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Interview of Susan R. Lawrence

1.What am I working on?
Most writers can’t leave an unpublished piece of writing be. They have to continually pick at it, like a chigger bite in an arm pit. My first novel, titled River Bend, had sat quietly on a shelf for five years. It was full of editing errors, POV violations, and happy people with no conflicts. Every so often it would nudge my mind and I’d think, “I ought to redo that.” So last winter I pulled it off the shelf, blew off the dust and began a rewrite. Once I started, I found I used almost nothing from the first write except for the basic storyline: a young man whose wife has been killed seeks healing by following her dream of establishing a restaurant along a bike trail.
I am close to writing “the end,” but it needs as much polishing as an antique silver vase that has sat in an attic for years. I look forward to doing the polishing with the help of my fantastic critique group.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My stories fall in the huge category of Christian women’s fiction. I tend to be light on the romance (although there is definitely an element of romance in all my stories) and heavy on characterization. My aim is that my readers know my characters so well, they think they see them on the street. I also try to weave in the gospel message in an unobtrusive way, so people don’t feel they are being preached at, but come away inspired.

3. Why do I write what I do?
For my entire life … well, since I could hold a pencil and compose words, I have been given ideas. It’s not an option to leave them unwritten.

4. How does my writing process work?
I usually start with nothing more than an idea, and then I follow my characters. Sometimes they take me into situations that surprise me. Or they introduce me to someone I didn’t expect.
I am an extremely slow writer. It takes me hours to compose a few hundred words. I tell others, and maybe it’s true, that they are good words.
But I hang on to the story like a pit bull on a bone, and eventually, I write “the end.” Then comes the editing, which I enjoy. Unlike most writers, I find I need to add and flesh out scenes rather than cutting, but I don’t mind this either. After several times through, it is sometimes difficult to leave the editing and say, “This is as good as I can get it. It’s time to send this baby off.”

Then comes the scary part. My baby has left the building and is now exposed to the harsh critique of strangers. Like children who have left the nest, the only thing remaining is pray over them.
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