Susan Norris ~ Rescuing Hope

 A
powerful voice for hope, international speaker Susan Norris helps teens and
women find freedom from strongholds in the areas of purity and spiritual
identity. In her debut novel, Rescuing
Hope,
 she frames the
realities of sex trafficking in America. This woman of boldness, known to many
as Miss Susan, spent countless hours with survivors, their families, detectives
and a former pimp, emerging a voice for victims and a catalyst for action among
her peers. She networks on behalf of organizations such as Resolution Hope, Not
for Sale, and Out of Darkness, lobbies for stronger laws to protect victims and
walks alongside rescued girls as they piece together shattered lives. Having
graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Master’s of
Education, Susan taught in public and private schools and served as a leader
for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes before being called to full time
ministry. She lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia, and considers them to
be her highest calling. Susan can be found at her website, Twitter  @SusanCNorris, and Facebook.
Susan, what made you decide to write a
novel about this?

I first
heard about the issue of human sex trafficking two and a half years ago. Once I
learned this was taking place in my city I had to do something about it. When I
met with Mary Frances Bowley of Wellspring Living, she said we needed to make
people aware this isn’t just a problem overseas, but it’s a problem in our
backyards. Thus began my journey to write a book telling the story for those
whose voice is not heard. I’d never written a book before, but I was willing to
learn as I went.
How long did it take from conception to
completed manuscript?

I
spent six months researching the issue, interviewing survivors, family members
of trafficked girls, detectives, organization that fight the issue and a former
pimp so I could gain a variety of perspectives. I spent about nine months
writing the manuscript and another ten to twelve months doing editing and
revisions before it was finally ready for print. During the editing and
revision writing, I met Brian Shivler of Resolution Hope who said they’d love
to launch the book at their New Year’s Eve kick off to a national awareness
campaign on human sex trafficking of minors. In order to have the book ready
for the event, I had to self-publish. Resolution Hope’s New Year’s Eve event
will take place in Pittsburgh, PA and there will be a simulcast location at
Riverstone Church in Kennesaw, Georgia. The book will be available at both
venues on New Year’s Eve as well as online.
Did anything unusual happen while you were
researching?

The
most unique or unusual thing that happened was having the opportunity to sit
down with a man who had pimped for thirty years before he gave his life to
Jesus. Hearing his take on the lifestyle and what has happened in his life
since then was captivating. He is now on the front lines fighting against human
trafficking, rescuing girls and getting them into treatment centers. It was
encouraging to hear such a story of redemption. As I listened to him share
stories of his childhood and how he ended up pimping, I realized the pimps and
the johns are wounded and need Jesus just as much as their victims.
What type of writer are you?

I
never thought of myself as a writer. Honestly, I’d say I’m more of an
intercessor. It’s through prayer over all I had learned that the story of
Rescuing Hope was birthed. Each day, while in my prayer closet, the Lord would
show me glimpses of Hope’s story. I would record what I had seen and pull from
my interview notes to bring the characters to life. With the assistance of a
fabulous editor, we were able to clean things up a bit and deliver a powerful
story.
Each
day as I wrote, I played the song, Restoration, by David Brymer, Clay Edwards
and Audra Hartke, as I sat down to write. It helped center my focus on what the
message of Rescuing Hope was.
What’s
the most difficult part of writing for you?

I’m a former elementary school teacher and a public speaker. All my life I’ve
been teaching and telling no matter what the topic. The hardest shift for me
was to go from telling to showing. It felt like I wrote three million revisions
of the manuscript shifting from telling to showing. Thankfully, I had a very
skillful editor who pointed out when I got it right and when I needed to
rewrite.
Where
do you write
?
Rescuing Hope was written in two different
venues. When I needed a quiet place to focus and work without being disturbed,
I locked myself in my office and dared anyone to come through the door. However,
there were days I need people around, just not interacting with me. When that
happened, I would sneak away to what I refer to as my satellite office, The
Daily Grind. It’s a great little coffee shop where they know me well. They
would have my Chai Latte ready and waiting on me as I unpacked my computer. If
I worked through lunch, they would bring lunch to my table and I’d pay for it
when I packed up to leave. It was like having an office staff take care of me
while I worked. I can’t say enough fabulous things about the Daily Grind.
What’s
the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Show, don’t tell. Obviously, it’s what I
needed the most help with, so today, that’s the best piece of advice I’ve heard.
I have so much to learn.
Any
parting words or advice?
If God calls you to write, just do it. Don’t
get hung up on what you don’t know. If He called you to do it, He’ll equip you
or bring people into your life to help guide you along the way. There are
countless people who have touched Rescuing Hope to make it the book it is today.
If I had waited until I felt capable or trained enough to write it, I probably
never would. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told God I never asked
to write a book. He chuckles and reminds me that I did tell Him I wanted to be
used by Him. We don’t always get to pick how He uses us. We have to be willing
to do whatever He sends our way.