|Happily Ever After, Deep Haven Series #1|
Susan May Warren
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Mona Reynolds has no time for love! She's busy renovating an old Victorian house that's the answer to her prayers---her own bookstore/coffeeshop. Besides, there's no better hero for her than Reese Clark's fictional character Jonah. Or is there? What about the mysterious handyman she just hired? Will Mona's story have a fairy tale ending? 350 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
Susan May Warren now resides in San Diego, California after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries in Russia. Susan has written several series which include the Deep Haven Series, The Heirs of Anton ( based in Russia), Team Hope Series and her newest series, Noble Legacy.
Favorite Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast. "
Our Interview with Susan May warren
|How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve always had a love for writing. I love words, and stories and writing seemed to me a natural outlet for the characters and plots that roamed my head. I wrote my first book in first grade and won my first grade book writing contest. I’ve been writing ever since. When we were in Russia, serving as missionaries, I had little to read, so after my books became dog-eared, I started writing my own stories. There isn’t a lot to do in Siberia, during the winter, so I had lots of time to work on craft, and let my imagination run. I never really thought I’d be published, however, so all this has come as a great and happy surprise to me.
What are some of the challenges you face being an author?
Keeping my stories fresh – the plots current and intriguing, the characters three-dimensional and compelling, the romances unique and surprising. I am constantly on my knees, asking God for the right combination.
How long does each book take you to complete?
From start to finish 3-4 months, depending on length. I do extensive character development and research before each story, then I rewrite every story after I get the shell down, then edit, the proof. So every story is read at least four times, by me, then at least three to four times at my publisher before it goes to press.
|How do you choose the settings?
I try and write about places that are intriguing to me as a reader, or places I’ve been before (or plan to visit), so I can write authentically about them. I enjoy settings that can add to the tension, foreign countries, caves in Missouri, the Minnesota wilderness, Siberia. I like the environment to act almost as another antagonist.
How much research did this series take?
Deep Haven wasn’t hard to research – I spent my childhood summers in a tiny MN tourist town. However, the professions of my heroines and heroes took some time – I wore out an EMT manual, and read Fire Fighting textbooks to learn the basics of fighting fires. I also had the help of a firefighter who read all my scenes for accuracy. For my new series coming out with Tyndale next winter, I had to learn about quantum encryption, and for the next Heirs of Anton book – Nadia, I learned about spy craft, and microdots, and in Marina, I learned about bridges and how to blow them up. For a book I have coming out with Steeple Hill next fall, I learned about Cancer Vaccines. I really enjoy research, so this is a fun aspect of creating stories.
How do you think up your characters?
I usually start with plot, and then ask myself, what kind of person would be most challenged in a situation like this? Then, for the romance, I pit them against the least likely of candidates. Then I find their secret needs and desires and craft characters that will minister to those secret places in unique and endearing ways. I also ask the Lord for wisdom, because invariability, He’s also teaching me about Himself during this process. The plot, characters and theme have to weave together and in the end, I think this is the touch of the Lord in the books.
|Do you have a favorite character? Why?
I love all my characters – Mona, Anne, Ellie, But maybe my favorite is Callie, from Measure of a Man, my novella in Chance Encounters of the Heart. She is a missionary in Russia, and she’s brave and knows what her calling is, and when she meets Peter again, the man who broke her heart, she doesn’t let her love for him stand between her and God. She just lets God work it out. I also really like Liza from the Deep Haven books – she’s calm and wise, and the kind of friend I’d like to be.
How personal are your novels?
Well, while I haven’t personally lived out every aspect of my stories – for example, I’ve never been a firefighter, the spiritual themes are often ones I’ve struggled with, and for sure, there are scenes in every book that I’ve experienced personally. God always uses the books to minister to me, first, and the issues my characters struggle with are ones I’ve also had to grapple with.
Are there any new projects on the horizon?
