Rebecca Olmstead Debuts Inspirational Gabrielle Dorian Mystery Series

I’m so delighted to feature Rebecca Olmstead on my blog today. Rebecca’s faith and commitment to justice shine through her new series and her other writings. Below are her responses to my interview questions:

First off, congratulations on your debut mystery, DREAMS AND ILLUSIONS, the first novel in your Gabrielle Dorian Mystery Series. Can you share with our readers a bit about the novel and what inspired it?

Thank you! When I started this series in 1993, I had been looking for a good mystery series without vulgarity or loose moral standards, but I wasn’t having much luck. I just wanted to read a strong female protagonist who wasn’t worldly. So, I decided to write my own. I worked on it sporadically, but it took backstage to life: raising four kids, divorce, work, remarriage, another child, cancer … When I finally finished the first draft at the urging of my husband, I was thrilled. I did a lot of revision and finally took it to my first conferences (three in one year) in 2009 to pitch to agents and editors. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit neatly enough into any one category to interest them. That fall I was diagnosed with a tumor, and the book was put on hold yet again.                                               

Your protagonist, Gabrielle Dorian, has some special abilities. To what extent is she modeled after you or people you’ve known?

I am a seer/dreamer, as was my grandmother, and is my youngest daughter. I’d never read a mystery with that kind of spiritual aspect from a Christian point of view. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if my main character’s calling was to use this gift to serve the cause of justice and protect people. I use a lot of the symbols from my own dreams, but Gabrielle’s can also have more details. It’s fun to add these nuggets into the storyline.

Congratulations are also in order for having a short story coming out this month in the Malice Domestic anthology, MALICE, MATRIMONY, & MURDER. Can you share with our readers what your story is about?

My story “Love and Death in Madison, Georgia” is set in 1957, and centers on the love between a fragile young woman with a heart defect, Violet, and the nurse who has raised her and cared for her from birth, Mama Bea. When Violet is forced into a marriage to maintain the family’s social and financial standing, she turns to Mama Bea to get her through. But there’s more behind the wedding than anyone knows, and Mama Bea has friends in high places. I love the characters in this story.

In addition to mystery novels and short stories, you also write inspirational nonfiction and essays. Your award-winning book, LOVED SO MUCH IT HURTS: PURPOSE IN THE PAIN, has garnered a lot of attention. Can you speak about the challenging experiences you’ve had that inspired the book?                       

In 2009, after pitching Dreams and Illusions at three conferences, I was diagnosed with a sarcoma tumor in my sacral nerve root. I was told that, if I lived, I would be paralyzed on my right side. I began to journal my treatment, thoughts, feelings, and prayers in a hospital blog that I’d named “WatchGodWork”, and before I knew it, people from all over the world were reading my blog and telling me how it encouraged and inspired them. I was shocked by their response.

Through a series of miracles, I was healed, and I was not paralyzed. During this two-year journey, I grew closer to God, and He pressed on me that I was to start a ministry. I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I got a website up. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I began Watch God Work Ministries in 2011 and posted a Promise from the Bible every day. Again, to my astonishment, I started receiving emails from around the world.

Soon after, a writing friend drove an hour to visit me and to tell me I needed to put the blog into a book. She said people needed the hope my story offered. I thought starting the ministry was hard. This was a very intimate part of my life to put out into the world. I’d never read my blog, and working through it, I didn’t remember much of it. The heavy medications I was on had affected my memory. So, writing the book was like experiencing it all for the first time. It was agonizing. But I have to say, having heard from all of the people Loved So Much It Hurts, has helped, it was totally worth it, and I’d do it all again.                                                                           

As your five children were growing up, did you find it difficult to find time to fit in writing? When did you begin seriously pursuing publication?

In my first marriage, I was pretty much a single parent of four, homeschooling, growing and preserving food, cooking and baking everything from scratch … My days began early, and I collapsed into bed each night. I wrote only when I was inspired. Looking back, I could have been more disciplined. Even writing for thirty minutes after the kids were in bed would have made a huge difference.

