Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Power of the Written Word

Today Forensics and Faith hears from novelist Lisa Harris. Lisa lives in Mozambique, Africa and is currently writing a series set in Africa for Zondervan. Book one, Blood Ransom, released this month. It's a thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it. The story has been described as "emotive, enthralling, and spectacular." Here's what Lisa had to say:

Have you ever stopped and really thought about how powerful words are? In the Bible, James talks about how difficult it is to tame the tongue, because from it flows words that both praise and curse. Words can express love and hatred. They can convey frustration, excitement, joy, pain and a multitude of other emotions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of the written word and how fiction can be used to motivate and inspire. It started a few months ago when I was sitting in the Joburg airport in South Africa, waiting for a flight back to the States and started talking to the woman next to me. She began sharing with me about a novel that had completely changed her life.

She was a flight attendant for Delta and because of this book’s impact, she had just spent some time in Africa working with an orphan program (one of many trips), speaking to one of Nelson Mandela's representatives, and had even gotten Delta involved in the project. Her husband was flying in and out of Sudan as a pilot and staying extra time to work as a humanitarian there as well. As an author who wants to entertain, but also use words to challenge, inspire, and change lives, I was struck by just how powerful a "fiction" story can be.

As I promote Blood Ransom, a suspense novel set in Africa that deals with the human-trafficking trade, I'm finding more and more people who are not willing to just become "aware" of these issues facing our world, but who are finding ways to get involved in grass roots movements. This in turn will change the world we live in!

How about you? As a reader is there a book you’ve read lately that has inspired you or perhaps even changed your life?

As a writer, how do you write a book that deals with a social issue without overwhelming the story line?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

-- Lisa

Visit Lisa's Web site.

Lisa's blog.
Buy Blood Ransom in paperback from Amazon, $9.27
Buy Blood Ransom on Kindle, $9.59
Buy paperback from, $11.99


Timothy Fish said...

I see it as the task of the fiction writer to shine a spotlight on the problems created by the issue rather than providing the reader with the solution. And if we really want to motivate people, we should leave the problem unresolved at the end of the novel. Take Uncle Tom’s Cabin for example. It doesn’t come out and say, “End slavery and we won’t have this problem.” Instead, it shows slavery through the eyes of a man who is trying to live within the system by being the best slave he can be. We want him to be free, but his freedom only comes through death. As readers, we want to fix it and as members of society we realize that the only way to fix it is to change the system.

Often, the solution we as writers see as the best is not. Our readers may have a better solution, or it may take many collective minds working together to reach the best solution. One of the worst things we can do is spend our time preaching on our solution to the problem through fiction rather than allowing the readers to discover a solution.

It helps if people are already moving in the direction we want them to go. Uncle Tom’s Cabin wouldn’t have impacted America the way it did if people weren’t already feeling some degree of guilt.

Heather Sunseri said...

As a writer, I hope to create stories about "real" characters who are flawed just like you and me. If the story is about them and their reactions to situations, the storyline becomes something that we, as readers, want to get involved with. To keep social issues from overwhelming the story, I think some of the conflict has to be left open. Our made-up characters get involved and they may even help a situation improve, but wouldn't it be wonderful to get people involved outside the parameters of fiction?

Lisa, I loved Blood Ransom. I happened to pick it up the first weekend it was released. Action packed, and dealt with an incredibly difficult issue. Loved it! This is a perfect example of fiction that might inspire real people to get involved with a real issue.