Congratulations on your Christy Nomination for you book Beyond the Night. How did you come up with the idea for that book? Is this the original title for your book? If not, what was the working title?

Thanks! And as far as the idea for Beyond the Night, it was all God’s fault! It started with a dream. Not one of those “I have a dream” kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it’s-3am-and-I’m-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie’s love story. And when I woke up, I couldn’t get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.

“But,” said I to God, “there’s not enough here. It’s not compelling enough.”

“Yes,” said God to me, “but Maddie’s going blind.” (Well, maybe it wasn’t so much in those words, but just in the revelation of what was going on with Maddie.)

“Oh,” said I, “That’s very interesting. But it’s still not enough. Not quite.”

Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie’s story still kept teasing my mind. “It’s not enough,” I kept saying to God. “There’s got to be more.”

And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.

As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I’d like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie (without the horror). That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.
But I still wasn’t ready to submit the proposal because I didn’t have a title.

For weeks I tried to figure out what it ought to be, but everything I thought of sounded dumb. So, back I went to God to ask if He could show me a title that would match the wonder of the story He’d given me. The next day it came to me: Beyond the Night. And I knew it was right. And that’s the title that stuck. I knew it would.

(Note: The title for my second “love stories with a twist” – If Tomorrow Never Comes, came after the story was written, so it happens all ways for me.)

What was the hardest part to write in your new book If Tomorrow Never Comes? What was the easiest to write? Why? What was your favorite? Please Explain.

Strangely enough, the hardest parts to write were the parts that dealt with the struggle and pain of infertility. I thought those would be the easiest since I’m so intimately familiar with that journey. But I found it hard to revisit all those feelings and the difficult parts of the journey.

My favorite (and easiest) parts to write were the short scenes where Thea (her name is short for Aletheia, the Greek word for Truth), was the point-of-view character. Thea is the old woman whom Kinna rescues from drowning in chapter one. Throughout the story, all the reader knows is that Thea is there for a reason – she has a purpose in Kinna & Jimmy’s lives. With wry humor and odd confrontations, she steers Jimmy & Kinna toward reconciliation and one another. She helps them to remember their past love story.

What I like best about her is her humor mixed with mystery. She’s just fun. :D She thinks she’s in a dream, and doesn’t want to become some crazy old lady with a houseful of cats. But despite her doubts, she chooses to care about Jimmy and Kinna and help them, no matter what. She chooses well, and as it turns out, that makes all the difference, for them, and for her too.

I have to say that I LOVE the book covers of the last two books that you have written Beyond the Night and If Tomorrow Never Comes, do you have a say in the book covers and what they look like? I know that before the book Beyond the Night was published, there was a book cover change did you have any influence in that change or the process? The covers definitely make me want to pick up the book and see what's inside. They are beautiful.

So funny you ask about that because you’re right, Beyond the Night did have a different cover. Multnomah sent out ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) with that cover to bookstore buyers and media outlets and they got a number of negative responses to the cover. One big retailer said, “We can’t sell this book with that cover!” So, they pulled the cover, pushed back the book’s release date by a month, and did a fast redesign. And I loved the new look!

Then, when I saw the cover to If Tomorrow Never Comes, I was elated. Because, no, I don’t have much of a say in what the cover looks like. They show me what they’ve decided on before the book goes to print (so if I really hated something I could mention it), but the art team at the publisher does all the development of the cover image. And I have to say, in this case, I’m glad they do. I can’t imagine a cover I’d like better than the one for If Tomorrow Never Comes. It’s my favorite by far, especially the image of the castle being washed away in the sand, with the man walking away from it. Perfect!

You mention in author notes from the book, If Tomorrow Never Comes, you were in the middle of some final infertility treatments, you say, "Those treatments did not result in a much-hoped-for baby, but rather in four miscarriages.... God didn't answer my prayer the way I'd hoped. Hardly! Instead He made me face the pain, live the nightmare, and in it find a glimmer of breathtaking wonder." I noticed on the back cover of this book as well it says you have 5 children. Could you tell us how that came about? Was that the glimmer of breathtaking wonder you found? If not what was it?

