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Monday, July 19, 2021

Be Ready to Re-Write and Delete: Author Interview with Stephanie Landsem

Your newest book takes place during the 1930s Golden Age of Hollywood, but your previous novels were Biblical interpretations of the women in the Bible. Why the switch in genres? 
As I wrote my biblical novels I was drawn over and over again to the parable of the Merciful Father and wanted to write the story of this prodigal who runs away to a far-off land. Not long after I finished The Tomb, I went on a short trip to California and that’s where I got the idea that setting this story the decadent world of early Hollywood. And what better time than during the Great Depression, when hardship and famine were sweeping over the nation?

How did you go about finding an agent / publisher? 
Finding an agent was an arduous process of querying and rejections! One thing that helped a lot was entering contests while I waited to hear back from agents. It increased my confidence and helped me in my craft, and when I finaled in the ACFW Genesis contest, I had something to tell agents that caught their attention. 

From the point you were offered a contract on that first book, how long did it take to make to print for your initial book?
After Howard Books offered me a three-book contract for the Living Water Series, I didn’t see my first book, The Well, in print for almost two years!

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part for me is backstory. How much to include, where to put it, and when to stop writing it.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
Probably just trust myself. All of my editors have been wonderfully supportive.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
My critique partner, Regina Jennings, is always such a huge help. She sees my manuscripts when they are utter disasters and is always ready with positive suggestions. She keeps me from succumbing to despair!

We have all experienced writing rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
When I was first writing biblical fiction I heard over and over that it was a genre that just didn’t get read. But I knew that was what I wanted to write and so kept at it. Ten years later, and biblical fiction has really taken off and there is a large and dedicated audience.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing? 
I’m still surprised at how long it takes to get a book from manuscript to finished product in traditional publishing. The time frame from when I get an idea to when the book is in my hand can be several years.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
There’s no shame in deleting. I write twice as much in a single book than the reader ever sees. I try to remember that a large portion of what I write will eventually be condensed, re-written, or deleted.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Connect with other writers! It’s my weakness to think I can do this on my own but I’m always encouraged and inspired when I connect with other writers and learn from them.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next novel is based on a little-known story of the rise of Nazism in 1930s Los Angeles. While the Great Depression was deepening in our country, Germany was coming out of its own economic disaster with the help of a new leader, Adolph Hitler. Most Americans hardly knew his name, but he was already working on a plan to infiltrate German communities with National Socialists and turn Americans against their Jewish neighbors. 

He especially wanted to gain control of the Jewish-run Hollywood movie studios in order to spread his anti-Semitic propaganda. Only one man knew Hitler to be a threat, a Jewish lawyer named Leon Lewis. He took it upon himself to set up a private spy network of Christian men and women who infiltrated the growing fascist groups in Los Angeles and worked together to stop the Nazis.

Codename: Edelweiss is a fictional account of how Leon Lewis and his spies foiled Hitler’s plan to take over Hollywood.

Wow! That does sound intriguing! If you'd like to learn mora about Stephanie's books, here are some links to get you started. 

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