by Rel Mollet
Lisa Samson Interview
who else can I go to? It’s gotta be Jesus. He has the words of
eternal life. He’s all there is."
Lisa Samson is the award-winning author of twenty-six books including Quaker Summer, Christianity Today's Novel of 2008, and Justice in the Burbs, which she co-wrote with her husband, Will, a professor of Sociology. When not at home in Kentucky with her three children, one cat, and six chickens, she speaks around the country about writing and social justice, encouraging the people of God to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God." She loves nothing better than sitting around her kitchen table, talking with family and friends, old and new.
If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?
When I was twelve the answer would have been Gizelle. I kid you not. Then I went through a classy Margaret stage. Then Ellie. Now, I think I’d like something friendly, like Daisy.
Your first pet’s name?
Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?
Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.
Yes. I still have him. He’s a cloth rabbit with long, pink and yellow striped legs. I named him Bunny. My kids are Baby, Boy Baby, and The Baby.
If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you?
What's your favourite ice cream flavour?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s kind of like my name. An interior designer, a doctor, a financier, an artist. I never once thought I wanted to be a writer.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Rome. I’d love to see the catacombs, all the early Christianity sites, the Vatican, and the art! My dream is to someday be a liturgical artist, so that would probably provide inspiration for years.
I’ll admit it’s totally cliché, but I’d probably have to say The Great Gatsby. Something about that light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Oh my gosh! There’s the name Daisy again! Coincidence? You decide!
My two favourite movies are The Godfather and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But if I could only watch one or the other for the rest of my life, I’d pick Willy Wonka for sure if only to dream there’s a big room with candy flowers somewhere in the universe.
Blues, rock, jazz or classical music?
Rock. No question. Then jazz. After that, techno-fusion-folkmetal. I’m planning on inventing it someday when I want my kids to finally leave the house.
Scrapbooking, jogging, cooking or meditation?
I tried scrapbooking a long time ago and loved it. My oldest daughter has a great album up to age ten. Jake has maybe five pages. Gwynnie has a title page. Since jogging is a complete joke, and meditation (I’ll go with contemplative prayer) is something I’ve no idea how to slow down my mind for, I’ll go with cooking. I’m trying to learn how to make homemade pasta this summer. My first batch was a disaster!
Where is the most interesting place you have been?
Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock) or Sydney Harbour Bridge?
Great Barrier Reef. I love color.
What's your most fervent prayer?
My children will know God’s love intimately and make people’s
lives and hearts better because of that.
What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favourites) and what does it mean to you?
For the past two years it’s been Matthew 6:68 - 68.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Here Jesus has been talking about people eating his flesh and drinking his blood, pretty crazy words, and a great deal of his followers say, “I’m outta here.” Jesus asks the disciples, “Are you going to go too?” And Peter answers the words of that verse, which echo the cry of my heart. I’m 45 years old, the world has lots of systems and answers, and I’ve tried so many of them within the realm of Christianity. So many have left me confused and hardly with “the peace that passes all understanding” and all those promises out there! What was wrong with me?
But who else can I go to? It’s gotta be Jesus. He has the words of eternal life. He’s all there is.
Besides God, who has influenced you the most?
Growing up, it was Miss Gloria, the lady who lived behind us. I was friends with her sons. She taught me, by example, what a loving wife was, and how to love your neighbour and love God in a way that wasn’t all showy, just day to day. I was over at her house all the time!
What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Public speaking, anytime I’ve
ever done it!
What was your most embarrassing moment in High School?
I have no idea! High school seems about a billion years away.
How did your husband propose?
He took me on a picnic, had the ring in a music box that played our song. (You are My Sunshine.) It was private and sweet. He knew I’d hate one of those grand, scoreboard proposals.
What is the best advice you have received about marriage?
Don’t keep dragging up the past and having the same fights over and over. And then, after you have a baby, we made up this rule: Whatever is said between midnight and 6 a.m. doesn’t count.
You have written Young Adult and Adult fiction - do you find one more taxing to write than the other?
Oh, adult fiction, hands down. I pour so much of myself into those books I think I walk around in a depressive funk half the time. The YA project I did was so much fun. I wanted to write something enjoyable and not so aching.
What has been one of your highlights in your writing career?
Two things. First and foremost, a woman once wrote me and told me that reading Straight Up kept her from committing suicide. Second, and not so personally reaching, was when Quaker Summer was awarded fiction book of the year by Christianity Today magazine. Never thought that would happen!
