Find a Christian store

Interview with Stephanie Landsem

Stephanie writes historical fiction and biblical history. Her love of travel has enabled her to learn about far-off places. She loves history and is intrigued by how people lived together, worked, and what they ate (she loves food!) All things she brings to make her stories capture your imagination.

Stephanie, you've traveled to many countries; what would you say was the most fascinating and how have your travels helped with your writing?
I went to Brazil last summer, which was my first time in South America, and I have to say I loved it. I found the people to be amazing— economically poor but rich in hospitality and generosity, and strong in both their faith and culture. The country itself is naturally beautiful. I think I could go back to Brazil many times and never tire of it.

Travel fully immerses you in a new culture, much like what I want to do for my readers as they read my novels. I want them to feel as if they are living that time and place.

If you could spend the day with a famous author, whom would you choose and why?
Anyone who knows me knows how much my whole family loves Tolkien, even to the point of dressing up as characters from the Fellowship one Halloween. So not only would I want to spend the day with J.R.R., my kids wouldn’t allow any other choice!

What one bit of advice can you give to writers who are having difficulty finishing a novel?
Just plough through. Seriously, it is a very tough task that you’ve taken on and some days it seems like everything you write is destined for the delete key. But keep at it and give it a few days before deleting. It might not be great, but usually it’s better than you first think.

Briefly describe how you came to choose the settings for your novels?
I didn’t choose the setting as much as the characters. The settings of Biblical stories are familiar to anyone who’s read the Bible—Galilee, Jerusalem, even Samaria—so to make them come alive, I think they really need a character to interact in that setting so that the reader feels like they are right there.

I understand you are married and have four children. How do you balance your time with your family and your writing time?
Very carefully. I try to write when the kids are at school and set aside family time in the evening. With two books to market and one to write, it’s not always easy.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
That’s an easy one for me: The Bible. It’s really so inspiring to pick out a passage in the New Testament, especially the Gospels, and start asking questions. Why did that person say that? What kind of family could they have had? What did their interaction with Jesus, however brief, mean to them and what happened next?

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I love history, but I also love action. I like my stories to move fast with plenty of danger, some chase scenes, fights, and whatever else I can come up with to keep my characters on their toes.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
I always knew I wanted to write historical fiction, but never really had a story jump into my brain and develop into a book until one Sunday as I listened to the Gospel of John’s account of the Samaritan woman. I had so many questions about her, especially about what her family might have been like and how her encounter with Jesus affected them. That’s when I knew I wanted to write Biblical fiction.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I do love food and I love to cook. That’s good since I have four teenagers and their friends who eat all the time! I also love to travel, and I often spend my spare time planning our next family trip. This summer, we’re going to London and Scotland so that has been a lot of fun to work on.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
The Fine Art of Running in the Rain by Garth Stein, recommended by a friend and I find it beautiful and heartbreaking because I do love my pets.
Consider the Birds, by Debbie Blue -- a guide to birds of the Bible
Lonely Planet's Discover Scotland

Finish this statement: If I weren't a writer, I would be ___________.
A travel consultant, but only if I get to go on the trip!

Any parting words?
Thank you for having me. I’m so grateful to ACFW for all the wonderful people I’ve met and the opportunities it has opened up for me. I wouldn’t be writing these books if it weren’t for the awesome mentors, authors, and friends I’ve made in ACFW.

Thanks for sharing with us, Stephanie!

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.