2010 ACFW Carol Award winning author, Alice K. Arenz, author of October 2010 suspense Mirrored Image, has been writing since she was a child. Her earliest publication was in the small, family-owned newspaper where her articles, essays, and poems were frequently included. In the mid-nineties, her writing earned her a stint with a well-known New York literary agency, and although it failed to produced the hoped for results, her determination to become published eventually led her to Sheaf House.Arenz also writes cozy mysteries under A.K. Arenz. The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, was a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest. The second in the Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D., won the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for mystery.
She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats.
Read the interview with Alice below and leave a comment and answer the question at the end for an opportunity to win a copy of this book.
1. I think you told me that you’d written this story a while ago, but had never found much interest in it. Did you do revisions to update it and how much revision was required?
You’re right. I originally wrote Mirrored Image in 1986 – the year the story is set in. That year, I’d submitted it to a small press called Cliffhanger Press. I started with the requisite three chapters, and they kept asking for more. I thought I’d finally made it. In the end, they decided that the story was “too big” for them and suggested I get an agent and try submitting it to a bigger house. Whenever I’d get down in the old days, I’d pull out those old postcards and notes and remember what it felt like to be on the cusp of something big.
The story of Cassie and McMichaels just wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s been re-written almost every year since then – with my oldest daughter, Kelly, by my side editing. We’re both incredibly pleased with the way the story evolved. And having this finally in book form, is a dream come true!
2. Hmm, I have a manuscript like that. Maybe I’ll dust it off. I’m curious, this is so different from your two recent mysteries, so how did you come up with this story idea in the first place?
Stories like Mirrored Image are what I’d always written – until God gave me Glory Harper and the Bouncing Grandma Mysteries. I love the fun and complete honesty of Glory’s character. She’s a perfect foil to someone like Cassie – or maybe she’s more like what Cassie might be when she’s thirty years older. Um . . . I hadn’t thought about that.
As for how I came up with the story of MI, I’ve no idea how to explain it – for me, it always happens the same. Something, I like to think it’s God or the Holy Spirit, plants this little seed. Sometimes it’s the setting, sometimes it’s a person – I never know what it might be. And, just like a seed, it sort of sits in my head and germinates until the people are yelling to get out – or God says it’s time to get back in front of a keyboard. Since I’m a total seat-of-the-pants writer, I literally never know what or how something will happen.
3. Oh, how I can identify with that! That’s what makes writing fun. How much research was necessary for the story to come together?
Because it’s set in the year I wrote it, it’s pretty much what I already knew. I did, however, look up several things to do with the Vietnam war to make sure that plot point was plausible.
4. Did any surprises or unexpected developments come up while you were revising?
As the years passed, I think I started seeing things a bit clearer – not just the characters, but what they were living through. One of the subplots, which was added in the mid 90s actually happened in a small town near where I used to live. The only hint I’ll give you is that it’s kinda out there, on a different plane.
5. Now you’ve aroused my curiosity. What was the most difficult thing about writing the story of these two women?
As Lynette’s story unfolds, and Cassie sees behind the façade, it made me realize how so many of us tend to live the same way – showing different faces, changing our attitudes at times just to be accepted. It was a very sad realization.
6. Great observation. The need to be loved and accepted creeps into all of us at one time or another. What advice would you give to those desiring to write suspense?
READ IT! If you don’t read suspense, aren’t even sure if you like it, don’t write it.
And when you read, don’t just choose books by today’s mystery/suspense authors. Take a look at people like Phyllis A. Whitney, who was once considered the Queen of Suspense – and they were CLEAN, too! – but also look at Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier – remember it was her REBECCA that introduced the world to the idea of romantic suspense. There are so many fine, talented authors out there, both from today and yesterday that you have a wide choice of reading/studying material.
7. I love Phiyllis Whitney and Rebecca was a favorite, but I think I’ll stick to reading suspense. It’s my favorite genre, but I don’t think I’d write it. I’ll leave it to you and others. What was your favorite thing about writing Mirrored Image?
It was always that one day, somehow, God would show me where it needed to go to end up being a book. That’s why I kept on re-writing it – I believed Him.
8. How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve – The Adventures of Christopher and Christina – long lost. I got seriously into trying to figure out the world of agents, editors and publishers in the mid to late 70s. That was a long time ago.
9. I have to laugh at that one. I waited until the 90s to do that and began to think I’d waited too long. Any words of wisdom for new writers?
If this is where you feel God is leading you, what you feel deep in your soul this is what He wants you to do with your life, then study hard, read A LOT, go to classes at local colleges, take the ACFW free courses, attend conferences, work hard, and Never, Ever, give up.
10. Where may our readers find out more about you and your books?
My web site is www.akawriter.com and if you want a bit more in-depth interviews, Dianne Burnett of Christian Book.com just interviewed me - http://www.christianbook.com/
Thanks for having me on your blog, Martha!
You’re welcome, Alice. It’s been a pleasure having you. Now if you readers would like a copy of this book, leave a comment and answer this question.
“I like reading suspense novels because….” Your name will then go into the drawing for a free, autographed copy of this book.