Naw, everyone always thinks children are the answer to the infertility journey, but truly they’re not. I hoped for children, prayed for them, longed for them, and had some (that story in just a minute!), but they aren’t the wonder. The wonder came from being broken, having my white-knuckled grip pried off my own hopes and dreams so that I could not only embrace God’s but see Him more clearly. I couldn’t do that until I learned to recognize that His love for me is not tied to my happiness, my circumstances, or how He answers my prayers. Through infertility, I saw a God who loves me fiercely and who has a vision for me that’s beyond anything I can dream up or imagine. This God of the universe, who holds our very atoms together, creator, dreamer, breath-takingly vivid God … He truly loves me enough to make His dreams for me come true. Not my dreams, but His. And that really is wondrous.

Now, as far as the kids go, here’s the scoop on that: Twenty years of infertility. The first five years, we didn’t have a clue, we just thought we weren’t hitting the timing right. The next six years we went through month after month after month of treatments and surgeries. We had one miscarriage, then got pregnant with daughter #1. She was born 11 years into the journey. Then we had another miscarriage, had three more years of more intense treatments (including 2 failed IVF cycles – yuck!), and finally had daughter #2. We had frozen embryos left from the IVF cycles, so kept trying and had twins (daughters #3 & 4).

We still had embryos left, so while I was writing If Tomorrow Never Comes, we went through four more cycles of intense treatment. And one thing I asked of God – just no more miscarriages. The ones I’d had before were just too painful, too hard. But instead, I got pregnant every time (which is rare), and miscarried every time (which is more rare). Four miscarriages – having to face that nightmare over and over and over and over again. And then we were done, finished, the end. All the embryos were used up, the finances had run dry, and that was that. But God was yet again laughing at my plans, because . . .

After 20 years of marriage and all those years dealing with infertility, never ever being able to have a baby without extreme medical intervention, and then finally coming to end of that journey, turning the big 4-0, and giving away every last bit of my maternity clothes, nursing clothes, baby clothes, baby equipment, everything … I got pregnant au natural. Surprise! :D And now I have a 4 month old baby boy who is loved by his older sisters. Can you hear God chuckling? I can!

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? If not how did writing happen for you? If yes, how did you get published? What was the first book you got published?

When I was thirteen years old, I wrote a poem on the bus on the way to school. It was about an old tree, forlorn and desolate, standing alone in a field. I read that poem at every recess, tweaked it, polished it, and for the first time, felt the thrill of how the written word can convey profound beauty. That day, I fell in love with writing.

Shortly after that, I told my mother (with all the angst of a newly-turned teenager), “I will just die if I don’t write!” So naturally when I grew up I decided to get my degree in Chemistry. And, oddly enough, I didn’t die. I enjoyed chemistry. But always that desire to write was with me, in the back of my mind, saying “Someday, someday.”

Someday finally came. In 1993, I started writing articles for various magazines and putting out proposals for book projects. I thought it would be easy to get my first book published, but alas, it took years of writing and honing my craft (6 years, in fact). And more than that, it took giving up my dream entirely.

For me, I had to come to a place in my heart where I didn’t have to write to be content. I had to let go of that strong desire born at thirteen years old and embrace God’s will for me whether that will included writing or not. Only then, only when my dream had given way to God’s, was I offered a contract by Crossway Books for my first published book, Cry Freedom, in 1999.

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? If not what has surprised you?

Gracious, no. It’s nothing like I thought it would be. I was soooo na├»ve when I started! I thought I’d spend all my time dreaming up wonderful stories where the words would just flow off my fingertips onto the computer screen. Ha! Writing is so much harder than I thought it would be! And marketing … don’t even get me started on that. I had no idea how much more there would be to this author-thing than just writing.

One thing, though, that I didn’t expect and love about it is how God can use the deep things He’s teaching me in my own life to bless others. That’s been just awesome. Nothing in my life goes to waste now – not the hard things, the disappointments, the trials, the insights, the crazy stuff, the sudden ah-ha moments. God uses all that to weave stories that matter. I LOVE that! And I get the opportunity to touch people’s lives in ways I never imagined – to offer hope and a glimpse of our wondrous God.

I noticed in the back of If Tomorrow Never Comes, you have a sneak peek into your up coming book, Shades of Morning. Can you tell us something about that book? How did you come up with the idea for it?

