Embrace MeEmbrace Me
Lisa Samson
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Immersed in the world of a traveling circus, Valentine listens endlessly to the song "Embraceable You" on an old record player. She has friends, but romance is nowhere in sight. When a dreadlocked, scarred local with a hidden past and a compelling presence enters the picture, will Valentine find the love she longs for? 320 pages, softcover from Nelson.
     

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The Christy-award winning author of 19 books including the Women of Faith Novel of the Year Quaker Summer, Lisa Samson has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks." She lives in Kentucky with her husband and three kids.

Favorite Bible Verse: 1 John 1:6 - Because it sums up the christian life; we walk with Christ so we can walk with each other.

 


 

 Our Interview with Lisa Samson


 

How did you come up with the concept for Embrace Me?  It’s a very unusual story line.  Do you have some affiliation with the circus or was there an event in your past where you experienced one of these circus shows?

I just find myself interested in various topics.  For several years I was reading about sideshow performers—human oddities.  People like Johnny Eck the Half Man (a fascinating person he was) and poor Mary Ann Bevans who billed herself as The World’s Ugliest Woman.  The lives of these performers, how they got to the sideshow, the community they experienced, what happened to them after they stopped performing is fascinating.  It was only natural my curiosity ended up on the pages of one of my novels.

How closely is Embrace Me based on your personal experience?

Other than knowing people like Augustine who really would turn an old Laundromat into a mission, not at all!  While we’ve moved to the city to try and live the life God has called us to, we still have an everyday life.  Work, church, homework, school.  Now, however, God lets us meet interesting people of a new variety.  So, in short, I’m surrounded by a lot of characters, but I don’t know any mega-church pastors or side-show performers.

How long did Embrace Me take you to complete?

I honestly don’t remember. I always tell people that I take as long as I have. I’ve written books in four months and I’ve taken a year.

What is the symbolism for the title Embrace Me?

It pertains to our longing to be loved for who we really are.  At the end of the day, the only one who can possibly do that, because He knows every little bit of us, is God.  I’m so thankful He knows us and loves us completely.

 

Do you have a favorite character in Embrace Me?  Why?

My favorite character is Lella, the Human Cocoon.  She’s the show’s legless/armless woman.  Lella is the type of person who sees the good in everyone and each situation. I t’s not that she’s oblivious to what really goes on in the world, but she sees through the eyes of hope and goodwill.  She represents what  I pray I’ll be like someday.

How much research did the Embrace Me take? 

That’s a hard question to answer.  I’d been reading about sideshow performers for several years on my own, so I have no way of knowing the hours I put in.  They were enjoyable hours to be sure.  That always makes it seem like less!  I can tell you it probably wasn’t as much as some of my friends who write historical novels! (Liz Higgs can tell you more about Scotland than anyone I know personally!)

Do you prefer to write contemporary fiction?  

Yes. I like writing about issues that face us.  Of course, the same issues keep popping up every so often in history so maybe it’s simply a matter of doing what comes naturally.

 

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

On the one hand, I’m John Irving, on the other I’m . . . hmm, that wouldn’t be very nice of me to say!  Actually, the biggest challenge I face, and it goes back to vanity again, is the fear I feel knowing my words are out there for people to criticize, and some folks are downright nasty!  Even here on this website.  But that’s the nature of things these days, everyone’s a critic and it’s very much a challenge to my “delicate, artistic nature.”  I don’t read my reviews on any of the on-line sites anymore, so any of you meanies who’ve said things hoping I’ve read them, I probably haven’t. (Ha!)

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

The freedom to work during the hours I need to, in my pajamas, with copious cups of tea.  The fact that the people I work with everyday do exactly as I tell them.  (Okay, sometimes they surprise me, but I can always hit the backspace if they get out of hand.)

I’ve made some wonderful reader-friends on the journey too. That’s been a real blessing.

What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?

By reading better and better books and being open to what my editors have to say.  Just recently my editor answered this question for me. “What’s the biggest lack you see in my writing?”  Now that isn’t an easy one to ask, but her answer was spot on fantastic. (See, I can take criticism, just not mean criticism.  My kids get in trouble if they talk like that.)

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

Yes! I’ve always loved lighthouses so I’m writing my next novel for Thomas Nelson set on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.  It’s the area of the country I’d live if I “could live anywhere I liked.”  Right now it’s titled The Resurrection of Mary-Margaret and it asks the question, “What if God wants you to do something you feel is counter to the call you’ve always felt He’s placed on your life and that call is something you’ve lived for ever since you can remember?”

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

I can’t pin it down to any one person. Probably the fact that I loved to read contributed most to wanting to write. My sister Lori always had a book in her hand, and in my neighborhood, Miss Gloria always sat and read a book when she was finished her housework. Gotta be a reader to be a writer.

 

What message would you like your readers to take away from Embrace Me?

That forgiveness is one of the ways we best exhibit the love of God. Sometimes it’s so hard to forgive someone of a grave wrong, but, as a child of God, we don’t have the option not to. God has forgiven us so much, Christ died to forgive the world, it stands to reason that forgiving, and being forgiven is a very holy thing.

What is your greatest achievement?

Oh dear . All I have or am comes from God.  Ask Him! (His answer would probably be different than mine anyway.)

 
What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To turn in the best work of which I’m capable. And on my real-life days, to simply get to the next page.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Visit friends and family for sure! And if I can’t travel, well, a good book will always work.