Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Elizabeth Maddrey {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Elizabeth...

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:
How to connect with Elizabeth...

Twitter: @elizabethmaddre
Purchase: Faith Departed

Author Interview | Elizabeth Maddrey

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing because my mom told me to “Go write a story or something” when I was little and bugging her. Of course, this kind of backfired for her, because then I wanted to read her my story and, as kids do, the retelling of the story was much, much longer than the few paragraphs I actually wrote down. But something in that sparked the fire in me to write, and it’s never really gone away. I tried, for awhile, to quash it. But inevitably the stories keep coming – so I write them down. It was only after I started sharing them with a few friends here and there that I decided maybe it was worth trying to share them with a broader audience. And knowing that those stories connect with even one person makes it worthwhile.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...You know, I feel like my most recent book ends up being my favorite. Then I write something new and it takes over. It almost makes me feel a little bad for the other books. But I do have a slightly softer spot in my heart for my novella, Joint Venture, than my full-length novels. That’s primarily because I love Matt and Laura as characters, so their story is special to me. 

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing for me was realizing that what I write isn’t particularly main stream. Just because they’re stories I would want to read, doesn’t mean they have a mass-market appeal. So finding a publisher who’s willing to go out into that fringe with me and explore characters who are living in the world but struggling not to be of it…that was tough.

...I’m not sure I can think of anything that I’d classify as “easy.” But every aspect of it has been rewarding!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?...Faith Departed is the story of twin sisters embarking on a journey to start a family with their respective husbands. But, like so many people, they run straight into the wall of infertility and it sends their worlds into a tailspin.

...This series (Faith Departed is book 1) is a bit of a departure from my usual contemporary romance, but it was a story that was heavy on my heart. My husband and I struggled with infertility for thirteen years. And while it wasn’t thirteen years of darkness, they are definitely some of the hardest years of my life. The Church as a corporate body doesn’t seem to treat the infertile with compassion (as a rule. I’m sure there are many exceptions – but I never ran into them.) Some of it may be our fault – after all, not many women want to walk around advertising “Hey, I’m infertile!” Instead, we tend to shrink to the back of the room and avoid the conversations about kids. So it’s possible that you know people dealing with infertility without realizing that they’re enduring that struggle. But even when we do mention it, we’re very often met with a bumper sticker response – “Let go and let God”, “It’s all in God’s plan” and so forth. I’ll tell you, infertility taught me a lot of compassion for the single folks at the church – because I think they deal with the same kinds of things, just about getting married instead of having children. For me, the years of infertility were the years of my deepest spiritual struggles. And talking to other women who’ve gone through it, I found that I wasn’t alone. So I wrote Faith Departed with the hope that the women (and men, I’ve got a few male readers) who read it will realize that they aren’t alone either.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Probably June. Of the sisters, she’s the one who most echoes my own heart’s cries. She isn’t afraid to just let God have it, understanding that He can take it, and that it’s only by being honest with ourselves and with God that we have any hope of getting through our trials.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That infertility hurts in a myriad of ways. It’s not just the inability to have kids, but it’s the feelings of failure, the insensitive comments well-meaning people send our way, and the subtle undercurrent that somehow we’ve convinced God that we’re not acceptable enough to be deemed parents (even when we know better, that little lie creeps in.) If you’ve experienced infertility, I hope it helps you feel less alone. If you haven’t, I hope it opens your eyes to the silent suffering around you and helps you minister in little ways to those who are hurting.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Both. Not all of my books come from personal experiences, though they definitely work their way in. But I find story ideas everywhere I look. One of my favorite things to do is watch the people around me and make up a back story – why does the woman at the grocery store keep checking her phone? Is she waiting for a test result? Or a text letting her know someone’s all right? Is she late for an important meeting or wasting time at the store because someone she doesn’t want to talk to has said they’ll be swinging by later in the day and she doesn’t want to be home? There’s story fodder everywhere!

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to let Christians know that it’s okay to be real people. I think sometimes we look at fictional characters, particularly the Christian ones, and they’re either the epic bad guy (intolerant, cruel, fist-shakers – you know what I mean, right?) or they’re the too-perfect, super-spiritual who never sins because Jesus has given them complete victory (all their sin is in the back story, not the here and now). And while we certainly all yearn for the latter to be the case, in the real world, I think most of us fall in the middle and we cling to the grace and forgiveness available to us in Christ. And that’s okay. We’re walking that line, trying to find the balance of living in, but not becoming of, the world.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Write the story you have, don’t try to shoehorn yourself into being someone—or writing something—you’re not. And if you’re a little out there, a little off the mainstream, don’t be scared of the smaller presses, or even self-publishing. But no matter what, go into publishing knowing that being an author is hard work – and that work doesn’t stop once the manuscript is complete. 


What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
...I can’t put my finger on one specific memory right now, but she’s always there when I need her. And inevitably she knows just what to say. I may not always appreciate hearing it, but it’s inevitably what I need to hear at the time.

If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be? (Example: Italian, German, Chinese etc.)
...Can I just say “Yes?” Though I do love some good German food. Mmm…schnitzel.

April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite? ...Lilacs. They’re purple (I love purple) and they smell so heavenly. Also we had a lilac bush outside our house growing up and, for whatever reason, stray cats would often curl up under it. So it let me feel like I had a pet cat (up until I finally coerced my parents into letting me adopt one of the strays.)

Thank you so much for sharing with us today Elizabeth! I love how you say that you write to let Christians know it's okay to be real. Amen, Sister! I think we often get caught up in trying to look perfect when trials hit and we forget how David cried out to God and how the Lord promises to comfort us in those times of trouble, though He may not take away the trial itself. I'm looking forward to being in the DC area with you and hope to hear more about new books from you soon!

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