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Interview with Mary Alford

Readers of Mary Alford’s fiction might not find themselves in dangerous situations in real life, but through her characters’ journey, Alford wants readers to find hope that they are not alone. Read on to discover how she started writing inspirational romantic suspense, what her Google search history is like, and what job she’d do for one day if she could.
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How did you come to write inspirational romantic suspense? And what do you love most about your genre?
When I first started writing seriously, I tried different genres like inspirational romance and mainstream romantic suspense, but they just weren’t for me. I believe God was leading me to write inspirational romantic suspense. In 2012 I was selected to participate in an online contest hosted by Love Inspired Suspense. In December of that same year, I sold my first Love Inspired Suspense. It has been an amazing experience, and I am so grateful to God for directing my steps.

What I love most about the inspirational romantic suspense genre is that I get to take readers on a rollercoaster ride filled with danger, suspense, faith, and romance. All these elements are building to a surprise ending that I hope will leave readers shocked. And always, always, there is a happy ending.

Some of your novels feature Amish characters and are set in Montana. That's a unique setting for Amish stories. Tell us more about that and what led you to incorporate Amish characters into your stories.
For me, I love setting a romantic suspense story amongst the Amish because it really spotlights the good-versus-evil theme in the story. There is something about taking the simple setting of an Amish community and placing a really bad villain there to intensify the suspense. In Among the Innocent, I chose the remote and sparsely populated Amish community of St. Ignatius, Montana. I loved that the community is small and spread out giving the killer lots of places to hide. The Mission Mountains serve as a backdrop for the community and add their own type of suspense. They act as silent witnesses to the drama taking place below.

What's the most shocking/interesting thing you've Googled as a suspense writer?
Gosh, I would hate for anyone to see my searches. I’ve researched terrorists, serial killers, arson, chemical weapons, and contagious diseases among other things. But I’d say it’s looking into the mind of a serial killer that is always the most terrifying. They are definitely wired differently.

Your website says you love to create characters "who face dangerous situations with faith on their side." What do you hope the average reader, who may not face dangerous situations, takes away from your stories?
I hope my readers see through my characters that no matter what you are going through or no matter how impossible your situation may seem you are never alone. Through every storm life throws at you, God is there. Take His hand and let Him guide you safely through.

How do you spend your non-writing time?
I love to travel to the mountains. They are my happy place. When I have time, I try to read, but my TBR pile keeps growing, and I don’t get to enjoy reading as much as I would like. Baking cakes is something I find fun to do when the inspiration strikes me. And I play the piano. I find it relaxing to get out of my head for a bit and create music for a change.

With dozens of books to your credit, do you ever wonder if you'll run out of ideas? How do you keep your plots and characters fresh?
I sure hope not. I think if that happens, it may be time to retire. Ideas come from many places, whether it is something I read or hear about—even while taking a walk I’ve had a story idea pop into my head. I think keeping the plots and the characters fresh comes from the questions we ask as writers. The digging deeper into our characters’ heads and learning what makes them tick. Asking them how they would handle a desperate situation. It’s amazing what you can learn from them. Many times, my characters have completely changed the direction of a story. For me, that’s what keeps things fresh.

If you could do another job for one day, what would you do?
I would like to be a spy. I love the whole life-and-death situations spies face daily. You live life on the edge, never knowing what deadly situation might be the one you can’t escape. The intrigue, the espionage—and knowing what you do might save dozens of lives. I love that.

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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