Annie sets off to search for Spirit Wolf, her only true, silent friend––ever cemented to her soul. Annie soon discovers things that don’t change, or in her case––a stationary wolf statue, can never truly be free…but if she’ll open her heart, God can use her situation, her brokenness and pain for connecting unreachable hearts—that have lost their way, and He can use her scars to open those who condemn and accuse her and heal their wounds so they can love again, too—maybe even her.
Will Annie find love again? To share Annie’s journey through the pages of ‘In Search of Spirit Wolf’, I’ve been joined by author Lisa Loucks Christenson. Lisa, let’s start our journey today at the genesis of spirit wolf, how did this tale come to life?
Annie is the protagonist, or one of them, throughout the series. I usually start with her involved in something she finds suspicious, a death, or someone doing something shouldn’t be doing. Annie is an outdoor photographer and journalist who struggles with life, relationships, and finds a connection with the Wolves of Whitewater Falls, a small town and a host of angels.
Were any of these trouble-filled incidents that you’ve thrown to Annie inspired from your own life?
The final moments with my grandfather, my grandmother dying, and more. It was a time in my life where I found the depths of inhumane cruelty and pain, mixed with deaths, and more deaths, a time when God let me know He was there and cared.
Did you find the cast of characters in this book came intertwined with these events in your life?
Annie and most of the cast were already created but the rest came through nurses, doctors, harassment, thefts, anonymous threat letters, and bullying.
Those topics are all very emotionally charged, possibly with significant side effects. What was the principal idea that you hope readers take from these emotional events?
We all have guardian angels, human help – no matter what path we are on.
Where were you personally rewarded from the path of this novel?
I wrote it during NaNoWriMo, during a difficult time in my life so finding a story and being able to keep to the task in finishing it was my reward.
What did you learn by working through your difficulties through fiction?
Don’t quit your story, no matter how difficult. Give it your voice and let it make you stronger.
I hope you’ve continued to build your strength through your writing. Tell us where you’ve been flexing your writing muscles recently?
I use November for NaNoWriMo for penning my Wolves of Whitewater Falls series. These are Christian supernatural suspense thrillers. For my 2017 project, I’m attempting to write two different series. One is a new series, a Christian Suspense set in the blufflands of southeast Minnesota (Lauren Ridge of Birchmare Ranch), and I’m writing Turn-Again Creek Beauty Pageant, Book 8, Wolves of Whitewater Falls with a goal of 75,000 words.
Those are some impressive goals. What do you think about when you are writing to make sure that you’re making process?
I’m always aiming for unexpected suspense and a good place to end each chapter, episode, and story with a cliffhanger.
Does this aim translate into a strong planning element to your writing?
I don’t usually plan any endings. I don’t even want my series to end, ever. Rarely, I think of a neat story concept and it comes to me and I write out the beginning, middle, and end.
Are there any special practices you do to try and increase your chances of landing on neat story concepts?
I know this is hard to believe, but one year for Nanowrimo, I wrote, I think it was 33,000 words in one day. I couldn’t move my fingers the next day. When I’m power writing, my usual day is 5,000 to 10,000 words, that’s not a hard day for me. I write in noisy environments (not by choice but when you’re a mom, I find I need to be in a central location and easily reached, with constant interruptions). I prefer a quiet spot but that’s hard to find.
Those are some impressive word counts that you’re hitting! How do you tackle editing after knocking out word counts like that?
Almost all of my fiction are part of one of my series. I generally write the book out, without stopping for edits. Next, I break the books into segments or episodes. I work with editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders to finish my books. Sometimes, I put a book out rough as a preview, noting it’s the unedited preview. This helps me gain valuable feedback to see what readers think. Then I have it edited, and release it.
What changes have you seen to your writing style through the course of this series and as a result of the feedback you’ve received from readers?
I have focused more on writing stories based in my home state of Minnesota, or places I’ve spent time or know well. For me, it’s easier for me to write from real experience that can be penned with my imagination, quirky and realistic details for my fiction.
I really like that you’ve tailored your approach to make it easier for yourself. What are your top tips for other authors looking to make their lives easier while improving their own work?
Believe in your story. Writing comes from your heart, listen to your heart and write that message out from there you’ll find a path.
And as a part of defining your own path, have you considered your own author brand and made adjustments to how you present your work to readers?
I’m trying to use my Lisa Loucks Christenson books for all of my non-fiction, and both Lisa Loucks Christenson and L. L. Christenson for my fiction works which is easier to pronounce and a shorter name to fit on my book covers. I find equal readership with either name, a loyal following. I’ve tried starting new fan pages for the series.
That’s quite a lot of writing on your plate! What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a wildlife photographer so I gather most of my research from actual field experience. I write non-fiction documentaries and I write fiction Christian suspense. I write because it’s an extension of my art. I write because I love reading books that inspire me so I want to inspire others.
I’d like to dabble a little in my art-y quick-fire questions today before you return to your words, but before we start painting with phrases, is there anything I’ve missed?
Are your Christian books preachy? Not at all. I prefer to put my Christian characters in real situations, they fall, they make mistakes and are sometimes looked down upon worse for having known better and still made mistakes. My books don’t include graphic sex or bedroom scenes, or swearing. I want my books to be remembered as being family reading and wholesome, though realistic and they contain deaths, just no gore or telling details.
There’s so much gore in the world, I can understand your reluctance to add more. Hopefully, we can avoid the gore while our arty question set. Let’s see if we can try washing away any thoughts of gore with this first question, why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Because lemons, like writers, can be squeaky when squeezed.
*Laughs* I’m not in the habit of squeezing too many authors, but I will take your word for it! What’s your word on the next question, if you’re in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?
You leave a light streak when photographed at a slow shutter speed.
That would be a fantastic photo. From photos to mice, why isn’t there mouse-flavoured cat food?
Because that would be gross to play with.
I think some of those existing flavours of cat food are also less than appealing to play with either. I’m not in the mood to play with food, but I’m happy to play with monsters. If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
Haberdascal. It would be my past with a white exclamation point on its heavily tattered black silk cape.
I love that name. I really think that you should bring Haberdascal to life! But before you run off to do that, what is your zodiac sign?
We love lions! What happens if Batman gets bitten by a vampire?
He’ll sleep in the bat coffin.
That does not sound comfortable at all. I wonder how many pillows would be needed to get it cozy. What happens when you get scared half to death twice?
You come to your double senses.
And with those double senses what animal would you create if you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature?
A crested gecko-wolf, one with eyes to see all and climbing abilities to scale all.
Are you left or right-handed?
If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?
They use dog saliva, it seals and never comes off anything.
Gross, but probably quite effective. What is your favourite word?
Sneaky. Unfortunately, we don’t have much more time today to delve into the secrets of your book, but can you leave our readers with a taste of ‘In Search of Spirit Wolf’ to draw them in?
She stared at the empty spot where her wolf had stood, a wolf that she chose from dozens of poses. A wolf she’d hand-painted to match a real white wolf she’d studied for years, was now it was gone. There would never be another wolf like it. She could paint a hundred wolves, but it could never take the place of the first wolf — the one that knew the challenges of her past, who had stood guard outside her galleries, who would probably have even shared what was said about her work from the window peepers when she wasn’t there . . . if it could talk.
Maybe it can, you never know! Lisa, thanks so much for chatting with us today and I wish you the best of luck for this year’s NANOWRIMO!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘In Search of Spirit Wolf ( ASIN: B0774MB15J )‘.
Want to find out more about Lisa Loucks Christenson? Connect here!