I have a new series coming out with Tyndale in 2005 – a Search and Rescue suspense/romance collection called Team Hope. And there are three more Heirs of Anton books – a Russian suspense/Romance series written with Susan Downs that will come out of the next year. And then I have another suspense/romance series coming out with Steeple Hill next fall. And then I’m taking a leap and departing from the suspense/romance genre with a chick lit book coming out with Steeple Hill, hopefully in 2005. It’s about a young woman who goes to Russia for a year to teach English, and I just finished writing it. It was probably my hardest book to write, but the most personal and one that I feel God carried me through. It’s called “Going on Green.”
|Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
My husband was my greatest encourager, but as for writers, Francine Rivers and Dee Henderson were my favorites. Dee actually became a good friend, and encouraged me long before I ever got published. Her books taught me the elements of a great romance, and her friendship kept my spirits from flagging when I was writing in Siberia, feeling like a lone woman out in the frozen tundra.
What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?
SOLD: Advice on becoming an author
Soak in the elements of a good book: The first priority of a writers is to be a reader. Find those books you enjoy and don’t be afraid to highlight favorite phrases, characters, or plot techniques. For years I kept a journal in which I dissected the books I liked and analyzed why they worked. Poor Dee Henderson’s books got picked apart like a science project. But they were so good, I had to know why! Pick the genre you want to write and read, read, read!
Open up your heart: Find those issues, places, scenes, and characters who have influenced your life. There is truth to the old adage: Write what you know, and inside you is a well of experiences that you can use to craft a story, an article or a devotional. Dig into your life, ponder the things God has taught you and ask Him how He wants to use them to both teach you more and minister to those around you. My two hour nightmare of being locked in a dark, broken elevator turned into my first novella sale!
Learn: Invest in some good writing books and work on craft. I am constantly reading and asking God to make me into a better writer. God gives us talents and desires, but we need to invest in them for His glory. Some great books I recommend: Brandilyn Collins, “Getting into Character,” Anything by Sol Stein, Donald Maas, and James Frey, and of course Browne and King’s “Self Editing for Fiction writers.”
DO: Write! And Write! You won’t be a writer without writing. That’s the truth. And learn to take criticism! Don’t put your self-esteem into your writing…be teachable and you will grow not only as a writer, but as a person.
What were your favorite books as a child?
The Little House series, the
Black Stallion series,
The Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
|What message would you like your readers to take away from this book?
Ellie struggled with wanting to make a mark on her personal landscape, and Dan struggled to make his mark meaningful. I think this is a common struggle with Christians today – especially mothers who struggle to find eternal fruit in the daily care and feeding of their families. I am hoping that readers are encouraged with the truth that our significance is found in letting Jesus Christ live through us, and that as we abide with Him, we can trust Him to make our lives bear fruit.
|What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
In all my books, I want readers to see how God reaches out of heaven with his grace and mercy to love them, through good times and bad. His grace is sufficient to carry us, and nothing can separate us from His love, even when we don’t easily see it. I hope my readers can get a glimpse of eternal perspective, and that somehow God uses it to draw them closer to Himself.
Favorite verse from the Bible?
I have lots of favorites – my current one is:
Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.
Tell us about yourself--what you do for a living full time ?
I now write full time.
I have four children, 3 who go to public school, one who is home schooled. Next fall I’ll have a 2/2 split. My husband is the GM of a lodge/restaurant on Lake Superior.
Upbringing and education?
I grew up in Minneapolis, graduated from the University of MN in Mass Communications/English. I grew up in a Christian home, Baptist upbringing and spent many summers camping in northern MN. I spent my teenage summers on missions trips around MN, and got a call to full-time Christian service at Urbana ’87. I met Andrew that summer, and we were married a year later. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in ’92, and by 1994, we were in Russia, serving as missionaries. We came home from the field after two terms in 2002. In the summer of 2003 I received what I consider my “call” to Christian fiction, and now consider this my ministry.