Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Meet Sharon K. Souza! Interview & Book Giveaway

Sharon S Author Photo

It’s my pleasure to present author Sharon K. Souza. Her latest novel is Every Good And Perfect Gift from NavPress.

The Bio

Sharon and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.

The Interview

What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?
I wanted to write a book about a “Jonathan and David” type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I’ve learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?
In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she’s unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

Sharon S Book CoverYou’ve incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?
The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character’s growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character’s growth came as a result of the Alzheimer’s.

Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?
It’s exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That’s not to say there aren’t serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?
There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I’m not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don’t find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

What are your feelings about a couple’s decision to intentionally not have children?
Again, that wasn’t my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren’t equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don’t’ believe it’s a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it’s wise. That’s not to say a person’s feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it’s up to the couple to make the choice that’s right for them.

Since we’re rubbing shoulders with the topic, how do you feel about abortion?
I believe one hundred percent in a woman’s right to choose, but that choice MUST be made before pregnancy occurs, not after. I believe the gift of life begins the moment of conception and ending that life is not an option that belongs to us.
Many, many women are dealing with the aftermath of abortion. I believe there’s forgiveness for all confessed sin, including abortion. There are support groups to help those who need it. My advice is, don’t suffer alone. Get help, seek and accept forgiveness from Jesus, and trust Him with your future.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?
I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I’ve experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: “. . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That’s been the case in my life over and over.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?
The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer’s. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes—almost like a caricature—in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.

If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?
I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real “home town” of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There’s some debate about whether or not “our” Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, “Stuck in Lodi.” Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.

What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?
I’ve had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write “the truth.” Two answers come to mind. First, that “burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn’t deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven’t yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.

When you begin a novel, do you outline the main plot points before you write it?
I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoyed diagramming sentences in junior high English. But outlining was another matter altogether. I never liked outlining. I mean, if you have a number “1” point under an A, B, or C point, etc., then you have to have a number “2” point? I’d be breaking that rule all day long. The very thought of outlining a novel takes the fun out of writing it. So I’d never formally outline a novel before I wrote it. And to be honest, I don’t even informally outline it. Typically, I have a starting point and an ending point, with a vague idea of how I’m going to connect the two. But there’s an element of surprise at every turn. I love how that happens. In that sense, there’s great joy in the journey.

Thank you, Sharon. May you experience continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Every Good And Perfect Gift is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 16th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!


Janna said...

What a great interview - looks like a really thought provoking book - please enter me -

ryanx6 at msn dot com

Cara Putman said...

Wow, Sounds like a fabulous book. Thanks for the interview!

Stacey said...

This book sounds like it would be really impacting. Please put my name in the drawing. Thanks.


Char said...

I'd like to read this book!
Aidenadara @ Yahoo . Com

Anonymous said...

This book sounds fabulous. I am praying for Jonathan/David Ruth/Naomi Mary/Elizabeth type relationships in my life, and to be able to experience it through fiction would be pretty neat!!

Thanks for the interview!



Lucie said...

I love it! Finally put as we women can relate to - loved how you used some Bible men and turned around and put the story in our language! I wish more writers would do this. Please enter me in the contest to win "Every Good and Perfect Thing".
Email is Lucie In CA @

God Bless

lwatkins said...

I loved the interview Jen and Sharon. This book sounds wonderful, I cannot wait to read it.

Thanks for sharing with us.

mydimples6 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

enjoyed the interview and what a great answer about abortion. please enter my name!

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Cara Putnam! Congratulations, Cara, and thanks to all who left comments!