Interview with Lynne Baab

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love "flow," that state of being so absorbed in what you're doing that you lose all sense of anything else. When I'm writing non-fiction (for books, blogs, articles) and I'm in that flow state, I'm completely focused on the topic at hand, trying to be as clear, concise and helpful as I can possibly be. When I'm writing fiction and I'm in that flow state, I'm lost in the story and the characters. I have to be honest and say that I don't experience flow every time I write. Sometimes writing requires sheer persistence and perseverance, particularly in the editing stages. But that sense of being lost in the process happens often enough for me that I get a deep sense of satisfaction and joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love getting emails that say, "I enjoyed this aspect of your book." I love knowing that enough people read my books so publishers are willing to give me the chance to write another book. Writers need readers, and I love being in both roles -- writing my own books and reading other people's books.

Most people who want to communicate with me find me through my website, www.lynnebaab.com. My contact information is there.
What are you working on next?
My book on listening in congregations will be published in June 2014 by Rowman and Littlefield. The title is The Power of Listening: Building Skills for Mission and Ministry. I interviewed 63 ministers and lay leaders about the significance of listening in their congregations. One of the most surprising aspects of the interviews was the number of people who talked about obstacles to listening, so two of the chapters of the book focus on those obstacles, how to overcome them, and how to teach people in congregations to overcome them. Other chapters cover the role of listening in pastoral care, congregational life, and mission, and patterns and practices of listening to God.

I'm currently revising a novel I wrote a few years ago entitled Death in Dunedin, and I plan to publish it for Smashwords later in 2014. The sleuth is Lena from Deadly Murmurs: A Novel. She is now older, serving a church in Dunedin, New Zealand, as a minister on a church exchange. She finds a dead body on the church property, and becomes involves in the investigation. I'm hoping readers will enjoy visiting beautiful Dunedin, where I live.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a terrible short story when I was 13 or 14. My school had a short story contest, and I thought I would win it. It's truly amazing that I believed I could write well simply because I liked to read. I published a couple of magazine articles in my late 20s, and a couple more in my late 30s, but it wasn't until I spent six years as a writer and editor for church publications in my early 40s that I really learned strong writing skills. By then I had a lot to say about a lot of things, and I got my first book contract when I was just about to turn 45.

One of my sons is a very gifted writer. When he was about 16, I ran into an instructor for a MFA writing program, and I asked him what I could do to encourage my son. This instructor said something like, "You say your son is involved in journalism at school. He'll learning writing skills there, and in fact writing skills aren't that hard to learn. The hard part is having something to say. Encourage him to become an expert in something as well as develop writing skills. (My son works in human rights, and now definitely has something say, and he has developed powerful writing skills as well. He writes essays under the name Michael Hobbes. If you google his name and look for Huffington Post and Longreads, you'll find some of his essays.) Because of that conversation with that instructor, I came to understand the significance of the combination of good writing skills plus something to say. I have tried to develop my own writing skills alongside a lot of prayer, pondering and discernment of what I'm supposed to be saying.
What is your writing process?
I am a morning writer. I schedule very few appointments in the mornings, and I say no to almost all morning commitments. Only absolutely necessary things like staff meetings disrupt my morning routine. If I'm writing a book, blog post or article, I get up and write for a while, take a break to eat breakfast, write for another hour or more, take a break to pray silently with my husband for 20 minutes, and then return to the writing if my brain is still functioning. I seldom write anything coherent after lunch, and I'm often finished by about 10:30 or 11. By "finished" I mean that my brain just isn't generating any more clear thoughts or words.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My mother read lots of books to my brother and me, and I can't remember the earliest years of reading. But I do remember the Dr. Doolittle books and the Moomintroll books. Those were among the earliest chapter books she read to us, and I find it interesting that both of those series feature great leaps of imagination. As I learned to read myself, my mother was always willing to take me to the library, and I came home every time with stacks of books. My parents gave me a small amount of money to buy books when I was a child, but most of my reading came from library books.
How do you approach cover design?
Most of my books are published by publishers who create the cover design with very little input from me. For my fiction which I publish here on Smashbooks, I rely on my son who is a motion graphics designer. (I have two sons, one who works in human rights and does a lot of freelance writing using the name Michael Hobbes, and the other one who designs my book covers.) I am very fond of the cover for Dead Sea. The cover for Deadly Murmurs is more edgy, and it took me longer to learn to like it. I trust my son to know what looks good.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner because he shows the complexity of personality impacting friendships.
Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goodge because she illustrates how God works through the hard things and challenges in our lives.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher because the main character carries on giving love and enjoying life even after she loses the relationship most precious to her.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler because she explores the contrast between loving a person and the person we become when when we're with a person.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers because she explores the potential for a romantic relationship to be polyphonic rather than having one person carry the melody.
All five of these books make my heart hurt, so I can't read them very often. But I have re-read all of them numerous times and always come away enriched.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My father was an air force pilot. I was born in Washington, DC, and lived in Athens, Greece; Wiesbaden, Germany; Michigan; upstate New York; Washington State; Wiesbaden again; and southern Virginia, all before my 15th birthday. All that travel and all that moving shaped me profoundly. Characters in books became my friends because I needed friends every time we moved. And all the places we visited gave me a wanderlust that carried over into adult life. Maybe books and ideas gained importance for me because they transcended locations and came along with me every time we moved.
Published 2014-02-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Deadly Murmurs: A Novel
Series: View Ridge Church, Book 2. Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 54,460. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
After an abortion nurse is killed, Lena Johansson's ability to listen well puts her right in the middle of the murder investigation. Set amidst the beautiful scenery of Seattle and Puget Sound, Deadly Murmurs draws the reader into the life of a congregation in the mid 1990s with the undercurrents and history that all congregations have, but in this case with deadly impact.
Dead Sea: A Novel
Series: View Ridge Church, Book 1. Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 61,220. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
Dragooned into leading a study tour of Israel, stay-at-home Samantha is not pleased when one of the study tour members turns up dead in his bed. An attractive Israeli detective, Aaron Nahari, asks Samantha to help him with the intriguing investigation. Readers of Dead Sea: A Novel have the opportunity to visit sites in Jordan and Israel with Samantha, including Petra, Jerash and Masada.