Interview with Siri Mitchell, part I

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Tonight we have Siri Mitchell, an amazingly gifted writer who you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the coming months. She’s about to enter the fray with a handful of deceptively benign fiction novels (my description, not hers), so I asked her to tell us a little about her journey and how she came to CBA land. Siri is a family friend, so I’m admittedly a little biased, but when you read her first book in July, you’ll realize I’m not being biased enough. This lady has serious skills. When Chip MacGregor was just picking her up, legend has it he singled her out as an example of extraordinary voice on a panel at the American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference in 2004. And she’s going to be embarrassed that I mentioned that, but I don’t care. She’s someone to listen to.

Mick: So Siri, tell us about your journey. How much have you written, what kinds of things, and how did you land your contracts?

Siri: The first book I ever wrote, I tried to follow the golden rules of fiction writing: write what you know, write what the market will buy. So it was set on the West Coast in an area I knew well. But the characters wouldn’t behave. The pastor refused to marry the neighborhood’s nice girl, and talked me into letting him marry the retired prostitute instead. And by the end of the novel, I had a book no publisher would buy in 1996.

My next book, Something Beyond the Sky, featured four military wives and tackled issues like racism, eating disorders, and motherhood; but although the Mormon character flirted with Christianity, she made an informed decision not to convert, and a mother of two year-old twins decided to go back to work. Another book that no one in the CBA would buy in 1999.

My next book was non-fiction and investigated cultural Christianity. Sending a proposal out with the title of, Christians Should Be More Parisian, basically guaranteed that no American publisher would touch it.

So after writing three books that no one wanted, I decided to write a book for myself. Chateau of Echoes. And I placed it in a country I love: France. It had two love triangles, five centuries apart, set in the same chateau. A modern story illuminated by history. Of course, what writer can complete a book and not try to sell it? But there were a few problems: the medieval love story featured the marriage of a 12 year-old to a 30 year-old, and the modern story was lubricated with wine. And just to make things interesting, I’d woven stories about King Arthur’s search for the holy grail in Brittany, France into the story.

Obviously, I’m into self-sabotage.

But a funny thing happened. An editor at Harvest House read my non-fiction manuscript in 2004 and liked it. Couldn’t publish it as non-fiction, but thought there might be a novel in it. No guarantees, but would I be interested?

In writing yet another book no one wanted to buy? No.

I went on a writing strike for about a month, and then I set up an appointment to talk to the editor. I wrote 5,000 words on the idea, and called it Kissing Adrien. Just to see what it would happen. He liked the way it looked.

But was he sure? Because basically, if I wrote a book about finding God in France, it would have to include drinking wine, and possibly not include wearing pantyhose, bras, or slips underneath clothing. And it would have to convey the idea that faith and having fun are compatible. And there might be kissing. With people actually enjoying it.

He was sure. So Harvest House bought Kissing Adrien for release this July, and they also picked up Something Beyond the Sky for good measure (release date: early 2006).

And then NavPress acquired Château of Echoes to help launch their fiction line this September.

Mick: That’s quite a turn of events. I’m assuming you were pretty surprised by the whole thing. But what’s encouraging to me is that you’d already written enough to know that characters do what they want and you have to go with them. You have to have a lot of trust for that. Sounds like someone at Harvest knows that too. Very encouraging.

So tell me, since you’ve basically done what a lot of people are dreaming to do—to write what you want for a Christian audience and get it published in CBA—what’s your advice to writers attempting to do this? Is it as hard as it seems?

Siri: First, I think you need to love your readers. I think the last time I kicked someone in the kneecap was when I was 6. It was one of the McCaughn brothers and it was because he was trying to climb the tree in front of my house. It’s not nice to kick people. And it’s not nice to hit them over the head with a book either. Samuel Goldwyn once told a writer, ‘If you want to send a message, I’ll call Western Union.’ Our primary purpose as writers of fiction is to entertain. And to do that, you have to tell a good story, and you have to not beat people up while you do it. General market writers write for the same reasons Christian writers write: to tell a story. General market books sell, not because they have a better message; they sell because they tell a good story. I think sometimes Christian books process thoughts for their readers; we really want to make sure they ‘get it.’ Sometimes Christianity is much more alluring to people if they have to pursue it themselves. Didn’t you hate it in Sunday School when they never gave you a chance to figure out parables before they told you the ‘answer’?

