Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Guest Author: Terri Kraus

Today I'm excited to host Terri Kraus. Her first solo novel “The Renovation” centers on a hero and heroine who both need healing. She has years of experience as an interior designer, has even won awards. This book shows her expertise. The main characters are both hiding secrets and like renovating a house, one must remove the old façade oftentimes to find the true state beneath. As a huge fan of her shared project “Treasures of the Caribbean” with her husband Jim, I was very excited to jump in to promote this work. So, let’s run a contest. Leave a comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a free copy of the book. Then, one week from now (May 15th) I’ll have the drawing. Terri has even signed this copy.

We're having another contest, so leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book. I'll hold the drawing on May 15th.

Here's a bit about Terri:

After eleven co-authored books with husband, Jim, Terri Kraus has added her award-winning interior designer’s eye to her world of fiction. Terri has worked as a professional designer for 25 years. She has also directed women’s ministries at her church for the past 6 years and has traveled extensively internationally. She makes her home in Wheaton, Illinois, USA, with her husband, son, Elliot, miniature schnauzer, Rufus, and Siberian cat, Petey.

And our interview:

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

As soon as I began to read, I began to write, so I was very young. I would invent intricate stories walking back and forth to school. My first big endeavor was a neighborhood “newspaper” when I was 8 years old. In high school, I had an awesome English Literature teacher who really inspired and mentored me. Thanks, Miss Fina.

Tell us about "The Renovation"--

The lives of Ethan Willis, a master carpenter and restorer of old buildings, and his son, Chase, were forever changed when Lynne, Ethan’s wife and Chase’s mother, was murdered during a carjacking attempt. This story, set seven years later during Ethan’s dream restoration project—the Carter Mansion—sees both father and son struggle with unresolved issues. Young Chase thinks the death of his mother was his fault, and Ethan allows that lie to remain unchallenged because of his own grief. Like an old house, neglected and in ruins, Ethan’s faith and life are in need of renovation and renewal. Then Cameron Dane, a young reporter on the local newspaper assigned to cover the Carter Mansion project, enters their lives. Seeing his father start a relationship with another woman makes Chase resentful…and makes Ethan feel guilty, as if he is betraying Lynne’s memory. But it is through Cameron, and her own need for forgiveness over an event in her past, that Chase accepts the freedom of forgiveness. It is also through Cameron that Ethan recaptures his lost faith and finds the ability to forgive his son. And as the Carter Mansion is restored to its original beauty and intent, so are their lives.

After co-authoring eleven books with your husband, Jim, what made you decide to write this one solo?

Writing a novel set in the world of the restoration of old buildings has always been a dream of mine. The idea of renovation is in my family’s blood. I’m an interior design professional. My brothers are rehabbers. My husband, Jim, and I have survived the renovation of three houses, and I’ve been the one on the front lines of working with the contractors. So this was a natural for me to write alone. My husband Jim has gone solo, too. His last two books were contemporary—one more of an end-times story (The Silence) and the other a bio-terrorism thriller (The Micah Judgment). I love writing and researching historical fiction, and he doesn’t get as excited about it as I do. So we’ve both sort of found our own voice and what we’re really passionate about writing. We’ve also been told by publishers and our agent that books by two authors will often not sell as well, for some unknown reason. We still are each other’s best critic and supporter, and that will never change.

The Renovation, the mending of broken relationships is mirrored in the restoration of the run-down Carter Mansion. As an award-winning interior designer, this must have been quite a satisfying book to write.

VERY satisfying. I love the metaphor of restoration, which is why I came up with the idea for the Project Restoration series—stories that would follow both the physical restoration of a building and emotional/spiritual restoration of a character.

I’ve always been captivated by old buildings. Poring over books about art, architectural styles, and decoration from all over the world has always been one of my favorite pastimes. As I’ve traveled internationally and visited many of the places I’ve studied independently and in the course of my education in design, I’ve become even more passionate about restoration.

