SICILY'S ASK THE AUTHOR SERIES:
SUZANNE WOODS FISHER
Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Woods Fisher 2010
We asked CBA best-selling author Suzanne Woods Fisher about her track of top sellers and why she loves writing about the "Plain People." We found some interesting facts about her; read on...
1. How did you decide to become an author, anything that triggered your wanting to write?
I have loved to write as long as I can remember—and I don’t think I was ever identified as a particularly good writer! Writing was a strength for me in school (unlike math, which was, and is, a weakness!)…but I became a writer because I love to write.
2. What were the obstacles you faced when wanting to write that first manuscript? How did you overcome them?
Self-confidence. I wrote my first novel secretly—I didn’t even tell my husband! I just wanted to see if I could do it. I finally announced that I had written a novel and my sons said, “That’s why there’s no food in this house!” (So sensitive, those boys.)
And then, even with my background in magazine writing, it was not easy to get in the door to a publishing house! My first contract was with a small press publisher. But on the other hand, I had a lot to learn. I started writing books for a small press publishing house, and I strongly recommend that aspiring writers pursue small press publishers. It’s a little easier to break through, plus, the learning curve of this industry is very steep and you can’t get enough experience—the writing side, plus the business side of publishing.
3. Have you ever had “writer’s block”, and if so, how did you deal with it?
Lately it seems as if I get to a point where I think a novel I’m working on is a mess—a complete disaster. But I keep at it. Then comes a moment when it shifts into focus, like a camera lens. So it seems as if pushing through a frustrating or discouraging stretch is critical. Don’t give up! Often, it seems worse right before a break through. Can’t explain it!
4. Any techniques to get your creative juices flowing?
Usually, there’s a dog or two curled around my computer chair so I can’t move! I try to keep the phone in the other room so I force myself to get up and go get it. Sitting a lot can’t be good for you! So I walk my dogs each day and play tennis a couple of times a week—even if my mind is still writing a book, at least my body is moving!
5. How has your writing affected your life?
When you love to write, it’s hard to separate it as an activity. It’s a way of thinking! Everything is material. It’s all grit for the oyster. I don’t even listen to a sermon without pulling thoughts into a novel.
6. How have the Amish research enriched your life? What things have you learned from the culture?
My grandfather was raised Plain—a member of the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church. Even as a teenager, I was always drawn to the simple life of my relatives. This experience of studying the Amish in depth has only increased my interest and admiration. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of how some of my Amish friends would respond to a situation I encounter—as simple as frustrating traffic, or maybe an on-going worry about a family member. The Amish let go, they yield. They trust God’s sovereignty in all matters. I still have so much to learn—but I have been profoundly affected by my relationships with the Amish.
7. What are your long-term goals with your writing?Any new projects in the works?
I have a number of contracts with Revell still to fulfill—and conversations in progress for more! For now, I will continue to write for the Amish sub-genre. I love it—I love the message such books provides about finding what’s truly important in life and focusing on that.
8. What tips would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
To have a humility about the learning process—to trust editors, trust your first readers, to be willing to learn and grow and perfect your craft. But then…to go forth with confidence. Even if you get yet another rejection letter or a hurtful review. Go forth! Don’t quit! A breakthrough is coming!
9. What one piece of writing advice has been the most beneficial to you on your writing journey?
My niece, Hilary, gave me a book called “If You Want to Write.” It was written by Brenda Ueland and published in 1938. There’s a quote inside: “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” I loved that! What great words for aspiring writers to live by.
10. What is your “motto”, in life and how has this been communicated through your works?
There’s a verse from the Bible that I have in front of my computer: “Don’t you know?“ Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired; his wisdom cannot be measured (Isaiah 4:28-29). In every book, I try to have a theme that points people to God—subtly and gently, without popping them on the head with a 2x4.
11. What charitable causes do you support and why?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. My youngest son got me started—my husband isn’t a dog guy and told my son that he needed to find a reason to have a dog. That very week, my son went on a field trip to Guide Dogs. Voila! I love this organization—wonderful people are involved in it. (Seems as if dog lovers offer more grace!) Helping people who have physical or mental challenges (or both) feels like I’m touching the heart of God.
12. What are three things that we readers may not know about you?
I’ve raised nine guide dog puppies! They’re like potato chips…you can’t stop at one. And I’m a brand new grandmother! A little boy named Blake who is adorable…and I’m not just saying that. So much fun! So little sleep! A third thing…hmmm…I love birds! Love ‘em! It just thrills me to hear an owl hoot in the night.
13. Have you gotten any letters from Amish families who have read your books?
Yes—and those letters means so much to me! I have heard consistently that I’m “getting it right.” That is huge to me!
14. In ten years from now, where do you see Amish novels in the world of fiction?
I think they are finding a permanent spot on the shelf—those books provide an escape to a gentler world…and hopefully, leave the reader as a better person, too.
15. Any personal testimony that you would like to share?
I like to emphasize that we don’t have to become Amish to incorporate many of their principles: simple living, less of a focus on materialism, less control in our lives by technology and more of an emphasis on the truly important things: family, community, and the Lord.
The Choice, the first in the 'Lancaster County Secrets' fiction series was a CBA, CBD and ECPA bestseller. The Waiting, book #2, was also a featured CBD bestseller.
Fisher's new book, The Search, book #3 in the series, will release on January 1, 2011. Head on over to her website at: to read more about her and reserve a copy of the eagerly-awaited book:
I am sure you will be happy to be absorbed in the world of goodness, service to God, and perserverence that the Old Order Amish are known for, and don't forget to join Suzanne on Facebook, too.
Blessings in Christ,