By the grace of God, I’m a redeemed sinner, who has so far been blessed with 30 years to learn how weak I am and how strong my Savior is. Among other innumerable blessings I count the nine close family members I live, work, and worship with, who all love the Lord, and patiently put up with my eccentricities. We make our home in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks, where my fulltime job is helping to manage our family business, a small commercial lighting supply company. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is – I’m not even sure our whole family completely understands it yet.) I enjoy guitar and piano, strategy games, history books, computer programming, theology, and a whole list of other stuff I never have time for.
What made you want to write Susanna Don't You Cry?
If you’d asked me that question about a year ago, I’d have probably told you it was temporary insanity, but the truth is somewhat less dramatic. My mom, Rachael, had written some stories for my siblings and me in the 1980’s and 90’s. In 2012, we decided to publish one of them, The Reunion, and Elisha Press was born. Sometime around two years later (I can’t remember exactly when) we were discussing the publication of another of her stories, Susanna Don’t You Cry. It was generally agreed, however, that it was too short, and needed a new ending. Although I was already working on another fiction project (still, alas, unfinished), I volunteered to put it on pause and rewrite Susanna. I guess I thought it would be relatively easy. Silly me.
What was the hardest part about writing the story?
A guy named Ross Kincaid. Without giving away the story, I’ll just say that the range of attitudes, emotions, and perspectives I had to bring out in this one main character gave me more trouble than all the others combined. My goal was to bring him from point A to B to C, in a way that seemed real, and not forced. Sometimes it felt like he fought me every step of the way. (Which is pretty consistent with his character, come to think of it.)
What was the easiest?
The parts I took from my mom’s original story, which, regrettably, turned out to be fewer in number than I’d anticipated. The further I went along, the more the storyline diverged from the original, until I pretty much lost sight of the shore and decided to discover some new islands instead.
What do you hope to accomplish with this story?
Well, of course a home run for me would be if this book helped even one soul along the path to salvation through faith in Christ. Short of such a lofty goal, however, I hope the reader will learn something of eternal significance from the book, perhaps without realizing it, while enjoying and engaging with the story. I’d also like to help Christian authors create our own genre of wholesome, Christ-centered fiction, where Biblical principles are woven into real-life scenarios, and the Gospel is not just preached, but demonstrated.
Are there some Homeschooled Authors that you have enjoyed reading?
One of the many ironies of my life is that although I write fiction, I read almost entirely non-fiction. I can easily count on one hand the works of fiction I have read since childhood, and the only homeschooled authors were in my own family. Perhaps that will change in the future, though – lately I have been reading O. Henry, whose writing I find quite fascinating. Of course, I’m not entirely in agreement with his worldview, nor with all his choices of subject matter, but his pure genius as a storyteller is beyond dispute. If Christian authors could learn to craft and distil our stories the way O. Henry did, we’d have a potent product indeed.
Who will like Susanna Don't You Cry?
Anyone with good taste, of course! All kidding aside, I would hope it would be enjoyed by anyone who can appreciate a character-driven contemporary story with minimal romance and no violence. Due to subject matter such as suicide and drug use (which I’ve tried to handle sensitively) we are recommending the book for ages 12 and up.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Thanks, Sarah, for hosting me on your blog. Even though writing Susanna turned out to be more work than I really anticipated, I’m glad I did it, and still have hopes for future writing endeavors. (Insert sidelong glance at unfinished Civil-War-historical-novel manuscript.) To all my brothers and sisters in Christ, writers, readers, and otherwise, I urge you to take whatever gifts you have received, and pour them out lavishly on Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!