Wednesday Writers welcomes Susan Pearson today. Susan is the author of Missionaries, Mercenaries and Murder. I have to tell you, Susan, that I love the alliteration of your title. Please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
Missionaries, Mercenaries and Murder takes place in the Congo though I have set it in the present day. My husband helped me do some research to give me ideas about the mystery part of the book. He’s much better about research than I am. My hero is a hardened cop who lost his faith in people and God. He wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. But the heroine has other ideas. She wants to heal his wounded soul. Together, as they wind their way through the mystery, they learn about themselves and each other and what God really wants for their lives.
How did you come up with the setting for this book?
Once I sat down at my computer, it quickly became apparent I had to place my story in the Congo. I tried writing about Kinshasa which is the capital city and the location of my boarding school. It really came as a complete surprise to me that I would want to place a book in Vanga, the place of my birth.
Here’s a picture of Susan with her siblings in Vanga, the village where she was born. She’s the youngest on the left.
But, try as I might, nothing else would do. So, I worked through many, many scenarios until I came up with a way to have Alex, the hero, get to the village of Vanga where he will meet the heroine, Molly. The struggle was in melding what I know of the country with the present day and creating a story that could take the hero and heroine through a process of life that would bring them together and closer to God.
Wow, since the story is set in the place of your birth how did that affect the book? Are there any bits that are from your life in the Congo?
My father was a builder for American Baptist and I have leaned on his experiences quite a bit. His encounter with a snake, an 18’ green mamba, is true story.
Being the child of missionaries gave me a great sense of responsibility for making my life count. Reading for me is an escape from real life and I wanted my writing to provide that. But I don’t think it would be satisfying if it was just escapism. It had to say something important about life.
People say you write what you know and I guess, to some degree that is true. Surprisingly, it has been cathartic to tell the story even though it is fiction.
Growing up in a third-world country gave me an appreciation for all the blessings God has given me. It is truly a luxury to be able to write and have people enjoy my book.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I’m working on the story of Alex’s sister who lives in Oregon. I am about 2/3 of the way through so no release date.
Tell the readers how you got started writing.
When I decided to write a book, it wasn’t because I had stories crying to be told. I didn’t have characters banging around in my head, dying to get out. In fact, I had no idea where to start. I needed a distraction because my daughters were both out of the country and I was facing some serious empty nest depression. I needed something to take my mind off of that so I took a writing class through the local community college. The teacher was a member of a local writing group and she encouraged all of us to join and find a critique group. I did that and that is the reason, I believe, that I was able to create a book that people want to read.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
A little of both. I need to have an overall plot but sometimes I get off track and the words start flowing and then I realize that it doesn’t fit exactly with what I thought I was going to write so I have to go back and see if I can make it work.
I tend to write in stages: dialogue first, then go back and put in the different layers—sensory, visceral, emotional, settings. What is does your writing process look like?
I definitely have to go back to put in the emotional and the sensory. Initially, I’m pretty focused on plot and have no idea what the characters are thinking or feeling. And my critique partners are forever asking – where are we in this chapter? Is it a house, a city, a park?
Setting is also important in books. Do you do anything special to create yours, like visiting the area, googling satellite maps, looking at books or pictures?
With this first book, I was pretty sure nothing much had changed even though I hadn’t been there for over 30 years so, I surfed the internet for pictures and, I was right.
Reviews are important to most writers. What review have you received that you most like, and why?
A nurse who works with my husband reads approximately one book a week and corresponds with lots of authors offered to help me with social media things. She’s never read an inspirational suspense and was prepared to be nice but not real interested in my book. I sent her the ARC and she read it in a couple of days and was shocked by how much she loved the book. She gave me a 5 star review.
Don’t you just love it when your book crosses over into a secular reader’s library and finds favor with them? It’s such a cool thing! Do you have a favorite book?
The Thing About Clarissa.
What’s the book you are reading now?
On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
Most writers love to read. Name 2 different magazines you read regularly.
People and Christianity Today.
Do you have an all-time favorite movie that has stuck in your mind or that you’d watch over and over?
We like to travel. What is the farthest place from your home that you have visited? Probably China. My oldest daughter worked there for two years with Campus Crusade.
The most fun place? Akumal, Mexico – great snorkeling and lots of history
The most historic place? Dubrovnik, Croatia.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)
My first prayer, when I was 2, was ‘Dear God, so happy me.’ It seems trite to say we can do anything with God’s help but, I know there are many, many things that would not be possible without Him.
Missionaries, Mercenaries and Murder
By Susan Pearson
Alex Carpenter’s life is shattered when his friend and partner is gunned down. With his confidence shaken, he turns in his badge and gun and accepts an offer to build a church in the Congo, hoping for time alone to heal.
Molly Quinn is on a mission to save souls and heal bodies. Nothing is too difficult for her to handle until a police officer from Kikwit demands she come to his city to identify a body that turns out to be her friend and a fellow American.
Alex realizes her friend was murdered, and Molly begs him to help her find the killer. Drawn into a bloody web of intrigue and deception, Alex and Molly must work together to stay alive and one step ahead of a murderer.
Can she convince Alex to put his trust and their lives in God’s hands?
Missionaries, Mercenaries and Murder Buy Link
About the Author:
Susan Pearson was born to missionary parents in the Belgium Congo. Married for over 30 years, she has two grown daughters. Susan has lived in Oregon, California, Washington state and now Texas. She loves to read, go to movies, and bake. Baking is her therapy.
You can connect with Susan on her Facebook page.