Our interview today is with Luana Pollock Ehrlich. Thank you Luana for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
Question #1 What is the best thing about being an author?
The best thing about being a writer is the realization that what I imagine becomes a reality–at least on paper.
Question #2 What are some of the challenges of being an author?
The biggest challenge I face as an author is learning to achieve a balance between the time I spend promoting my first book and the time I spend writing my second.
Question #3 Describe a Typical Day for You.
I get up around 6:00 and spend the next hour in what I call my Quiet Time. This is the time of day I read my Bible, pray, and meditate on what I’ve read. Having a Quiet Time has been my practice for over forty years now. Then, between doing chores around the house, running errands, and picking up my grandkids from school, I answer emails, posts on social media and promote my first book. I don’t usually begin writing on my second novel until around 3:00 in the afternoon, and then I write until 11:00 at night, except for a two-hour break for dinner with my husband.
Question #4 What genre(s) do you write? And why or how did you chose them?
I write in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre, a category I first began reading when I was about eleven years old and was given permission to read my father’s adult spy novels. I’ve had a passion for this genre ever since.
Question #5 Do you read the same genre that you write? Why or why not?
I enjoy historical fiction and occasionally read romance novels, but the majority of my fictional reading is in the thriller category. I love the action adventure of this genre more than the slower pace of other fiction.
Question #6 What is something that readers would be surprised to know about you?
Most of my readers would be surprised to know that I am a fan of NFL football. Although my family did not watch much football when I was growing up, I married a Texas boy, and, right away, I had to earn a Ph.D. in the intricacies of this game. Now, I’m an ardent fan of The Dallas Cowboys.
Question #7 When and how did the writing bug bite you?
At about age seven, I used to tell people that my name was Pam Black–don’t ask me why I chose that name–and that I was an author. I loved writing essays in English class and, later on, term papers in high school and college. Later on, after I was married, I wrote a weekly column in a newspaper and did freelance work for Baptist Press.
Question #8 When you write, do you plot everything out or not? Why does that work for you?
For both my novels, the one published last year and the one I’m writing now, I wrote out a two-page synopsis of the plot line. During the writing process, I sometimes add details to this synopsis, but, unlike some writers, I don’t usually have an outline for each chapter. The story seems to write itself sometime, and I just enjoy reading what’s happening to my characters.
Question #9 What is the best thing a reader or reviewer has ever said about you?
An Amazon reviewer, when writing about me as an author, said, “Her skill matches beautifully that of John Grisham or James Patterson.” This meant a lot to me because I love these authors and their books, but also because I knew this reviewer used to be both an editor and a publisher in his own right.
Question #10 What is the worst thing a reader or reviewer ever said about you? How did you handle that?
Although I’ve had excellent reviews, whenever I’ve heard comments about the slow pace of Part One of my first novel, I’ve often wanted to agree with them and tell them I intended for the reader to enter into the world of CIA operative, Titus Ray, before embarking on an adventure with him..
Question #11 If you could go to one place and write, where would it be and why?
I’ve heard of writers who dream of spending a month in a log cabin in the woods, but I’d much rather be alone in my own house, sitting in my own leather chair with my computer in my lap, than to travel to some faraway place. Ideally, though, I’d rather not have to see about meals or be disturbed by family members, and to stay up all night writing without getting tired.
Question #12 If you could have one experience back to do over again, what would it be and why?
My husband and I were privileged to have been missionaries in Venezuela while we were in our thirties. However, now that we are older, I would love to have this experience over again with the wisdom we’ve gained through life experiences. I believe we would enjoy it more and be of more benefit to the people of Venezuela.
Question #13 Who do you consider a mentor in your life? What did that person teach you?
I’ve been mentored through the years by men and women who were theologians and Bible teachers. I’ve always loved reading and studying the Bible and I’ve greatly benefitted from the teaching of John McArthur, Charles Swindoll, J. I. Packer, Jerry Bridges, and John Piper.
Question #14 Is writing your only job? If not, tell us a little about your “day” job.
Writing has become my full-time job, and, for the first time in my life, I’m working for myself instead of someone else. As an executive assistant, I used to help other people stay organized, meet goals, and carry out assignments. Now, I’m putting all those acquired skills to use in my writing career.
Question #15 If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t using my spare time to write, I’d be reading. I’m also a fan of Words with Friends, a kind of Scrabble game for the iPhone. I might waste a lot of my time on that game, if I weren’t committed to writing.
Question #16 What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Why?
Proverbs 3:5-6 is my life verse. It talks about trusting in the Lord and not depending on yourself. Since I’m a person who has a tendency to worry, I was drawn to this Scripture. It also goes on to say the Lord wants us to acknowledge him, and, in doing so, he will direct us. I also want to try and figure things out on my own and do my own thing, so that’s another reason this verse was written especially for me.
Question #17 What is your favorite quote? Why?
My favorite quote is “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him” by John Piper. The is one of my favorite quotes because it sums up the reason God created me in the first place.
Question #18 What is your favorite book? Why?
My favorite classic is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It has all the elements of a good read–great characters, great plot and great timing.
