Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta
native and the bestselling author of The Swan House,
is a novelist who writes what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’
Her Secrets of the Cross trilogy will be published
in the summer of 2012, including the long-awaited finale, Two
For over twenty years,
Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work
with International Teams. They presently live near Lyon, France. The
Mussers have two sons and a daughter-in-law.
Being a native
of Atlanta, Georgia, what has God shown you by sending you to France
for most of the last twenty years?
The Lord faithfully taught me so
much about Himself during these years! I truly believe that He called
me to France not because He needed me in France—He is perfectly capable
of getting His work done without me, but He knew that I would need Him
more in France. Stripped of the comfort of my upbringing and living in
a post-Christian, postmodern culture, I had much to learn about
trusting His timing and His ability to provide for all of my needs. In
France, my family and coworkers encountered a lot of spiritual
opposition and psychological resistance to the gospel. I learned to
hang on tight to Jesus and that He was in control even when many things
in my life seemed out of control.
I do miss Atlanta—my extended
family lives there as well as some of my very dearest friends. I love
the city and have enjoyed introducing readers to Atlanta through my
novels The Swan House, The Dwelling Place, Searching for
Eternity, and The Sweetest Thing. It
never gets easier to live far away from loved ones. Now that both of
our sons and our daughter-in-law (and soon-to-be-born first grandson)
live in the Southeast, we try to get back to Atlanta at least once a
“Living in another culture is a great way to be humbled, again and
again . . . He humbles us before He uses us.” Does this still resonate
in you after years on the mission field?
Yes! It’s a biblical principle:
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to
the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it
produces many seeds.” As believers, if we are to produce anything for
God’s kingdom, we have to die to ourselves. Living in France was the
fertile ground on which the Lord brought me (and continues to bring me)
to the end of myself. Things didn’t turn out how I’d planned or prayed,
but the Lord showed up in a much deeper, bigger, better way than my
little creative mind could invent. It was humbling, surprisingly, and
oh, so freeing. Over and over I learned “when I am weak, I am strong”
and “to Him who can do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or
What was your
inspiration for Two Crosses? What does the story mean to you?
I like to choose relatively
unknown points in history and bring them alive. Living in Montpellier,
France, for four years, I’d heard quite a lot about the Algerian War
for Independence from France (1957–1962); however, I figured that most
Americans knew nothing about this war. I wanted to introduce them to
this piece of history and to the North African culture as well as the
much loved South of France. That was the background for Two Crosses.
The story itself combined everything I love to read about: history,
art, literature, mystery, romance, and adventure.
How did the
re-release of this trilogy come about? What do you hope your fans will
find in this trilogy?
In the mid 1990s David C Cook
acquired my then publisher, Victor Books. A moratorium was placed on
adult fiction. As a result, this third book in the trilogy was left
hanging and published only in Europe.
Late in 2009, my wonderful
editor and friend, LB Norton, contacted Don Pape, Cook’s new trade
books publisher. Later Don wanted to revisit the trilogy, so he
connected with my literary agent, Chip MacGregor.
I hope my readers will fall in
love with France, the country I now call home. I want my readers to
understand more about North Africa. But mostly, I hope the themes of
forgiveness, courage, faith, and trust—in the midst of life’s big and
little tragedies—will resonate with my readers.
My characters are Catholic,
Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and atheist. These novels are more relevant
to my readers today than when I wrote them in the late 1990s. I tackle
faith questions and issues that Americans read about and see on the
is your favorite character in the trilogy? Does he/she share any of
your own personality traits?
twenty-one-year-old protagonist of Two Crosses, is
probably most like me: creative, well-intentioned, loves art and
literature, always says too much, loves the Lord Jesus. Many readers
tell me they can relate to the cynical young teacher, David Hoffmann,
with his doubts, anger, and questions. I love six-year-old Ophélie who
has a complex personality and an almost mystical sense of perception.
Mother Griolet, the seventy-three-year-old “renegade” nun, possesses
down-to-earth wisdom—she’s feisty with gentleness. I don’t have a
favorite, but when you stay with your characters for three books, they
become friends. I have loved reediting these novels, making the
characters a little fuller, more three-dimensional.
was required to recreate the Algerian/French Civil War?
I did all of my research by
reading French history books, watching documentaries in French, and
doing face-to-face interviews with people who had been involved in the
Algerian war for independence and now lived in Montpellier. Also, I had
many dear missionary friends in France who worked with North Africans
living in France as well as in Algeria and provided me with invaluable
The Huguenot cross, worn by many
French Protestants today, became a symbol in my story, drawing the
characters together in surprising ways.
One challenge is to portray
another culture truthfully, and I found that much of what I read had
biases for and against the Algerian people. I was careful not to take
sides, but rather present the real-life events as a background for my
What was the
most memorable letter you’ve received from a reader? What impact did it
have on your writing?
Frequently I receive letters
that say that God used one of my novels to change lives and perception
of faith. These letters are extremely humbling and encouraging and are
also an answer to my prayers that believers will find the soul in my
novels and then pass them on to others who need to hear the wonderful
news of Jesus in a realistic, non-threatening way.
What is God is
doing in your life right now?
My husband and I have begun a
new role with our mission agency called Member Care. We’re responsible
for the spiritual well-being of our missionaries throughout Europe. We
visit our missionaries and listen, care, encourage, and challenge them.
We have experienced much of what they are going through: left
everything to move to a new culture, struggled with homesickness,
chronic illness, raising children far from family, endless good-byes,
ministry sorrows . . . The Lord is showing me again that our pain,
sorrows, questions, heartaches, over-the-top joy, repentance, and tears
are never wasted. He teaches and comforts us in the midst of pain so
that we can then care for and encourage others. I love God’s economy.
To learn more about Elizabeth
and her books, and to find discussion questions as well as photos of
sites mentioned in the stories, please visit www.elizabethmusser.com.
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons both nearing the end of high school, Kim’s
life is full and blessed. She enjoys singing, writing and spending time
with her family. She blogs at: Window
To My World