Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley

Hi, Lena Nelson Dooley, welcome to Rachel Rossano’s Words.

Years ago, I encountered your blog (http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/) where you interview authors most of the time. I am very impressed with your experience in the writing business and would love hear about some of your experiences along the way. But first, my readers and I would love to learn more about you.

How long have you been writing and when did you publish your first book? 

I’ve written all my life, but I started writing my first novel in 1984 and finished writing it in January 1985. I received a contract from Heartsong Presents for the book in 1992, and it came out in December of that year.

Tell us a bit about your family.

My husband and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary later this year. We have daughters, sons-in-law, grand children, a grandson-in-law, and two great grands. All of us live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, except our army grandson, who is overseas right now.

How do you go about seeking publication for your books?

The first years, I contacted publishers myself. But I have a wonderful agent, and she takes care of submitting my proposals. I couldn’t do without her now. And the best part is that we’ve become very good friends.

How influential is your publisher in the content of the novels you write for them? 

Every publisher who offers a contract will an editor or editors who will give input to help make my stories better, but the story is always mine. Working together makes the stories stronger for the reader.

When beginning a new writing project, what aspect of the story do you develop first (e.g. characters, plot, theme, or setting)?

All of my stories are character driven. They come first. Then the setting. And I do major research to make sure the setting is authentic to the place and time period, whether historical or contemporary. The theme develops as the characters play out the story.

What is your favorite era to write about and why?

I have written both historical and contemporary books. My earliest historical was set in 1804 or 5. It was a pirate story. Many of the books that have been contracted are set in the late 1800s. So I’ve become something of an expert on that era.

How do you research your books? 

If I can go to the place, I do. If not I research using travel videos, books, and the Internet. Most libraries have an adult resource person who can help you. I’ve called one in other cities, seeking books or web sites that can help me. I’ve contacted other people who live in the area I’m writing about. I use Google Earth. Actually, I use whatever I can find about the place or time period.

Of your books, do you have a favorite? What makes that one special? 

When I’m asked this question, I often answer, “The one I’m writing right now.” Just as parents love their children equally, but differently to meet the personality of the child, I love all my books equally, but my feelings match the personality of the book. My first major award was the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Excellence in Western Media for fiction. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, won that award. I loved writing that book. And my latest, the McKenna’s Daughters series, are dear to my heart. Maggie’s Journey, Mary’s Blessing, Catherine’s Pursuit. These books are about identical triplets who were born on one of the last wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Their mother dies giving birth, and they’re separated. They don’t find out that they have sisters until near their 18th birthdays. I’ve won awards on these as well.




If someone was considering picking up one of your books for the first time, which one would you recommend and why?

Maggie’s Journey would be a good one to start with, or Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, or even Minnesota Brothers.

What attracts you to a book written by another author? 

With a number of Christian authors, I automatically read every book that comes out. I know their writing and can trust that whatever the story, I’ll love it. And my tastes in books encompasses several genres. With others, sometimes I’m drawn to the cover, or the theme, or the time period.

We would love to hear about your most recent release? 

That would be my McKenna’s Daughters series I mentioned before. Recently, I was featured on the website of Australasian Christian Writers. I loved hearing that I have lots of readers who love this series Down Under. These books are available in print and ebooks on Christianbook.com, Deepershopping.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com, as well as in many bookstores.

What projects do you have in the works?

I’m actually writing two completely different books. One is a contemporary, with a military suspense thread, titled Beyond Redemption. The other is book one in a new historical series—Love’s Road Home. Book one is titled A Heart’s Gift. Beyond Redemption is set in Texas, Washington DC, and France. A Heart’s Gift is set in Summit County, Colorado, in the 1890s.

I’m also working with Higher Ground Films as screenwriter. I’m adapting another author’s novel to a screenplay for a Christian movie—Abducted to Kill—a romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense, set in the late 20th century.

When will we be seeing a new novel by Lena Nelson Dooley? 

I don’t have a publication date for either of the novels I’m working on right now.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I enjoyed chatting.


Multi-award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 800,000 books in print. 

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Gate Beautiful blogtalk radio show.

She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs. She has been featured in articles in Christian Fiction Online Magazine, ACFW Journal, and Christian Retailing.

Lena has won numerous awards. She lives in Texas with her husband of over 49 years. Their favorite activities involve time with their family members. Their daughters and sons-in-law have given them four grandchildren, and now they have two great grandsons, who delight them.

Lena has an active web presence on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin, Google+, and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books. 

Find her online here:
Other blogs where she’s a regular contributor:

3 comments:

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Thank you so much, Rachel, for featuring me on your blog today.

Rachel Rossano said...

You are very welcome, Lena. I appreciate you spending time with us. :)

Shanna Hatfield said...

Great interview, Rachel and Lena! :)