I began receiving rejection letters regularly at eighteen. I was young and there wasn’t anything you could teach me about writing. When I remarried twenty years later, I could wallpaper my house with rejection letters. My husband insisted the first room in our “new” 1018 Craftsman farmhouse to be remodeled would be my writing room. Then, once I finished Dreams and Illusions, I figured, maybe I could learn a thing or two, and I signed up for my first writers’ conferences and started pitching. As it turned out, there was a lot I could and did learn about writing.

Did you always know you wanted to become a writer?                                                                 

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I also wanted to be an actress and pursued that for a time. But I much prefer creating my own worlds and directing my own characters. I taught myself to type on my mother’s old Royal when I was about ten. I figured that would be better than writers’ cramps. I still have boxes of manuscripts written in pencil in spiral notebooks. I keep them in my studio to remind me of my dream when I get discouraged.

When it comes to writing fiction, what is your process like? And does it differ significantly from your approach to your nonfiction work?

The two are very different processes for me. My fiction always begins with the same question: “What if …” I let the question play in my mind until a character begins to tell me their story. After that, it’s a question of listening and writing it all down, which can be great, unless the character won’t let me sleep.

My nonfiction story ideas usually come in the form of a very insistent dream or vision, an assignment from God. These take a great deal more research and prayer because I don’t do the writing. Instead of listening to characters, I listen to the Holy Spirit. I don’t ever want my ego to do the writing in this case. There’s a lot more at stake with these writings. Even when I have an editor give me an assignment, I always ask God how He wants me to approach the subject.

Are there particular authors and books that have inspired you?

Absolutely, I was addicted to Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators series and most mysteries when I was young. They made me want to write mysteries. But, in high school literature I was introduced to the great story tellers: Faulkner, Hawthorne, O. Henry, Twain … I fell in love with the art of storytelling. Ambrose Bierce was my favorite. I love the way he ends his stories with a shock, and the reader never sees it coming. I wanted to do that.

What’s next for you writing-wise?

I am currently working on a nonfiction YA book called the Demon Slayers Handbook, which is a guide to educate young adults on the connection between demons and suicide. This was an assignment meant to prevent teen and young adult suicide. It is scheduled for release next summer.

Also, book 2 in the Gabrielle Dorian series, Dreams and Deceptions, is in revision. Release is planned for November, 2024.

Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?

I would encourage any writers to take full advantage of the resources out there for writers. There is so much support with clubs, and critique groups. Writing doesn’t have to be so solitary anymore. And take every opportunity to learn the craft, but in the end, write what you love, and you will succeed.

And to all the readers out there. Authors thrive on your support. You are the reason we do what we do. Don’t be shy. Contact us, and let us know what you think, share a recipe, pet news, or whatever you like. And please, take a little time to post reviews. They really do help us. Most of all, a huge thank you for reading our work! And thank you, Lynn for inviting me!


Suffering a crisis of faith, will one woman’s cryptic visions lead to the path of healing and save her sister from death row?

Gabrielle Dorian believes God has turned against her. Despite prophetic dreams, the grieving boutique owner resents that her alleged gift didn’t prevent her parents’ accidental deaths or protect her husband from a fatal worksite accident. So after receiving a panicked call from the last of her family, the distraught woman shelves her own sorrow and rushes to Seattle to rescue her estranged sister.

Discovering her sibling has been charged with murder, Gabrielle begins to fear the worst when her brother-in-law is missing and his best friend mysteriously comes up with bail money. Battling a hated former classmate in charge of the case, she fights through the murk of suspicious clues that all point to a guilty verdict.

With her last loved one’s life on the line, can she uncover the truth before it’s too late?

Dreams and Illusions is the riveting first book in the Gabrielle Dorian Mysteries Series. If you like headstrong heroines, fast-paced drama, and dark twists, you’ll love Rebecca Olmstead’s tale of doubt and redemption.


Rebecca Olmstead is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in multiple periodicals and anthologies. Her latest story, “Love and Death in Madison, Georgia” appears in Malice, Matrimony, & Murder, a limited-edition anthology of wedding themed cozy mystery and crime stories. Her debut mystery, Dreams and Illusions, was released in October 2023, and is the first in her Gabrielle Dorian Mystery Series.

Rebecca lives with her husband and the youngest of their five children in southeastern Washington with their dorky black lab, two crazy black cats, and a host of Jersey Wooly show bunnies.




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