Welcome to The Cross & The Pen, Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column!
Ever met someone and just “hit it off” right away? Ever read a book and thought, “If I could meet the author, I bet we’d be really good friends!” Well, that’s what I thought when I first read Lisa Samson’s work. And, if you’ve never indulged yourself to read some of her writings, let me encourage you to do so … starting right now!
Recently Lisa and I got together to talk novelist-to-novelist! We had way too much fun! Wanna listen in?
Eva Marie: Good afternoon, Lisa!
Lisa Samson: Hi, Eva Marie!
Eva Marie: How are you this bright and sunny day?
Lisa Samson: Wonderful! Gorgeous here in KY!
Eva Marie: Here in Florida, too!
Lisa Samson: Hot yet?
Eva Marie: Yeah, it's hot, but not yet horribly humid. So, are you ready to talk "turkey club?" First, Lisa ... tell me a little bit about yourself ... you know ... wife, mother, etc.
Lisa Samson: Okay … wife and mom, number one responsibilities. Writer stuff fits in around the edges.
Eva Marie: When you did "decide" to be a writer and what started the um ... madness?
Lisa Samson: (laughing) One day, at 27, I just "decided to write a book!" I'd never done anything like that. But I've always loved, loved, loved to read. And always fiction. There's nothing like a good book. I started the process, and sent the book off to two pubs two months later (it was lousy), but my first publisher bit and here I am a dozen years later.
Eva Marie: Who were your inspirations?
Lisa Samson: I love Anne Tyler and Larry McMurtry. Well-developed and interesting characters just suck me right in.
Eva Marie: Oh! Don't you hate to go back and read that first stuff you sent off?
Lisa Samson: I hate that first stuff! If I knew then what I know now, I'd have never been brash enough to send it to anyone. It's one of those "foolish things of this world" examples!
Eva Marie: How funny! Going back to Anne and Larry ... do you recall a particular book that made you go, "I can do this!" or "I should try this?"
Lisa Samson: I'm not normally a romance reader, but my sister had "Outlander" sitting around, and I picked it up and it drew me right in. That book really was the impetus for me to try writing a book. And it was the right time in my life. It's funny how that works. The things that normally wouldn't affect you have a huge impact at a certain time.
Eva Marie: And your first book? What was it called?
Lisa Samson: It was called "The Highlander and His Lady." (Excuse me while I become nauseous.)
Eva Marie: (Laughing) In other words, don't go out there and buy it!
Lisa Samson: You couldn't find it if you wanted to! Unless it was for $0.35 at some used book site! And that's fine with me!
Eva Marie: Amazon's "Used Book" section, perhaps? (I know, don't put any ideas in anyone's head.)
Lisa Samson: Yep. The lowest I've ever seen one of my books for is 28 cents! I almost bought it myself!
Eva Marie: But, was it signed???
Lisa Samson: Oh my gosh! Isn't that weirdest thing? I see those signed copies and wonder, "How did that happen?"
Eva Marie: So, then let's talk about "Club Sandwich." When I realized what it was about ... and thus the title ... I laughed out loud! Give the readers a brief overview of "Club Sandwich."
Lisa Samson: "Club Sandwich" deals with the phenomenon happening more and more these days of a child caring for aging parents while still raising their own children … sandwiched between generations. Ivy, the main character, is in the throes of this lifestyle, and not doing it too gracefully! This book was rather close to my heart as I began caring for my mother while my youngest was only 9 months old.
Eva Marie: Wow. You lived it, in other words.
Lisa Samson: Yes. All the ups and downs, goods and bads, you name it. But after Mom passed away, I was so glad, and honored, to have done it.
Eva Marie: Lisa, what I liked about "Club Sandwich" is Ivy's inner dialogue. She's very real. It was as if someone had come in and read my diary, in many ways. What were you going for with that?
