Earlier this year, I had the God-given opportunity of interviewing one of my favorite authors in the world: Susan May Warren.
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’ve posted a lot about her work in this blog the last two years.
Among other masterpieces, she also wrote the amazing Christiansen Family Series, which I love with all my heart. Those six siblings made laugh and cry. I learned so much from them, and I couldn’t wait to talk with the person that created their awesome stories.
Susie took the time to have this conversation with me via Skype. Take a look at all the wisdom she shared with me. 1. Natacha Ramos: What are the best part and the worst part about being a writer?
Susan May Warren: The best part about being a writer is that you get to create these amazing people and put them into amazing situations. So, today, I’m right now in the middle of story where my hero and heroine just stranded on a desert island and they have to figure out how to survive. Therefore, I spent 3 or 4 hours today watching survival shows and I’ve already done some research on this topic. I loved to put them in that situation and figure out what they’re going to do about that. Somehow, I’m living my own little adventure, even though that’s all in my head, right?
For me, that’s the best part. I love the day when I can write all day long and really get into the story.
What I don’t love is that part when reviewers don’t necessarily like my story –which is fine, you can totally not like my stories–, and they write hurtful things. I’m not saying I shouldn’t receive bad reviews but some of them break my heart a little bit.
Every once in a while I’ll be on a website and maybe I’ll see that somebody said something that is not right about one of my stories. Sometimes, I’d like to talk with the reviewer and tell him/her: “no, wait, I didn’t mean that” or “my research is right,” but, normally, I can’t have that conversation. So, I must take a breath and just tell myself that it is not a big deal and everything will be fine.2. You’re Christian and your books are your ministry, right? That’s why I wonder how it is like for you when you have to write and you’re not at your best spiritual condition at the moment. Even though you’re struggling, you’re supposed to keep writing, traveling, and promoting your books. How do you handle that?
Well, you know there are challenges in our lives, right? So, usually, when I’m going through a hard time I know that, more than ever, I have to dig in and pray and spend my time with the Lord in the morning.
I’m not sure if you heard about it, but last year my mother died, so it was a very challenging season. It was difficult for me to write all the stories I was writing that year, because I had this great grieve in my heart over that.
I really had to say: “God, you know I’m going through this struggle in my life. I have to deal with this grieve and keep taking care of my family and writing other books.”
Then, I had to say: “OK, God, you’re with me today. Today is all I need. I just need the word that will help me accomplish what I need to accomplish today, all those things you have designed for me to.”
And then I would just go from day to day.3. However, in those moments when you’re not at your best and you still have to smile and encourage others, don’t you ever feel like giving up?
I do, Natacha. I do feel sometimes that I’m not in my best place. I’m grumpy or I feel like life is hard. I’ve been in that place where the weigh is so hard, and I know I don’t radiate the joy of the Lord.
But I think we find the answers even in your own words: when we focus on ourselves and how we feel, we can perceive a pressure inside. You talk about trying to encourage others and, for me, that’s the key.
If we stop and ask ourselves: “What does God have me tell other people? What truth does He want me to say?” You have truth, I have truth. For me, I hold on to that truth because I know that I’m on the right path. So, I ask the Lord to help me handle today and reach out others with the truth He has given me.
And you know what’s cool? As I’m writing, the truth that I’m putting in the story or that I’m sharing with someone else comes back to me. If we’re encouraging and helping others, we’re on the right track. And we can always pray that God makes us aware that He’s with us.
If we look ahead and try to solve the whole thing, we’ll be completely overwhelmed with our lives. Instead, it’s good to say: “God, I need you today. Help me through this day.” Eventually, you’ll back and say: “Oh, my goodness, I’m much further than I thought I would be.”
There have been times in my life when I’ve been crying, and I’ve said: “Lord, I don’t have the strength to keep writing.” And He says: “Don’t worry. I’ll help you. You don’t have to be the one writing. I’ll write. You can just show up and type.»
– I’ll keep that last paragraph in my heart forever ❤ 4. Susie, you’re very well-known now, and you have a huge influence over readers like me. However, I’m sure there was a time of small beginnings as well, when people didn’t know about you yet. How did you handle those times when you couldn’t see “success” in your ministry? What advice could you give to those of us that right now might feel disappointed or trapped in those small beginnings?
In the beginning and even now I don’t see things that way. What I see is the connection that I have with people, like my friendship with you and my friendship with other readers online. Even if my books only reached only 5 people and impacted their lives, that would be true gain for me. I never wanted to be famous. I just wanted to follow what God wanted me to do. I wanted to be the very best writer I could be for His glory, and then I would hand Him the books and tell Him: “Do whatever you want to do, Lord.”
I was a missionary for 10 years before I became a writer. That was my heart first. So, in the early days, I never even thought about being published, to be honest with you. I was just writing because I felt called to write a novel. When it got published, I had to sit and ask the Lord: “OK, what kind of author am I going to be?” I prayed about it and I thought: “I’m going to be someone who reaches up to people and cares about them,” because that’s what my purpose for writing books was. I was trying to write a book that would encourage someone on their walk.
I personally answer all my email. I don’t always answer all my email, but I try hard to answer as much as I can, because people take the time to write to me, and for me it’s very important to create that one-to-one connection and to encourage others in their walk of faith. That’s what I’ve been called to do, and I do it through books. So, if it was 10 people, that would be awesome.
That’s kind of how I look at it, and I think that, when you’re starting out, you need to say: “Am I just being obedient to what God has told me to do?” If I’m supposed to be writing a book, “am I writing the book?” Don’t get way out ahead and think about the results of it, because you don’t know how it’s going to be. You don’t how it’s going to bless lives. But, if you’re obedient chapter to chapter of that book, you can be confident that God will take your obedience and do something with it. You don’t know what it is, but in God’s hand it’s a great thing. Just stay focus on the next step. One day, you’ll look back and say: “wow.”
I never had business friends. I never had a goal. I just wrote one story, and then the next story. I’m not saying that’s the best way, I’m just saying that was the way that worked for me, and it gave me great satisfaction.Yeah, I know, she’s AMAZING. I can’t believe I had the chance to talk with her about all these things I had in my heart to ask her.
I hope and pray this interview helped you somehow in your walk with God.
If you want to know more about Susan May Warren and her latest series «Montana Rescue», just click here.
Thanks for stopping bye! See you soon 😉