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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A HEART TO HEART INTERVIEW


WITH SUSAN MAY WARREN

I’m so excited to be able to share my recent chat with inspirational author Susie Warren. Not only is she a prolific writer, Susie’s also a former missionary to Russia which gives us a thing or two in common. And her latest release, Everything’s Coming Up Josey is for everyone who wanted to know what it’s REALLY like to be a missionary. You won’t want to miss this book or any of her other books!

LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book, and how many books have you sold since then?

SUSIE: Disbelief? Shock and Awe? I remember reading the email and thinking…is this some sort of cruel joke? And after I confirmed that no, Tyndale seriously wanted to publish MY book, well then, I think there was some loudness, maybe screaming, probably some chocolate consuming involved. Oh, and tears of joy and thankfulness. Not necessarily in that order. By the end of this year, I’ll have 17 books on the market. Yeah, wow.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind the idea for Everything’s Coming up Josey?


SUSIE: For years, my friends (the ones who received my Warren Report during our missionary service in Russia) would tell me – write your story! Only, I couldn’t quite figure out the format. It all sounded so…blah. UNTIL Steeple Hill challenged me to write chick lit. I love the chick voice, and when I sat down to “give it a try” the words just flowed from me. I found myself laughing out loud and thought, hey, maybe I CAN write chick lit. So, I researched the craft, and took down every crazy thing that happened to me that first year in Russia, and finally got to write about all the crazy ideas and experiences of a freshman missionary. No, Josey isn’t autobiographical…but it’s close enough. *g*

LISA: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Are there ways that Josey made an impact on your life?

SUSIE: Josey learns that God has prepared her all her life for her season in Russia and I believe that in writing her story, God reminded me that he uses each season of life to prepare for the next. Although I’m not in the season of international missionary right now, He gave me the ideas and material for this season as a writer. It gives me peace, also, that He’s at work in my life, wherever I’m at.

LISA: As a former missionary can you tell us about how your experiences in Russia changed your life?

SUSIE: I had the rare opportunity see God at work in very real, tangible ways. Like, when I prayed for toilet paper, or for babysitting help, or even for my car to have enough gas to make it home on a cold Siberian night. My life in Russia taught me that God cares about EVERY area of my life…and if I can just trust Him, I’ll find more joy and peace than if I had struggled through alone, on my terms.

LISA: Everything’s Coming Up Josey is your first Chick Lit. Share how writing this book was different from writing your romantic suspense?

SUSIE: Chick lit is more authentic, I think – especially the first person voice. The character can say what is really on her mind, without having to couch it in internal thought, or author intrusion. Also, I like Chick because it deals with the nitty gritty of every day issues that can seem so huge to us at the time. Romantic Suspense is also more of an event oriented story, where Chick is a slice of life. There is so much humor to be found in everyday life if we’re willing to look at it with the right perspective. I enjoy exploring that.

LISA: You’re quite a prolific writer. Can you share with us some of your other series/books available?

SUSIE: Some would say I don’t have a ‘niche’ because I’ve written everything from historical romance to historical suspense, to mystery, contemporary romantic suspense and now Chick. But I sorta want my niche to be “A Great Read by SMW” – the idea that regardless of the genre, you’ll get a story packed with adventure, humor, suspense and characters who touch your lives. With that preamble out of the way, here are my series…(and thanks for asking!)

The Deep Haven series – suspense and romance on Minnesota’s north shore (Book 1 – Happily Ever After was a 2003 Christy Award finalist, and ACFW Book of the Year. *g*) Happily Ever After, Tying the Knot, The Perfect Match.

The Heirs of Anton –.A suspense romance series set in Russia about four generations of women who solve a mystery and discover God’s promises along the way. Ekaterina, Nadia, Marina, Oksana

Team Hope – A team of Search and Rescuers who put their lives…and hearts…on the line for others. Waiting for Dawn (free online read) Flee the Night, Escape to Morning, Expect the Sunrise

Mission: Russia – A group of friends – Russians and Americans -- fighting for freedom. The first book – In Sheep’s Clothing is a 2006 Christy Award finalist! Book 2 – Sands of Time, out in September 2006.

Everything’s Coming up Josey – what happens when a girl from Minnesota follows her dreams to Russia...?

LISA: Wow, what a fantastic list! And contrats on the being a Christy Award finalist. That’s no small thing. I’ve read many of your books, have a few in my to read pile, and need to grab a copy of the rest.

Now, what is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

SUSIE: That it IS a journey, and if I look at the competition out there, the journey becomes overwhelming, and just about selling books. But if I keep my eyes on God, and listen to His voice, the journey is about discovering who he is in my life and how He longs to delight me with every story, every word. Every season.

LISA: How do you balance family and writing?

SUSIE: Ah, balance. *g* Well, for one, I try and pare down the non-essentials from the essentials. I have two kids I homeschool, so I try and focus on them first. Then, I go to my office and spend about 6 hours working. My kids have learned to respect my time, because I respect theirs. That’s an important lesson, I think. When my other two come home from school, I take time out to debrief their day, maybe give them a snack. We also have dinner together as a family. And, I try not to be a tyrant about things like clean rooms and balanced meals. Sometimes pizza and messy rooms are okay. *g*

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

SUSIE: I am really excited about a new series I’ll have out (hopefully) in 2008 with Tyndale – a merging of my suspense/romance and chick voice – I call it Super Chick. I think the correct genre is Chick Thrill. It’s about a woman named PJ Sugar who finds her niche as a PI assistant…going undercover to solve crimes. It’s also about the universal search to discover who we are in Christ…and the many different identities a woman wears. I think it’s a perfect combination of my chick voice, and SR stories.

LISA: Because I know where are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

SUSIE: Research the publisher you’d like to be published with. Discover what kind of books they publish, and then ask yourself what niche/twist you have to offer. An original story that still fits with their publishing style will catch the eye of a publisher. And work on craft…because in the end, usually the good story is the story that sells.

LISA: Great advise. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

SUSIE: Thank you, back!! *g*

For more information on all of Susie’s books, check out her website and blog!

Susan May Warren
author of...soul-stirring fiction
www.susanmaywarren.com
Read my blog! www.scribbles.susanmaywarren.com
Susan May Warren's blogs at www.faithchick.com

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