I’m always excited when a friend releases a new book, and this book didn’t disappoint. Michelle DeRusha and I “met” online a while back but got to meet in real life last October at the Allume Conference. (I’m going again this year, btw.) You may remember back in April I reviewed (and gave away!) Michelle’s book, Spiritual Misfit. I’m excited to interview her AND giveaway a copy of her latest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.
Tell us a little about yourself (location, vocation, family, etc.).
I grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, 13 years ago, where I discovered the Great Plains (big sky, big land!), ginormous grasshoppers (thank you, no) and God. Raised Catholic, I’d fallen hard from religion and faith in my youth, and God found me again in Nebraska (so really, it’s a good thing I moved here). I’m now a practicing Lutheran, and I write about living out faith in the everyday – writing is both my passion and my profession.
I’m married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun. And we have two bug-loving (including grasshopper-loving) boys, a lizard named Frill and the laziest Corgi-Beagle girl in history!
How did you come to write 50 Women?
50 Women wasn’t actually a book I planned to write. I’d originally written a memoir about my return to faith, but after two years, my agent wasn’t able to sell it to a publisher, so she approached me with a project she thought might be a good fit in the meantime. Truthfully, I was less than enthused, but I agreed to write the book, largely because I needed the work.
Of course, it didn’t take long before I was completely enamored with the women in this book. Every time I finished writing a chapter, I told my husband, “This one was my favorite woman yet!” I was simply so inspired and so encouraged by their stories of faith, determination and perseverance.
And the timing of my work on this particular book was remarkable, when you think of it. There I was, so discouraged by lack of progress with the memoir, and suddenly I had 50 women whose stories inspired and encouraged me at just the right time. God always has a plan for us, even when we can’t see it ourselves at the time. I tend to forget this with some frequency.
I loved your memoir, Spiritual Misfit. As you researched these women, which one did you most relate to?
I was really surprised to discover just how many of the women in this book could qualify as “spiritual misfits” themselves. Going into it, I’d placed many of these women on a pedestal as heroines of Christian history, but what I learned in the research and writing of this book is that every single one of these women flawed and fallible, just like me.
So, for instance, I learned how Madeleine L’Engle and Mother Teresa wrestled with doubt. I learned that the writer Dorothy Sayers didn’t particularly want to be a Christian writer (she preferred writing mysteries). I learned that Faye Edgerton, a missionary with the Navajo people, had been considered by her classmates to be the person least likely to become a missionary.
I’d say I probably related to the writers the most, particularly L’Engle and Flannery O’Connor, just because writing is my passion and my calling, too.
Which one(s) would you most like to meet for coffee?
Oh man, the impossible question!
I would love to meet Anne Hutchinson, because her determination in the face of such resistance astounds me. I would love to meet Harriet Tubman, because I am in awe of her fearlessness and her faith. And I would love to talk writing with Madeleine L’Engle (although I’d probably be so intimidated, I wouldn’t say a word!).
What would you like your readers to take away from 50 Women?
Oh there are so, so many valuable lessons we can learn from these women! I think overall, though, I would love for readers to know that they are not alone. The women in this book have walked before us, and in many ways, they continue to walk with us. As I say in the introduction, their struggles are our struggles, their grief our grief, their joy our joy. We walk through similar valleys and rejoice on similar mountaintops. These women are our heroines, our role models and our leaders, yes, but they are also our sisters in faith. I think their stories can offer us great comfort, encouragement and hope.
Now it’s YOUR turn! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for #50Women. I’ll announce the winner here next Tuesday.