Interview with Author Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s just-released historical novel Copper Fire, is the sequel to the three-time award-winning Copper Star, a World War II love story inspired by true events. Fisher was a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today’s Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to ten non-fiction books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs. A wife and mother, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The best thing about being a writer, she feels, is that all of life becomes material for writing. It’s all grit for the oyster.

Author Interview: Suzanne Woods Fisher:

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I am fortunate to be in a situation where my income is supplemental, not the one my family counts on to pay grocery and orthodontist bills. (That’s good. I only make about a dime an hour.) But I’ve always kept my focus on writing…worked as a free lancer for all kinds of magazines for many years.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I came across this phrase: “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write (published in 1938), Graywolf Press

It stayed with me, and I felt as if the only one stopping me from trying to write a novel was…me.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: Throughout high school, reading and writing clearly became my only interests, despite dismal career options. (Besides, I was hopeless at everything else. True story: I took Algebra and got a “D,” which I blame largely on the thick accent of my Persian teacher. I couldn’t understand him. Sadly, I had to re-take the class in summer school and was greatly disappointed, on the first day, to discover the same Persian teacher standing at the front of the class. (When he saw me, he looked equally disappointed.)

I got another “D.”

Fast forward to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, a small Christian college. I was on the staff of the college newspaper and met a young student named Ginny. We became fast friends. Sharing a love of writing, we kept our relationship going through letters. A few years later, after we had both married and had started families, Ginny called me to ask if I could take over some freelancing jobs. I jumped at the chance. I started writing for Christian Retailing, then Christian Parenting Today, and eventually became a contributing editor for that magazine. And those relationships have opened other doors.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Suzanne Woods Fisher: Copper Fire is the sequel to Copper Star, picking right up at the very end of World War II. On a summer day in 1945, my main character, Louisa, receives a telegram from the International Red Cross Tracing Service. She discovers that her cousin, Elisabeth, has just been released from Dachau. Louisa is determined to go to Germany to get Elisabeth…and that’s where the story begins.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: In late August, Grit from the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, will be released from Vintage Spirit. I wrote Grit with three other very talented authors. For the Love of Dogs is a fun novel, set in 1969, due out in February (Vintage).

And more exciting news! I am working on three novels for Revell/Baker, as well as a non-fiction book called Amish Peace in an English Life (also with Revell/Baker).

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: Copper Star, my first novel, received three awards from Reader Views:
Best in Historical Fiction, Best in Spirituality, Best Drama of 2008.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: An unforgettable moment! The UPS guy rang the doorbell to deliver the pre-released copies. The front door was just a few feet away from the laundry room where I had typed that manuscript! But that a journey that book had taken.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: My kids. They are growing into the most remarkable young adults. I’m so very proud of them.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I have a big family, and a big extended family, too. They’ve all been very supportive, though my dad is losing a battle with Alzheimer’s. I’m so sorry that he doesn’t understand that his daughter wrote a book or two. I dedicated Copper Fire to him. When I handed him the book, showing him that page, he waved the book aside as if shooing the butler. So sad! And so unlike him.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I wish I were more like my main character in Copper Star, Louisa, the young resistance worker smuggled out of Germany by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She’s funny, determined, smart… and flawed. And she knows it! She has an ability not to take herself too seriously.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: My favorite books (authors, too) point the way to God’s high path. Philip Yancey is my all-time favorite. I’ll read anything he writes. Lately, I’ve been reading some books by W. Dale Cramer. He’s an excellent writer. I like Lynn Austin, too.

Do you have any pets?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. We’re now on our sixth puppy! We didn’t plan on raising more than one, but our first raising experience was wonderful. Raising Guide Dog puppies is like eating a potato chip…you can’t eat just one.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: Every story has an underlying theme of God’s grace, played out in daily life. I try not to ever whack readers on the head, but I hope they finish my books a little more curious about this great God of ours.

How has having a book published changed your life?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I see myself now as a full-time writer, instead of trying to squeeze writing around everything else.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I try to write about interesting people who have been overlooked. For example: Louise Tracy, wife of Spencer Tracy. In 1942, Louise Tracy started a foundation (The John Tracy Clinic) to teach oral communication (lip reading and speaking) to pre-school age children. She and Spencer had a deaf son, John. Louise ignored the conventional wisdom of the day (sending John to an institution to learn sign language) and had remarkable success teaching him to communicate. There’s a deaf child in Copper Star and its sequel, Copper Fire. I contacted the JTC while writing Copper Star and was able to write it into the storyline, with their blessing. Louise Tracy was a remarkable woman. Way ahead of her times! I loved being able to bring attention to such a woman through this novel.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I really believe in the editing process. Even editors need editors! It’s almost always a better book in the end.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

Suzanne Woods Fisher: I can’t deny that I have felt a sense of accomplishment—not because of quantity of books sold, but because I completed something I set out to do that I am proud of. But…life is not really any different! I still have dishes and laundry and bills to pay.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know?
Thank you for hosting me today! Stop by and visit me at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com My books can be found at: Amazon, BN.com, can be ordered from your favorite bookstore, and are also available at my website: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

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