Beth Goddard loves a good story, especially if that story includes deep spiritual truth along with suspense, action and adventure. It’s what she reads, and what she likes to write. She is the author of five contemporary romance novels and two novellas, including a romantic mystery entitled The Camera Never Lies, which just won a 2011 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Carol Award. With a Four Star review from Romantic Times, her sixth novel, FREEZING POINT, is pure heart-pumping romantic suspense.
Casey Wilkes didn’t realize her simple human-interest story would put her life at risk—again. After fleeing her home and journalism job in Portland, she wanted to live under the radar for a while.
Homeland security agent Jesse Mitchell has been undercover as an ice sculptor for months, trying to infiltrate a smuggling ring. He wants to avoid trouble, and that’s just what Casey brings. Now someone has a target set on Casey. Saving her could blow his cover, but leaving her unprotected endangers him even more—especially his heart.
Goddard fell in love with books and decided she wanted to be a writer at a very young age. From the third grade on, she read voraciously, across the genres. It wasn’t until 2001 that she tried her own hand at writing stories; and, by 2007, she had sold and published her first novel. Recently The Big Thrill editor, Christine Goff caught up with Goddard to ask her a few questions:
I read on your webpage that your first reading loves were historical fiction and fantasy. What do you like about writing in the Christian Suspense genre?
Even when reading historical novels, they were mostly historical suspense novels. Ha! The fast pace of suspense makes it an easier story to write because the plot and the character’s predicament takes over, usually in a race against. Much like a reader can’t put a good suspense novel down neither can I stop writing when the story takes over. The Christian aspect brings a message of hope and redemption with it.
Many of your stories hit on contemporary themes—the war in Afghanistan, green issues, drug cartels and, in FREEZING POINT, immigration—yet at their core Romantic Suspense novels are also love stories. Can you describe your books for us and tell how you strike a balance between the romance and suspense elements?
I recently tried to analyze what the right balance is and my agent informed me I have a natural instinct, not to analyze too much. Every romantic suspense writer has a different balance and it’s part of their voice. For me, I start with the suspense but when I bring the hero and heroine together, I allow the romance between them to flow naturally, making sure the suspense tension is on point as well.
As a fiction writer, you have some license to make things up, but when you’re writing about serious issues, you need to have your facts straight. How much research do you find you must do in order to accurately depict the situations your characters find themselves immersed in?
I probably spend too much time researching until I’m confident I understand what I’m writing about. At some point I have to stop and just write. In addition to research, I try to consult with an expert on any given topic. I have the good fortune to have a contact in the FBI who reads my material and makes sure everything is sound, regarding any law enforcement issues.
Your heroes and heroines run the gamut from artists to life coaches to federal agents. In FREEZING POINT, your heroine is a journalist while your hero is a undercover federal immigration officer posing as an ice sculptor. How much of your own background is used to develop the characters?
Sometimes I draw from personal experience; the artist and the computer programmer. In other cases I draw from my love of nature and science and all the things I’ve wanted to do in this life, but can’t. In a way, writing allows me to experience life vicariously through my characters.
I noticed that many of your books are set in Oregon and know you lived there for about five years. FREEZING POINT is set in San Diego. Have you also lived there? How do you choose your setting—familiarity? Plot?—and how do you conduct your research?
I didn’t live in San Diego. Familiarity and plot both play a roll. I needed the story to be set near the border. I had a beach house in San Diego in mind as well. Sometime because of the nature of the story, a specific setting won’t work. I’ve traveled all over the country and visited many places so have that firsthand experience, but also spend many hours on research via the internet (YouTube is great) and talking to others. For instance, I consulted with an ice sculptor in Dallas so that I could view the process first hand, watched a lot of YouTube videos on the process, and talked with an ice company in San Diego, even learning how I could work through my plot using dry ice.
After looking at your website, I realized that you write more than one book a year. Can you tell us what else is coming out and what we can look forward to in 2012?
Under the Redwood Tree ( the Afghanistan war hero story) comes out in October of this year. Releasing next year: Oregon Outback, Sheltering Love (the second in the Redwood Coast series) and Hearts in the Mist, (the third book in that series), and Extreme Maneuvers (my second Love Inspired Suspense).
For Elizabeth Goddard the future looks bright. The market for Christian-based fiction is heating up, and Goddard is one of the rising stars. For additional information on her upcoming books, touring schedule and her blog recommendation for additional reading, please visit her website.
Elizabeth Goddard is the author of five contemporary romance novels and two novellas, including a romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies, a 2011 Carol Award finalist. Two more novels release in 2011, including Freezing Point, a romantic suspense. She is a 7th generation Texan who lives in East Texas with her husband and four children. She and her family recently spent five years in Oregon, which serves as the setting for several of her novels, including Oregon Outback, releasing with Barbour Publishing in Spring 2012.