Question #19 What other hobbies do you have?
Besides reading, my other hobbies are gardening and cooking. I also enjoy interior design and I like to dabble in graphic design, using Adobe Photoshop and Canva to create posters, banners and newsletters.
Question #20 What is your workspace like? Clean or chaos?
I am a neat freak, so my workspace is totally uncluttered. I can’t function in a place that isn’t as neat as a pin or, to quote another “cleanliness cliche,” as clean as a whistle.
Question #21 How did you break into writing?
I guess you could say I did so by opening up my laptop and writing the first sentence. After that, some six months later, I realized I’d actually written a book! Then, I wanted to write the next one.
Question #22 Where can people find you on the Internet?
Question #23 What advice do you have for other authors?
I always tell others authors to be a good writer you need to read and write, read and write, read and write.
Question #24 Tell us about your book.
One Night in Tehran is a Christian thriller about a CIA intelligence officer who is brought to faith in Christ by a group of Iranian Christians. While being pursued by an assassin, he returns to the States, where he meets a mysterious Iranian couple, who may be connected to the man who’s after him. Then, through a series of events, he arrives in Norman, Oklahoma and becomes involved in a murder, encountering a beautiful, local detective. All the while, he’s trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ
Question #25 Tell us about the characters in your book.
Titus Ray, the main character, is a veteran CIA intelligence operative. He grew up in Flint, Michigan with an alcoholic father who was emotionally absent from the family. After a failed marriage in college, Titus joined the CIA, where he became a Level 1officer. As the story unfolds, he’s recently been converted to Christianity, brought to faith in Christ by a group of Iranian Christians. As he escapes from Iran and returns to the States, he faces many uncertainties. Can he continue to function as a spy while trying to live out the Christian faith? He’s been trained in deception and lying. How does that work when trying to follow the teachings of Christ?
Question #26 Do you include your own life in your books? Why or why not?
The majority of the action of One Night in Tehran takes place in Norman, Oklahoma where I’ve lived for the past twenty years. I did this deliberately, not only because it was familiar, but also because Norman and Oklahoma has been at the center of many terrorists type events during the last twenty years. As an example, many of the 9/11 hijackers attended the Airmen Flight School in Norman.
Question #27 What is special to you about this book?
What has been so special about this book is the way God has used it to present the gospel in a non-threatening way. Because the main character, Titus Ray, is discovering what it means to be a believer, the gospel is subtly interwoven throughout the plot line. Readers are giving the book out to unsaved friends, knowing they will enjoy the read, yet, at the same time, be receiving the gospel.
Question #28 What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope readers will be entertained by the sheer excitement of One Night in Tehran, encouraged by Titus’ efforts to tell others of his new faith in Christ and enabled to overcome their own difficulties as they watch Titus struggling with some of the same issues they face.
Question #29 What’s your favorite “treat”?
My favorite treat is a Starbucks caramel macchiato.
Question #30 Morning or night, which is the best and why?
I’ve always had difficulty discerning whether I’m a morning or night person. I hate to have conversation with anyone early in the morning, but once I’m up, I never feel sleepy or in need of a nap during the day. I can easily write late into the night, so, in that sense, I guess I’m a night person.
Question #31 Favorite season and why?
My favorite season of the year is probably Spring. I love Spring because I feel a sense of renewal, and I love to see plants and trees growing and budding. Overall, Spring seems a time of year when there’s a lot of excitement in the air. I was also born in March, so maybe that adds to my enjoyment of it.
Question #32 Favorite sport and why?
I’ve already mentioned that I’m an avid NFL football fan, but, since I live in Norman, I’m also a fan of at least one college football team. That’s the University of Oklahoma Sooners, whose stadium is only a few miles from my house.
Question #33 Least favorite household or yard chore?
The yard chore I hate the most is pulling weeds from my garden, and I do so hate to dust the furniture in my house.
Question #34 Least favorite thing to do?
My least favorite thing to do is go to a doctor, have blood test or visit the dentist.
Question #35 Favorite thing to do?
Not surprisingly, the most favorite thing I do is write. I feel the most fulfilled when I’m writing, as if this is what I was made to do, as if my writing is pleasing to God.
Question #36 You have a whole day to go anywhere and do anything. What would that be and why?
I would definitely go to a shopping mall. I love to shop for clothes, try on clothes, and buy clothes.
Question #37 Pose a question for our readers to answer.
What is the most important thing in the world to you?
About the Author:
Luana picked up her first adult spy novel when she was eleven years old. Today, she continues to have a passion for the thriller/suspense genre of fiction. In addition to being an avid reader, she is also a news fanatic, following events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.
Luana is a minister’s wife and has lived in Norman, Oklahoma for the past two decades. Previously, she resided in several states in the South and Midwest. Along with her husband, she also served as a missionary in Costa Rica and Venezuela.
Occasionally, she reports on the experiences of newly converted Christians for Baptist Press, a national news service for Baptists. At one time, she wrote a weekly column for The Indiana Baptist, entitled “A Story To Tell,” which told the stories of ordinary people who became followers of Christ. Luana is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers.