I am thrilled to have author Luana Ehrlich on the blog to chat about her books and the book business as a whole. I really enjoyed her responses and so I hope you all do, too!
1. When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
A: As soon as I learned to read and began to devour books, I started to dream of becoming a writer. I even decided I would write under another name, and I chose the name Pam Black, because I thought mine was too difficult for people to remember. Now, I love my slightly unconventional name, but I did include Pam Black as a minor character in one of my novels.
I finally decided to put pen to paper (or to open up my laptop) when my husband retired from a long-time pastorate. Since I wasn’t as involved in his ministry, I found I could finally indulge my love of writing.
2. Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?
A: The idea for my series, Titus Ray Thrillers, and the first book in the series, One Night in Tehran, came after I heard about the persecution of Christians in Iran about five years ago. Because I’ve always been an avid reader of mysteries and thrillers, I knew my first book would be in this genre. However, when I heard about the Iranian Christians, I began asking several questions, which eventually became the plotline of the book. 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? My series developed around this character and the plotlines have expanded because of asking these questions.
3. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
A: I’m not a plotter; I’m more of a pantser. That is, even though I have an idea of where I want the book to take me, I don’t make an outline, except for writing down a paragraph or two. In other words, I “fly by the seat of my pants.” Mine are suspense novels, and I like to be kept in suspense. Creatively, I believe I’ve evolved by being able to envision my characters without the necessity of searching for images of potential characters on Google, something I did in my first book.
4. What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?
A: The hardest part of the creative process of writing is knowing how much information the reader should be given in order to be able to stay interested in the plot. There’s a fine line between too much information and too little. That was the hardest part of writing my last book, Two Days in Caracas. This probably comes from enjoying the research aspect of writing. For example, while I found out some fascinating information about the features available on a yacht, I wasn’t sure my readers would feel the same way. Christian writers always face the challenge of how much of the gospel message to include. I always try to keep in mind I’m writing an espionage thriller and not another book of the Bible. All three of my books have taken me a year to write, because I’m an incessant editor.
5. Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
A: My three biggest frustrations about the business of writing is the need for constant promotion, the amount of money needed for promotion, and the time it takes away from writing to do promotion.
6. On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
A: By far the most exciting part of the creative process is character creation. I love seeing how my characters interact with each other, what comes out about their backgrounds, and how the story simply emerges from their personalities.
7. What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
A: Although I don’t have much time for reading while I’m in the middle of writing, I try to read at least one fiction book and one non-fiction book. My present fiction book is Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille and my non-fiction is J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. Naturally, my favorite authors are in the mystery/thriller genre and include, Daniel Silva, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, James Patterson, and Nelson DeMille. There are dozens more, of course.
8. Tell us a little about your books:
A: One Night in Tehran introduces veteran CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, who, after being hidden away in Tehran for three months by a group of Iranian Christians, returns to the States determined to explore the life of faith he saw exhibited by these dedicated believers. Back in the States and forced to go on medical leave, Titus learns he’s been targeted by Hezbollah assassin, Ahmed Al-Amin. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Norman, Oklahoma has ties to the assassin, and if Nikki Saxon, a local detective, can be trusted with his secrets. You can view the Book Trailer here.
Two Days in Caracas, the second book in the Titus Ray Thriller series, follows Titus as he travels from Costa Rica to Caracas in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin from assassinating a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency employee threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice. You can view the Book Trailer here.
Three Weeks in Washington will be published in mid-June 2016. This third book in the series has Titus racing across two continents in an attempt to prevent a chemical weapons attack on Washington, D.C. Then, in a strange twist of events, he jeopardizes his own career at the Agency by exposing an Iranian deep-cover operative, who has close ties to the Washington elite.
9. Where can we find you on social media?
A: I’m all over social media. Here are my links:
10. Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I grew up as a preacher’s kid, and, although it may surprise some people, it was actually my dad who gave me my first spy novel when I was eleven years old. After that, I was hooked on the thriller/suspense/mystery genre forever. I’m also a news fanatic, and I follow events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.
I married a minister, and we’ve lived in several states in the South and Midwest and have served as missionaries in Costa Rica and Venezuela. For the past two decades, we’ve lived in Norman, Oklahoma, where my husband has been the senior minister at a Baptist church.
For the past several years, I’ve been writing for Baptist Press, a national news service for Baptists, where I’ve written stories about the experiences of newly converted Christians. And, in a similar fashion, when we lived in Indiana, I wrote a weekly column for The Indiana Baptist, which told the stories of ordinary people who became followers of Christ and was entitled, “A Story To Tell.” I belong to several organizations for writers, including the American Christian Fiction Writers.
I am blessed to be the mother of a beautiful daughter and grandmother of two outstanding grandsons, who live in the Norman area.