By Dennis Collins
Lorie Ham is a mother, gospel singer, church secretary, and writes for her local newspaper. Oh yeah, and she writes murder mysteries too. Lorie began writing at the age of seven and, influenced by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, she turned to writing mysteries. Her first two novels in this series, Murder in Four Part Harmony, and The Trouble With Tenors, are both set in the world of gospel singing and bring a perspective that the public never sees. She is currently editing the third installment. Lorie lives in Reedley, CA with her husband Larry and their two children, Jessica, 9 and Joseph, 7.
I recently had the chance to ask Lorie a few questions:
Dennis Collins: How long did it take to get your first book published?
Lorie Ham: After many failed attempts at writing a novel, I decided to write what I know and set mysteries in the world of gospel music and things finally clicked. It took about four years to get it finished and find a publisher. I would advise a beginning novelist to try writing what you know. Even now, the writing goes much easier when I do that.
DC: Who are your favorite movie stars and recording artists?
LH: Itís hard to pick favorites, but some would be Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery. My favorite all time singer is Frank Sinatra.
DC: How about TV and sports?
LH: Iíve always loved Murder She Wrote, it even inspired me to write mysteries, although her life isnít anything like that of a real mystery author. Iíve always been a big Star Trek fan and will watch almost anything that is connected to mystery and police work. Particular favorites are the Poirot movies and TV shows done by PBS, A&E, and CSI.† Iím not much of a sports person. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be hockey.
DC: Tell me a little about how you write; do you set daily goals or make outlines? Which do you feel is more important, the plot or the characters?
LH: Daily goals never seem to work for me, but I do well writing on a deadline. Iím very thankful I have a laptop so I can write wherever I need to. I hate outlining. As I go along, I keep a calendar of events though. Plot and characters are probably equally important, although Iím more likely to read or watch something that has characters I care about and a weak plot, than the other way around.
DC: Are your books considered religious or Christian works? Do they carry a message?
LH: The Christian book market was not at all interested. They present a realistic and not preachy image of Christian life. Her Christianity is simply a part of who the main character is, and the world of gospel music isnít all sugar and spice. I portray the good and the bad of that world. I couldnít write a book where good didnít triumph over evil, so thereís always that. I think I like to show that weíre all human and, make mistakes and we shouldnít judge other people for the mistakes they have made, But mostly I just want people to enjoy my books and escape a little into a different world.
DC: Is your writing based on personal experience? Does it reflect a part of you? Is it a big part of your life?
LH: Only the background, the gospel singing, the small town, being part of a gospel singing family are from personal experience. The stories themselves are all fiction. My main character, Alex, is very loyal to those she cares about and very curious. Those are the things she and I have most in common. I like to think I donít get into as much trouble as she does.† Writing has always been a passion for me. I canít imagine not writing.
DC: Any advice for aspiring writers?
LH: If you know in your heart that you have to write, donít ever give up no matter how many rejections you get or what people around you might say. Also, work really hard at learning all you can about your craft.
ďI love writing and as long as people are enjoying what I write, Iím happy.Ē
You can read more about Lorie's road to publication on Nancy Mehl's column, The Bare Bones.
To read sample chapters of Lories novels or to hear clips of here singing, visit her website at: www.LorieHam.com†