So the adventure begins! Today is the first in a series of year long posts in which I’ll highlight fellow authors. Leave a comment at the end of the post for a chance to win a free chapter critique by me.
And now, meet Elizabeth Maddrey and enter the Grant us Grace world…
Tell me a bit about where you’re from.
I spent the first 11 years of my life in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. At heart, I think I’m still that small-town girl. Then we moved to the D.C. area where I spent the next three years experiencing insane culture shock and trying to adapt to life in this busy, politically charged (yes, even in middle school) area. I left for college, married, moved around a little in our early years together…and ended up right back in the D.C. area. I don’t know that I’d ever say I like living here, but I’m used to it and there are a lot of positives (the traffic, however, is not one of those positives.) It’s home, for now, and the setting of my books (mostly because there’s an interesting mixture of people and culture here), but I don’t imagine I’ll live here forever.
What is your favorite film adaptation of a book? Why?
I adore the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The number one thing I love about it is that you can sit there with your copy of the book and follow along if you wanted to. They did very little cutting or adding to the story—they just made a fantastic book into an equally fantastic movie. I also think the chemistry between Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds is unmatched. The rest of the casting is also superb. It’s a movie I can watch over and over and never grow tired of.
What is your favorite genre to read? Write?
I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to books – I’ll read just about anything. (I tend not to like historical, which follows with having disliked history all through school as well and continues to be a source of frustration to my mother who adores history and historical fiction.) If I had to pick a favorite genre, I’d probably cheat and choose romance and scifi (or I guess we’re supposed to call it speculative these days.) So far I’ve only published in romance, but I’ve got some speculative books simmering in my brain that are going to have to come out sooner or later.
Who does your intended audience include? Believers and nonbelievers? In what ways do you believe your story reaches each?
I love good, clean romance but I also love characters who aren’t perfect – who are, in fact, sometimes so flawed that they could be someone I know in real life. You get characters like that in secular romance but not usually in Christian romance. But when I read secular romance I end up skipping like a third of the book because I just don’t want to read all the sex, and I really don’t even want to like a book that’s promoting sex outside of marriage as normal and nothing to bat an eye at. But if you push the sex aside, the stories and the characters in mainstream romance are so much more alive than what I frequently find in Christian romance. So I try to blend those in my books. It’s my hope that believers and nonbelievers would enjoy my stories – though I suspect nonbelievers might take issue with the overt Christianity in the stories (cause it’s there). Basically, I write books I want to read and hope that there are other people out there looking for the same things I am.
What spiritual themes do you prefer to emphasize?
In keeping with the types of characters I like to read about (people who are flawed like the rest of us), the major spiritual theme in pretty much all of my writing is that we all—believer and nonbeliever alike—need God’s grace. Becoming a Christian doesn’t fix you; you’re not somehow immediately immune to the desire to sin. So often I think Christians (new believers and those who’ve walked with Jesus for many years) fall into the trap of thinking that they should be perfect. And while yes, we’re to strive for that, the Bible’s pretty clear that perfection will only come when we live with Him in heaven. Until then, it’s a daily—sometimes hourly—fight with our sinful nature. Sometimes we’ll win, other times we’ll fail. Either way, we always have God’s grace.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? The worst?
The best advice I’ve gotten is to just keep plugging away. Make time to write every day, even if it’s just ten words – get something onto the paper (well, screen, but you know what I mean). Even if you think it’s junk, write it and save it and edit it later.
The worst? Probably that you shouldn’t read your reviews. I read all my reviews – and yeah, sometimes they hurt and I say “Oh, I’m never reading reviews again”…and then I’m right back there poking through them. I think, at least for me, I’m always going to be too curious to not read my reviews – so for me, it’s bad advice because it just makes me feel guilty on top of everything else when I go look and see what people have said. Plus, I can honestly say my writing has improved with each successive novel, and some of that drive to keep working on my craft has come from the reviews that were less than kind.
Share your favorite Bible verse and the ways in which it impacts your writing.
I love Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Especially as one who reads reviews I try to make sure that I focus on things that are going to edify, not tear down. Within my stories, I try to make sure that, at the end of the day, the reader will come away from their reading experience having been built up by things that are in line with Paul’s encouragement here. I want my stories to plant seeds that grow into a deeper relationship with Christ.
To get to know Elizabeth’s characters better, check out Serenity to Accept, released in September 2013 and available for purchase here.
Karin Reid has never had much use for God. There’s been too much pain in her life for her to accept that God is anything other than, at best, disinterested or, at worst, sadistic. Until she meets Jason Garcia.
After his own mistakes of the past, Jason is committed to dating only Christians. He decides to bend his rule for Karin, as long as she comes to church with him.
As their friendship grows, both will have to decide if they’ll accept the path God has for them, even if it means losing each other.
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey.
Thank you for hithering and venturing to another world with me. Please visit again next week when I’ll interview Mary Hamilton, author of Hear No Evil.
7 thoughts on “Grant us Grace: An Interview with Elizabeth Maddrey”
I enjoyed this interview. I found it particularly interesting, Elizabeth, that the worst piece of advice you’ve heard was to avoid reading your reviews. As the release date for my debut novel comes closer, I have been increasingly advised of that very thing. After some self-examining, I decided I really don’t have the confidence to push through negative reviews.
Instead, my husband and I agreed in advance that HE will read them instead and share the good and constructive with me in a way he knows I accept the best.
After all, I can’t forego knowing what people are saying altogether. 😉
Thank you for the interview!
I think you have to do what works for your personality. I know I’d be too curious (and spend time imagining the worst). So for me it’s been better to just read them, and deal with the negatives. I’m getting to the point I can just pray for the folks who feel the need to be awful and move on. (And I haven’t had many truly awful reviews. I’m sure that helps.)
Thanks for stopping by!
Great interview! I love the advice that writers should keep plugging away, even if it’s just ten words a day. That can be so difficult on days when you’re trying to write and the words/ideas just aren’t coming or fitting together. Pushing through seems like such an important skill, or perhaps I should say discipline.
It’s definitely a force of will some days!
Thanks for stopping by!
Phil. 4:8 is my favorite verse too. I really enjoyed this interview Elizabeth.
And the winner of the free chapter critique is Erin Unger (which worked out great because Nadine and Clint are in my critique group). Erin, I’ll email you to discuss details if you are interested. Blessings.