Monday, March 8, 2010

Interview and book giveaway with Lisa Harris

COLLEEN: Today we have the privilege of interviewing multi-faceted, multi-published author, Lisa Harris. Lisa is no stranger to ICFW, as she is one of the creators/founding mothers of this great site. Thanks for your hard work and welcome, Lisa.

Your colleagues and fans want to know what makes Lisa Harris tick, so let’s give them some answers to their questions. First of all, why? Why do you write? What is the engine behind the hours, days, and weeks of clicking on the keyboard, wracking your brain for better ways to tell your story?

LISA: If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve thought about quitting a hundred times. Not because I don’t love to write, but as all mothers, daughters, friends, and wives know, life can get complicated. It amazes me just how much we have to fit into a twenty-four hour period! But I’ve also come to realize that writing is something that comes from deep within me and is a part of who I am. I see it as a gift from God and one I want to use to his glory. So because of that, I’ll keep writing until God says stop.

COLLEEN: And how long have you been doing this?

LISA: I started writing Nancy Drew type stories when I was in junior high, but didn’t decide to actually try a book until much, much later. When my oldest was born, I was at home with no car and since he slept a lot, I decided to take the plunge. Writing one book left me wanting to understand the craft better. So, I studied and wrote, went to conferences and wrote, and eventually sold my first novella to Barbour Publishing.

COLLEEN: Your tenacity is an inspiration. You’ve sold scores of short stories, articles, and now your twenty-first book, an incredible accomplishment for such a young woman. But more mind-boggling yet is that your work spans contemporary and historical romance, cozies, and international thrillers. How you do that, and what challenges do you encounter writing in more than one genre?

LISA: Even though my books do span a number of genres, I’ve tried to keep the same basic elements in each story. I love suspense and mystery, so in most of my romances you’ll find these threads woven into the story. My current series with Zondervan is set in Africa, combining strong suspense and adventure, with a subtle romance line.

COLLEEN: You are going on your seventh year of living outside of the United States, having resided in South Africa, Brazil, and now, Mozambique. How has that influenced your writing?

LISA: Very deeply. I love the chance to take my readers to places they might not ever be able to visit in person. And as I look at other cultures, settings, and people who live differently from us, I’m also reminded of the fact that we are really all very much the same, especially through God’s eyes.

Revelation 5:9 (NLT) says, “And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

COLLEEN: That verse sends shivers up my spine. And it explains why you are in Mozambique right now. How do you balance ministry with writing?

LISA: It has its challenges. We are currently working in a relatively unchurched area with house churches and discipleship. What actually takes more time right now than writing, though, is home schooling, which has had to take priority even over my ministry opportunities. I’ve come to realize that we all have seasons in our lives, and each season can take us in very different directions. Before children, I was heavily involved in ministry, and I believe that once my kids leave home that time will come again. For now, though, I feel it important to teach, train, and disciple my children, while playing an active, but supporting, role in the ministry.

COLLEEN: Without a doubt, God honors those priorities, Lisa. But you do continue to write. So, let’s talk about your newest release, Blood Ransom. I’ve had the privilege to read only the Prologue and the first chapter. But, I am like, “Pass the popcorn, folks, this is going to be an awesome movie!” Tell us where you got your idea for this book and how you researched to assure authenticity.

LISA: I’m so glad you enjoyed the opening! I’ve always loved adventure movies set in exotic places and really wanted to write one set in Africa. So I took that beginning seed of suspense, adventure, and a sprinkle of romance and began to come up with a solid plan.

My editor, Sue Brower, wanted the main characters to be a part of a mission-type organization that brought humanitarian relief, so Volunteers of Hope was born as the backdrop organization several of my characters work for.
Even though I live in Africa, writing the book still required tons of on-line research, as well as help from my experts, to ensure the book’s realism and authenticity.

COLLEEN: Blood Ransom is the first in the Mission Hope Series. How many books can we look forward to?

LISA: So far, Zondervan has contracted two books in the series The hero of the second one, being released next spring, is Nick, a pilot and secondary character Blood Ransom one who begged for a story of his own. If the book sells well, I’d love the chance to add to the series.

COLLEEN: Lisa, I know you have a specific theme on your heart that you want to emanate from the pages of Blood Ransom. Please tell us about that.

LISA: I want to inspire people to let God use them in extraordinary ways. You probably feel the same way I often do. God, I’m too small and inadequate to do what You’re calling me to do! But the Bible is filled with inadequate people. When God called Gideon, Gideon’s response was that not only was his clan the weakest in his tribe, but that he was the least in his family! God proceeded to lead Gideon to victory with only three hundred men, some trumpets, jars, and torches. David, a shepherd, became king of a nation. Rahab was a prostitute, yet because she feared God, she not only saved Israel’s spies, but she became a part of the linage of Jesus. God used ordinary people to do extraordinary things with His power!

A friend and I recently started a blog to motivate and inspire with stories where God is using people, just like you and me, to do extraordinary things. You can find out more about it here.

COLLEEN: Thank you so much for sharing with us today. It has been a privilege to interview you and get to know more about the author behind these great books. Be sure and visit Lisa's blog and website to find out more about her books. And check out the book trailer for Blood Ransom below.

LISA: Thanks so much for the interview, Colleen!

COLLEEN: Lisa will be giving away a copy of Blood Ransom. Please leave a comment below with a way to contact you for a chance to win a copy. The winner will be drawn this Friday and announced on Sunday.

Colleen Shine Phillips lives with her family in QuilpuĂ©, Chile. Teaching, leading, and discipling have dominated the last thirty-two years of her life in South America. Although she continues these activities, her primary professional role today is writing. She has authored many plays, Bible studies and lessons, and short stories. You can read her first published short story, “Beware of the Caleuche”, in Clubhouse, February 2009. Colleen is in the process of marketing her Tween adventure novel, Caleuche Redemption, which just won second place in a writing contest. Her newest work in process is International Intrigue. To learn more about Colleen and her writing, please visit her blog.

Contest is void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.


  1. I would love to win a copy of Blood Ransome. For 15 years I lived, worked and reared children in East Africa. Although we were not missionaries we were associated with a big Mission Station and took part in some of their work and outreach. Africa, once experienced gets under your skin!

  2. I really like Lisa's books and read her blog,
    Please enter me into the drawing for her new book


  3. I can't wait to read this book!
    Congratulations, Lisa and great interview Colleen!

  4. thanks for the opportunity to read this wonderful book


  5. Colleen and Lisa, wonderful interview and I love the photos :-) Thanks for sharing the verse in Revelation. Also, please don't enter me in the drawing - I've already ordered a copy of Lisa's book and can't wait for it to arrive :-)

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing! You're so right, Heckety, there is something about Africa that gets in your blood and never leaves you once you visit. From the people, to the sights and smells it's a unique place to be.

  7. Just read your prologue and first chapter of this book on your own blog, Lisa! Can't wait to read it!

  8. Great post. I have this book on my to get list. Please enter me.

  9. Massive congratulations Lisa - can't wait to read it!

  10. I would love to read this to learn more about the plight in Africa. Please enter me. Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  11. Blood Ransom is already on my must-read list and I really enjoyed Lisa's interview. It takes getting outside of my comfortable United States settings to even catch a glimmer of what Christians face in certain areas around the world. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of Blood Ransom.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  12. To me, Lisa is not only family, but someone that I feel is a Christian example to all of us who wish to make the Lord our Master at all times & in all things. Her upcoming book is exciting! Her blog one of the very first e-mails that I open when she writes. God Bless!
    Alene Knox