Second, love yourself. Be true to the kind of writer you are. I had another writer critique my non-fiction book. She read through the introduction and when she came to the end, she said, she understood what I was saying, but didn’t feel like I was really saying it. She didn’t feel any emotion — from me, or inside herself. She wasn’t hearing me. Which surprised me, because what people usually like, even if they can’t publish it, is my voice. She turned the page and began reading the first chapter, and said, “This is what I’m talking about! Now I’m hearing and feeling everything.” As I thought through the history of the book, I realized why there was such a difference between the two sections. In 2002, the manuscript had been seriously considered by a conservative Christian publisher. They had asked for an introduction. But as I wrote it, I didn’t feel like I could be honest about why I wrote the book. I didn’t think they’d buy it if I were. And so as I wrote, I censored what I was saying.

As you write, don’t censor yourself. There’s time enough for that later. If your editor asks you to re-work a section, if you feel re-writing would dilute the story, if there’s too big a difference between what you can say and what you’d like to say, then delete the offending sentences. Or consider deleting the scene altogether.

Third, love your characters. Be true to the people they are. Who wants to be a goody-two-shoes? No one likes to be a stereotype. Neither do your characters. In the same vein, no one wants to be told to be like someone else. It’s not cool when you’re 10 years-old; it’s extremely frustrating when you’re 30 years-old. As a reader, I’m tired of reading CBA books about how I should be; I want to read books about how I am. But remember, your characters are not you. You’re writing fiction, not an autobiography. Characters are their own people. If you keep emerging on your pages, ask yourself, ‘who am I not?’ and then write about that person. I don’t think the Bible would be as interesting a read without people like Ehud the Left-handed Man or Tamar. Just because your characters are Christians (or not), doesn’t mean they would do the same things you would in any given situation.

And forth, love your editor. What does an editor have in common with a writer? They both want to sell the writer’s book. But here’s the challenge: the editor is not representative of the CBA. The editor is not your market, the CBA bookseller is. That means a book that both your editor and you love may have to be tweaked in order to sell. Decide with your editor which big issues or sensitive areas need to remain in the manuscript. If the remaining issues aren’t necessary to the story, then by definition, they aren’t necessary to the story and you can compromise. Readers can be offended. And you’d hate to offend one on a minor issue, when you’re crossing your fingers that you won’t offend them on a major one. Even with issues necessary to my stories, like wine drinking, I’ve minimized the frequency of drinking, and confined my characters’ imbibing to wine only, cutting out references to hard liquor.

Mick: Wow. Great stuff. Thanks, Siri.

Tune in again next time when I ask Siri about the dreaded CBA taboos and how she’s dealt with each one. Until then, fellow wanderers, keep fighting the good fight…

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22 thoughts on “Interview with Siri Mitchell, part I”

  1. I checked out Siri’s upcoming titles before I read this interview, Mick, and now I’m psyched! I am working with a wonderful CBA author, who is advising me on sections of my novel. We’ve met in person and online over the course of a couple years. Her complaint about my novel is that I’m “holding back”–that it’s not true to the kind of “out there” chick she knows me to be.
    Siri just said the same thing–don’t censor yourself. Or, as we old hippies used to say, “Let it all hang out.”
    Thanks for a wonderful introduction to a fascinating author!

