Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Library Journal Q&A with Tracie Peterson

You’ve written in the CBA market for more than 25 years, acted as a managing editor for Heartsong Presents and as a founding member of the American Christian Fiction Writers—a front-row seat to many of the changes in the industry. What has stood out to you the most since you started writing?

One of the biggest things that stood out to me in the beginning was the hesitation of the Christian community to accept fiction in general, but especially romantic fiction. Romance had the reputation of being nothing more than bodice rippers written solely to titillate. But as one of those readers, I knew that wasn’t why I chose to read romance. I wanted to read a story that ended well and left me smiling. Other genres couldn’t be trusted to give you a “happily ever after” ending, but romance could. So why not take it one step further and stress the positive spiritual “happily ever after” ending?

It was a sort of love-hate relationship from the beginning. Many Christians felt fiction was uncalled for in the Christian community because it wasn’t a “true and factual story.” You had just a handful of authors who actually tried to promote a strong Christian message, while others were just shooting for “clean, wholesome” fiction. However, as people began to see the positive encouragement that could be had from Christian fiction, attitudes began to change. For me, I always saw my writing as a ministry that could be used to share my faith and encourage others. When Barbour Publishing began its Heartsong Presents line, I was there from the beginning and saw just how hungry women were for romance that also had spiritual encouragement. As other Christian publishers got on the bandwagon, it became evident that Christian fiction, in general, was going to be tremendously successful.

Any predictions for the future of where Christian fiction is going?

I think “happily ever after” endings are going to continue to be desired, and so I think stories with romantic themes are going to continue to be strong. However, today’s readers are also particular about adventure and mystery. Romantic suspense – whether in the form of contemporary or historical – is something readers will enjoy. But above all, I think there are three main things readers are looking for today. One, the average reader has tired of the negative and longs more and more for the positive – the theme of good overcoming evil. You can look at books across any number of genres and see that reoccurring theme. Second, I think the average reader is hopeful of the idea that there is something bigger in the universe than just themselves—that there truly is something more. Lastly, I think most readers long for love, whether human or Divine. The popularity of various books and series over the years proves this, whether you’re looking at Pride and Prejudice, the Twilight series, or my Golden Gate Secrets series.

Currently you are writing or co-writing 4 novels a year, and in all have produced nearly 120 novels in your career. How do you keep up a passion for writing and generating new and original stories?

I read a lot. I love to read fiction and non-fiction, whatever I can get my hands on. I particularly love to read history, and as I do, I generally find settings and events that make me want to know more. I also travel when time permits to explore new areas and learn about regional events and peoples. As I dig into a topic, I begin to see all sorts of ideas and possibilities for stories. I also pray a lot about the stories I write and seek direction on what to write about. I find that there are so many topics and events, settings and characters that fascinate me, and that drives me on to create and write.

What captured you about your current series, Golden Gate Secrets?

San Francisco has always been a fascinating city. It has a rich history that offers a great many possibilities for stories. The great earthquake of 1906 was an event that fascinated me for a long time. Not only did you have this destructive earthquake, but then even more destruction and devastating loss due to the fires that followed. However, the people there were amazing. They fought back and rebuilt the city, literally out of the ashes and on top of the rubble. As I read about the problems and complications of political strife and vice, it further stirred my imagination. Then one night I was watching a documentary, and someone said something about how everyone came to San Francisco looking for something. And voila! I thought, “That’s perfect. My story is going to be about three young women who come to San Francisco, each looking for something.”

What can librarians tell their patrons is coming next from you?

The Golden Gate Secrets series will finish with Book 2, In Dreams Forgotten (July), and Book 3, In Times Gone By (September), this year. After that, we’ll back up just a few years to 1900 for my next series. In March 2019, the Brookstone Brides series will debut. This is a series set around the Brookstone Wild West Extravaganza, a fictional wild west show made up of all-female performers who will trick ride, sharp shoot, and Roman ride their way into the hearts of their audiences. It focuses on three young women who find themselves unexpectedly tied together by a murder and the mystery surrounding it, as well as the friendship and spiritual discovery that sees them through their difficulties. There will of course be romance, as well as adventure. I hope the readers will enjoy it as much as I have creating it.

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