Lisa Samson: I wanted women who are living the life, and those who know something caught in the middle, to realize that more than half of what's going on in a caregiver is internal. Sometimes we're just going on steam, doing what we have to do, when inside there's an unbelievable battle we're facing, and dealing with, even though we can't talk about it. Because if we do, the parent we’re caring for will feel bad, and certainly you don't want their last days to be filled with guilt over an illness they have no control of. I wanted women to know they're not alone and that we have these horrible feelings and it's okay.
Eva Marie: And, if I might add my two cents, to let women know that other women out there think in the same "nontraditional Christian" way as they do? And what I mean by that is that we don't always think "perfect" thoughts.
Lisa Samson: Absolutely! I set aside my mask when I started on the women's fiction path. I get comments all the time "You say what I think but don't dare to voice!" And you're right, we don't think perfect thoughts. Mine are especially black at times. But if we don't admit them, how can we deal with them?
Eva Marie: Then, let's go back to you as a writer. You say being a wife and a mother is number one. How old are your children now?
Lisa Samson: Ty is 15, Jake is 11, and Gwynnie is 8.
Eva Marie: Wow, you've got a lot going on then, right?
Lisa Samson: Pretty much so. But I'm really trying to learn to balance my life. The kids aren't in a thousand activities, we are part of a small, intentional ministry here in inner city Lexington, and I'm determined not to raise a bunch of over-achievers. Who wants to put that on a kid?
Eva Marie: So, help us picture this? When does the great novelist Lisa Samson actually ... um ... write?
Lisa Samson: I have no idea! Really! It's the same with the mediocre novelist Lisa Samson too! (Sometimes I just crack myself up!) But I just fit it in where I can, try to hang with the kids as much as possible, and somehow, it always gets done. By God's grace, really. I mean, He fed 5,000 people from a single lunch. And He does that everyday with me too. I love that miracle … it fits in so many areas of our own lives.
Eva Marie: Amen! Part of Ivy's character is that she hasn't been taking care of herself, not really. How does Lisa take care of herself?
Lisa Samson: Not at all. And Ivy’s pretty proud of that fact. As for me, taking care of myself was learning what was important, what I could actually set aside and not worry about. I don't need to be the Hollywood ideal, I don't need to suffer under condemning Christians, and I don't need to fit a list of expectations someone places on me. That leaves a lot of inner room for joy, noticing God's creation, feeding my soul in organic ways. I love to read and blog. Those are the two things I do for me. And I'm liking gardening, too. I really feel God in the soil and the colors and the life. I think too, something changed in me, when I realized God would love me if I never did another thing for Him. But He also loves me too much to allow me to waste my life. But then the onus is on Him and His strength, and I can relax and go with the flow.
Eva Marie: Awesome. What are you working on book-wise now?
Lisa Samson: Right now I'm working on a book entitled "Travels With My Uncle." Its main character is from "The Church Ladies," the character named India who was kind of Goth and drove around in a Beetle painted like a ladybug. I'm enjoying this one more than some of them! Some books it's like pulling teeth! Although I will tell you that, I threw out the first 60 pages of this book and started fresh.
Eva Marie: When will it be out?
Lisa Samson: Next June, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise!
Eva Marie: Until then, what's happening?
Lisa Samson: Just first drafting right now, getting settled in Lexington (we moved last week), and working on curriculum for the Montrose Christian Writers Conference this year where I'll be doing the fiction track. I'm not a good speaker really, but I do want to help people mature in their craft.
Eva Marie: Ah! You'll be following in my footsteps, then! (laughing) I did the fiction track last year!
Lisa Samson: Very cool!
Lisa Samson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Christy Award-winning "Songbird," the critically acclaimed "Women’s Intuition" and "Tiger Lillie." Her other titles include "The Church Ladies" and "The Living End." She and her husband live with their three children in Kentucky.
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the upcoming "Sex, Lies and the Media" (Cook) and "The Potluck Club" (Baker/Revell). Share your comments or inquire about speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.