After all, God is in the business of restoring lives—reclaiming, repairing, renewing what was broken and bringing beauty from ashes. I know, because I’ve seen his renovation firsthand. For many years, I’ve worked in women’s ministries. I’ve seen many women—as well as the men and children they love—deal with scars from their past that shape their todays and tomorrows. They all long for restoration—to live joyfully and productively once again—but that also requires forgiveness. Forgiveness of others (whether they deserve it or not) and, perhaps most importantly, forgiveness of oneself in order to be healthy and available to God. Clinging to past hurts or “unfairness,” hostility, anger, grudges, resentment, bitterness, or allowing abuse to alter your self-worth renders your life virtually useless. Unforgiveness shapes your perception of yourself, your outlook on life, the kind of relationships you have, and keeps you in “stuck” mode. It leaves you in a dark, emotionally paralyzing, spiritually debilitating, physically draining state and causes so much unnecessary pain…even addiction. So I’ve become passionate about this kind of restoration, too.

I noticed that one of the characters is named Elliott, just like your son. Did you model him after your son, or just borrow the name?

There are some things about the Elliot in the book that are very much like my son. But my Elliot is smarter than how I portray the Elliot in the book.

What do you hope people take away after reading The Renovation?

I want them to know that God himself stands and waits, extending the gift of restoration. The light of his love shines on all those dark places deep within us, exposing what needs his healing touch. For when our souls are gloriously freed through God’s renovation, we become whole, useful, and able to extend the forgiveness we have experienced to others. Then individuals, families, churches, and entire communities can be transformed!

Perhaps there are readers who have an event in their past they need to let go of. It is my hope and prayer that by reading the book some will experience the renovation that awaits them through saying yes to God’s invitation of heart restoration…and the life-transforming joy that will follow.

What’s next for you in the writing arena?

I’m just completing Book 2 in the Project Restoration Series—The Renewal—to be released in the Fall. That will be followed by Book 3 next Spring. My work in progress is historical, about an Italian-American young woman in the 1930’s and 40’s, in which I draw on many elements from my Italian heritage. It’s set mainly in Italy, so I will use what I have seen and learned in my travels there. I’m really excited about it, and hope a publisher will be, too.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

The Treasures of the Caribbean Series--Tyndale (Pirates of the Heart, Passages of Gold, Journey to the Crimson Sea); The Circle of Destiny Series--Tyndale (The Price, The Promise, The Treasure, The Quest); Stories from MacKenzie Street —Barbour (The Unfolding, The Choosing); Scattered Stones—Capstone (Coming in 2008)

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Hmmm…that I’m 100% Italian, love to cook and bake Italian food, have studied the Italian language for many years, and hope to someday live in Italy---even for just a short time. That I adore thunderstorms. I used to be a total sun-worshipper, and hated rain, but as I’ve aged I’ve come to love it. Sitting out on a porch, with a cup of tea and a good book, listening to the rain…it doesn’t get much better that that. If there’s thunder, all the better!

Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?

My website is www.terrikraus.com

Terri, thank you for visiting! It's been a pleasure! Readers, don't forget to leave a message for a chance to win a signed copy of "The Renovation." We'll draw the name 5/15/08, so check back to see if you won.

3 comments:

ChristyJan said...

Terri's Project Restoration Series sounds wonderful.
I think it's fascinating how she compares an old house, neglected and in ruins, to one's faith and life which are in need of renovation and renewal.

Dawn said...

Terri,

You've piqued my interest. :)

Like Christy, I like the comparison of the house being renovated while the characters are also being restored.

And I LOVE the cover!

Annette M. Irby said...

It's May 15th. :) Time for the drawing. Pretty good odds, ladies!

I wrote your names down on scraps of paper, put them in to a container and chose one.

Dawn, you win!!

I have your contact info already so I'll email you. CONGRATS!

Thanks for reading, ladies.