Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meet Terri Kraus - Interview & Book Giveaway

Terri Kraus PhotoIt’s a pleasure to present Terri Kraus, author of The Renovation: Carter Mansion (Project Restoration Series, Book 1). Let’s meet 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.


JA: Your latest book is The Renovation. Please tell us about it.
TK: 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 feels 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.

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

JA: In 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.
Terri Kraus - The RenovationTK: 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.

JA: 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?
TK: 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.

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading The Renovation?
TK: 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.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
TK: I’m just completing Book 2 in the Project Restoration SeriesThe 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.

JA: You’re a long-time resident of Chicago. (I’ve been there twice and did, in fact, find it to be quite windy!) What’s your favorite thing about the city?
TK: The gorgeous lakefront and beaches, the skyline, the diverse ethnic neighborhoods, the fabulous cultural offerings. It’s a great place to work in design, being a city of awesome architectural history. It’s cleaner, safer and smaller than New York, but with just about as much to offer.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
TK: 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!

JA: You’ve got quite a few stamps in your passport. Do you have a favorite traveling anecdote?
TK: Yes--attending a small Presbyterian church on the South Island of New Zealand for an Easter service. When we walked in, it was dark, with all the windows covered. Then, suddenly, some women of the congregation came out from the doors behind the altar with these amazingly beautiful, huge arrangements of Autumn flowers (it’s Autumn there when we’re having Spring) and one shouted, “Why darkness? Undrape the windows! Grieve no more! Let the light in, for JESUS IS ALIVE! HE IS RISEN!” The drapes were opened, and the music began, and we sang traditional Easter songs about the Resurrection and took communion, which was bread, wine and fish. It was an incredibly moving experience that I will never forget.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
TK: My website is

Thanks so much for stopping by, Terri. May God continue to bless you in your writing journey!


I’m about halfway through The Renovation and am thoroughly enjoying it. In fact, I had to pull myself away to post this interview. Like a fine home, this book has good bones, and Kraus has built upon it with a great story. It’s populated with characters that make you care about them. Even the supporting folks are unique and multi-dimensional. In The Renovation Kraus has given us a wonderful beginning to what I’m sure will be a popular series.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Renovation just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on April 30th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck


ChristyJan said...

I really enjoyed this interview with Terri (who is a new author to me).
I have an Aunt and cousins who live in Wheaton ~ I visited there in '93.

The Renovation sounds like a wonderful read.


tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview and I'm looking forward to this one!

pearl said...

Thanks for this great giveaway. I was captivated with your interesting and lovely interview. The book sounds enthralling and unique. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

Carole said...

After reading the interview and Jen's description, I'd love to read this book. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

windycindy said...

Another fabulous book giveaway drawing. How fun! I like how the author compared the renovation of an old home to people and how they can need restoring and renovation. I have a love for old houses! We lived in a 90+ year old home for 16 years, renovating it down to the detail. We actually received a historical preservation award from our town. I miss my old house. Please enter me in your drawing for this great sounding book I appreciate it. By the way, I have a
cousin named Eliott. Thanks,Cindi

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hey ladies,

Great to see you all here!

diane said...

Your unique and wonderful interview captured my interest greatly. The novel sounds special and appeals to me. Thanks for this lovely giveaway.
P.S. My husband's name is Elliot. Rather unique and unusual.

anne said...

I read your interview which was enjoyable and entertaining as well as informative. I love sunshine and warmth and adore Italy. Anything Italian is wonderful. The book sounds great. thanks for this lovely giveaway.

petite said...

When I started to read your interview and background it felt so comfortable and welcoming. Insightful and familiar. Mainly because my father-in-law's name is Elliot. Also because I am Italian and cook Italian meals whenever I can. I think that the subject of your book is great. Thanks for this giveaway.

Donna Moore said...

I love that she compared a run down mansion to a persons faith journey. Please enter me in this drawing.


Brittanie said...

Enter me please. :)
treewaterduchess at yahoo dot com

stampedwithgrace said...

great interview! please enter me, thanks!

Carolynn W. said...

Thanks for the interview. I love reading stories about old homes being restored. This one sounds great, please enter me, thanks!

jenna said...

Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. I enjoyed reading this lovely interview. I certainly appreciate this book greatly.

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Christyjan! Congrats, and thanks to all who stopped by.