Happy Saturday, INSPYs readers. Today we welcome the award-winning talents of Susan May Warren. Susan has been shortlisted in previous INSPY awards and this year, her novel The Wonder of You (Tyndale House) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category.
Today, Susan shares about the inspiration of The Wonder of You as well as the most challenging factor of writing a closely-connected familial series. (Plus Ross Poldark makes a cameo.)
Mortified after her year abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough to embrace the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.
Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.
While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her place mean leaving home behind? – Goodreads
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN MAY WARREN
INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Wonder of You?
This story, and in particular, the heroine, Amelia was inspired by my beautiful daughter Sarah! Sarah signed up for a semester in Prague. . .but when she got there, she realized that she was really a Baggins at heart – she didn’t want to leave the Shire, aka, our small town, or at least the safety of Minnesota. This became a soul-wrenching experience as I watched her wrestle with her fears versus her dreams of seeing the world. It became the basis for the story question: What happens when you discover you’re not the person you thought you were? More, she had disappointed herself… What happens when you fail yourself? We often deal with characters failing others – like their parents, or their spouse, but failing yourself can be a much more devastating experience. Sure, a character might be able to forgive themselves…but what do they do with the pieces of their failure? And what if they fail again?
On a personal level, what does failure tell you about yourself and how can it affect your entire life? Knowing how to forgive yourself, and what to do next are important – if challenging – life skills, and Amelia has to learn how to combat her failures as well as her fears if she wants to go forward. So, the title is a double-entre…we are stronger than we realize because God is at work, in us. It’s the wonder of God in us…to produce an amazing result.
INSPYs: What was your most challenging factor in writing a closely connected six-book series?
The Christiansen family series is a spin-off of the best-selling Deep Haven collection, a collection of stories about the townspeople of Deep Haven, Minnesota, a tiny resort town on the north shore of Lake Superior. The original series started with a book entitled, Happily Ever After, and grew to include six titles. However, one family began to stand out and I decided their story needed to be told. I wanted a series about a family with adult children, learning what it meant to carry on the legacy of faith into their lives. And I wanted to write a series that would really let readers dig into the family, feel like they were a part of their journey. The biggest issue was how to create both a stand-alone story arc as well as a series story arc that would keep readers glued to the drama of the series. I discovered that I really enjoyed writing this kind of connected series, where the events in one book push the events in the next. However, I’ve discovered that readers need to enter the series anywhere without being lost—and that can be difficult in a closely connected series. The Wonder of You was a bridge book between two epic events that happen to the family, and the challenge of this story was to carry the story arc while giving the reader a story that could stand on its own. I think Roark and Amelia pulled it off brilliantly.
JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS
+What are you listening to?
Pandora. The Chase Rice station (that I designed). Contemporary country music.
+What are you watching?
Just finished season one of Poldark. *sigh*
+What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?
Just starting another fabulous Lori Benton novel: The Wood’s Edge. I’m a huge historical fiction fan. Okay, I’m just a huge fan of well written books, regardless of genre. 🙂
Thank you for having me!!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Susan. It was a pleasure to learn more about The Wonder of You and chat about your current read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.
A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!
She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.