Monday, March 03, 2008

Closer Than Your Skin by Susan D. Hill-Interview

Today I have the pleasure of offering you all a really fun and interesting interview with Susan Hill, author of Closer Than Your Skin. You can find more about Closer Than Your Skin on this blog posted Feb 25th, 2008. I hope you'll take a moment and visit that post too:-)

Angie: Susan, please tell us what drew you to Montana?

Susan: Well, for starters, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle Police Reports printed things like…a porcupine was stuck in a lady’s spare tire in her garage, and so she called the police. Growing up near urban areas, you can’t imagine how refreshing small town life seemed to me. But in addition, my husband, Duncan, loves to fish and hunt.

Angie: Are you an active outdoorsy type?

Susan: Somewhat! I love hiking, floating rivers and gardening. And I like to ski, but I’m no longer qualified to keep up with my snowboarding son.

Angie: Do you get asked any fun questions about life in Montana? (I've been asked if my kids have to ride horses to school and if the snow every melts!)

Susan: Not any more because Bozeman is on the map now as an all-American-city kind of thing. But 20 years ago, a New Yorker asked me if Montana was a province of Canada!

Angie: That's hilarious because I was asked that same question in Atlanta 2 yrs ago!

Angie: I love the idea that you are unpacking the cliché of relationship with God. It gives me the impression of moving in with my husband, unpacking the dishes, and setting up our home.

Susan: That’s a great image, because knowing God is about finding Him where you live, in situations you care about, in the relationships you struggle with, and in the secret rooms of your heart.

Angie: What do you feel was the most significant thing you learned writing Closer Than Your Skin?

Susan: This is hard because I learned so many things along the way. I learned that I had something to say, but I had to learn how to write. Many other writers and my editor helped me shape what the book is today. The editing process is like dancing with someone you’ve never met. It’s awkward at first, but eventually I got in step and the result was far better. This involves humbling oneself but also finding your own voice as a writer, a delicate balance. I also learned that books end up on shelves eventually…this is to say that it’s not so much what I write about, but what God does through the writing that matters.

Angie: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers?

Susan: It’s been kind of a shock! Many people tell me they have read the book all in one sitting, or over 2 days. I also feel excited that men are responding to the book and people of different ages (20-80) too. Most exciting is that people who are not sure what they believe about God are reading the book. I’m careful to avoid Christianese, and talk about my life transparently, giving the reader something authentic. I feel so many people are looking for something “real,” in the Christian market. That may be part of the appeal, but more importantly, countless people want to know if God is real, and if so, is He knowable. And in my life, I can say a resounding “Yes!” to that question.

Angie: Do you have other books planned?

Susan: Well, that’s what my editor asked me. Closer Than Your Skin came as a surprise to me. I was inspired to write it after reading Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Before that, the thought of writing a book seemed like a long shot. If there’s another book, I believe it will become clear to me in the same way. Right now though, I’m enjoying the adventure of putting this first book out there.

Angie: What could you share with someone who really wants that close relationship with the Lord but might be afraid of change?

Susan: Knowing God isn’t about change as much as it is about growth. It’s going deeper in your understanding of Scripture as a foundation for anything God might do or say in the present. It’s about being hungry and thirsty for more than formulaic religiosity. It’s about slowing down, listening, noticing, taking note of things that happen, and not overlooking the message, mystery and the moment when the Holy Spirit makes overtures to us in His still small voice. It is believing that God is wants communication, contact, and intimacy with us. For God has said that He will be found by us when we seek Him with all our heart

Angie: How have you created a regular time with the Lord? And is it daily, weekly, or other?

Susan: I believe a lot of knowing God is about letting life slow down. (And BTW it’s easier to love people when you let life slow down too.) Early mornings are good for me. I feel alert, open, and ready to receive things from God. I try to have a daily time but don’t feel rigidly ritualistic about it. Also, I have learned to talk to God throughout the day so my experience of Him isn’t confined to a certain time. I’ll walk in a store and ask him “What are you doing here today, God?” Then I’m ready to encourage someone, or pray for them. Christianity is doing life with God and truly, that’s when the adventure begins.

Angie: If someone has never experienced a devotional time, how would you suggest they start?

Susan: I suggest picking a word that intrigues you about the character of God, like “lovingkindness” or “merciful” or “father” and buy a concordance that will help you search for verses throughout the Bible that contain this word. Write down your favorite ones. Maybe even memorize the best one. I also suggest talking to God conversationally, taking time afterwards to listen. Have a note pad ready to write down any impressions, or word pictures, or scriptures that come to mind. Let God have time to weave together the message He’s trying to get across. Also, extract phrases from the Psalms that talk about what God is like. Compile them on a page and read them aloud to yourself. These are just a few ideas. Remember God doesn’t want your devotional time to be something you have to accomplish. He only wants one thing from you---your company.

Thank you so much for being with us today,
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