A Conversation With Alice Arenz
Alice K. Arenz’s newest book is Portrait of Jenny. Alice won a ACFW Carol Award in 2010, and has written An American Gothic, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (2009 Carol finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 Carol winner), and Mirrored Image (2011 Carol finalist).
Why do you like writing romantic suspense?
Alice: Probably because it is the type of book I’ve always been drawn to read. From the time I picked up my first mystery as a kid to discovering the world of wonder mixed with suspense and romance in books by Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt and others, I was hooked. Mary Higgins Clark was followed by CBA authors like Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins and so very many, many more. There’s an art in these books—not that there isn’t in all books, but for me, the twists and turns, the guessing and the unexpected, fascinates me. I love that God has given me the opportunity to make others feel as I have with my favorite authors.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
Alice: God. I know that might sound trite or even made up, but it’s the truth. Long before I knew there was such a thing as Christian fiction, everything I wrote was only produced after prayer sessions. Without Him, I wouldn’t be able to put two words together.
As for how the plots come: sometimes, there will be a person’s name that’s the start, sometimes a title or even a location. Eventually, there’s enough there, a germ, if you will, that says it’s time to start writing. But as a seat-of-the-pants writer, I don’t know where it’s heading until I get there.
Why include curse words in your work?
Alice: Excellent question. And, I hope I have an excellent answer. I’ve always been honest about my work—the “my” I use but can’t claim it exclusively. I write because that’s what God has given me. And I write what He gives me. So when writing Jenny, there was a struggle going on that was quickly halted when I clearly heard, “Stop preaching to the choir.” So I listened and obeyed. After all, you’re not likely to hear an impassioned, angry detective—or anyone else—always stay within the lines. Sometimes, and probably more often than any of us might admit to, those swear words are more succinct, more meaningful than an emphatic “Golly, gee whiz!” And even those words, to some, are considered swear words.
Current book: Portrait of Jenny
When Richard meets the elusive “Jenny,” her image takes over his life and paintings. Dogged by a detective for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Richard’s past and present collide.