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Interview with Susan Miura

Hi, Susan! Let’s start by talking about you as a creative professional. You’ve worn multiple hats working as an author, speaker, public relations professional and book reviewer. You also hold a degree in journalism and have a background as a newspaper reporter along with TV experience for an NBC-TV affiliate! Your resume is impressive. Is there anything you have not done?
I haven’t written a New York Times bestseller or had a book made into a movie…but I’m holding out hope! More realistically, I want to find a way to use my role as an author to promote awareness of the critical issues of sex trafficking and modern day slavery – something I haven’t done to a great extent yet.

I just listed your credentials in my first question. But now please paint a picture of your work experience with words. What were the highlights and challenges of your illustrious career?
I remember the thrill of seeing my byline in the newspaper and my face on television for the first time. As a newspaper reporter, I learned so much from my interviews about human nature – the good side and the dark side. (Can you tell I’m a Star Wars fan?) I was blessed with great editors who taught me more my first year than I ever learned in school. It was an amazing experience, but sometimes overwhelming.

Imagine a 22-year-old girl crossing the picket line during a steel worker’s strike. It was the only way for me to interview management after interviewing the union rep. That wasn’t pretty. Same thing with a teacher’s strike. One year on election night, I had to cover the party my employer had not endorsed. Yikes – they were not happy to see me at their campaign headquarters. Those were character-building moments, for sure.

As a television reporter in Albuquerque, I had fun covering events like the wild mustang roundup, the hot air balloon festival, and doing a three 3-part series on open heart surgery. The hospital actually let me into the OR for that one. I was also part of the team that produced “Wednesday’s Child,” a weekly feature highlighting children available for adoption throughout New Mexico. It felt good to be helping them, but oh man that was tough on my heart.

What led you to become an author?
I’ve been writing professionally since I graduated college, first in journalism, then in public relations, but that longing to write fiction was always inside me. I made some half-hearted attempts, but once my first child was born, I let it go for years. A full-time job and two kids meant no time for anything else.

Until…the first scene of Healer filled my head and wouldn’t leave. It was a memory, actually, of me seeing a dog get hit by a car when I was a child, and hearing an old woman say (just like in the book), “Somebody should just shoot the thing. Ain’t gonna live, anyway.” I would have given anything to save that dog. In my fiction world, I could…because I had Shilo. Writing a novel with a full-time job and two kids seemed impossible, so I decided to just write the first scene. After that, I’d bring a notebook to swimming lessons, soccer practice, etc. and hand-write more scenes while waiting. During lunch hours at work, I’d type them up. One day…I had a complete manuscript! It needed a world of work, but it was a real deal first draft.

Let’s talk about your book that we’re featuring this month. It’s called Healer and the cover art is beautiful! Why did you write this book?
I agree! The cover is even better than I imagined, and I’m grateful to Elaina Lee of For the Muse Designs who created it for Vinspire Publishing. I wrote it because I wanted to share the story in my head with others – especially teens.

There’s a whole lot of ugly out there in the world – on the Internet, in movies and TV, and in books. I wanted to offer up a story with a positive message about hope, faith and friendship in a God-honoring way that wasn’t preachy or perky. I also felt the characters should be multicultural, to realistically represent our world. Shilo’s best friend is half Nigerian, and if there’s a Book 2, she’ll be one of the main characters. Her boyfriend, Kenji, is Japanese-American…just like my husband!

What is your book about?
Hovering just below the surface of Shilo Giannelli’s average existence lays an amazing spiritual power. Late one night, her world erupts with the revelation that, like her great-grandmother, she has The Gift. But the power to heal isn’t something she can share with the soccer team, her genius little sister, or Kenji. Definitely not Kenji.

Deep beneath Misty Morning’s tough façade is a lifetime of abandonment, foster homes and broken dreams. At fifteen, she ran away from a group home and into the arms of Jake. By the time she discovered he was violent, Misty was pregnant with Tyler. When Jake’s temper lands Tyler in the hospital, Misty’s fragile world shatters.

When Shilo prays for Tyler, the miracle that follows leaves doctors speechless and Misty deliriously happy…and profoundly confused. Something happened during that prayer. Warmth and peace. A presence she couldn’t explain. And Tyler…is fine. Healed. But it isn’t long before Shilo’s life begins to unravel. Her romance is strained, Misty’s life is in danger, and her parents don’t want her using The Gift. But she will fulfill her destiny as a healer, no matter the cost.
Until it costs her Kenji.

It will take a miracle for these unlikely friends to elude a gang bent on revenge, keep The Gift a secret, trust God in extraordinary circumstances, and hold on to the people they love.

What’s the moral of the story?
Trust God. If you do, he’ll take you down paths that may seem to go in crazy directions, and even down some slippery slopes, but he’ll catch you when you fall and land you where you need to be. Often that landing spot is way different, and way better, than what you had planned. Moral #2 – don’t judge people based on their looks, background, or even their lifestyle. Shilo initially thought Misty was a mess, and certainly not worthy of being Tyler’s mother. Just like Shilo, we all tend to have an ingrained judgmental instinct that we constantly have to battle.

