Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interview with Susan Kirkland

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1. What inspired you to write this story?

It’s easy for all the good stuff about our military to get hidden by by bad press and bad experiences, but I wanted to write a book that showcased that spirit, that captivated that honor and bonding experience. It’s no secret that I love that culture that is unique to military colleges. Can I get a “hua”?

2. Who is your favorite character and why?

Michael is my favorite. We sorta grew up together, actually. He was in stories I wrote in high school, but back then he had long hair and was quite the rebel (think 80’s hair band. . .). Then one day, I cleaned him up, gave him a uniform and liked what he became. I made him that Christian we all aspire to be – humble, over flowing with love and compassion, but strong, and fun. Is he perfect? Heck no. You’ll see his flaws pretty easily, but he is genuine in his faith and in his loyalty.

On a strange note, in the very earliest drafts of HH, Michael was actually more like Pawner, but I needed some glue to hold that world together, so he got promoted, was given a shot of confidence, and came out like one of those all around good guys that everyone likes.

3. How have your personal faith and beliefs influenced your story?

Higher Honor started out very secular and very, very dark. Even after I returned to my faith, I couldn’t imagine writing a Christian novel about sexual assault – after all, I hadn’t been able to find one. But I couldn’t get it to work. For years, it just bogged down. Finally, I threw my hands in the air, banged my head on the keyboard and said “You want it written, then tell me what to write.”

Everything fell into place I wrote the first complete manuscript in about four months. I couldn’t stop writing. I had to include healing and forgiveness, which was missing originally. You can’t heal from trauma without forgiveness. It was amazing how God moved once I turned the reins over to Him.

As far as what I wrote, I want my readers to come away with the hope that I have in Christ. Even when faced with incredible trauma and pain, and even when I screw up, He’s there and He’s taking care of me. I want my readers to have that.

4. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The rape scene, for several reasons. The first was facing my demons, but it was good, I was able to let God in to clean up some things that I hadn’t dealt with. He was able to remind me that it had to be written, to help someone else. The second reason was finding that balance, where the reader wouldn’t lose the power behind the attack, but at the same time, be aware of audience sensitivities. I tell people who ask that I would feel comfortable with my teen reading it.

The second hardest was realizing that Chris needed to be a sympathetic character and writing him to be likeable. He’s very passionate about what he’s doing. He’s struggling to take care of his dad and he cares about his friends. It was hard for me to admit that even though he did something as horrible as rape that he wasn’t a monster. My husband was actually mad at me for making Chris the antagonist. Chris was his favorite character.

5. What was easiest?
Believe it or not, the scenes with just the guys in it. The playful banter between Michael, Ryan and Chris just came so easily. Maybe it was watching guys interact with each other. I love the chemistry between guys, it’s exciting and special, even if it can be a little loud and stinky.

6. What's next for you?

I have several projects. My local writers group, the Calhoun-Gordon County Writers Guild, is working on an anthology of pet stories.

I’m working on Higher Courage and Higher Sacrifice, the second and third in the series. The readers will follow Cassidy, Ryan, Michael, and Mandy through their careers with some harrowing adventures that test their faith and courage.

I have a manuscript written for “Fair Balance” the novel – my short story in “Light at the Edge of Darkness” was so well received that I decided to flesh it out and explore the lives of E.C., Celisa, Cain, and Ty. I haven’t begun editing it yet, but it’s written. It’ll be great for readers who like creepy books.


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