With more than one million copies of her books sold, Elizabeth Goddard is the award-winning author of more than forty romance novels and counting. Her work has been recognized by the Carol Awards, has been nominated multiple times for the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. She continues her Uncommon Justice series with Always Look Twice (Revell): When Harper Reynolds accidentally photographs a murder—and loses her camera—it’s up to childhood friend, rancher and reserve deputy Heath McKade to help prove a murder was committed, and keep her alive. In this exclusive interview, Elizabeth explains her goals writing the novel, reveals why she loves writing romance stories, and outlines the challenges of writing about danger as a Christian author…
What inspired the story in Always Look Twice?
This second book in the Uncommon Justice series, like all my stories, is inspired by setting. In this case, Wyoming and the Jackson Hole area, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Big game hunting is a huge part of the Wyoming experience.
One scene popped into my head and just kept scrolling through my mind—a hunter looking through the high-powered scope of his rifle and, instead of the expected big game, he sees a woman running for her life. A woman that he’s hunting. I built the plot off that one scene.
I knew that my heroine would be a photographer who stumbled upon and photographed a murder in progress but writing her as crime scene photographer trying to escape a traumatic experience increased the conflict. She has a past with the hero, Heath McKade who appears in book one, Never Let Go, and so their friendship realistically blossoms into romance.
What were your goals writing this novel?
My goal in writing Always Look Twice was to bring Heath McKade onto the scene in a big way. He was a secondary character in Never Let Go, and readers wanted Heath to have his own story. He had to remain true to his character introduced in book one, and then work through his issues from the past while keeping a woman he’s falling for safe.
I also needed to introduce readers to Liam McKade who gets his own story in book three, Don’t Keep Silent. With each book in this series, I needed to describe the amazing setting, and keep the tone and pacing the same so readers will get what they’re expecting.
What are the challenges of writing about crime and danger as a Christian author?
For me, the challenge has to do with research. Spending hours upon hours researching and reading about crime can take a person into dark places, whether through books—say stories about serial killers—or on the internet. I can only dig so deep and then I have to stop because I find the evil in this world too depressing and disturbing.
As a Christian author, I want to offer stories of redemption. Balancing the crime elements for a solid suspense story with faith and hope can be difficult, but when I’m done I can feel good about the story and that my novel will bless readers rather than leave them unsettled.
The danger aspects are part of the roller-coaster ride, the emotional experience, but my characters must always hang onto faith and hope, and in this way encourage readers in their own lives—to live and walk in faith and hope.
What are the challenges (or benefits) of writing “romances” as a Christian author?
I love writing romance as a Christian author! The benefits far outweigh any perceived challenges. I get to write what I love to read and can explore characters with emotional and spiritual depth. The stories can reflect the true meaning of romance as God intended from the beginning.
The good news is that more readers are looking for “clean reads” and romances they can share with family members and children without concern. Christian romances offer deeper plots and more complex characters for a truly satisfying read.
What do you want readers to take away after reading Always Look Twice?
As always, I want readers to come away with a spiritual nugget of truth to go along with a powerful emotional experience as they read. In Always Look Twice, some main themes I explored have to do with matters of the heart. God looks to the heart in everything we do.
Add to that, nothing can take us away from Him. So we have to forgive ourselves and let the past go and trust God. The scripture that kept the story anchored is, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe. (Prov. 18:10 NASB)
Visit Elizabeth Goddard’s author page here:
Always Look Twice
Uncommon Justice #2
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