Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee Blare started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to Laramie and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media [see links at the end of this interview].
Janet: Welcome, Renee, and thanks for taking time to join us. I love your tag line: “Christian fiction… where the wild meets the Forgiven.” How did you choose it?
Renee: Hi Janet, thanks for having me. I searched for a tag line to match my writing for quite a long time. I wrestled with a few… truth, faith… they flew around the keyboard until I decided to center on my stories. Within every tale’s a wild component… whether nature or man… which must be confronted. The Forgiven represents the body of Christ and may be the tool by which this task is accomplished, if not the end result of the journey.
Janet: Your website says you write “about Christians struggling along the hard journeys of their lives.” For me, these are the best kind of stories, because the lessons the characters learn are lessons I likely need as well. Do you start with what you want to “teach” the character and shape the story from there, or do you start with the character and his/her circumstances?
Renee: It’s funny. I don’t think about lessons or plots when I think about a new book. My ideas for a new novel flash like a movie in my dreams at night. I wake up at two or three o’clock in the morning and jot them down. The major character’s inner conflict and occupation is where I usually start… as well as the setting. For some reason, the setting’s very important to me. It always has been.
Janet: Your novel, Beast of Stratton, released in March, and one commenter to this post will receive a free ebook copy. Congratulations! Is this your first published novel? If so, how have things changed now?
Janet: Tell us a bit about Beast of Stratton. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it sounds like there might be a “Beauty and the Beast” connection.
Renee: Yes, there definitely is a Beauty and the Beast connection. Although contemporary and a romantic suspense, Beast of Stratton’s inspired by the fairy tale.
Janet: On the cover, I see the lion looks like it’s chasing Aimee. Where did the story idea come from? And do you have a favourite character?
Renee: My crit group, Rough Diamond Writers had the ingenious idea to write novellas based on fairy tales. Everyone selected one and wrote a story. I chose Beauty and the Beast (my favorite, of course).
As for the story behind the story, I’d planned a romance with a touch of suspense. Nothing too drastic… after all, it was a novella. Before I knew it, the story morphed into a different book… a mystery.
Miles became a wounded veteran, an element which stems from my personal experience with veterans and a desire to convey their struggle behind the scenes. I couldn’t sugar-coat the trauma of war. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), Suicide, Migraine, physical injuries… they’re all addressed one way or another… some more in-depth than others. (Note: The migraine depicted in this book’s based on one of my own headaches, although the recovery is not.)
My favorite character would have to be the little old lady toward the end of the story. This woman’s wisdom is amazing!
Janet: I’ll watch for her when I’m reading! What do you want readers to take away when they’re done?
Renee: Beast of Stratton’s a suspenseful, mysterious, but thoughtful book. I would like people to remember God’s providence. He will provide… even when we think He’s not listening, doesn’t care, or has forgotten we exist.
I also would hope they remember freedom isn’t free. It comes at a cost… blood.
Janet: Definitely truths to remember! You have another novel releasing soon. Is it a sequel, or something entirely different?
Renee: Yes! I do have another book coming out July 10th. It’s called To Soar on Eagle’s Wings, and it’s the first of my series, the Snowy Range Chronicles. I’m really excited about it.
The fictitious town of Timber Springs is home to the Fitzgerald family. With their father, the local pastor, the Fitzgeralds struggle to come to terms with the unexpected death of their mother while life continues… on the Snowy Range.
Here’s a little bit about Book One, To Soar on Eagle’s Wings:
Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell, finds a moose mired in a bog and launches his first wildlife investigation of the season. Then the trouble follows him… straight to town.
Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, harassing phone calls, and her family, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy.
He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves more of a challenge than ever before…
Janet: Sounds intriguing. What got you started writing?
Renee: My husband. That sounds a little strange but it’s true. I’ve written poetry and short stories since junior high school, but a novel? No way. One day about five years ago, I bought a “Christian” book off Amazon, and threw it into my cybernetic trash bin almost immediately. I was livid. The language didn’t make me half as mad as the sex. Christian, my foot. I raised the roof with my temper tantrum and burned my husband’s ear (at least he can only hear out of one.) Of course, now that I’ve calmed down, I like to pretend it was a marketing error.
Anyhoo, James (my husband) looked at me, listened, and nodded a few times from his easy chair, and told me to write my own. I did. 🙂
Janet: Good for him, and good for you! You’re an active blogger, too. How do you balance that with your fiction?
Renee: Very carefully. I have to manage my time in order to get it all done, that’s for sure.
Janet: Are you a morning person or a night owl? And what’s your favourite season?
Renee: I love the morning. I wake up in a good mood and full of chatter, much to my husband’s displeasure. (He’s NOT a morning person.) I’ve learned how to be a night owl when I need to be though. I have to be careful to get my sleep for health reasons… my migraines can be a literal nightmare.
Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?
Renee: I love to relax on the side of a lake with a good book with my line in the water. Half the time I don’t even pay attention to the thing, but the fresh air and sun’s awesome. Give me a beach, and I’m in heaven.
Janet: That lake is beautiful. I’m surprised how similar the landscape looks to Nova Scotia, although we don’t usually see rocks that amazing in the water. Thanks for visiting today, Renee, and may these two novels releasing this year be the start of many more.
Ebook giveaway of Beast of Stratton: to enter, leave a comment below. If you like, you can tell us what fairy tale you’d like to see rewritten as contemporary fiction. Draw ends at midnight, April 17, and I’ll choose one commenter’s name at random. (Offer void where prohibited by law.) [And our winner is Mary Preston!]
About the Book:
He appears the beast but she sees his heart.
Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.
He’s been betrayed by his best friend. Miles would rather hide than help, especially his daughter. But it isn’t over. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A war veteran, he knows how to defend his own, the Beast of Stratton can do it again.
Find Renee online: