Q&A: Lisa Samson (Runaway Saint)
This novel is about a main character whose life is mundane but is suddenly shaken up by the reappearance of a long-gone relative, Aunt Bel. Can you tell us about Aunt Bel and what makes her such an interesting character?
The most interesting thing Aunt Bel has going for her is mystery. Who goes off to Kazakhstan to become a missionary, never to return? And when she does, she's nothing like the missionary Sara always had in mind. Bel is haunted yet hopeful, and searching for who she's always been, before she ran away in the name of God. I think we can all relate to trying to find that piece inside ourselves that we know is eternal, that we know is the purest essence of who we were made to be, and to reconnect with it in order to live fruitful, peaceful lives. We have a lot of stuff heaped on us as we grow. I don't know about you, but I often wonder who that basic little person is inside me and how I connect to her so I can be a better mother, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, writer and lover of God.
What is your process for developing a character?
I always describe it like the lint filter in the drier. One little piece gets on there, and soon the collection begins!
Where did you get the inspiration for this novel?
A fellow writer of mine suggested it! Sometimes we get lucky enough to be handed a good idea, and then run with it and make it our own.
What about this novel will resonate with readers?
We're all searching for meaning, aren't we? It's way too easy to say, "Oh, just follow the Lord!" But what does that even mean? How can we do that? Runaway Saint encourages us to step back and watch and let God use circumstances and people as guideposts. Of course, we have to be willing to live with our eyes wide open and sometimes that's painful. Especially at first. Especially if we're so tired of life "as is," we're willing to do what it takes to live our lives hand in hand with who we find ourselves to be. God is always near, always willing to love us and guide us. We simply have to be open enough to go with the flow, and be honest enough, when we're not willing, to know that's the choice we're making.
What projects are you working on now?
My next novel. The theme has been tantalizing to me. "What happens when you invite God into your home to 'clean house?'" I've loved the spiritual insights that have been occurring. That's probably the best part about being a novelist. Lessons come in such a benign way, through your very own fingertips, and yet, you feel as if something outside yourself is whispering in your ear, saying, "Take note. This is for you, too, Lisa."