Where do you live? On a ranch an hour outside of Dallas, Texas. The neighbor leases the land for his Black Angus cattle which make an appearance in my thriller.
How long have you lived there? Part-time since 2008 and full-time since June of this year.
Are you married? Yes, and happily!
Kids? One daughter.
Full time job? I’m fortunate to focus on my writing full-time.
Education? B.S. from Texas Tech University and I attended Dallas Theological Seminary. I also trained with Jerry B. Jenkins through his Novel Blueprint course.
Who is your favorite author and book? The Bible, of course, and I love anything by C.S. Lewis. I find his life and writing inspiring. For mind candy, I read Dean Knootz, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, and others in that genre.
What is your preferred genre? Thrillers and suspense.
How did you start this journey to become a writer? When I was seven or eight, I wrote the beginning of an international thriller. I never went past the first or second page, but the seed of writing thrillers was with me early on. Since college, I’ve written and taught Bible lessons, but considered this a means to teach, not ‘real’ writing. But nine years ago, a friend asked me to write devotionals for a group at church. That was my start with intentional writing and seeing myself as a writer. After that, I started a humorous blog about the differences between city and country life to hone my writing skills. I wasn’t ready to put myself out there so it was anonymous. I went to my first writers’ conference seven years ago and pitched a devotional book. I now realize it wasn’t tight writing and I understand why the agent who had asked for it turned it down. But it was nice to have agent interest at that first conference. The thought of writing for publication took root.
What have you written so far? Six years ago a group that runs a Christian book and gift store hired me to write their one-year devotional book. It’s available on their website. That really boosted my confidence. Since they wanted the devotionals to be about 60 words in length with a take-away and in a celebratory tone, I learned to edit to the bone. I’ve written devotionals and distributed them through email and on a blog that is now incorporated into my author website. I’ve been published by The Secret Place, a devotional magazine, and served as a guest devotional writer and blogger for various groups including my 11,000 member church. Time of Long Shadows is my first fiction piece.
Tell us about your current book. Time of Long Shadows is a thriller that begins with the murder of a rocket scientist in 1967. Starting in chapter two, the rest of the novel is set in present day where the scientist’s granddaughter works to discover the truth, but the Vice President of the United States orders her assassination to ensure secrets stayed buried.
What is the inspiration for your current book? My father was the rocket scientist upon whom my thriller is based. Five years ago, I discovered his papers from 1967, the year he died. I had no idea he worked on secret missile testing and was authorized to smuggle items into Europe. He visited missile bases throughout the western United States and met with the head of the fallout division of the Atomic Energy Commission. He developed the Athena Missile and tested payloads and missile trajectories.
Who was your favorite character to write and why? My main character, Terra Shaw, looks like my daughter and has her career, but her backstory reflects some of the difficulties in my life.
Is there anything of you in that character? I put my personal pain into a fictional character. It was an insightful and healing process. In many ways, my novel is a memoir of my life and that of my father’s.
What sets your book apart? Time of Long Shadows is based on my father who researched and developed missiles for the U.S. government during a fascinating slice of American history––the Cold War of the 1960s. My novel weaves fact with fiction and reflects my personal journey of discovering who my father really was.
What’s your favorite part in the book? (read it) Since I’m fighting bronchitis, I’ll opt out of reading, but I love the ending when Terra Shaw finally sees the fruition of her work.
What was the most difficult part to write? Writing the death scene of the rocket scientist which mirrors the death of my father.
What was your favorite book to write? I enjoyed both books I’ve written. The devotional book was a huge challenge because of the parameters of getting my point across in sixty words. The thriller was a labor of love on behalf of my father and family.
How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day? Ideally, I write in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. My writing area is in the upper room over our garage. I use an antique English writing table, with just enough room for my laptop, tucked into a dormer with a view of our back pastures. It’s quiet and private. On a good day, I’ll be there three or four hours.
Why did you want to be a writer? As a Bible teacher, I consider writing to be a way of teaching God’s word whether I produce devotionals or thrillers. Of course, thrillers are a more covert, if you will, way of revealing a biblical worldview.
How do you get your ideas? My thriller is based on a true story so I draw from real life. But to enhance the fiction portions, I go to news articles, books, and television shows. Since my story is based in the 1960s Cold War, I also rely on research from that time period to inform my characters’ journey.
What do you have planned next? I’m already writing my second thriller. It’s a sequel to the first one and also finds its impetus in the 1960s Cold War.
What advice would you give new writers? Learn the craft. Go to writers’ conferences, take courses, and read as much as you can in your genre. Start a blog and put yourself out there. Join with other writers and sharpen each other. Bottom line is sit in the chair and put words on the page.
How can readers get in touch with you? My author website is http://pjgover.com/ I’d love hearing any feedback from my books, blogs, and website!