Help me welcome Contemporary Romance author Emily Conrad to the blog this week. Emily has offered winner’s choice of an ebook from her Rhythms of Redemption series as a giveaway!
Be sure to comment below by November 1 for a chance to win!
Welcome, Emily! I’m excited for everyone to learn more about you and your books, so let’s jump right in with how and when you started writing.
I dabbled in short stories as a kid, and I started writing fiction more consistently after an eighth grade English class inspired me. My short stories grew longer and longer through high school, and by the time I graduated, I was writing novel-length fiction. I started querying agents in hopes of ultimately selling my stories back then, but I didn’t sign with my first literary agent until almost ten years later.
I love that you started writing as a kid and stayed consistent. Good for you! What genre do you write, and what inspired you to write that particular genre?
When I signed with my first agent, I was writing young adult Christian fiction. My manuscript made it to pub board (one of the last steps before a publisher buys a book), but ultimately they passed on the story. My agent suggested I start writing for adults, and I decided to give it a try. I now write contemporary Christian romance.
Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?
Little pieces of real life make it into my stories. One of the biggest elements of the Rhythms of Redemption Romances that I borrowed from real life was Superior Dogs, the food truck that appears throughout the series. The scenes involving the food truck were informed by the shifts I’ve worked in my brother’s food truck, Alpha Dogs.
That’s cool. Tell us about your current novel’s setting. Is it a real location or fictional?
The Rhythms of Redemption Romances are set in/around the fictional small town of Lakeshore, which is on the southern shore of Lake Superior, as far north in Wisconsin as you can get. Lakeshore was inspired by some of my favorite places to visit in my state, Ashland and Bayfield, Wisconsin, as well as Munising, Michigan.
I love the small-town charm of these cities. They’re full of small businesses and surrounded by the natural beauty of the lake, waterfalls, and forests. The weather, with four distinct seasons, also adds flavor to the stories.
Sounds like a beautiful place. Do you have any pets? Do they find their way into any of your stories?
We’ve owned three dogs, and though I haven’t specifically put them in my published stories, they do inform the stories. For example, in my book To Belong Together, the hero owns two pit bulls, one of which is brindle. We had a brindle pit bull mix until a couple of years ago, so she helped inspire that dog. In that same story, one of the dogs gets a (thankfully minor) injury, which mirrors a real life event that happened with our coonhound rescue, who’s actually been coming up to say hi while I’ve been typing this, so excuse me a moment while I go see what he needs…
I don’t have any pets, but my son has a pit bull/Labrador mix. I’d love to know how you select the names for your characters.
I can get stuck naming characters, so I have a few methods. I browse the two baby name books I have. I also check websites that list which names were popular in which years, so I can choose a fitting name. I’ve been known to ask my Facebook fans for ideas, too.
In the case of the Rhythms of Redemption Romances, I think I used each of those methods. Since the series takes some of its inspiration from the people and events of King David’s life, I also named characters with their biblical inspiration in mind. For example, Michaela in To Begin Again was inspired by Michal. Galina Abbey’s name in To Believe In You was a nod back to the biblical Abigail.
Speaking of the Bible, how do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?
Each of my main characters has an internal conflict that can only be resolved by Christ. I try to make these hard questions that I’ve wondered about myself, such as: How good is grace? What is the purpose of life? What does redemption look like?
Perhaps in reading those questions, you can think of easy Sunday School answers, yet when it comes to living our lives, those answers get far more complex. I think going into the story without an exact plan for how God will break through in the characters’ circumstance helps me to honor the questions and the struggle we all go through when we’re on the way to an epiphany.
So, my work does have strong, overt faith themes, but that’s not all it’s about! I love how romance dovetails with Christian themes and questions, because being in relationship coaxes characters into situations that bring their internal struggles to the forefront. Falling in love means facing the things that hold them back. Ultimately, in my life, finding peace has meant turning to Christ for the answers, so that’s the direction my characters turn too.
Wonderful! I really enjoy stories that address real life issues and incorporate faith. Has a reader ever blessed your socks off? How?
A reader once attended a book club for one of my books. The subject matter hit close to home for her, as she had experienced something similar to what the characters went through. She explained that she’d considered not coming to book club because she was afraid she would cry, but she came anyway because the story had resonated with her. I’m passionate about writing Christian fiction because I believe it can make a difference. I can see specific ways He’s used the stories He’s given me in my own life, but I don’t usually know much about what He’s doing in the lives of readers, so this glimpse into His larger plan was an immense blessing and encouragement to me.
That’s awesome. As Christian writers, that’s the goal, right? To make a difference in others’ lives with our stories. What’s next from you?
The fourth and final book in the Rhythms of Redemption Romances, To Believe in You, released 10/17/22. After working on that series for five years, seeing the characters get their happily-ever-afters and turning those stories over to readers is so satisfying!
I’m beginning a new series called The Many Oaks Romances. It’ll kick off with a novella featuring a popular character from The Rhythms of Redemption series and introducing the new setting and cast. I’m excited for a new small town and a new set of characters to explore, and I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I do! The kick off novella, Now or Never, is currently up for preorder on most major ebook retailers.
Congratulations on your latest release and your writing success. I look forward to reading your work! Thanks for sharing on the blog this week.
Join the conversation. Do you enjoy small-town Christian Romance? What about those with strong faith themes? Has a book ever resonated with you in a hard situation and helped you in some way?
Comment below by November 1 for a chance to win your choice of one of Emily’s Rhythms of Redemption novels in ebook format.
To Believe in You by Emily Conrad
Click the book cover for purchase link
Can she trust her heart to a man who can’t trust himself?
Since his dismissal from the rock band Awestruck, former bassist and addict Matt Visser has been transformed by faith and a year of sobriety.
Betrayed by her fiancé, Lina Abbey surrenders her hopes of a family of her own. Instead, she focuses on her work as Awestruck’s social media manager and director of Key of Hope, a non-profit funded by the band to teach music lessons to kids from low-income families.
She would never hire a man with Matt’s track record as a bass guitar instructor, but her boss, a firm believer in God’s grace and second chances, overrules her objections. Matt takes the job to clear an old debt, but soon finds he can’t resist the challenge of winning the beautiful but cautious Lina’s trust.
When a new truth about his past reveals a wrong he can never right, he and Lina both need Someone more trustworthy than Matt to believe in. Otherwise, history will repeat itself in all the worst ways.
A meaningful Christian romance with a side of fame and fortune for readers who enjoy faith-filled escapes and happily-ever-afters where no one is beyond hope of redemption. Start reading today!
Emily Conrad writes contemporary Christian romance that explores life’s relevant questions. Though she likes to think some of her characters are pretty great, the ultimate hero of her stories (including the one she’s living) is Jesus. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their energetic coonhound rescue. She is the author of the stand alone novel Justice and the Rhythms of Redemption Romance series, as well as a series of short stories, which she emails in installments to subscribers. Learn more about her and her books at emilyconradauthor.com.
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If you missed last week’s interview with Katie Powner, find it here.