I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Susan May Warren a couple of times, and each time I leave feeling refilled and excited about life. There is no one that loves writing more, and it comes through in each of her stories. Her own story of embracing grace and self-love is inspirational, and I am thrilled to share with you her thoughts on writing, romance, identity and everything that lies between.
Q: You have been published for over ten years, and have been writing far longer than that. Tell me a little bit about the journey so far?
A: Oh, I just love to write – and how fun that I get to do it for a living! Each book presents a new challenge – whether it be on theme, or structure, or characters, or research – and I love to stretch myself as an author, writing in different genres, eras, POV voices (e.g. first person, third person), and formats (short story, novella, serial novel, family saga). I never dreamed that getting published would be just the beginning of the journey – but I continue to try and grow as an author and bring the very best story I can to my readers.
Q: Although you’ve written in several genres people always talk about your romance novels. Do you ever struggle to keep your characters from losing their true identities when they fall in love?
A: No – I feel like they become MORE the person they are supposed to be with the encouragement of the hero/heroine. Finally, as they fall in love, they step into a new destiny, a bright, full destiny waiting for them. Not everyone is destined to fall in love, but in my books, when they do, they find themselves being more than they thought they were.
Q: In our society a lot of women believe they need a man to “complete” them. To give them purpose. You must face this idea with your own heroine characters. How do you combat this idea in such strong, romantic settings?
A: I don’t believe in this notion – women are “complete” on their own. But finding the right person can help you become more. Romance should make us better, stronger, more able to see the people we can be, and that is what happens when my heroes and heroines fall in love.
Q: As a married woman and a mother yourself, how do you stay true to your own identity apart from the people you love?
A: My identity is essential to the entire puzzle of our family. Without me, an essential piece is missing, and we are less than we can be. I love being identified as part of the whole, but also see my uniqueness in the wholeness. As for staying true to myself, I think it’s a balance of knowing my values, what my strengths are and how I can use them to bless others. I also know when I need to step back and help my husband and family members let their identity shine. It doesn’t detract from my identity to step aside for the good of the whole so we can become better together. The whole is part of who I am also.
Q: Take me back to being a child for a moment. What truths did you learn about your worth that later you found to be lies?
A: Because I am adopted, I believed the lie that my parents could “give me back” if I wasn’t enough. So I strove to be perfect – to get the right grades, to be pretty and thin, to be athletic and to be worth their love. As I got older, I realized that they chose me, and nothing I could do would make them want to send me back. More, my being added to the family was good for them – my personality and quirks helped make the family better, and I began to see myself as a blessing to the family, a way God made the family line richer and stronger.
Q: As an author you face criticism often. How do you see your worth through that? How do you remember who you are?
A: I go back to the fact that I brought my very best to the page, and the idea that not all stories resonate with all people. Everyone is different, and just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean I did a poor job or am a bad person. That is their opinion and MY opinion of my work (and God’s opinion) are the only ones that I need to look at. Others don’t determine my worth. That said, I always take criticism with a serious eye to helping me become a better writer, so, in short, while I listen and consider, I don’t take it to heart and let it destroy me.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson about worth you’ve learned in the last ten years?
A: That if I am happy with who I am, if I can grab ahold of the truth that God loves me – really loves me – than nothing others say can derail me. I make a choice every day to do the things I value, behave in a way I approve, and go to bed each night without regrets (or, if I do, I embrace grace!) and in doing that, I can find peace with who I am.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Trouble awaits the person who looks to the world for approval. I tell my children (and myself) to look at the lies that are chasing us, destroy them with truth, embrace grace and most of all, look heavenward for the love we crave.
Susie’s Next Book – Available for Pre-Order! (Out in JULY!)
Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance-even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.
While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?