Shades of Morning will be my third “love story with a twist.” It’s due out in early 2010. I’m in the midst of writing it now and am enjoying the characters and plot. For those who read If Tomorrow Never Comes, watch for Marnie, the quirky owner of the coffeeshop and bookstore, who will be the main character in Shades of Morning.

Here’s a bit about the story: Marnie has her life just where she wants it. At least that’s what she tells herself – her past is hidden, her regrets locked tightly in a box on her shelf, and her bookstore and coffeeshop business is booming. No one knows what she’s done, who she’s been. That is, until the man she once loved finds her again and brings startling news – she’s now the guardian of her 15-year-old nephew, a boy she never knew existed. And to make matters worse, when the boy arrives, she discovers he has Down Syndrome.

The past collides with the present, the box of regrets is exposed, and Marnie’s world shattered and rebuilt through the love of one special boy who makes all things new.

How did I come up with this story?

Well, when I submitted Beyond the Night to Multnomah, they asked for two more ideas along the same lines. I had to have those ideas to them by Monday. It was Sunday, and all I had was the idea that would become If Tomorrow Never Comes. There I was in our Sunday morning worship service, during the singing/music time of worship. I looked over and saw Andy, the Down Syndrome teenage son of friends of ours. He had his eyes closed, his arms raised, and he was swaying to the music. He was also singing off-key at the top of his lungs, with words that didn’t match the song. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. And in that moment, Shades of Morning was born.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process? What do you like least?

What I love best about writing novels is partnering with God in the creative process. Sometimes it feels like I’m listening in on his musings. And I’m finding that there’s a moment in every book when I see something, when I write something, that I didn’t plan, didn’t expect, and didn’t realize the story had been leading up to. That’s when I feel the touch of God, I sense His pleasure, and it’s like getting a glimpse of heaven. I love those moments . . . those flashes when I know that this is what God has been doing, and the story impacts my heart and life in some new and wondrous way.

Like least? Probably the 3 D’s: Doubt, Deadline, and Dread. Doubt comes when I’m staring at the blank screen, the clock is ticking, and I can’t think of a single thing to write that doesn’t sound like the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Then, I start thinking of the upcoming deadline, and dreading that I won’t find the story, find the time, and find the energy in time to get it done when I’ve promised. Ugh.

With 5 children when do you find the time to write so many books? When do you do your best writing? Where?

Time is always the biggest issue for me – getting it, finding it, and having the creative energy left to use it well. Great question! With all these little kids (ages 9, nearly 6, twins at 3, and a new baby), plus homeschool, church ministries, and running the construction consulting firm that I own, it’s all about finding time. And it isn’t easy.

I find it takes a lot of wisdom on a day to day basis. And one thing that helps me is knowing that God won’t ask me to do what’s not possible to do. So, if He has called me to be a mom, wife, business owner, and writer (as He has done!), then there must be a way to do it all well. So, I find that I need both careful scheduling (of alone writing time, time working with each of my kids individually, hubby time, work time, time with God alone, etc.) and also the flexibility to listen to God’s promptings about how each day needs to go. Sometimes I’m good at listening for that balance, other times I blow it.

As for specifics, I developed a loose schedule (subject to God’s daily re-arranging!) to incorporate all the things I’m responsible for into some time during the week. Mostly I did that to assure myself that with God all the things I need to do really are possible!:D In that flexible schedule, I try to set aside three or more chunks of time during the week to focus on first-draft writing (not editing, emails, etc. – those things I squeeze into odd times during the day). For that type of creative writing, I have to be by myself.

As of last week, those times have been a couple mornings twice a week where a friend comes to be with the twins while I write, one morning a week at Starbucks (can you say “heaven”?!!?) while the twins are at preschool and my hubby takes the older girls and the baby to his work, and any evening I can get when Bryan can watch the kids while I grab an hour or two. Also, when I get close to deadline, I often write on Saturday mornings when my husband can watch and play with the kids. This gives him some time to play with them alone, and is fun for all of them.

Of course, my very favorite writing time and place is that morning at Starbucks. Hot venti white mocha, no disturbances, and on some days even an apple fritter (a zillion calories in that).

One interesting thing is that I find that I’m a better mom if I have some time “off-duty,” time when I’m not responsible for changing diapers, doing laundry, answering questions, being mom-on-call. I need times away to keep me sane. To catch my breath. Other moms go shopping with friends, talk on the phone, maybe go to a movie during those times. I write. For me, it’s rejuvenating.