  2. Siri ROCKS!!! I met her for the first time in cyberworld, and then in real life at Mount Hermon. I only wish we could’ve done lunch (well, we could have but at Mount Hermon, you can’t hear yourself talk).
    Thanks for the interview. And, Siri, if you are reading this, thank you thank you thank you for being real and honest and true to yourself. That is a gift you offer the rest of us. I can’t wait to read your book(s).
    BTW, I don’t know if I have shared with all you cyber friends that I sold FICTION!!!! HOOOOORRAAAAYYYYY! First book comes out next spring!
    Hoping I can write as true as Siri,
    mary

  3. Great interview! Wow. Siri is so articulate and insightful. I also met her at Mount Hermon this year and enjoyed a pleasant chat about some of these same issues. In person she is as soft spoken and inoffensive as she is intelligent–great traits to have when you’re confronting the status quo and stretching boundaries.
    I look forward to more. Thanks for doing this, Mick. (Of course, you’re articulate, insightful, soft spoken, and inoffensive, too. For a monkey.)
    Your pal,
    Jeanne

  4. This is so off-topic. I really love this blog. But every time I see you in that little car I want to know where you got it and where I can get one. “Go, Blog, go!”

  5. OK OK I’m sorry to have to be the wet blanket here, but . . .
    Maybe Siri will like to hear what I have to say because it may help her to prepare for her upcoming releases and for other interviews.
    First, I liked several things about this interview. I liked her story and her struggle. I liked her willingness to keep writing when no one was buying. I also can tell from her answers that she is intelligent and thoughtful. That means she’s probably written some books worth reading.
    Secondly my dream has always been to write great children’s books and adult books don’t interest me much. So, Siri, take what I say, knowing that I don’t read much adult fiction and so I’m far from an expert on the subject.
    Here, then, are my complaints:
    I don’t think I’ll have any problem reading about a character that doesn’t wear pantyhose, slips, or bras. I do think I’ll have a problem if your character feels a need to discuss with me the fact that she doesn’t wear underclothes. I want to view the character’s underclothes, or lack thereof, as badly as I want to see her on the bidet.
    More than the scanty underclothes, though, I was bothered by the statement that the primary purpose of fiction is to entertain.
    I may have made such a statement, myself, in the past, but I cannot agree with it today. Jesus used fiction. His purposes are a little too deep for me to discern and discuss well, but I think we can all agree his primary goal was not to entertain. Cultures through the centuries told stories around campfires but their primary purpose was not to entertain, either. The primary purpose of fiction has, until recently, been to educate. To pass on religious tradition, to warn of danger, to urge people to be more loving, braver, stronger.
    The fiction writer should have a message in her breast burning to get out and then she should clothe that message in a story so good that the readers clamber for more. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down but if you feed the patient only sugar and no medicine, he will die.
    Never before has there been such an emphasis on entertainment and amusement as we see in the world today. In developed countries we are, probably literally, amusing ourselves to death.
    The Christian writer’s primary goal is to glorify God. That means she should write a great story. High quality. Entertaining. Thought provoking. Beautiful. But, I believe that all these other attributes fall short if the story has no message. The message needs to be an intrinsic part of the story, yes, and it needs to be discovered by the characters and not forced upon them. But a story without a theme, or thesis, is a thin story. One that may be entertaining but is not beautiful.
    So many books I’ve read recently, fall flat at the end. They have rich character development and deeply felt conflicts, but they die in the resolution. Why is that? Might it have something to do with our culture’s dislike of moral absolutes? I don’t really know the answer. I’m just guessing.
    All fiction writers send messages. We cannot help it. Our worldview bleeds into what we write. I agree with Siri if her thought is that we must weave our worldview in so carefully that it appears that our characters are living it and it is not imposed upon them. But I disagree if she really means she allows her characters to take over the story and she is not putting her worldview into it. In that case I have to suggest that she is putting her worldview in and she’s just not being honest. I would suggest that her worldview leans towards pomo distaste for absolutes and that will come out, loud and clear, in the novels she writes. =0) Again, I’m guessing. I don’t really understand the pomo position.
    Still, I firmly believe that she is putting her worldview into her books. It cannot be helped.
    One last point on this: fiction writers shouldn’t preach. Preachers should preach. Fiction writers should teach, though. There is a huge difference between preaching and teaching. Any time we discuss anything with one another, any time we communicate, we are trying to inform the reader or listener. We are trying to teach one another.
    Siri, if you read this, I want you to know that I have written little and published less, so feel free to curse me for a fool and ignore me after that. I am guessing your work is good. (Say what you will about Chip—he does have good taste in writing.) I do not mean to discourage you during this hugely exciting, and hard-earned time of enjoyment. I’m just arguing about what fiction is supposed to do because that’s why I hang out on these boards—to try to figure out how to write good fiction. I hope I haven’t offended you too much.
    Sally

