was my ministry. Before my husband retired, I’d always taught an adult Bible class and considered that my ministry, but then, after my first book was published and I began hearing from my readers, I realized writing fiction was a great way to share the gospel, and writing about a CIA intelligence officer had become my ministry.

You have chosen the independent publishing. What led you to choose this route as opposed to traditional or small press?
As soon as I finished writing One Night in Tehran, I contacted several well-known Christian agents and, although I received good feedback from many of them, I never received any offers. I was also encouraged by the feedback I received when I entered the ACFW’s Genesis Contest and received positive responses from a couple of the judges for One Night in Tehran. This submission process took almost a year, and, by the end of that year, I’d almost finished writing the second book in the series, Two Days in Caracas.

A couple of agents had suggested I might like to go the indie route, and, since there appeared to be little difference in the amount of self-promotion involved with either the traditional or the indie route, I chose to have my own publishing company, Potter’s Word Publishing, and publish my ebooks through Amazon, my print copies through CreateSpace, and my audiobooks through Audible. Having had years of experience as an executive assistant producing newsletters and other publications, I was familiar with both graphic arts and formatting concepts, and I believe that background made the process of publishing as an indie fairly easy.

If you had to pick three of the most memorable experiences from your time as a pastor’s wife and missionary, what would they be? And what did you learn from them?
My husband served in three different areas of ministry before he retired, so it seems appropriate for me to share memorable experiences from each of them. His longest ministry was as a pastor, and most significant to me in that area was helping young couples come to faith in Christ and then watching them mature in their faith to become leaders in the church.

As a missionary, my most memorable experience was setting up a bookstore in my home to provide believers with Christian books and literature. My husband also served as a ministry leader in our denomination, and, during that time, I volunteered to write a column for our denominational newspaper. This was a memorable experience for me because it led to doors being opened for me to write for our denomination’s international news service.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith plays a major role in who I am, so there’s no way it could not affect my writing. I have a close, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and thus, when I began telling the story of Titus Ray, I realized I couldn’t write a secular novel, or even just a “clean” story. I knew it had to have a thread of Christianity running throughout the plotline.

As a former missionary and pastor’s wife, your life and experiences didn’t exactly put you in the middle of covert operations or CIA operatives. Where do your story and character ideas come from? And how have you been able to be so detailed in your books?
I often tell people who ask me this question that I’m bound to secrecy and can’t reveal my sources, but the truth is, I’ve been reading spy fiction since I was eleven years old, and I’ve also done extensive research into all facets of the intelligence-gathering community.

My idea for the Titus Ray series came when I was listening to the news one morning and heard a story about the persecution of Christians in Iran. I began asking several questions, which eventually became the backstory of One Night in Tehran. I wondered what would happen if a veteran CIA intelligence operative in Tehran encountered a group of Iranian Christians and became a believer. How would his conversion affect his career? How would a man trained to lie and deceive others be able to follow the teachings of Christ in the real world?

This is book 4 in your Titus Ray Thrillers. What have you learned from writing a series?
When I began writing the story of Titus Ray, I never intended to write a series. However, as the plot developed, I realized there were more Titus Ray adventures to be told, and then, when I began studying the data behind what readers wanted, I knew a series would make the books more marketable. I’ve learned two things about writing a series: First, summarizing the previous book in the series in order to remind readers about the plot and the major characters is the most difficult writing I do, and, second, the last chapter in the book needs to have a few hints of the next book in the series to entice readers to grab the book as soon as it’s published.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
All Titus Ray Thrillers are written in first person, and that’s the only point of view in the story. Titus is telling the story, so it’s his “voice” the reader hears. Events in the story are told from his perspective, and readers only know other characters as they interact with him. This makes for a more intimate relationship between the reader and the main character and creates an atmosphere where the reader is able to “experience” the action in a more personal way.

Because the story is being told by Titus, there’s no god-like narrator providing background, describing characters, inserting motives, etc. Instead, like Titus, readers are required to listen to dialogue and pick up cues about what’s going on from the situations Titus describes.

You have a long-held passion for thrillers and mystery novels. Is there anything else that led you to choose the genre in which you write?
That’s an interesting question, and, frankly, I’ve never thought about it until now, but I might have chosen this genre because I’ve always enjoyed figuring things out, asking why questions, and solving problems. Writing in this genre requires an inquisitive personality, and that pretty much sums up my personality.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
As you might expect, I love to read. I also enjoy cooking and gardening, and I’m a news fanatic, so I watch a lot of news programs. I relax by playing a word game on my iPhone called Words with Friends, and I also communicate through Facebook with other author friends.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
In reality, the books are on my Kindle app on my iPad, but I’m reading Habits of Grace by David Mathis for my devotional reading, and for entertainment, I’m reading the new John Grisham novel, The Rooster Bar.

Finish this statement: In the future, I will…
In the future, I will have to decide what happens to Titus Ray after I finish writing Five Years in Yemen, the last book in the 1-5 series. A novella, One Step Back, the prequel to One Night in Tehran, will be released on Amazon in a few days, and after the release of Five Years in Yemen in November 2018, I’m considering writing a series of Titus Ray Thrillers using the “Steps” theme, with the next novel entitled Two Steps Forward.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others be their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a retriever-mix named Roxie. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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