What surprises you most about your relationship with Jesus right now? Please explain.

I am constantly surprised by the tenacity of His love and the mystery of a life lived with Him. Ephesians 2:10 (my translation from the Greek) says, “You are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He before-prepared for you to walk around in.” I love that I’m God’s masterpiece, and He’s committed to make me into the beautiful vision that He has for me. And I love that’s He doesn’t “assign” me tasks, but instead has already specially prepared them for me walk in, to live my life with Him in (not just “to do” or “to accomplish”). How cool is that?! I love that about Jesus and this life lived in Him – that my life may not be as I’ve dreamed it, but it can be as He dreams it. He loves me (and you!) that much.


1. You find yourself in a life threatening situation and you need someone to save you, who would you pick? (You can be creative and pick anyone - cartoon, real, movie star etc)

Aslan. I’ve always wanted to meet Aslan.

2. Someone has invented a machine that could change one thing about you. First of all would you use the machine? Second of all if you did decide to use it what would you change and what would that change look like in your life?

Yes, absolutely! I’d want to see every situation the way God sees it, and have the strength to do the right thing in it. That would cut out the times I act and react out of frustration instead of out of wisdom. And I’m sure my 3-year-old twins especially (the 3’s are driving me crazy) would appreciate that.

3. If you had all the time in the world and just as much money to do whatever you wanted to do, what would you do?

I would take the family on mission trips around the world. I’d also finish our house (we built it ourselves, so there are a lot of little things left undone), minister more in my community, and have more animals.

4. You have just found a magic lamp and the genie inside wants to grant you three wishes. What would those wishes be?

First that all my kids would come to know and understand Jesus for who He really is and would love Him with all their hearts.

Second, that they (and me too!) would make wise choices in life, especially in marriage.

Third, that I would always desire to be doing just what God would want me to be doing at every given moment.

Those are personal wishes, I decided the genie meant personal wishes not global ones like world peace, that everyone would know and love the true Jesus, and all diseases and disasters would be gone forever … we’ll get those wishes when Jesus comes back.:D )

5. If you had 48 hours to hang out with any TWO people alive or dead in the history of the world who would you hang out with and why? What would you do?

Jesus, of course. I’d just listen to what He has to say and ask Him to take me around where He wants to go and show me things He wants me to see.

After that, maybe Martin Luther because he was just a fun guy. What a sense of humor!

6. What were your favorite books to read growing up? Why?

I loved fantasy. My favorites were the Narnian Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, and the Dragonriders of Pern. I just LOVED to be transported to Narnia, Middle Earth, and Pern. I used to pray that God would let me visit those places “for reals” in heaven after I died.

7. If you had to be a superhero for 48 hours, who would you pick and why? (you are the author here you can mix and match power and costumes be creative

There’s this guy in X-Men who can split himself up as many times as he wants so he can be doing a zillion different things at the same time. Whoo Hoo, I’d love that. One of me would be with each of my kids, another bunch writing different things, another bunch doing community ministry, another reading, another having date night with my hubby, another house-cleaning, another horse-riding, another studying the New Testament in Greek, another doing work … you get the picture. It would be so neat to be able to do all the things I want and need to do!

8. What is the funniest thing you have heard one of your children say? What was the wildest question they have asked you?

When my oldest daughter was little, I used to call her “Peanut,” until one day when she’s three she says, “I no peanut. I eat peanuts.” Ha! We stopped calling her “Peanut” after that. She also asks the hardest spiritual questions like, “How come when I pray not to have bad dreams I have bad dreams anyway?” Yikes, that was a tough one! I told her that it was because God wants to teach her to trust Him when she’s afraid.

9. What part of your daily routine do you love the most? Why?

That’s a tough one! I enjoy feeding new baby because that’s a time when I can just relax and spend time with him (unless the twins are raising havoc at the same time). I also love doing workbooks with my nearly 6-year-old, or talking about God with my 9-year-old (she’s got such a new perception of God and life with Him), or playing with my 3-year-olds (but only if they’re being happy girls and nice to one another). I also love talking about the day with my husband – it’s great when we get a chance to just sit together and have a restful talk. Plus, it’s great when I get to read the New Testament in Greek, and/or have some good uninterrupted time for writing (when the story’s flowing, that is – if it’s not, then that’s not so much fun).

