Friday, January 2, 2009

Getting to Know Carol Steward

Brief Intro:

Wow, it's already 2009! I'm thrilled to be here with the Craftie Ladies of Suspense. I'm Carol Steward, wife, mother, grandmother, administrative assistant, and author of romance and suspense. A friend once teased me about wanting to be a Christian crime writer. My dream came true in 1998 when Steeple Hill bought my second book, Her Kind of Hero, my first of many Christian cop novels.

I've always done the unexpected. I was married at 17 to the love of my life, which meant that the odds of staying together was against us. Thirty-plus years later, and he's still the one to inspire my romance novels. Writing shouldn't have surprised me, or anyone else, but it did. In hindsight, the signs were there, but it took a lot of kicking from God to get me to follow His plan.

All About Me:

1. How I got my first name? All I know is I'm not named after anyone. I'm the fourth of five children, and the only one without a nickname. I'm simply Carol, one of the most popular names of my generation. My siblings nicknames all end with 'y', so I always have and will always be the oddball.
2. How I got my writing name? Partly given to me at birth, part from my own hero. I didn't really expect my first sale so quickly, so I hadn't been able to settle on a pen name. So when the editor suggested using my real name, I asked my father-in-law for permission to use their family name as my writing name, and was thrilled that he welcomed it.
3. How I pick my characters' names, good guy and bad. A few heroes and heroines have been named after people I admire. It becomes challenging to find names that fit the same generation as the age of the characters the more characters I write, but the most challenging have been the characters that I don't plot. Two books were continuity series where the editors plan the book, name the characters, and assign the plot.

When I'm writing villains, I try very hard to use stereotypes rather than real sounding names, because even though I love to torment my characters, I don't want to taint any real person's image with a fictional name.

Three Interesting Tidbits About Me:
1. I was raised in a motel. My parents owned a small motel, so I grew up with a very public life.
2. My husband and I delivered newspapers in the middle of the night for many years, giving me a lot of ideas for my books. Even with my romances, it wasn't uncommon to have found a touch of mystery.
3. I love watching the criminal investigation shows. Being raised by a law enforcement officer, I always had the interest and respect for police, but seeing how the investigation is processed has been very intriguing for me. It's almost an obsession.

All About my Books:
1. How I stumbled into writing suspense... delivering newspapers, I happened to interrupt a burglar, leading to his arrest. Not every book starts from my own life, but real life is often more interesting than fiction, and I use what I can to add to my books.
2. My favorite suspense book I wrote and why... Finding Amy was a continuity book, so the editors told the group of 6 authors what our stories would include. It was an incredible challenge, as the heroine's three year old daughter was kidnapped by her child care provider. I'd been a licensed provider for over a decade, so having the villain from a profession that I greatly admired was a challenge. It strengthened my writing, and now it is easier to push the envelope on what I'm comfortable with writing.
3. My favorite suspense book I read and why... Redeeming Travis by Kate Welsh. It was before the suspense line officially started, but Kate did a terrific job mixing the suspense, the crime, and the romance of a couple who had broken off on their relationship years before.

All About Others:
My favorite author is.. impossible to name just one!
My best writing friend is... Maya Milhous, a brilliant author who is going to start a new trend when she finally finishes her book!
My most loyal fan is... a coworker. Mary can name the characters from every book, something I can't even do!

The funniest thing that's ever happened to me because I'm a writer...I was scheduled to ride along with a police officer friend, but when I got there, someone else had shown up to ride along with him, too. He asked if I'd mind riding with someone else. I agreed. When I got in to the car, the officer asked what I write, and when I told him Christian romance, he made an excuse to get out of the car, for at least five minutes. I'm sure my friend was ripped a good one for pawning me off on him. It turned out to be a terrific night with perfect experiences for my book, and it eventually won the tolerant officer a vote for mayor.

The craziest thing I've done gathering research for a novel is.... run into an on-duty police officer, flip him onto his top and spun him around. It wasn't meant to be research, of course, but it turned out to be a perfect opening for Shield of Refuge. The officer wasn't injured, praise the Lord. It could have ended much differently.

A real life murder (crime) that fascinates me is/was....when a sheriff's officer's wife killed a police officer's wife just down the block from my home. It was horrid, and turned out to be a very warped case that I'd love to just forget, but it hit me too close to home on many levels. I had planned to stop at that bank after work, but didn't. I'd gone home sick early in the afternoon. I cancelled my critique group at my home and went to sleep, only to be woken up by my son calling to tell me he'd just turned in his application for our local police force. Justice did prevail, and hopefully, nothing like it will ever happen again.

Finally, I'm excited about this blog because...I think it is a great place to interact with our readers. The Love Inspired authors are truly the most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet, and I think that setting up this blog is a brilliant idea to keep us all connected. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I love reading about the characters in our books, and love hearing back from you, the readers also.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!


EllenToo said...

Sounds like you've had an exciting life so far. And congratulations on your long lasting marriage. I'm looking forward to your posts.

Ramona Richards said...

Cool post, Carol . . . although you've set the bar pretty high for the rest of us with your adventures. So, um, what did that cop have to say after you flipped him over?

PamelaTracy said...

Wow, married at 17. I loved the story about delivering newspapers and interrupting a burgler:) And, I love Kate Welsh books, too.

Abi said...

How. Nice to meet you. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing

Carol Steward said...

I think the bar was already set pretty high, and I was worried, Ramona! So I'm happy that you enjoyed my post. The officer I hit was very nice, and actually, all 15officers who responded to the accident were okay. There were several who just glared at me, but they kept their distance. When an officer is in an accident on duty, he is required to go to the hospital to get cleared. Before I was able to get hold of my husband to pick me up, the officer returned to the scene to assure me he was going to be okay.

Leann said...

I have to agree with Ramona. You've set the bar high. I am amazed that in your accident all walked away. Heaven had to watching over you.