Christina Suzann Nelson - Profoundly Moving Stories
Christina Suzann Nelson is an inspirational speaker and the award-winning author. Christina is over the top about her passions, including the stories created somewhere in the twists and turns of her less-than-focused brain. When she’s not writing, Christina serves on the board of the non-profit, Every Child Linn-Benton, where she has the opportunity to influence the lives of families and children in the foster care system. On a typical day, she chases escaped farm animals, reads, hikes with her dog, and enjoys her husband and six kids. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, What Happens Next.
Please give us a short introduction to What Happens Next is about.
What Happens Next is a story about the people who change us, loss, healing, and cold case investigation.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
That's a hard question. There are always so many things that inspire a story. I'd been interested in cold case investigations for a few years, but I also wanted to look at the long-term consequences faced by the friends and families left behind. As I researched for this novel, I came across the missing persons' case of Kacey Perry. I'd have to say that Kacey inspired me by clarifying the importance of finding every missing child.
Tell us more about Faith Byrne. What makes her tick?
Faith is a woman whose past still has a hold on her, but she doesn't realize how strong that grip is until she looks carefully back at the summer of 1987. She's facing her own loss as her ex-husband moves forward in marrying his girlfriend and Faith's daughters prepare to spend the summer in Hawaii with their father and new stepmother.
What makes Dora Crane so special?
Dora lives every day in a reality that many mothers fear, but more than that, she's an example of a woman who has lost someone precious yet refuses to give herself permission to grieve. In this way, she's like so many of us.
Why did you title this book "What Happens Next"?
The working title was The Rest of the Story. Bethany House chose What Happens Next, so I changed the name of the podcast to match their title. With traditionally published books, the title and cover are at the discretion of the publisher.
Besides working, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmmm. I love to work with resin and wood. I'm always looking for other creative outlets. Oh, and really enjoy remodeling projects in my 1898 farmhouse.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
That was probably being true to the characters. I think it's important to dig deep into the lives of the people we write about. Sometimes, I find messes in there I need to deal with in my own life. I think it's always a challenge to put yourself so deeply in the place of someone else for such a long period of time.
Readers say the book kept them guessing. Did you plan it all out before you started writing, or did some of the story just "happen" along the way?
Honestly, I had no idea the story was going to play out like it did. It's nothing like the original synopsis I wrote before I started on the novel. I love it when this happens. If I'm surprised, I feel like the readers will be too.
Long-buried secrets play an important role in this story. Why did you take this approach?
We all have a bit of detective in us, and we all have things from our pasts, maybe even from our childhoods, that we don't fully understand. I feel like this is a story many of us can relate to on some level.
Do you plot out your entire book before you start writing, or does a lot of it just "happen" along the way?
I write a synopsis for my publisher, but then the story takes off on its own.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
Pray! I have a tendency to write the first few chapters at least five times before I find the rhythm of a novel. From there, it takes off.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
My schedule is very busy. I have six kids, I substitute teach, I'm a speaker, and I direct a writers' conference. Being flexible and committed are two of the most important parts of my writing.
What are you working on right now?
So many projects! I'm writing a story about a woman who finds out the mother she thought had died in a car accident with her father has actually been in prison all this time for murdering him. I'm also working on a nonfiction book with another author. We're telling our stories about moving through life with a BRCA mutation. And, I'm writing Kacey Perry's story. Oh, and a screenplay and a follow-up to my first novel. I really love my job!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I'm on social media as @ChristinaSuzann