By Ellie Whyte
Lisa Harris is an award-winning author of more than twenty novels and novellas, who lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.
Lisa is a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.
She currently lives with her husband, Scott, near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique as church-planting missionaries. Two of their three children are attending a missionary boarding school, while she homeschools their daughter.
As a homeschooling mom, life is never dull, but she sees her writing as an extension of her ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves...the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." (Proverbs 31:8)
When she's not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Like most women, I juggle a lot of roles. Mom, wife, teacher, chauffeur, writer. . .My husband and I have three beautiful children, and we’ve lived in southern Africa now for over ten years. We currently live in Mozambique and are involved in church planting and discipleship. We’ve been blessed to see a lot of the world and experience many different cultures, something I’m extremely thankful for.
How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
Writing is something I wanted to do from the time I was small. I started a few stories in junior high, then didn’t really take it seriously until I was in my late twenties. After our oldest was born, I was a stay-at-home mom with no vehicle, so I decided it was finally time for me to write a book. And I did. I had (and still do) so much to learn. I soaked up everything I could from writer’s groups, conferences, and how-to books. About six years later, I got that first call from an editor that they were going to buy my story.
What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?
Stories have an amazing way of contacting with readers on an emotional level. Sometimes they make us laugh. Sometimes they make us cry. They stretch us, and take us to places we've never been. With Christian fiction, you have the added spiritual journey that can stir the soul and make us look at the world in a different light.
How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
I want them to get pulled in emotionally to the characters and stories. And I want to challenge them, encourage and motivate them, and show them things they might not have thought of before.
What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?
The realization that fiction (primarily by non-fiction readers) can actually challenge you and help you grow spiritually!
How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
Often, the stories I write deal with things I am searching for spiritually. So while they are never my story, I always delve in and learn something in my characters' journeys.
As a writer, what influences have inspired you the most to write, and continue writing?
When I was young, I loved reading. Loved living stories other people had written which in turn gave me a strong desire to put down on paper the stories running through my own head. And while it’s challenging, I find it a joy to write and am so thankful for the opportunities to share stories from my heart.
Every writer struggles with various aspects of their writing journey. What has been the most difficult aspect of writing for you, and what come the most naturally?
It’s so true that the writing journey is tough. There are periods of waiting, rejections, and having to keep persevering. There is also the feedback—sometimes negative—on something that is so personal to you. That is always hard. But there are the joys as well. When a story pours out of you and comes to life. . .I love that part. It’s not always easy or even natural, but I see the stories I tell as something God has given to me, so in a way they do come naturally.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring writers - either something you adhere to, or something you wish you had known when you started writing?
I guess this goes with the last question, it isn’t always an easy journey. I’ve learned so much about myself though through the process. Like how to keep going past rejection, and how to find time to write along side everything else. So if you are an aspiring writer, then write. Keep writing when it’s hard. Keep learning, and find joy a long the journey as well!
As a reader, which stories excite you the most to read, and do you have any favourite novelists?
I love romantic suspense which is what I write. When I was a teen I read Victoria Holt and loved the suspense weaved into the novels. Later on I read Dee Henderson and loved the way she handled the romance in her novels. I definitely learn a lot from reading.
What are some of your most favourite places on the internet to visit, that help challenge you as a writer, and encourage you as a reader?
I enjoy looking at other writers blogs and websites to see what they are writing. I also enjoy checking out writing blogs and police procedure blogs. I do lots of research on the internet while I’m writing, so it’s always fun to discover a new site.
What can you tell us about your most recent and upcoming novels?
In January, book three of my Southern Crimes series came out. I loved writing that series, but am now busy working on a brand new series that will come out in October, book one in the Nikki Boyd Files which will deal with a missing person task force. I’m also excited for the chance to write four more internationally set stories for Love Inspired Suspense and have one set off the coast of West Africa that comes out in September.
Do you have any parting words?
Thank you so much for having me! I appreciate all that you do for writers and readers!
Have you read any books by Lisa Harris? Comment below and tell us your favourites so far, or if any of Lisa's writing advice or experience resonates with you.
ELLIE WHYTE is a long-time supporter of Christian fiction and is the founder and owner/operator of Soul Inspirationz // The Christian Fiction Site which relaunched after a 5-year hiatus in January 2013. Ellie also has aspirations for her own writing career, and has begun working on a project set in New Zealand in the 1850s.
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