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WRITE: Interview with Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008, also received the Christian Book Award for fiction. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church. 1. Before you wrote novels, you wrote and edited for an award-winning small town newspaper. Can you describe how that experience helped prepare you for your writing work today? Writing for a newspaper teaches you to hook your reader with the first sentence and to write economically. I was told to think of each word as costing me a quarter so that I would be stingy with my words! Newspaper stories are all about brevity and yet completeness. Readers absolutely want to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how –it’s not like you can skip a couple–but you can’t be longwinded. Readers won’t read a newspaper story that goes on and on and on. Novels of course are longer and readers want their money’s worth in terms of length but the lesson is the same – When you can tell a story in ten amazingly good words instead of 20 just plain good words, you draw your reader in and they don’t want to let go. 2. How and why did you choose to designate your work as “Fiction for the restless reader”? When I began writing for the Christian market in 2004, I had a hunger for literary fiction from a Christian worldview, which can sometimes be different than Christian genre fiction. I was restless for it and there didn’t seem to be enough of it. So I wondered if maybe there were others out there like me who wanted fiction from a Christian world view, but not necessarily Christian fiction. The difference might be described as one having an overt Christian theme and the other having a subtle Christian theme. It was the latter I was restless for more of. I figured there other readers out there like me. 3. Lady in Waiting ties together the stories of two Janes: present-day antiques store manager Jane  Lindsay and 16th century Lady Jane Grey. Which story proved more challenging to write, and why? Strangely enough writing the contemporary story of Jane Lindsay was the harder one because she plays a very passive, deferential person and I am not like that at all. I struggled to make her likeable. Sometimes I just wanted to slap her! But that was her flaw, you see. Every character...

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READ: Review, Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

(Leave a comment below for the chance to win my review copy of this book). Layers of meaning captivate me. I think it has to do with my love of words. Double entendres, puns—anything with two or more layers always makes me smile. In my own writing, I take delight in creating titles or subtitles that hold two meanings whether or not readers notice them My love for doubles is one of the many reasons I fell in love with Susan Meissner’s latest offering, Lady in Waiting (Waterbrook Press, 2010). This gentle but powerful work shares the story of two ladies in waiting tied together by a mysterious ring. Present-day Jane Lindsay, people-pleasing manager of an antiques store, finds the ring in a box of scrambled items from a British jumble sale. Captivated, she begins her quest for its original owner. In the process, she confronts both her troubled marriage and the choices she alone must make. Lady Jane Grey of 16th-century England also has choices to make and a destiny to fulfill. In love with one man but pledged to another, her life seems as subject to the whims and wishes of others as Jane Lindsay considers hers to be. Meissner sets the modern-day story alongside the story of Lady Jane Grey as seen through the sympathetic eyes of her dressmaker, Lucy. As the two stories unfold, they have much to say about choice, desire, and truth that sets free. Meissner’s skill as a writer is evident as she weaves the two stories together with a firm but gentle hand. Each  carries its own unique voice and leaves readers contemplating their own choices and relationships—and wanting more from Meissner. And that makes this reader a lady in waiting, too. Want a sneak peak at Lady in Waiting? Click to check out a sample chapter. If you’d like, take a moment and rate my review on the Waterbrook site, too. Thanks! What other books have you read that carry layers of meaning or perhaps a dual story? Share your comment for the chance to win my review copy of Lady in Waiting. And watch for a WRITE interview with author Susan Meissner later this week! I’ll draw names from those who comment on either post before midnight this Friday night, February 4.  (FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to post a positive...

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READ: Review, White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner (Waterbrook, 2009)

Sometimes our deepest family secrets are the ones we refuse to acknowledge. Sixteen-year-old Tally Bachmann forces more than one issue when a sudden death and an absentee father thrust her into a new environment. Her sudden encounter with what appears to be the perfect suburban life of the Janvier family (her San Diego aunt, uncle, and cousins) exposes her own wounds. But it also brings to the surface the hidden hurts of her new family members as they struggle to relate to one another and to a girl they barely know. Powerful storytelling draws us in. Believable characters keep us reading. Layers of intrigue—including an unusual link to the Holocaust—add depth. And an underlying theme of redemption provides needed impetus to look behind our own white picket fences and seek relational transparency. Bravo to this award-winning author and White Picket Fences for another thoughtful...

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