Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Getting to know Susan Meissner

I have long been a fan of Susan Meissner's books but her latest, The Shape of Mercy, is just brilliant! You will see my review here tomorrow but for now, keep reading and learn some interesting things about this delightful author.

Over to you, Susan:~

If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

I’ve always loved the name Stephanie. When I was little I named all my paper dolls that name. But it can’t be mine now because I named my daughter Stephanie and Stephanie Jr. just doesn’t sound cool. . . .

Your first pet’s name?

We had a
cocker spaniel named Taffy; the first dog that I can remember, though there were others after her. We also had a spider monkey named Michael that we monkeysat for a few months for a friend of my Dad’s. I honestly can’t remember why this man had a monkey and why the monkey needed a place to stay. . . Seems kind of suspect to me now. Like an episode of CSI just waiting to happen.

Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?

That would
be Kathy Sanders-Zufelt. And here’s the cool thing. She’s still my best friend.

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with
you when you were young?

There really wasn’t one toy in particular that did it for me. I had a huge thing for dolls. One in particular, Laura, had top billing for a long time. But she stayed at home most of the time. .

If you could meet a famous person, who would it be?

Famous dead person? Eve. Famous living person? The next president of the US.

If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with
you? (
Besides your Bible of course)

A smart person who’d seen “Cast Away” would say flint, but that sounds far too practical. How about a case of malt balls?

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

I love cappuccino chip. Mmmmm

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought I’d be a fabulous kindergarten teacher.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to see Giza and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt but a close second, and I am NOT just saying that, is New Zealand. Especially since watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies over and over.

Besides God, who has influenced you the most?

There are so many people who’ve made a mark on me, my parents, my husband, my kids. I don’t know who I’d be had I not had these people in my life. I think that is the beauty and wonder of family. And I think it’s why God created the concept in the Garden. It’s the people who we’re closest to who shape us.

What's your favourite book?

Not fair. That is like saying what is my favourite (I loved spelling that with a U) breath of air. I’v
e read some great books the last few years. Some favorites are: The Thirteenth Tale, The Kite Runner, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Stones from the River, The Last Sin Eater, Chateau of Echoes, Levi’s Will, Peace Like a River.

What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?

I love the end of the day, when I am snuggled in bed with a book, my soul mate, warm jammies and a fluffy pillow and everyone’s home and safe
. That’s my favorite time.

What's your favourite movie?

Most of the time it’s “You’ve Got Mail.” I always come back to it. It’s the
perfect story. Great characters, perfect setting, plenty of laugh lines, plenty of tender ones.

Where's the most interesting place you have been?

I was on a bus on the Amalfi Highway in Italy a couple years ago. My husband and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary. The Amalfi Highway is drop dead gorgeous and you seriously could drop dead at any moment. Sheer cliffs, zoomy bus, tiny roads, crazy drivers. It was wild and wonderful.

What's your most fervent prayer?

That God would protect my kids from harm, from despair, from loneliness, from evil, and from all influences that would turn them from Him.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

I once went ocean-kayaking over a school (make that a university) of leopard sharks. They
didn’t look hungry, but still . . .

What gif
t have you received that you will always treasure?

The gift of words. Being a writer is to be gifted by God to write. I love it. I am glad He gave it to me.

What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favorites) and what does it mean to you?

I love Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
I love the way this verse sounds when you say it out loud. I like
the “shhhh” sounds in ‘shelter’ and ‘shadow’. It’s like God is saying, “Hush and listen. You are covered. You are protected by the Almighty One. Me.”

What was your most embarrassing moment in High School?

I barely reme
mber high school. Honestly. We think it is so important when we’re there. I am sure I was embarrassed in high school. High School is a trusted breeding ground for embarrassing moments, but nothing comes to mind.

How did your husband propose to you?

He bought a box of See’s chocolates (they’re very yummy) carefully slit through the cellophane, opened the box, chose a caramel, tied my ring to the chocolate with red thread (my favorite color), replaced the chocolate, closed the box, carefully re-sealed the box, and then gave it to me on Christmas Eve at midnight. J

What was the best advice you received on marriage before you wer
e married?

It sound
s so trite, but it’s so true. Don’t go to bed angry. Just don’t do it.

The Shape of Mercy

What ins
pired you to choose the Salem witch trials as the subject matter of your story

When I was in junior high school I was in a play called To Burn A Wit
ch and my character was accused of witchcraft along with some other young women in her village. To save herself, my character decides to begin screaming that one of the other girls in the cell – a friend of hers, actually – is bewitching her. My character is led away to safety and the other girl - who refused to confess that she was a witch - was led away to her execution. That’s the same kind of power the young girls in Salem had. It’s the power the crowd has, even a little crowd, to sway people who refuse to think for themselves.

What differences/similarities do you see in society between America in 1692 and today?

It’s still true on many occasions that whatever the crowd says is what we tend to believe. We believe in preconceived notions, the stereotypes, the stigma that “the crowd” attaches to people who’ve been ma
rked for prejudice. Hitler convinced a nation that Jewish people didn’t deserve to live by attaching stigma to them and bullying the German people into believing it was true. When we let fear and apathy rule our choices, we tend to do nothing about unfairness. It happened in our generation in Rwanda. And it happens to a lesser degree when we walk past a homeless person and right away assume he or she is lazy, undisciplined and foolish. We don’t know anything about that individual person unless we talk to them. And we usually don’t.

Can you describe Abigail, Lauren, Mercy and Raul respectively in five words or less?

Abigail: Smart, resilient and clever. Regrets.

Lauren: Naive. Means well. Good heart.

Mercy: Honest, forgiving, astute. Melanie Hamilton-Wilkes.

Compassionate, kind, easy-going. Tender

Can you picture any actors who might play their roles in a movie?

Helen Mirren as Abigail.

The gal who played Lena (Alexis Bledel) in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants would make a great Lauren.

Mercy is a hard one. I lean toward the gal who played Jane Saunders (Alexander Lydon) in the third season of “24,”

Rel here:~ Nicholas Gonzalez would be my choice for Raul!

What do you hope readers take away from this story?

Love your neighbor as yourself. Pretty simple

What is in your writing pipeline?

I just finished White Picket Fences which will release in Fall 09. It’s about a family who outwardly appears perfect. They’ve got it all. Nice house, good jobs, friendly voices. But hey, they live on the same broken planet as the rest of us. They can’t escape its flaws any more than can the dysfunctional family on the other side of the picket fence. They don’t want to admit there is trouble in their perfect world. It would cease to be perfect then.
But of course, they spend 375 pages with me and I make them face the truth! J

Thanks so much, Susan - it is a special treat to have you here :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Susan's website and always insightful blog

Buy Susan's books at Amazon or Koorong

Check back tomorrow for my review of The Shape of Mercy ~ you will want to read this story! And guess what? I will have two copies to giveaway to my Aussie readers :)


Tracy said...

Wonderful interview ~ thank you both!

I see a picket fence book joining my collection of books, for this picket fence gal!!

Susan your favourite Bible verse, movie and the books I've read from your favourites list are all ones I've loved too. I bet we'd be great mates IRL!

Btw Rel...are we going to watch 'The Last Sin Eater' one day soon..ish?!

Jen said...

I love your interviews! *g*

Fiona said...

Thanks Rel And Susan, fantastic interview!!

So excited that someone else loves 'You've Got Mail'! Love, love, love that movie!

Nise' said...

Wonderful interview. I visited Salem, MA three weeks ago and will be adding this book to my TBR list.

ForstRose said...

I've seen quite a bit about this book but didn't know until a few days ago that it involved the Salem Witch trials.

I remember being entranced by Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare when I was in school years ago and finding out about this book addressing the Salem Witch trials made it jump into the calling my name portion of the TBR. I'm excited to read this.

SJ said...

Great spotlight interview! I love reading these.

The Shape of Mercy is on my list of books to get. Cant wait to read it!

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