Tuesday, I posted a synopsis/review of the book Concealed, the first in the series The Messengers. Today, I am excited to share with you an interview with the author, Lisa M. Clark.
Sarah: Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Lisa! I have really been enjoying your The Messengers series. My daughter and I read Discovered last year, and now my son and I are reading it together. I’m still in the middle of Concealed, reading with my daughter, so please don’t give any of it away! Do you mind telling us a little of how Simon and the Messengers came to be?
Lisa: Thanks, Sarah! I love that you’re reading it with your kids. So many families have done that, and I love how it seems to prompt meaningful conversations that way.
I began the Messengers because I missed Simon. By that, I mean that I missed the high school students I used to teach. I had finished my graduate coursework and was trying to think of what I would say to high school students today about all sorts of things. So Simon, a teen very similar to many I knew, came to life. As his world came to life too, I tried to do my best to portray him with honesty and respect. As he learned important lessons, I knew other Simons (not to mention Jacks, Charitys, Ellas, and Bens) would be reading and wrestling with New Morgan as well.
Sarah: That’s such a great place for stories to start! What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
Lisa: All kinds of things. In fourth grade, I loved humorous books. In fifth grade, I tried to read long books, no matter the genre. In sixth and seventh grade, I read anything scary. In eighth grade, it was mysteries. In high school, I read just about anything.
Sarah: Well-rounded readers make the best writers! In previous conversation, you’ve mentioned that hymn writing is your first love. How is that different from writing fiction? Are there any similarities?
Lisa: Yes, I appreciate writing for many genres. Devotions come naturally for me, almost as if I’m just talking out loud. Bible studies bring out my inner teacher. Children’s books make me smile. But in recent years, most of my writing has been divided between fiction and hymn writing.
Fiction is hard for me. Very hard. Part of that is because it’s so long. I tease that when it comes to crafts, I made necklaces, not needlepoint. Scarves, not quilts. I wasn’t sure I would have the endurance to write an entire novel at first, and the only way I could prevent myself from panicking was that I thought about it as writing chapter by chapter. On the other hand, it was extremely satisfying to complete a novel, and the joy that comes with getting lost in a world while reading happened while writing too.
One similarity is that both require mental prewriting. For a hymn, that doesn’t usually take very long for me. For fiction, I would sometimes wrestle with character motivation and plot points for days before I could sit down and write a particular scene.
Another similarity is the craft of words—how you say what you say is extremely important, and word choice can make a big difference in the end.
Yes, hymn writing is my primary love. Whereas fiction writing can seem like work, I crave hymn writing. If I go long without it, I don’t feel myself. I think the thing I appreciate most about writing hymn texts is that it is a concentrated powerhouse: Every syllable matters and contributes to the proclamation of the Word, which is not fully realized until it is set to music and then sung. The collaboration of many people work together for a brief but rich moment of praise.
Sarah: That’s such a beautiful description of hymn-writing. I think while I’ve known that hymn-writing is an involved process, I haven’t actually contemplated all that goes into it. Incredible!
What is the most difficult part of writing for you? The easiest?
Lisa: I’m not sure. I think the most difficult part may be to get started. The easiest happens when I forget myself and simply enjoy the process of seeing words come to paper—and then to life.
Sarah: I love those moments in writing! Would you tell us a little about your family?
Lisa: My family is a huge support for me and my writing; they bring joy, laughter, and a lot of hugs to my life. My husband, Matt, is a pastor. Late at night, he’s often writing a sermon or Bible study while I’m writing whatever happens to be on my to-do list. Our kids attend our association Lutheran school and enjoy music, trivia, art, and reading. Together, we enjoy hikes and bike rides. My family provides some of the first responses when it comes to The Messengers. Without their encouragement, Simon wouldn’t exist.
Sarah: My family is an important support to me in my writing, as well. How has your faith impacted your writing?
Lisa: Just as with most, if not all, things in my life, my faith is an integral part of my writing. Even when not writing specifically about faith, my work is nevertheless influenced by the realities I know because of my faith. And when I can use my own words to speak of the Word made flesh, when I can use my own creations to give glory to the Creator, when the Spirit enables me to use my gifts to share the spirit of truth—I know of no greater joy.
Sarah: That’s so beautiful.
Let’s finish with a quick list of favorites.
Hot beverage –
Lisa: Our family’s “secret” Christmas cider. (It’s not really a secret. I share recipes.)
Sarah: That’s so fun!
Cold beverage –
Lisa: Just about anything with bubbles.
Sarah: Hymn –
Lisa: That’s terribly hard! I often get started, and a dozen later. . . . I’ll try to limit myself to five, in no particular order:
Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word
Thy Strong Word
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
My Song Is Love Unknown
When You Woke That Thursday Morning
I’m at six, and that still doesn’t cut it. Ah, well.
Sarah: I think I wasn’t being very kind asking about your favorite hymn — I knew it’d be difficult for you to choose! 😉 Those are all great ones!
Scripture passage –
Lisa: Also terribly hard. How about a book of the Bible? I’m a huge fan of Philippians (which probably doesn’t surprise readers of Concealed).
Sarah: I can relate–it’s difficult to choose just one!
Lisa: I thought this was supposed to be easy! I’ll go with Fahrenheit 451 and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Sarah: I know! I’m sorry (those are so hard for me to answer, too)! Here are some easy ones.
Sarah: Junk food –
Lisa: Popcorn. Also cheesy things. Cheesy popcorn, maybe?
Sarah: Animal –
Sarah: Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer these questions! I enjoyed getting to know you better, and hope our readers did, too!
Lisa: Thank you; this was fun.