The Passion of Mary-Margaret
What or whom inspired you to write this story?
The incarnation. I was thinking what it might have been like for Jesus, perfect and pure, to come to humanity in all our stubbornness, sin and fragility. So I tried to tell that, as much as is possible, metaphorically, between humans, Mary-Margaret, a sheltered religious sister, and Jude, a tortured, promiscuous young man.
Describe each of your main characters with one word
Each of your characters in this story are brilliantly drawn ~ which one did you relate to the most?
Thanks for the compliment! Wow! Actually, though I grew up sheltered, I related to Jude because I’m a sinner in need of such love, even though I don’t deserve it.
Mary-Margaret experiences God in a unique way ~ has that been your experience too?
I wish! I keep asking Jesus to come sit on my bed, but so far He’s been a no show. At least in a substantive form! No, Mary-Margaret’s relationship with Jesus is just the longing of my heart to be with Him face to face.
Sometimes your books are difficult to read because you delve into human angst in an honest and direct manner (I think it is great that you do!). Do you find some of your more confronting scenes difficult/emotional to write?
Not any more difficult than
any other scene. In fact, I think they come natural to me, and I’ll go back and think, “Oh man! What’s
the big deal about this?” I can’t judge the pathos of my own
writing. So when somebody tells me the emotions are raw and difficult,
I pump a fist and say, “Yes!” How my writing takes its toll
on me is deeper and less predictable. I get moody and irritable and even
irrational at times. I don’t know how my family stands it sometime.
What do you hope readers take away from Mary-Margaret and Jude’s story?
I hope they realize, even a little bit, how much God loves them. That’s all.
What is in your writing pipeline? No pressure but a sneak peek would be lovely!
I’m writing a story about a survivor of the Rwandan genocide (she
was a missionary there) who hides herself away with an old farmer here
in Kentucky for years. When she strikes up a pen pal relationship with
a man on death row in a nearby prison who refuses to appeal his sentence,
her life begins to grow again. It’s called The Resurrection in May.
The first part of the story is from the farmer’s point of view, so
I’ll leave you with a few paragraphs. But before that, thanks Rel,
to you and all your readers! I had a great time answering these questions.
May God bless you with the peace of Christ!
He wasn’t sure how he’d got to the far end of his life, or
how he’d begun finding himself driving down to Natural Bridge and
ending up on top of the great stone expanse. The wide earth far beneath
his feet, the thousands of treetops, spread like so much broccoli out in
Claudius was a farmer though, and everything ended up looking something like a vegetable in his mind. His mother had favored paisley prints for her pillows, and he always thought of them as summer squashes. Whenever he saw a picture of a flying saucer—pattypans. Beads on necklaces, depending on how big they were could be either peas or cherry tomatoes.
He’d always lived right around here, and it wasn’t like that wasn’t enough anymore, but this vista did something for him he couldn’t even voice—he just knew he enjoyed it, the freewheeling breeze, the small pebbles lining the precarious sandstone path with no guardrails, even the tourists who liked to sit on the edge and dangle their feet into that same expanse of nothing but air.
As he slowly meandered back home, pulling his white Galaxy over to the side for the hurried modern man or woman to pass along to a life obviously more pressing than his, which was fine with him by the way, he realized he’d forgotten to collect yesterday’s eggs from the coop, he also realized he’d become nothing more than the old guy people waved to on the street, chatted with at the gas station, but who hadn’t had a visitor in five years since his mother died.
Well, unless you counted the pastor of his church, but he were paid to do that, and Claudius had called him and asked him to come out so he could talk about willing his land, a little over forty acres, along with the house and the outbuildings, to the church once he passed.
And Ruth. But she was like a sister.
Claudius pulled his car over once more for a man in a grey Taurus and he turned his head to wave a finger or two and nod.
“ Ah!” he cried out, realizing someone was crawling up the road, right in front of him on the verge, he jammed on his brakes, the bumper stopping within inches of her light blue high heeled shoes.
Rel Mollet is a lawyer, wife and mother of three young daughters and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Reading has been her passion since childhood. She is a Book Club Co-ordinator and has her own website ~ relzreviewz ~ dedicated to reviews and author interviews with the sole aim to support authors writing from a Christian worldview. She believes Sir Francis Bacon's (1561 - 1626) creed, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body".