This month David interviews the
author of It’s Not About Him
Edgy fiction writer Michelle
Sutton wears many hats. In addition to her role as Editor in Chief of Christian
Fiction Online Magazine, she is also a Sheaf House Marketing
Director, book reviewer, avid blogger/alliance member, CWOW blog
mistress, mother of two teenagers, wife, pet owner, social worker by
trade, and follower of Jesus Christ. Wow, and I thought my hands were
It’s Not About Him
(Sheaf House, September 2009) is the second installment in Michelle’s
popular Second Glances Series. It’s Not About Him,
picks up where the first book, It’s Not About Me
(also featured in this column, Dec ’08), left off, promoting some of
the secondary characters into the main spotlight. As with the first
book, I loved the edgy narrative and the powerful illustration of
sacrificial love so absent in today’s modern culture.
In this topsy-turvy world of
sound bites, gratuitous sex, and instant gratification, true love has
been reduced to an emotion that can be fallen in and out of on a whim.
As a youth pastor, it’s not often that I find a novel I can give to my
teens with the confidence that not only they will enjoy what they read,
but also it will change their lives. It’s Not About Him
by Michelle Sutton is such a book. Well done, Michelle.
Michelle Sutton graciously took
a few minutes out of her busy schedule to update us on what she has
been up to, as well as to discuss what goes into her own brand of edgy,
DM: What is
edgy Christian fiction?
MS: Edgy =
daringly innovative; on the cutting edge. Inspirational/Christian =
imparting a divine influence on the mind and soul through faith in
Christ. Fiction = the class of literature comprising works of
imaginative narration, especially in prose.
DM: Why is it
important that we keep the edginess in what we write?
MS: In this
day and age, the more relevant the novel is to our culture (today’s
youth in particular) the more effective it will be, IMHO. If it’s
daringly innovative or on the cutting edge, it will create a buzz, and
therefore youth will hear about the book and hopefully read it…whether
they are Christians or not.
DM: How much
does real-life inspire your stories?
Real-life is how I want to portray my stories. I want them to feel so
real that people will think the story really happened to me because I
describe things in such a realistic and believable manner that the
reader escapes into my story world as they read each of my books.
DM: What led
you to write your first novel?
MS: The first
novel I wrote releases in January 2010: First Impressions. It is
through Desert Breeze. What led me to write it was living around
Tombstone and seeing the story potential in that setting. The story is
about a woman and man who dress up
like they are from the Old West.
is a Christian; she is not. The heart of the story is about staying
close to the Lord and not dating people who don’t share faith in
DM: Do you
consider your writing to be a ministry?
Absolutely. I’d do it for no money at all (except the publishers need
money to keep publishing my books). But seriously, knowing that a young
person (or any person) was excited enough about my story to beg for the
next book in the series is very gratifying. I feel like I’ve connected
with the reader’s heart when that happens.
characters face some of life’s most difficult situations and moral
dilemmas. What lessons do you hope your readers will learn from your
MS: One of
my favorite lines from It’s Not About Him is in the prologue when Susie
writes, “I’m not what I did.” So often, girls label themselves after a
stupid mistake. For example, “Well, I’m no longer a virgin so why say
no anymore? It’s not going to change. I’ll never be a virgin again.”
(It’s especially sad when the young woman was raped by a family member
and she feels like she is soiled for life, so she becomes promiscuous.)
Oh, and I deal with that subject in another book, though it’s not rape,
just more like an uncomfortable attraction by dad and boundary issues
that confuse the girl in regard to healthy relationships. This book
should release in 2011.
DM: Have you
had any feedback from readers who have been helped by reading your
Absolutely. They often talk about how they really want to wait for
marriage because my books showed them why waiting is so much better
than giving your gift away and regretting it later. They also talk
about how important faith in Jesus is and that it needs to be real, not
just “doing church.” They love that. They also love that I let my
characters mess up so they can see how it affects their lives.
DM: What can
your fans look forward to from you in the near future?
kinds of stuff. You asked. I have eleven titles coming out
2012 and I’m not done yet. I’ve still got bunches more in the pipeline
and others at publishing houses under consideration. Bottom line is
there are a million stories in my head, but there is always something
the character learns in each book that profoundly impacts their lives.
A common theme is that even though what happened to them was horrible
at the time, the characters always see how God redeemed the situation
and used it for His glory. So they would not go back and change a thing
even if they could because it made them who they are today . . .
someone who has had their life transformed by the living God.
DM: Thank you,
ABOUT THE BOOK
Susie wakes up after a party
knowing something isn’t right. When she discovers she is pregnant but
has no idea who the father is, she decides to place her baby for
adoption with an infertile couple from church. Following through ends
up being more challenging than she’d imagined. But she wants to do the
right thing. If only Jeff would quit trying to marry her so she’ll keep
her baby! Why doesn’t he understand? It’s not about him; it’s about
what’s best for her child. Meanwhile, a man shows up in her life that
looks irritatingly familiar. Could he be the father?