Get Set
Elizabeth Musser

Elizabeth Musser, a native of Atlanta, Georgia now living in France, is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’ Her novels have been acclaimed in the United States and in Europe. The Swan House (Bethany House, 2001), set in Atlanta in the early sixties, was named as one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year (2001) and was an ABA and SEBA bestseller. Her French-Algerian trilogy, which takes place during Algeria’s War for Independence from France (Two Crosses, Two Testaments, Two Destinies) has been a bestseller in Europe. The Dwelling Place (2005) and Searching for Eternity (2007) are also set in France and Atlanta. Elizabeth’s new novel, Words Unspoken, will be released in spring, 2009. For over 20 years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in mission work with International Teams. They presently live in Lyon, France. The Mussers have two sons, Andrew and Christopher. To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, please visit her website at

An American in Paris—I Mean—Lyon

Bonjour, comment ça va?

How y’all doing?

How did a Southern girl from Atlanta, Georgia, end up in Lyon, France?

Searching For Eternity

I’m a missionary. And a writer. I have the kind of jobs that aren’t listed in any of the choices on those school forms my sons have to fill out under “parent’s profession.” For twenty years my husband I have lived in France, and for twenty years we’ve heard comments like “Wow, France. It must be nice. Tough life.”

And we smile and nod and then explain, if the person cares to listen, that France is a rather tough mission field. Really. Despite the history and culture and pastries and cheeses and, gasp, wines, a great spiritual apathy is in this beautiful and beautifully diverse country. We knew when we signed up for career missions that to be effective in France we’d need to stay for the long haul. By God’s grace we have.

But that has presented challenges for me in my other job as a Christian fiction writer. For the past fourteen years, I have penned stories in English to send back to my American publisher.

It used to be quite expensive, bundling up that precious manuscript and sending it via UPS. Over $100. Once, I confided my “baby” to a teenage boy in our youth group who was traveling to New York and asked him to mail my manuscript from there, where the postage would cost me only $20. The only problem was that he had a changeover in London and accidentally left my packaged manuscript on a bus that took him between airports. What was I thinking? A teenage boy! And this was in the ’90s when London police were blowing up any unclaimed, suspicious-looking luggage.

Let’s just say I paid big bucks to learn my lesson.

Happily now, I can zip my manuscript through cyberspace, and my editor receives it at his desk in America in no time at all. And the postage is free!

How have I gotten published and marketed my novels while living in France? Writer’s conferences have been lifesavers for me. I have attended three in the past fifteen years, working them in when I am home in the States. At my first conference, I learned how to present a professional book proposal, I attended workshops, and I met book editors face-to-face. One of those meetings resulted in a contract for my first novel four months later.

At conferences, I’ve gotten to meet other writers, talk with agents, and keep up-to-date on my profession. It is encouraging to have friends who are only an e-mail away.

Marketing my books has called for creativity. Of course, my publisher does the bulk of the marketing, but I certainly have a part to play. I’m very thankful for the Internet. Having a Web site has made it easier to reach my readers.

And although I can’t stop in bookstores throughout the year, I do make the most of my trips back to the States when a new book is releasing. (I always bring yummy French chocolates with me to hand out!) It becomes very intense as I schedule signings and speaking engagements, interviews and meetings with book clubs all within a short amount of time. Intense but so rewarding. Every time I get to sign a book or speak to a bookstore owner or share with a group of women, I feel like the Lord is giving me a big hug. He has allowed me to write for His glory—my lifetime dream.

A highlight of my most recent trip back to the States was getting to meet all the great people who work at my publishing house. It was well worth the investment in travel to be able to talk with the marketing and editorial teams. Having my agent meet me there was an extra blessing. We’re all in this business together!

A few years ago I joined a Yahoo group for published Christian authors. Again, this has given me great opportunities to keep up with the market in the States, make new friends, and meet fellow professionals who “get” my work.

One writing perk to living in France is that I’ve gotten to travel and speak in other European countries where my novels are published. God is using Christian novels to reach people all over the world.

Which brings me to my main frustration at Christian fiction in America: Through marketing statistics, I’ve discovered that most evangelical Americans want to read novels that take place only in America. I believe American Christians desperately need to be aware of the whole big world out there! As technology makes the world grow smaller, we need to be challenged and stretched in our cultural beliefs while holding tightly to the Gospel.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing Southern fiction with a French twist.

It’s not easy to juggle two jobs in two countries. But what a privilege. Now excuse me, please, while I grab a baguette, a piece of cheese, and a glass of wi . . . grape juice.

Elizabeth Musser books