Inspirational author Elizabeth Musser writes beautiful stories that defy traditional labels. She seamlessly combines tragedy, humor, love and more in her sweeping tales. This is never truer than in her newest release The Sweetest Thing. Set during the Depression, it is an emotional tale of two friends facing hardships and finding strength in each other. Today we asked Ms. Musser to join us on the RT Daily Blog to tell us a bit more about her novel and explain how she incorporates different elements to create her unforgettable story.
I was recently asked, in response to a review that claimed my newest novel, The Sweetest Thing, combines "faith, fun, romance and tragedy", how in the world I included each of these themes in one novel.
The short answer is "write truth."
I don’t know about you, but my life has been made up of faith, fun, romance and tragedy. Most of the people I call dear friends have had these themes come crashing into their lives on a regular basis.
One of my main goals in writing inspirational fiction is to create characters who seem real. How do I do this? Easy! Observe real people.
FAITH: We’ve all heard the expression that "truth is stranger than fiction". People’s lives are fascinating. So as I delve into the personality of my characters, I remember conversations I have had with people who are on a path to seeking faith. I recall their real, challenging questions. I remember how inadequate a pat answer was to their gut-level cry for help. In the same way, I don’t want to give my characters pat answers to their soul-searching questions.
FUN: Don’t we all love to laugh? What a gift when the worries of life and the tension of a too-crowded schedule are put away for a moment of pure (and often) unexpected fun. I relish deep one-on-one conversations with friends, but I also enjoy moments of silliness. This is therapeutic in my life, and I find my characters sometimes needing the same therapy. In The Sweetest Thing, a novel about friendship, my two protagonists occasionally act like the schoolgirls they are. A breath of fresh air.
TRAGEDY: As writers, we all know that a good story requires conflict, and sometimes that conflict ends up as tragedy. Isn’t this true in life? There is a line in one of Amy Grant’s early songs that resonates with me: "Tragedy always finds me taken again by surprise". It is part of life—a tsunami in Japan, a car wreck in Georgia, a phone call in the middle of the night announcing our worst fears, a creeping illness. We are inspired by real-life stories of people who face tragedy with strength and dignity. As writers, we want our characters to inspire our readers by wrestling with the tragic and finding meaning in the midst of pain.
ROMANCE: I love to tell my real-life love-story. It is chocked full of love-at-first sight that plummets into heartbreak, only to be reignited later on. Romance is often a waiting game: the crazy joy of a crush and the crushing hurt of conflict. I put it into my stories. Romance can also be tender, playful, filled with complicity and passion. And, like many other things in life, it tends to be complex. So I create characters whose search for love is unpredictable, with many twists and turns in the plot.
TRUTH: As I write a novel, I often ask myself "Could this have happened?" Not "DID this happen?", but "Is it in the realm of possibility?" If my response is "Nah," then I hit the delete button, because, even though I am writing inspirational fiction, ultimately what I want to communicate to my readers is the truth.
If you are looking for faith, fun, romance and truth in your next read, make sure to pick up Elizabeth Musser's The Sweetest Thing releasing June 1st.