  6. Sally, I appreciate your remarks. Your commitment to writing for God’s glory is refreshing.
    I don’t pretend to have a great handle on postmodernism, but I don’t think it precludes absolutes. As I understand it, it’s more a matter of how truth is packaged–for example, asking questions (like Jesus often did) and not necessarily giving answers. A delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen is enticing and awakens hunger. Having food shoved down your throat makes you gag. But if the postmodern thinker/writer believes answers don’t exist, then I’m not in that camp.
    I haven’t read Siri’s books, so I don’t know what message comes through. Having met her, I’m going to guess the fragrance of truth is there. Some people feel called to serve the whole feast, while others may only be led to whet appetites. My hope for my own writing is that I’ll find my place in the kitchen.

  7. My apologies for being so silent. I’m responding from the other side of the world, in Tokyo, where it’s Monday morning. If the weather here holds true for the rest of the globe, you can look forward to a bright, sunshiny tomorrow. We’re in the middle of a move. And had to decide which of our things we can do without for three months. Our espresso-maker was not one of them, but apparently the little glass carafe that goes with it was.
    So, now that I’m awake, thank you all for your comments — even yours, Sally! No offense taken, and it didn’t sound to me like any was intended. I think we probably agree more than we disagree about the purpose of fiction. My statement should have read, “Our primary purpose as writers of fiction is to entertain, versus that of non-fiction writers which is to inform.”
    True, story-telling has been used for millennia to pass values and social mores to successive generations. I doubt anyone would have attended “Lecture #213 on Druidic Manners” around a campfire. However, “If Ingratitude Doesn’t Get You, Then the Monster Will,” might have drawn quite a crowd. I think fiction fails if it doesn’t entertain. If it doesn’t transport me to a different place, with people I’ve never met who seem as real to me as my best friend, then I stop reading. Perhaps that’s why Jesus spoke so often in parables. Would as many people have listened if he’d ‘just’ been preaching? I think one of his goals was certainly to entertain, because as he appealed to the imagination, his words moved from the head to the heart.
    When I pick up a novel, I want an experience, I don’t want message-driven fiction. When I write, I don’t write from a message perspective, I write from a character’s perspective. The character, not the message, comes first. That said, every person I’ve ever met proclaims a message. And so do my characters. Do my characters highjack my novels? That’s an interesting question, because in my opinion, I write their story, they don’t enact mine. I see my characters as separate from myself, but for the most part, they are Christians. Sometimes they view the world through a lens similar to my own, sometimes they don’t, but my characters are born from my worldview. I don’t have misogynists or racists showing up at my door begging for their story to be told. I do have characters with doubts and questions about faith, not for the purpose of being doubtful or disloyal, but just because they think there ought to be something more to life than what they’ve been seeing.
    I guess if I have any distaste for absolutes, then it’s a distaste for the Ideal Christian that our own American Christian culture has perpetrated. I think it’s a disservice to anyone who follows Christ and to a God who created us as individual masterpieces that we expect everyone who is a Christian to look the same. I think that following Christ should make our hearts like his, but that in following him we should also become more like ourselves…because, arguably, that’s who God has created us to be. (As opposed to a faith like Buddhism which encourages detachment from personality and individualism.)
    I think to write fiction, you have to use your worldview as the universe in which you tell your characters’ story. That universe provides the inviolable principles to which the story conforms. As a Christian, my principles include grace, redemption, forgiveness, and love. But I don’t have to poke you in the eye with my worldview or include Bible verses to get you to understand the sort of world in which my characters live.
    Have to run. My daughter wants to dress up like a princess, the movers need us to watch as they seal our crates, and my husband has to return to work. Thanks to everyone for their comments!
    – Siri

