October 17, 2012

Traveling to Italy with Susan Meissner (and a Giveaway)

Last May, I attended a workshop for my local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Author Susan Meissner was the speaker. I had read a few of her books and absolutely loved them, so I was excited to learn from her.

Not only did I learn about plotting a book in 30 episodes, but I also learned that Susan is a very gracious, lovely person.

I chatted with her after the workshop and she was so kind and encouraging. I received a critique from her on my first manuscript at the recent writers conference I attended. And yes, I asked to get a picture with her at the gala (what can I say...I was a bit starstruck).

All in all, I love her!

Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of The Girl in the Glass as well as The Shape of Mercy, named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism, and the leader of a local writer's group, a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at The Church at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego.

Susan has a new book out--The Girl in the Glass--and I thought it would be fun to ask her a little about it and give away a copy so someone else can enjoy her fantastic work. So, without further ado...

In a nutshell, what's your story about?Meg Pomeroy is a disenchanted travel book editor unsure of her father's love, still smarting from a broken engagement, and whose normally cautious mother is suddenly dating a much younger man. Her perspective on everything that matters is skewed. She escapes to Florence, Italy, on a long-promised trip, believing her father will meet her there. True to form, he’s a no-show, but the trip allows her to connect with Lorenzo DiSantis, a writer she’s met only via Skype and e-mail, and Sofia Borelli, a tour guide and aspiring writer who claims she’s one of the last Medici, and that a sixteenth-century Medici granddaughter, Nora Orsini, speaks to her through Florence’s amazing statues and paintings. When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives are indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what it has to be?

Since my husband and I are considering a trip to Italy in the spring/summer, I'm hooked! In its review of The Girl in The Glass, Publishers Weekly said that this book is like taking a trip to Florence. What kind of research is involved in creating that kind of experience? Why do you think readers love to take those kinds of journeys in a novel? The best kind of research is that which lets me usher the reader right into the time and place I want to take them, without them feeling anything — no motion sickness, if you will. So I need to know everything, not just facts and figures but even the subtle nuances of a time period. It means a lot of reading and note-taking. I usually end up collecting more data than I can possibly use, but I don’t always know what I’ll need until I am into the story, and the characters start talking and reacting and deciding. I think readers like the thrill of being somewhere they couldn’t visit any other way than through the pages of a book. Novels let us experience the lives of other people without having to make any of their mistakes. And we can also share their joys. And their victories. And the lessons they learned in the crucible of life.

The Girl in the Glass refers to a painting that the heroine of your novel, Meg, loves. Describe the painting and what it stands for. Because this story is set in Florence, against the backdrop of the most stunning art that can be seen today, I wanted there to be a current day painting that connected my main character, Meg, with this amazing city. The painting Meg loves features a little Florentine girl mimicking a statue whose marbled hand is extended toward her. The painting hung in her maternal grandmother’s house, a place where Meg felt loved and safe. Meg hasn’t seen the painting since she was a little girl. When her grandmother died, everything in the house was sold or parceled out to other family members. Meg knows the statue in the much-loved painting is real, that it is somewhere in Florence, and that it is likewise beckoning her to come. Since she doesn’t know where the painting is, she is set on finding the statue instead. In a way, the lost painting represents Meg’s perceived loss of her family when her parents divorced and everything stable in Meg’s life turned upside down. The idea that quirky Sofia hears the paintings and statues speaking to her is at first a little unnerving to Meg, but she’s soon wishing she could hear them.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Susan! Where can readers connect with you?You can find me at www.susanmeissner.com and on Facebook at my Author page, Susan Meissner, and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner. I blog at susanmeissner.blogspot.com. I also send out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on my website. I love connecting with readers! You are the reason I write.

Your Turn: Have you ever traveled to Italy, or would you want to? Where would you like to go and what would you want to see?


Giveaway Details: One random commenter will win an autographed copy of The Girl in the Glass. I'll draw a winner (U.S. residents only) and announce the winner on Monday!

**Today I'm guest blogging at my friend Jennifer Major's site about my greatest adventure: loving a lawyer. Come say hi!

38 comments:

  1. I would love to go to Italy. My closet friend/cousin went for a few weeks and I lived vicariously!

    Love that title too!

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    1. Isn't it a great title? Gotta love the alliteration. ;)

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  2. I haven't read anything by Susan yet, but I love that title and cover, I would completely pick it up. Oh, and I keep saying I should set a book someplace in Europe just so I'll need a research trip there:)

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    1. That's an awesome idea. I keep telling my husband I need a trip to San Diego to research my latest book...it's only a 6-hour drive. Hehe. Trouble is finding a long weekend to go!

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  3. Susan is such a classy woman and I've only met her briefly, but I enjoy reading her blog very much.

    LOVE Italy. Chin. Chin.

