Susan May Warren is the best-selling author of more than 20 novels and novellas with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A three-time Christy award finalist, and three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice contest, Susan currently has over 500,000 books in print. A seasoned women's events speaker and writing teacher, she's taught at the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference for the past three years, and she runs a fiction editing service (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/) training writers how to tell a great story. After serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries in Khabarovsk, Far East Russia she now writes full-time while her husband runs a hotel on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. Her most recent book is Chill Out, Josey! The hilarious adventures of a Minnesota girl who finds herself newly married, and pregnant…in Russia! (not autobiographical, or anything…) For more information, go to http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
CHILL OUT, JOSEY
by Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
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1. This is the sequel to your first chic lit, Everything's Coming Up Josey. You've got Josey and her husband headed back to Russia for another adventure. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
I loved writing Josey's introduction to missions, and her first adventure in Moscow. I learned so much in my freshman year of being a missionary, and I loved watching Josey grow into her trust in God's plan. But she had so much more to learn! And she wasn't the only one – although we met Chase in the first book, I wanted to see him as a newlywed husband, and how he would adapt to Russian life. I remember vividly the challenges and craziness of being pregnant in Russia, and thought, what if Josey were a newlywed AND pregnant in Russia? And what if Josey, seeing Chase's excitement about living in Russia, didn’t want to douse his dreams…and didn't tell him about her pregnancy? I remember when I discovered I was pregnant – right during our fundraising for Russia! I wondered…if my husband knew, would he still want to go?And if he didn't, would he always wonder what could have been? It was this question that drove Chill Out, Josey. It's about being a newlywed…and trusting God's love, all the way around the world.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Josey? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?
My close friends laugh out loud when they read Josey because they know how alike Josey and I are. From her determination to her love of bagels! But not everything about Josey is me – for example, I'm a great cook, and know how to improvise in the kitchen. And, I'm a little more practical in my footwear. But as for Josey’s spiritual lessons? Yep, all me. And the pregnancy stories…true, every one!
3. What themes exist in Chill Out, Josey that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
As I was writing the "Josey" series (and yes, there is a number 3!) I was studying the book of Ephesians. One of the main themes is the breadth of God's love for us, and how that changes us. I really wanted Josey to feel abandoned by Chase in this book, event hough they were newlyweds. It so often happens in missions that the husband throws himself into his new projects and the wife gets left in the dust. I remember vividly when I sat at home with two toddlers, pregnant, thinking…what happened? I didn't sign up to do this alone! And that's when God showed me how much he loved me in so many creative ways. I wanted Josey to experience God's creative love. And I am hoping that it prompts other moms to look for God's creative love in their lives as well.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
The most difficult part to write was also the spiritual theme. Although I knew what I was getting at, there is so much in Ephesians, as well as newlywed life that I could use, (ie, the Proverbs 31 woman!) that I struggled with not putting in TOO many spiritual themes. I struggled to streamline it and now throw in ALL the lessons I learned as a young mother in Russia. And, I really wanted to show Josey growing from the self-centered person she'd been to deeper…although with enough growth left for a book 3!
My favorite part of the book to write was the "Bus Lady" scene (true story!) and the watermelon scene (also, a true story). And I again laughed out loud remembering my own "doctor" experiences. I probably laughed harder writing this book than my readers will (although I hope not!), just because I had so much fun remembering the actual events that inspired the fiction!
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
My next Josey book, Get Cozy, Josey! comes out next year at this time. Join Josey as she and Chase head to…Siberia! Just when should a girl say NO?
My next BOOK is Taming Rafe, the story of a bull-rider whose world crashes at his feet, and the woman who helps him put it all back together again….it comes out January 2008!
Thanks for having me, Tiff!
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