Sharon: Absolutely. I share her longing to be a faithful servant, and her awareness of her own frailty and utter dependence on God.
Where did the idea for the book come from, did she feel that she was shown the way to write this book?
Six months for the first draft…many many rewrites over several years. I began writing it in October of 2002.
Who or what was the inspiration for Susan’s character?
First – Deborah (a mother in Israel who rode into battle) from the book of Judges. Second – all the women I know who are literally “pulled into another world” when they get the news that a friend has cancer, or a parent has Alzheimers, or a child has a learning disability. They enter a place they never expected to visit, and are called upon to fill a heroic role they don’t feel adequate to fill. And God equips them, sends them allies, and works through them.
Where did you get the ideas for the town’s names and what the other world looked like?
I didn’t want to re-create Middle Earth or the Wounded Land, or Albion, or Narnia – things that were already done beautifully by the masters. I wanted to do some twists on the traditional fantasy setting. That winter, Minnesota was grey and overcast – gray snow, gray sky, no sun. I wondered what a world would be like where people never saw the sun, or moon, or stars…and where their technology developed in completely different ways.
As far as the names, I tried to play with the environment a little, and also the musical “sound” of various cultures. But I sneaked in Shamgar as nod toward the book of Judges (he was one of the minor Judges mentioned in the Bible).
Great question. I based the Rhusicans on our modern marketing industry…the folks who “create a need” by touching on people’s deepest insecurities… saying “you aren’t good enough” in whichever way their product can solve. I also have battled depression, so I know how difficult “mind poison” can be… how it can take hold, or dig in.
The challenge to go out of our comfort zone and face our fears is extremely daunting and requires us to put our trust totally in God. Have you found that by writing about Susan and her need to trust God to survive, has given you more confidence to step out and face difficult challenges that may arise in your life?
I think I’m actually more like a character in the third book, who is EAGER to jump ahead and serve – but then gets in over his head. I tend to shout, “Yes, Lord!” but then find myself asking Him to let me turn back.
I DID find that the release of the book and the challenges I faced that year gave me lots of chances to live out the sorts of opportunities to lean into God more, and dig deeper – just like Susan had to.
What was the inspiration for your imagination to come up with the parallel world that was the setting of this series of books?
I think I answered that earlier, but it was in part from my love of “fish out of water” stories, in part a very dreary winter in Minnesota where it stayed gray a long time, and in part from my love of the Old testament stories of the Judges.
Do you have a mental picture of the characters as you write?
I don’t even carry mental pictures of my FRIENDS very well. I’m not big on facial recognition. But I had VIVID senses of their personalities. Each character was very very real to me. I even found myself praying for some of them during my devotions, when I forgot for a moment they were just characters in a story.
Rhus is the Latin botanical name for poison, hence the Rhusicans. Much of the rest – I just grabbed “place-holder names” to use until I could work out careful choices, but ended up keeping most of them.
See above…. A LOT… but in some ways, my spiritual walk with God has a LOT in common with Kieran’s. I tend to wrestle with the One quite a bit.
I’m in awe of how God chooses the weak to confound the strong. He uses broken vessels and even rebellious or disbelieving ones. One character is inspired a bit by Gideon – who when He received God’s call said, “If the Lord is truly with us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” (I was astounded to find those words in the book of Judges – because they felt so contemporary to me, and I hadn’t remembered that aspect of Gideon). As I wrote The Restorer’s Son, I felt overwhelmed by God’s heart of love even for those who are wandering or challenging Him. I saw the way He pursues us because of that love.
Was The Restorer an easy novel to write?
Did you plan at the start to have a series?
SO many amazing stories – from a gal who heard from God during her prayer time to get the book – and then He used it to speak to her…. to a woman who at a certain scene in book two, put the book town, cried before God, and said, “I’m tired of fighting you. I give myself back to you.” To a mom in crisis feeling she couldn’t go on, who suddenly remembered the Rhusicans, and recognized the mind poison, and was able to fight it off and get through another day. I’m in awe that God could bring comfort and encouragement to others through this simple story. He is amazing.