Interview with inspirational novelist Christina Lourens

cover for the calm i seekNovelist Christina Lourens joins me today to chat about her new inspirational fiction, The Calm I Seek.

During her virtual book tour, Christina will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Christina Lourens has always been passionate about writing, but life got in the way of her writing career. She’s never given up and can be found writing in the evenings and on weekends, often accompanied by her pug. When she’s not writing, Christina keeps busy at the day job (until her writing career takes off) or snuggles up on the couch with a book. She loves crocheting, but because of her busy life, crocheting projects tend to take a long time to be finished.

Christina has lived in three countries, but is currently living in the UK with her husband of 20 years, their two children, pug, canary and pheasant.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Calm I Seek is my debut novel. It’s about a woman who, because of her difficult past, has drifted away from God and who slowly rebuilds her life and allows love—and God—back in her life.

What inspired you to write this book?
It started as a book about sisters, as I wanted to explore the bond sisters have, especially sisters who are very different from each other. Laura, Rebecca and Hannah are all very different, and yet they love each other. They have a complicated relationship due to things that happened in the past, but by the end of the book all three have grown and changed and their relationship is much stronger because of it.

Excerpt from The Calm I Seek:
When I was ready to leave, Gabriel stepped to my side.

“Did you enjoy it?” he asked.

I hadn’t enjoyed the lesson, but I had enjoyed the teacher. I couldn’t very well tell him that though. “Yeah.”

“So that’s a no, then,” he said. “What did you not like about it? You didn’t do badly today. I hope you’ll come again.”

“I’m not going to quit. I promised my friend I would try it for the duration of the course and I will.”

“Sounds like you didn’t really want to do this in the first place.” Gabriel frowned. “Why did you sign up?”

“To shut up my friend and sisters who think I need some excitement in my life.” Why did I confess this to a stranger? I could have given any kind of explanation.

“And do you need excitement in your life?” he asked with a mischievous smile.

“Not really. But when all your friends and family pester you to do something, it’s hard not to cave under pressure.”

Gabriel smiled as if what I said resonated with him. “Well, I hope you’ll come again next week and start enjoying the lessons for yourself, not just because you were bullied into it.”

Ah. I shouldn’t have told him I’d only signed up to shut up my family. He was excited about salsa—as he should be, being the teacher and all that—and here I was being all Debbie Downer on him. I flashed him a smile I hoped looked sincere. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more when I get a bit better at it.”

“Believe me, you’re not that bad.”

Right. He probably told everyone that.

“Anyhow, see you next week,” I said brightly. With a wave, I headed for the door.

It hadn’t been a horrible experience, but neither had it been fun. The only bright spot had been Gabriel. The effect he had had on me was surprising. Had I imagined it, or had there been a spark between us? Or had I been so long out of the dating game that I fell for the first man who came close to me? All I knew was that his charm and enthusiasm had an intoxicating effect on me, and I resolved to steel my heart against him the next lesson.

Dancing lessons was one thing, but I couldn’t afford to fall for a man again. Not after I had so carefully set up my life to be independent. Not after I had finally gotten my sanity back.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently planning a new novel. It’s still in its early stages, so I can’t say too much about it (because I haven’t really hashed out all the details yet), but central to the story is family and the different ways we deal with loss.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was 12, but I didn’t take my writing seriously until about eight years ago. I’ve written about six or seven novels, but The Calm I Seek is the first one to be published. It took me a while to find the genre I’m most comfortable writing in, and to get the skills to write a good novel.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full time. I work full time as a tax accountant and write in the evenings and on weekends. Each year I take part in NaNoWriMo, which is a novel writing challenge to write 50,000 words in a month in November. I use October to plan my novel and November to write the first draft of my novel. I find the challenge helps me focus and keep my momentum. I then edit and rewrite the novel a few times during the year.

I used to write during my commute to work, but since the pandemic I work from home, so it’s a bit more challenging to carve out time for my writing. My kids clamour for my attention as soon as they come home from school, so I have to be very strict about my writing time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure if I have any interesting writing quirks. I can write anywhere and I can zone out any distractions around me when I write. I don’t like music while I write. I plan each novel in a notebook with fountain pens, detailing the novel down to scene level. Once I’ve planned it in that much detail, I transfer all the scenes onto my writing program on the computer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, but sadly, there’s not much money in writing. I sort of accidentally became a tax accountant and as I’m the main breadwinner in the family, I can’t afford to quit my job and focus solely on writing.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My little black pug is my faithful writing companion. When I’m writing at my desk, he lies by my feet and when I’m on the couch, he curls up next to me. If I write for too long, he brings me one of his toys so I can play with him. He’s adorable and so much fun.

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