Interview: Lorrie Kruse

I’m so thrilled to have author Lorrie Kruse with me today to talk about her book A Life Worth Living, which I reviewed last week. I’ve rarely been so curious when I was reading to know more about the author! So let’s dive right in to satisfy my curiosity…

1) The first thing I notice about this book is that it is the most accurate portrayal of paraplegia I’ve ever read in a fictional book. Do you have personal experience or is that purely research?

Thank you. It was all purely research. When I first wrote the book, I just wrote whatever sounded logical. Then, I discovered you can’t just make it up. It’s a fictional book, a made up story, but I couldn’t make up ALL of it? Actually, I’m glad that’s the case because I found out sooooo much in my research, things I’d have never guessed to be the case. It really opened my eyes to everything a paralyzed person goes through. I would have loved to have put in even more details, but I didn’t want it to come off as a textbook to the readers. I have a greater appreciation for the blessings I have in my life. The fact that I have legs that I can stand up on and walk with are only part of those blessings.

2) What first sparked your idea for this story and what made you want to tell it?

The story I envisioned was nothing like the finished story (the finished story is so much better!).  I was trying to come up with what I hoped to be a creative way to get a man and a woman together. I thought that it might be interesting if a man fell in love with his physical therapist, which led to why does he need a physical therapist, which had me then creating the reason. I intended for the book to be purely romance but as I got into the story I discovered it was much more than a romance.

3) How long did it take you to complete the book?

That’s a very difficult question to answer. I started the book probably 10 years ago, but I wasn’t working exclusively on A Life Worth Living the whole time as there were some other projects mixed in. I’d say I probably took 3 to 4 years on this particular project (maybe 5 years if I’m really honest with myself). One thing that took longer is that A Life Worth Living was the book I was writing during my learning phase. I’d written several other books before I learned HOW to write. What a big difference all that learning made. It was so much easier to write when there weren’t rules to follow, but the books I wrote before I knew how to write are really nothing more than “this is a boring segment of so-and-so’s life” stories. They’re so bad, they’re not even fixable. :0) Once I realized you needed a plot (gasp!), I inventoried the books I’d written and decided A Life Worth Living had the most potential. Oh, my. Little did I know just how big a challenge it was going to be to write the story and then get it noticed by the publishing industry, but I did just what I set out to do and I’m darned pleased with the result.

4) Did you find it challenging to write from the male point of view?

I’m a girly girl. I don’t like getting my hands dirty. I don’t do sports. For me, the only good thing about fishing is getting to sit in a boat with a book and some chocolate. So you’d think writing the male point of view would be difficult, but I didn’t have too hard of a time at all. I’m in a writers’ group and there were only a few times where the members would say that a man would never say something I had Matt say. I guess the girly girl has a male mind??

5) How did you get connected with your publisher? Was it difficult to get them to agree to a book with a paralyzed hero?

I initially focused my attention on agents, and I couldn’t get the attention of an agent to save my soul. A Life Worth Living has gotten enough rejections to make Stephen King jealous. I do believe that the agents were scared off by the concept of a story about a paralyzed man. Thank heavens I heard about Storyteller Publishing. I sent them the manuscript and got overwhelming support from them with the story. The only requested changes were minor things. It felt great to finally have validation that the story was worth telling.

6) Were there any unanticipated challenges that came up from writing about a person with a disability?

The main challenge was having to stick within the confines of the reality of someone with a spinal cord injury. I had ideas for different things I wanted to happen in the book, but then, in doing my research, I discovered those things couldn’t ever happen (apparently not even in the land of fiction!) so I had to go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas. I thought I’d have a difficult time remembering Matt was tied down to a wheelchair, that I might accidently have him walking because it’s so natural to have your character take a step, but, amazingly, that never did become a challenge.

7) What are your plans for future books? More centering on this family? Something different?

Right now I’m working on a romantic suspense. Totally new characters. There are plenty of other stories rolling around in my brain, waiting to come flying out of my fingers into a computer (gosh, I wish the stories came out that quickly!) including a paranormal romantic suspense, another woman’s fiction, and even a few paranormal thrillers. I just hope I live long enough to get all of the stories out. I was thinking the other day that the way to tell whether or not you really have it in you to be a writer is when you think that you cannot die yet because you haven’t told all of your stories.

