Michelle Sutton and I serve on the ACFW board together. Her book, It's NOT About ME released this month. She's known as the edgy inspirational author, and from the first chapter or two of this book, that fits. This is her debut novel, and I had a few questions for her.
It's Not About Me is not your typical Christian fiction. What was the germ that planted the story in your mind?
I guess it was built on a premise. I asked myself how a young girl with a great life, good looks, and a solid upbringing would handle a tragic situation that robbed her of the future she had planned. Her only weakness is she always wants to make everyone happy. She learns, of course, that it's impossible to do that.
You put your characters through the ringer. Which character did you connect to the most?
Dan, who is the hero. He talks to God like they are close friends, but with submission on Dan's end to what is ultimately God's plan. Dan sometimes fights it and argues with God. Don't we all do that?
What's the take away you hope readers will have after they reach the last page?
That's it's worth it to wait for the husband God has planned for you. That getting married to make someone happy is always a bad idea. That once you go somewhere in a relationship you can never go back to just holding hands. That real faith is more than just going to church and being a nice person. That drinking to much can royally screw up your life and you can't ever undo the damage that is done. There is a whole lot more but those are the highlights.
Who's the target audience for this book?
16 - 23 years old. The main characters are two high school graduates and one college graduate. However, people who have teens have told me that it has helped them with their relationship with their teens and opened communication. It's also perfect for youth groups because it touches on topics that don't normally come up. Also, everyone remembers being young once so honestly, I've got a bunch of over 65 year old ladies that are almost like groupies. They remember being young and they loved the story because it brought them back to those days.
You call your writing edgy inspirational. What does that mean?
That means there is always going to be something redemptive and inspirational in the theme of each story. Those themes happen within the context of the characters' disobedience or issues they have dealing with temptation and sin. Also, I don't smooth things over. They suffer the consequences and don't always make the right choices. That is where the edgy portion comes from. Yeah, I like to run them through the gauntlet emotionally, too.
What did you learn while writing this book that was unexpected?
What did the characters teach me? That approaching God when you are hurting is always better than hiding your pain and lying to yourself and others about how you are doing emotionally.
Now for a fun question: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take with you?
I'd love to go to Australia to meet some of my reviewer friends, like Rel. I'd take my hubby and kids with me.
Thanks so much, Michelle, for making the time for this interview. If you'd like to be entered for a copy of the book, be sure to leave a comment.