Posted on May 22, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing Luana Ehrlich, the author of the award-winning Titus Ray thriller series, featuring CIA intelligence officer Titus Ray.
Her novels are clean reads with intriguing plots, fascinating characters, jaw-dropping twists, and occasional touches of heart-warming romance.
Besides being an award-winning author, Ehrlich is a minister's wife, former missionary, and, of course, an avid reader. As a news fanatic, she also follows events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.
Ehrlich developed her passion for spy thrillers and mystery novels at an early age, but she didn’t begin writing her series of Titus Ray thrillers until her husband retired from the ministry.
Now she writes from an undisclosed location, trying to avoid the torture of mundane housework, grocery shopping, and golf stories.
However, she occasionally comes out of hiding to visit with her two grandsons or to enjoy a Starbucks caramel macchiato.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
LUANA: As soon as I learned to read, I started dreaming of becoming a writer. I even decided I would write under another name.
I chose the name Pam Black because I thought mine was too difficult for people to remember. Now I love my slightly unconventional name, but I did include Pam Black as a minor character in one of my novels.
The idea for my series, the Titus Ray thrillers, and the first book in the series, One Night in Tehran, came after I heard about the persecution of Christians in Iran about five years ago.
Because I've always been an avid reader of mysteries and thrillers, I knew my first book would be in this genre. However, when I heard about the Iranian Christians, I began asking several questions, which eventually became the plotline of the book.
I wondered what would happen if a veteran CIA intelligence operative in Tehran encountered a group of Iranian Christians and became a believer.
How would his conversion affect his career? How would a man trained to lie and deceive others be able to follow the teachings of Christ in the real world?
My series developed around this character, and the plotlines have expanded because of asking these questions.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
LUANA: Beyond a doubt, the most surprising aspect of my writing career has been the need to promote my writing.
I never imagined I would have to market myself or my books, yet that takes up about half my time. It’s probably the most challenging aspect as well.
As for rewarding, that has to be having dialogue with my readers. I get emails from readers all the time, and it’s such a joy to hear from each of them.
I write a personal email to each fan who writes to me, and they’re my motivation for writing past midnight.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
LUANA: The most memorable feedback usually comes from readers who tell me they identify with Titus Ray.
Although he’s a covert operative, they see that he struggles with maintaining balance in his life, feeling lonely, making decisions, living out his faith, etc. — basically, all the problems everyone struggles with on a daily basis.
One reader wrote, “Your books bring such a freshness to the normal super-hero spy. Titus seems like such a normal guy, someone like me who thinks about life the way I do.”
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
LUANA: The reoccurring theme in all Titus Ray thrillers is the message of faith.
As a covert operative, Titus is required to lie and deceive others, and there are even times when he must commit acts of violence to protect his country and himself.
Yet, because he recently made a commitment to live out the teachings of Christ after coming in contact with some Iranian Christians in Tehran, he’s constantly trying to figure out how to live out his faith in his daily life, knowing death could be just around the corner.
Even though few of my readers are spies, I want them to see themselves in Titus, to examine their own values, their own belief systems, their own faith as they go about their own daily lives, knowing death could be just around the corner.
SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
LUANA: The writing process for me is like watching a movie and just describing it to someone by writing down everything that’s occurring at that moment.
I don’t make much of an outline — only a couple of pages of thoughts — although I do write down where I want my main character to be at the end of the book in order to continue the series.
By using this method, I’m considered a “pantser” by other authors. That is, I’m writing by the seat of my pants.
The opposite of this method is a plotter, someone who makes an extensive outline and plots everything out before starting chapter one.
Of course, there are also authors who fall between the extremes of being a plotter or a pantser.
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Categories: Author Interview