10. You have found a time machine and you can experience events in the history of the world. What would you go back and see? This could be in the history of the world or your personal history?

I would love to go back and walk with Jesus as he was teaching the multitudes and healing. Wow, can you imagine being there while knowing who He is and what would come? Wow, that would be something!


I hope readers will visit my website at and check out the audio interview, infertility resources, and other goodies there. And, I’d love for people to sign up for my e-newsletter, which I put out a few times a year (or whenever there’s exciting news like a book release!). You can sign up on the front page of my website. There’s a sign-up box there on the right hand column above the audio/video player.

I hope readers will also visit my blog at About once a week I post news and hopefully helpful info on rekindling the wonder in our walks with God.

THANKS so much for stopping by and letting readers get to know you, your books and your family better. Your books have really touched my heart. I know you live far away, but if you ever find yourself in the Atlanta area for any reason - We'll absolutely have to do book club and go to Star Bucks of course!! :D

Blessings on your writing adventure.


Nora :D
ACFW Book Club Coordinator


****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

You Both have won a copy of If Tomorrow Never Comes

THANKS to everyone for stopping by and encouraging both Marlo and myself.


  1. Linda said...

    Oh, how I wish I'd have read Marlo's interview BEFORE I read "If Tomorrow Never Comes." It would have put the story into a whole new dimension! Trust me, you'll want to read it! Interviews really can bring out the author's perspective. Thank you!

  2. I am amazed about how you 'carried your dream' until you finally wrote a book about it. I get dreams that won't leave me alone until I write them down. After I do, I forget them. Too bad I can't make mine into a book!!! Yours sounds great!

    Please enter me.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  3. although I've never dealt with infertility, I would love to share your stories with some friends who are.

    I have a 6 month old son who is very loved by his 5 sisters as well! It is so fun :)

  4. What a wonderful interview. I love the inspirations for her stories. I haven't read any of her books yet, but this interview has peaked my interest. Please enter me in the contest.
    Deborah M.

  5. Really enjoyed the interview. Marlo's books sound great and love her relationship with the Lord! Wow!

    Gail Mundy

  6. What a wonderful interview! I really love getting to know the authors here. :) I would love to meet Aslan too! And yum, starbucks! :D I'm now going to seek out one of Marlo's books, they sound wonderfully inspirational.

    srfbluemama at gmail dot com

  7. what an inspirational story...


  8. Thank you Nora for such a wonderful interview with Marlo. Knowing how she thinks, and how she approaches her writing and her life, makes her so interesting that I believe her books would be the same, just an extension of herself. I don't know if I will be allowed to take part in this give away as I live in Australia, but if I am I would love to win the book and read it with the insight I gained from reading this interview.
    Thank you
    Elaine Howard

  9. I would love to win this book!! Please enter me. I have read her Cry of Freedom and enjoyed it. This was a very good interview. Thanks!!

  10. I agree! I think I'd go back to the time of Jesus if I had a time machine too!
    AND I think leaving a loose schedule that allows God to wreck it if He wants to is the only kind of schedule too have!!


  11. I loved the interview. Betsy

  12. Wow Nora...I have got to read Marlo's books. They both sound awesome! Great interview also...I'm impressed at how easy Marlo can talk about her miscarriages -- that's something I still don't talk about. I'll bet that sweet baby boy will be spoiled so badly by his sisters!!!

  13. What a great interview, Nora!

    Marlo, I love the photos of your family. What a sweet bunch! Thanks for sharing your story.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing.
    missytippens [at]

  14. A wonderful interview!! Please count this as my entry for the giveaway!

    Blessings to both Nora and Marlo!!!


    Mollydawn1981 at aol dot com

  15. Great interview!!

  16. Great interview!!

  17. great interview. I can relate I had 2 micarriages before my son an daughter were born. thanks

  18. CONGRATS to CHRISTINE and BUUKLUVR -- You are the Winners of the two books of Marlos. If Tomorrow Never Comes. Very Powerful and moving books.

    Thanks to EVERYONE that stopped by and left such encouraging comments for Marlo and myself. I APPRECIATE YOU!!


    Nora :D