What kind of impact do you hope your book will make?
Honestly, one of my main hopes is that it will offer a realistic picture of what Christianity looks like to people who are getting the wrong idea from the onslaught of hypocrisy on the Internet. At it’s very core, Christianity is love. And with that comes forgiveness, compassion, generosity, humbleness, and hearts that don’t judge. That’s what Jesus taught. It’s really very simple, but we humans have muddled it up like crazy.

Who is the heroine in your book? Describe her looks, personality and motivation.
Shilo Giannelli is athletic (she plays soccer) with shoulder length brown hair and brilliant blue eyes. She is the only person in her family who possesses blue eyes, other than her great grandmother, who also had the gift of healing. Her eyes are striking enough to elicit comments from strangers. Shilo is outgoing, honest, plays guitar, and loves to spend time with her friends. And she is crazy in love with Kenji, her boyfriend. She’s also a good sister to Julia, who struggles with being a genius and an introvert. Her motivation centers on her spiritual gift of healing.

Out of fear for her daughter, Shilo’s mom insists she not use her gift. She doesn’t want Shilo being hounded by reporters, scientists, and every sick or injured person on the planet. Her fear is understandable, but Shilo knows God gave her the gift for a reason, and she’s determined to use it. Like her mother, she fears the consequences of what could happen if her secret gets out, but that’s not going to stop her from healing. The bigger challenge for Shilo is that she cannot control the power. God decides who she can heal. Spoiler alert: this will cause her great pain at one point in the book. Makes me cry every time I read it…and I wrote it!

Who is the hero in your book? Describe his looks, mindset and goals.
Well the hero is actually heroine #2 – Misty Morning, so named because I went to school with a girl named Stormy Morning and thought it was the coolest name ever. I didn’t want to use the exact same name, so…Misty. When we first meet Misty, she’s at the police station where Shilo’s dad is a sergeant. She’s wearing faded jeans and a tee-shirt far too large for her skinny body, and her greasy hair is pulled back in a ponytail. Her toddler son was beaten by her boyfriend and the police are trying to determine whether she had a role in it. The reader will soon come to find out that Misty’s journey was dark and perilous from the get-go, but despite her painful past, she’s still got a lot of love buried in her heart.

What was the most beautiful part of the writing process for this story?
All the people who helped me with it. I know it’s cliché to say “it took a village,” but that pretty much sums it up. Family, friends, fellow authors, ACFW Genesis judges, just to name a few. Authors Lisa Samson, Amy Alessio and Patti Lacy read over early drafts and provided great critiques, as did my husband, kids and sister. Even now, there are many people helping to promote it, for which I’m forever grateful.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
Getting Misty’s character down pat was tricky. She’s one of those tough on the outside, soft on the inside people, with a history of disappointments and a whole truckload of heartache. She’s also very smart. I really wanted her voice to stand out and her personality to come through. The other challenge was tearing apart an earlier draft and rewriting it with alternate chapters from Shilo’s and Misty’s points of view.

How does your personal faith in God affect the way you write?
God wired me up to be a writer, and allowed me to earn money at it for the past 36 years with careers in journalism and public relations, so it just makes sense to honor him with the way I write. I hope I’m doing that.

Who is your hero in real-life?
This may sound corny, but I’d have to say my husband. He’s been a cop for 37 years, dealing with the worst society has to offer week after week: murderers, drug dealers, child abusers, rapists and thieves, along with people who don’t fit into those categories, but still manage to ruin other people’s lives. And there are the victims, who ache for justice or closure, which he wants to provide, but sometimes just can’t. It’s more stress than anyone can imagine (including me), especially when you never know what kind of craziness or violence a call or traffic stop might lead to. Through it all, he’s held fast to his faith and has been a great husband and dad. I think that’s pretty heroic. Maybe I should tell him. Nah.

If you could have coffee with one of your favorite authors, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Sorry, I have to list two. Lisa Samson and Christine Caine. Lisa critiqued Healer before I’d ever read one of her books. I learned so much from her thoughtful and insightful critique. The first book I read of hers was Tiger Lily, and I was an instant fan. She’s not only an incredible writer, she is an amazing artist who is now creating faith-based adult coloring books. How can all that talent fit into one person? I would thank her again for her wonderful endorsement of Healer, and ask her about her writing journey and spiritual journey. I sense both took some interesting turns.

On to Christine Caine, an Australian pastor, activist, international speaker, author (Unashamed, Unstoppable, Undaunted), and founder of A21, an anti human trafficking organization. She also founded Propel Women, “Celebrating Every Woman’s Passion, Purpose and Potential.” The woman hits a stage like a human tornado and everyone in the audience leaves with a new set of eyes, a bigger heart, and the motivation to be a better version of themselves and do something to help this broken world. That same transformation takes place when you read her books. I think I’d ask her, “Are you for real?”

What do you want your legacy to be?
Again, can’t limit to one. First, my children. I already consider them my legacy. They’re good people. They care about others, they care about the world, and I believe they are going to do great things. And I don’t believe “great things” always have to be big or world-famous things. Sometimes it’s just leaving this world a shade brighter than how you found it. Naturally, I hope my books will be a legacy, too – that they’ll inspire people to see the best in others, and lend a hand to those in need.


Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

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