    My husband and I are playing around with the idea of learning a new language and we're thinking Italian. So when we go back again we'll know more of the language.

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    1. How cool! When did you go before? And do you know any other languages?

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  4. Thanks for introducing me to an author new to me. I would love Italy! I would love anything Europe!

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    1. Me too, Lisa! Me too.

      And Susan's books are awesome.

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  5. Ahhh Italy. One of my great regrets is that I didn't get there when I studied abroad. Waaah! But there's always the future. Maybe I'll stowaway with you and Mike. Ha!

    Loved this interview and I adore Susan Meissner books! Looking forward to this latest one. :)

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    1. Stowing away would probably be cheaper than a plane ticket...but it might be a pretty uncomfortable way to travel! Hehe.

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  6. Italy...siiigh. Been three times (was blessed to live in Europe for 15 years). If I went back, I'd spend more time at Pompeii. It's absolutely amazing. A complete Roman town--streets, buildings complete with walls (only missing the roofs), city gates, everything just as it was when the ash fell. There's even a fast food restaurant. Not kidding! MUST see Pompeii. It's hear Naples and the Isle of Capri (two other must-sees!) I got Susan's book for my mother in law. Because it looks FAB and I knew she'd love it!

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    1. April, that's so neat. I'll have to pick your brain about what else to see if we end up planning a trip!

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  7. I've never been to Italy, but I'd love to go! I'd love to see the Colosseum in Rome and the canals in Venice - I'd just love it all. My sister has told me that the gelato is amazing, too!

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    1. Those things would be amazing to see, wouldn't they? And yes. Gelato would be a MUST!!!

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  8. Italy is definitely on my go-to list with a stop at the Vatican, Venice, and Rome. For now, I'll have to settle for the Drive Thru History videos from Focus on the Family.

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    1. I've never heard of those videos, Meghan!! So neat.

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  9. Yes, I've been to Italy--my fave places were Pisa and Assissi--a beautiful town on a hill. I'd love to win Susan's book--the cover is just AMAZING!

    And LOVED your post on Jennifer's blog--just commented over there too!

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    1. Oh my, towns on hills...with those beautiful names...sigh. I wanna go!

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  10. Great interview. It would be amazing to travel to Italy some day!

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    1. Wouldn't it? There is just so much history there.

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  11. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Lindsay!

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    1. Thanks so much for being my guest, Susan, and for giving away a copy of your book. :) And for being all-around awesome!

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  12. I remember voting on the cover for this book at one point. Looks like my pick won out! I would love to go to Italy someday. But until then, it's good to have books like Susan's to take us there. Can't wait to read it. :)

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    1. I think it's the cover I voted for too, Barbara!!

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  13. Visiting Italy is on my bucket list. Someday. This book sounds wonderful. The cover is so inviting. Lovely interview, Susan and LindsAy!

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  14. Oh, Italy!!! You're speaking my language now, Lindsay! Just love that place!! I was fortunate to travel all around Italy for two weeks...way back when! So pretty! And my family's history is there...and I have family (cousins) that still live there, so it just makes me all sappy and happy! LOL I definitely need to read Susan's book!!! :)

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    1. I'm so jealous, Lacie! You need to go visit your family again, hehe.

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  15. Oohhh, I've never been to Italy, but this book sounds like a great way to travel there. :)

    Great interview, ladies!

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    1. That's the great thing about books, isn't it? We can go places we've never been...and it doesn't cost nearly as much!

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  16. Love this interview, and love Susan! We actually planned a trip to Italy but changed our minds last-minute and went to Hawaii. I would LOVE to take that trip someday. Italian food is my favorite, and the buildings and artwork in Italy just amaze me.

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    1. You can't go wrong with Hawaii for sure! But yeah, I hope to make it there someday too...for the food, the history, and the art. Sigh.

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  17. Hey Lindsay,

    I have been - just me and a girlfriend took two weeks and did bed and breakfasts and hostels all over the country. Due to a family emergency, the trip was cut short a few days, and one day, I'd like to go back and replace the hard ending with a lovely one. The country deserves it. Besides, I want it to be my husband beside me next time - so romantic. I loved the Sienna and Perugia regions, and of course, riding along the Amalfi Coast - amazing.

    Would love a copy of Susan's book - it sounds wonderful.

    Blessings,
    Becky

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    1. Sounds like you definitely need to go back to Italy and make some amazing memories with your man!

      And you're entered for the drawing!! :)

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  18. i would love to visit italy...a wonderful posting, lindsay...thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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    1. Wouldn't Italy just make for an amazing vacation? I know I'd love to go!

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  19. This looks like a beautiful book. I love Italy and have travelled all over but my favourite spots are Verona, Florence and Positano.

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    1. Wow, those all sound like beautiful places to visit!

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