  8. Siri, let’s hang out. I’ll meet you half-way between Tokyo and Texas. And I’ll bring the espresso carafe. Mine is on the kitchen counter, easily accessible.
    I love the way you express yourself! Can’t wait to read your books.
    P.S. I still enjoy dressing up like a princess. I like it even better if I get to wear fairy wings. Can your daughter come out to play?

  9. Jeanne,
    I’d like to find a place in the kitchen, too. I’d like to write well enough to make a place for myself in the kitchen. Wouldn’t that be fun!
    I agree completely that we don’t all have to serve the entire meal. I am not saying we have to preach the gospel in every book. No, no, no.
    It’s just Mick and Siri’s luck that I happened to watch a movie last night that irked me because I wept through the whole thing and it left me with random chaos and no resolution. Ha ha. And then I log on here today and see two posts that seem to be advocating this kind of thing.
    I think books have to have some message and some answers. The message might be, truth is better than falsehood, or beauty is better than ugliness. It can be anything that is true. What I tire of is books with no message, or with a message of “There are no answers.” I don’t like books that draw me in with vivid characters and intense conflict and then, after I’m emotionally invested, the characters fade away with no answers—having learned nothing and been rewarded for nothing, they ride away into the cruel sunset, all confused and burdened. Bah humbug. I feel cheated.
    That doesn’t whet my appetite. It just leaves me hungry and grouchy.
    You are right, Jeanne, that we don’t want to shove our food down people’s throats. We want to serve food and not just aromas, though. One may serve biscuits and another may serve roast beef and I’ll not complain about either. But the one who serves me a smell and nothing more . . . I’m probably not going to belly up to that guy’s table a second time.
    Thanks, though, for telling me that pomos do think we have answers. I’m not sure I understand the thought behind not giving the answers. I think Jesus was pretty blunt. I’ll have to study that more. Feel free to enlighten me, or give me examples, if you have time.
    sally

  10. Siri says:
    >>>>I think fiction fails if it doesn’t entertain. If it doesn’t transport me to a different place, with people I’ve never met who seem as real to me as my best friend, then I stop reading.< <<< I agree. I've been trying for years to learn how to populate my novels with living people and create worlds that look and sound and smell real. I was just worried that you were advocating "no message" fiction. I think fiction needs to inform as well as entertain if it is to be truly successful. Siri says: >>>>As a Christian, my principles include grace, redemption, forgiveness, and love. But I don’t have to poke you in the eye with my worldview or include Bible verses to get you to understand the sort of world in which my characters live.<<<< And here again, I agree. I don’t like to be poked in the eye and I don't want to poke others in the eye. We probably are not all that far apart in what we believe. I do think I have some great answers, though, and I don't want to just ask questions. I want my fiction to change my readers. I think we do that not by asking questions, but by giving answers. The answers simply have to be given in such a way that the reader can embrace them as his own. If he thinks he thought them up himself, even better. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this. I look forward to reading your fiction to see what you have done. From your posts here, I suspect I won't be dissappointed. Thanks for taking the time to answer. I know how moving is. Ugh. sally