Note from Ruth: Oh man, that’s like authors like Robert Jordan or JRR Tolkien dying with sequels plotted and not yet written! Terrifying to think.

8) Do you think you would write a disabled hero again?

I’ve had lots of requests for a follow-up Matt and Abby story, so there’s a possibility that I might write another story about them. As far as a story about a different disabled hero? At this point I don’t have any plans for such a story, but if inspiration strikes me, I’d be more than willing to write that story.

I want more Matt and Abby! They are so cute together. (Might be difficult to find a conflict to base the plot on, though)

9) Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

As a shameless plug, buy the book! If you love the book, tell all your friends and suggest they buy the book, too.

Thank you, Ruth, for contacting me about doing the interview and review. And thank you for such a nice review.

Wow! Done all with research. This is a great message for other authors out there. It is possible to write accurately about disability without personal experience. You just need to do it with care and attention to detail. It’s interesting to hear how your book blossomed from a simple romance to something with more depth. I know just what you mean about writing a book at the same time as learning how to write a book. The learning process is so valuable, but it makes the book take a very long time!

My book also experienced a lot of initial rejection. I agree that I think agents and publishers are very nervous about books with paralyzed heroes. I hope we can prove it to be as lucrative a genre as any other! Dev Love Press was created for the purpose of getting more of those stories out!

Keep on writing, Lorrie. It’s been a pleasure to meet you and your characters!

6 Comments

  1. Alan Rain
    Sep 24, 2012

    A revealing insight, Ruth. Is it remarkable in the US that a first novel gets taken on directly by a publisher?

    (Is it just me, or is the font grey very pale? I do get eye strain after a while. Sorry …)

    • RuthMadison
      Sep 24, 2012

      I will have to work on the font color issue! It does seem a bit too pale.

      Occasionally it does happen that a novel gets taken directly by a publisher. Usually if the publisher is a small one, as I believe this one is. There are many small presses and they may have smaller budgets, but a lot of passion and a close connection with the author.

    • Lorrie Kruse
      Sep 25, 2012

      Hi Alan – I think that the majority of New York publishers require you go through an agent to submit to them. There are a few where you can directly submit to them. It’s been a while, so I’m rusty on the details, but I think either Avon or St. Martin’s Press allows an author to submit directly to them. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to sit in the slush pile forever. I actually had gotten an invitation to sumbit to Kensington Press after meeting with an editor at an RWA conference, but I didn’t feel the book was quite ready and by the time I was ready to submit, the editor had moved on and the door closed. But I think it’s because it just wasn’t time for A Life Worth Living to be published. Or maybe Kensington wasn’t the right publisher. But, anyhow, yes, it is possible to submit directly to some publishers. And, yes, Storyteller Publishing is a small publisher, but sometimes small is better. I’m a big fish in a little pond instead of the other way around. :0)

      Lorrie

  2. Dani
    Sep 24, 2012

    Hi Ruth, thanks for doing this interview with Lorrie. I enjoyed it and gave me a tiny bit more hope that maybe one day one of my stories will actually be done ….just the other night I was joking with my boys about how if I die before I should finish my stories they have to take it into their hands….:-)
    Got Lorrie’s book on my Kindle and so far I enjoy it…

    • RuthMadison
      Sep 24, 2012

      Call me paranoid, but I keep my outlines and notes organized so another writer could pick it up if need be! lol.

      For me, stories get done one way only: a tiny bit at a time. I just keep chipping away on them.

    • Lorrie Kruse
      Sep 25, 2012

      Hi Dani – I hope you are able to successfully complete your novel more quickly than I was able to. My baby was only 3 when I started writing. He turns 18 in just 3 months. I never thought I was that slow of a learner, but I guess I must be. Actually, I’m going to blame it on my being a perfectionist. I wanted the book perfect. However, there is no such thing. I heard somewhere that a book is never completed…it’s simply abandoned. There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Well, not that I abandoned Matt and Abby. More that I shoved them out of the nest. :0)

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the book. As a writer, you know how much work went into it. So, do me a favor, help spread the word about it. Thanks. And let me know when you’re done with it what you thought of it.

      Happy reading…and writing!

      Lorrie

Submit a Comment