Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Get Lost in a Story with Lynn Chandler Willis

Get Lost in a story Readers, I’m very excited about our next guest. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Lynn Chandler Willis at the 2013 Writers Police Academy.  From that point on, I couldn’t wait to find out about what she writes. And now after reading the blurb below, I KNOW I can’t wait to read the book.

The Rising:
A little boy, beaten and left to die in an alley.  A cop with a personal life out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes. Detective Ellie Saunders's homicide investigation takes a dramatic turn when a young victim "wakes up" in the morgue. The child has no memory prior to his "rising" except walking with his father along a shiny road. Ellie likes dealing with facts. She'd rather leave all the God-talk to her father, a retired minister, and to her partner, Jesse, a former vice cop with an annoying habit of inserting himself into her life. But will the facts she follows puts Ellie's life in mortal danger? And will she finally allow God into her heart forever?

And now, let's get to know Lynn Chandler Willis:

DONNELL:  Lynn, welcome, I have the best job getting to read the blurbs and ideally the stories that follow.  The Rising sounds like it has everything a mystery lover could wish for:  Suspense, heart-wrenching emotion and what appears to be awesome characters.  What inspired this story?  And tell us a bit about your road to publication.

LYNN: Like most writers, one of my favorite games is the “what if” game. I was toying with the idea of what if someone who is used to dealing in facts (Det. Ellie Saunders) is faced with what most would describe as a miracle. From there, I fleshed out the characters, knowing from the start I wanted Ellie to be strong, yet vulnerable. It took me about a year to write it and have it critiqued by my writer's group, then polished and ready for submission. I saw a call for submissions from Pelican Book Group and went for it. Thankfully, they were interested and contacted me the same week.

DONNELL:  The same week?  Amazing!  Your Inspirational Suspense sounds intense and gritty.  How difficult was it to place an inspirational in the secular world that makes up a homicide investigation?  And a child is harmed in this novel – you don’t see that in many mainstream, much less inspirational novels.  Did you meet with any roadblocks to tell this story?

LYNN:  I wanted a crime that would shake Ellie's foundation and expose her vulnerabilities, and unfortunately little Johnny Doe was the victim. I don't think the crime itself would have had the same impact on Ellie if it had happened to an adult. In the real world, horrific events aren't limited to unbelievers and there are many believing detectives out there who have to deal with such events. The biggest roadblock I had was letting go of the opening scene during the editing process. With Pelican, who I have nothing but praise for, sex outside of marriage is a big no-no. I had Ellie waking up in bed with a guy and she couldn't remember his name. But I felt the scene was important to show how far from Grace Ellie had fallen before she finds her way back. I understood Pelican's position and re-wrote the scene.

DONNELL:  I know you do your homework.  But talk about research.  What is the most surprising event you’ve learned while researching a novel.  When research stumps you, what do you do?

LYNN: I get so sidetracked with research! Whether it's researching a medical term or how a weapon is used, I so enjoy peeling back those layers of information to find my answer. It's very easy for me to spend hours “researching” a single element so I have to remind myself to stop when I find the information I need. One of the most surprising finds while doing research was for my current work-in-progress, Nobody's Baby. I was researching the location and wanted a small town, mountain community in the general area of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia. The community I originally settled on turned out to have a huge meth problem! When I can't find the answer I'm looking for through regular research, I'll use social media and just throw it out there and see who responds. They may not have the correct answer but this one can lead to that one and so on – like piecing together the elements of a good mystery.

DONNELL:  If you’re not writing, where will we find you?

LYNN: Changing diapers. I'm the official “Granny Nanny” to eight of my nine grandkids and four are age three and under (yes there's a set of twins). My days involve a lot of laughing, crying, applesauce and juice boxes. But they give me a lot of material for blog posts!   

DONNELL:  If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

LYNN: I'd like to meet someone from a third world country. I think it would be an eye-opening experience to see first-hand the struggles of fellow human beings. I may skip a meal because I'm too busy to stop and eat, not because there's nothing to eat.

DONNELL:  So true.  What comes next for Lynn Chandler Willis?

LYNN: WINK OF AN EYE will be released by Minotaur Books on November 18. Yeah! It's about private eye Gypsy Moran and won the 2013 Minotaur Books/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Competition. 

Congratulations! on all your success.


Question: I share my couch and heart with a cocker spaniel. What is his name?

Contact/Link Information.
Email: lynn@lynnchandlerwillis.com
website: http://lynnchandlerwillis.com/
Facebook: Lynn Chandler-Willis, Author
Twitter: @LCWillis


  1. Good morning, Lynn, welcome to Get Lost in a Story. Tell me a bit about the Minotaur Best Private Eye competition. I've missed that. And I'm jealous of you changing diapers. My kids still haven't had any children. Your Cocker spaniels name... my guess is Trixie!

  2. Hey Donnell! Thanks for having me as a guest today. St. Martin's Press along with the Private Eye Writers of America hold an annual contest for the best first private eye novel. The winner receives a publishing contract with Minotaur. WINK OF AN EYE met all the criteria so I took a chance and boy am I glad I did! We currently have three in diapers so it's like an assembly line. Bottom up wet wipe bottom down LOL. And nope Trixie 's not the right name :)

    Best of luck,
    ~Angi, who is sharing the couch with Jaxon, Roxie and Texas

  4. Congratulations Angi! You're exactly right. If I'm at my desk too long Sam stands at the couch and barks. He settles down as soon as I unplug the laptop and sit down beside him. What would we ever do with them?

  5. Nice interview. Is it Chandler?

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com