  11. hmmm my last post got messed up. sorry. Let me try again:
    Siri says:
    I think fiction fails if it doesn’t entertain. If it doesn’t transport me to a different place, with people I’ve never met who seem as real to me as my best friend, then I stop reading.
    ———
    I agree. I’ve been trying for years to learn how to populate my novels with living people and create worlds that look and sound and smell real.
    I was just worried that you were advocating “no message” fiction. I think fiction needs to inform as well as entertain if it is to be truly successful.
    Siri says:
    As a Christian, my principles include grace, redemption, forgiveness, and love. But I don’t have to poke you in the eye with my worldview or include Bible verses to get you to understand the sort of world in which my characters live.
    ———
    And here again, I agree. I don’t like to be poked in the eye and I don’t want to poke others in the eye. We probably are not all that far apart in what we believe. I do think I have some great answers, though, and I don’t want to just ask questions. I want my fiction to change my readers. I think we do that not by asking questions, but by giving answers. The answers simply have to be given in such a way that the reader can embrace them as his own. If he thinks he thought them up himself, even better. I’m still trying to figure out how to do this.
    I look forward to reading your fiction to see what you have done. From your posts here, I suspect I won’t be dissappointed.
    Thanks for taking the time to answer. I know how moving is. Ugh.
    sally

  12. Sally, you said “I do think I have some great answers, though, and I don’t want to just ask questions. I want my fiction to change my readers. I think we do that not by asking questions, but by giving answers.”
    I think I disagree. I think a question’s a very good thing to give someone. If my story sent the message, “Keep looking! There’s much, much more beneath the surface of your day to day, much more to the whisperings of your own heart,” I’d be pleased. If the reader came away with a burning in his heart and an openess to the Holy Spirit, I’d be ecstatic, way more than if I’d told him, “You should go to church, and by the way, baptism by immersion’s the way to go.”

  13. Addendum to my last comment:
    The reason I’d rather open my reader to the Holy Spirit than give the sort of answer I can supply, is I know the Holy Spirit will take him so much further.
    I also believe in doing all I can to let the Holy Spirit manage the meaning in my story. That means I keep a loose hand. I don’t plan the meaning in; I allow myself to discover it, much as the reader will.

  14. Kathleen,
    We are probably talking around each other at this point. I may have overreacted to what I thought was the pomo urge to have questions and no answers. In truth I was not trying to accuse them of having no answers as much as I was trying to get them to see what they sound like to the little old lady who buys the books. If I (and I keep up with this stuff more than the average middle-aged Christian woman book buyer) think they are sounding too much like there are no absolutes, they might want to rethink how they communicate with the older church members.
    And just as I may have overreacted, you may be overreacting to what looks like my desire to have answers and no questions. And so I have to rethink my way of communicating here and see that I’ve not been clear. So often we look at one another as enemies. I think the pomos are saying that Marilyn Manson is a Christian and they think I’m saying I hate my enemies. LOL What it usually boils down to is that we have not been precise in our speech.
    So, I don’t know if I will help matters here, or muddy things up more but:
    The answers I want to give my readers are not. “You should go to church, and by the way, baptism by immersion is the way to go.”
    The answers I want to give my readers are more along the line of, “God is faithful, God is true. God is holy. God is sovereign. Love is good. Hatred is a cancer that hurts the hater more than the hated. God abides with the lowly and hears the cries of the oppressed. Forgiveness pays huge dividends.” Those kinds of things. All very common themes, but ones that need to be repeated in every generation. Nothing about baptism (I believe in infant baptism by sprinkling, btw) or going to church three times a week. Nothing about the sinner’s prayer or inviting Christ to come and live in your heart. I have views on all these things but do not find them very compelling as themes of books.
    If you can write without consciously planning meaning into your books I think that’s fine. I hope to learn to write with symbolism and foreshadowing that travels through the book and points to theme. I am nowhere near being the writer I hope to one day be, but the writers I admire most seem to hold theme up as a pretty important part of the story.
    sally

