There are five basic parts to a novel: plot, character, setting, plot, and theme. I usually get one of those parts in a moment of inspiration, then I sit back and wait for the other pieces to link up.

With the Fairlawn Funeral Home series, of which DOESN’T SHE LOOK NATURAL is the first book, it was the setting that occurred to me first. I’ve been thinking about death lately–not in a macabre sense, but I’ve lost a few friends and I’ve also read some really wonderful books about heaven (Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, is at the top of that list.) So I started thinking that a book set in a funeral home might be a wonderful way to address some of those fears while giving reassurance–after all, of all people we Christians should face death with assurance!

And so the Fairlawn series was born. I sold the proposal to Tyndale House and was delighted to begin writing. I was blogging while I was writing, so if you’ve been a reader of this space for long, I’m sure you’ll remember several of my thinking-out-loud-moments.

For instance, I know I mentioned my decision to make Jennifer a recently-divorced woman. I simply felt–and feel–that Christian fiction needs to acknowledge the reality of our world, and our world is filled with divorced and remarried people.

So Jen is recently divorced, wounded, hurt, angry, and a mother of two small children–just like thousands of other women. And she inherits a funeral home. Story started.

Tomorrow: the research.



  1. Kathy

    I just finished the pre release copy of “Doesn’t She Look Natural” that I got at ICRS. Now I understand your banquet keynote at FCWC.

  2. SuseADoodle


    Another book I “just have to read.” I recently (very recently) bemoaned the fact that the book stores I’ve been to carry precious little worth reading, especially Christian fiction. I’ve read Harry Potter (5 of the seven have been read — and I won’t explain it here — but there are good reasons to read it. As a Christian, if you don’t want to financially support that series, borrow it from your library; be able to talk knowledgably with the children and young adults who are “growing up with Harry.”). Have read hardly anything else. 🙁

    A long time ago, I realized that I should be careful about the questions I ask — because God answers those questions. He also listens to our “complaints” and lets us know where we can find solutions (or the start to them on bigger issues than finding something good to read this coming winter).

    My list of “I’ve GOT to read” is growing almost daily since I wrote about giving up on bookstores at my blog in the last two weeks. “Ain’t God grand?!” 🙂

  3. Dave Rhoades

    People ask us: “Where did you come up with that?” or “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the truth is, we don’t know…
    They just sidle up to us, unexpected, furtively, like a WalMart stock boy that doesn’t really want to help. They just appear. We’re driving by a funeral home one day and voila! And a series is born. It’s so much fun, isn’t it?


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