  15. Sally,
    Omigoodness, I hope you don’t think I see you as an enemy. You’re a fellow F*I*F’er, so as far as I’m concerned, we’re old buds.
    But passionate people tend to over-react, and to over-state, and to forget when you talk through a computer, no one can see you smile your friendly smile. I’m sorry if I offended you.
    Yes, the answers you would give are the answers I’d want to give, too.
    And to set the record clear, I do believe in theme. Stephen King’s suggestion makes sense to me: when you see a theme emerge, go back and strengthen it on the rewrite.
    And in case I sound like the Holy Spirit speaks through my fingers – wouldn’t that be great? And he’s perfectly welcome to do so. But I think more often, it’s the stuff inside us we don’t know about that weaves the theme. But I think that’s where the Holy Spirit speaks to us, so I’d rather write from that place.
    I’m not the writer I want to be, either. Know what Flaubert said? “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”

  16. Sally,I wrote another response earlier, and to all appearances it got eaten. It’s listed up there in “recent comments,” but I don’t see it, so here it comes again.
    I hope you don’t think I see you as an enemy. As a fellow F*I*F’er, we’re old pals no matter how you got baptized. I was smiling a very chummy smile as I typed, you just couldn’t see. I’m really sorry if I offended you.
    The answers you would give are great answers, the kind I’d be proud to give.
    As for theme, I think Stephen King gives good advice: After the theme presents itself to you, go back on the rewrite, and enhance it.

  17. Ah, when I post the new reply with explanation, I get the old reply along with it. So here’s my third reply, explaining the explanation of the reply. **sigh!**

  18. Kathleen,
    I was not offended at all.
    I wrote “enemies” I was speaking about the young and the old of every generation or the two sides in every theological debate or the emergent and the old authoritative/authoritarian church today. I wasn’t really speaking specifically about you and I, but kind of generically about the way two sides argue. Christians are brothers and I was trying to remind myself to not overreact to what the other side said and take it to extremes–although we do argue from extremes often because it clears up the positions.
    I did it to you again in my post. I said I wanted themes as if you don’t want themes. And you do want themes. So I must have been overreacting to something you said. Or I was trying to clarify something I said. LOL and it just gets more confusing as we go.
    I guess where I’m lost in all of this is that I don’t understand what it means to say “we want questions but not answers.” I’ll have to read more here and hopefully find out what that means.
    Anyway, I’m probably not explaining myself well. I do not see you as an enemy and was not offended. Thanks for the nice answer, and for the great quote from Flaubert. I’ve not heard that one before. I’m going to hang that one over the computer. I love it.
    sally

  19. Siri, Mick, Sally, Kathleen, Relevant Girl, et all! Hi, I just wanted to say that I found the interview inspiring and exciting. I do look forward to the books, Siri, as I’m hungry for well-written fiction infused with the Lord’s life. Being a writer of fantasy, I read offerings in ABA and CBA, and CBA is frequently disappointing–I just don’t know where the editors are. Perhaps CBA publishers willing to publish fantasy are at heart basically uncomfortable with it, unless it happens to be about spiritual warfare–they seem to get that better. Perhaps many Christians feel fantasy is a kind of lying.
    The interview, Siri and Mick’s talk, made me want to go back to my book and make sure I haven’t made my characters preach instead of speak. Of course, some characters will preach because they’re wired that way or because they are preachers or ministers or priests. We must just be true to who the characters really are with humility, and I believe we can agree on that. They are the sum of more than we consciously know. And, can be the result of the Spirit’s breath in us.
    Good discussion, I suspect everyone realizes the difficulty of doing this kind of thing in cyberspace, as was noted, where you can’t see faces and there are lapses of time and techno glitches.
    Speaking about difficulties of communicating, here is something George MacDonald wrote in a letter to his daughter: “It is so much easier to writer romances where you cannot easily lie, than to say the commonest things where you may go wrong any moment . . .”
    Interesting questions follow his statement: Why might it be harder to lie in fiction? Is that true or does it simply sound good to us writers of fiction? (Look at the Da Vinci Code.)
    Maria

  20. Know what? Just now, while editing my manuscript, I found myself asking if I was loving the reader by what I wrote. Where’d I get that, I wondered. Didn’t I read that someplace? So I ran a search, and Google led me back here. Now I’ve stored the whole interview in my quote file. Thank you, Siri!

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