Tag Archives: Scotland

Take 5 with author Liz Curtis Higgs

16 Mar

Liz Curtis Higgs is my favorite former bad girl.  Author of the Bad Girls of the Bible series as well as a slew of other award-winning books, Liz just released her latest historical novel, Mine Is the Night (read review), which completes the tale that began with Here Burns My Candle.  Both novels take the book of Ruth and transplant it in 18th century Scotland.  The result is a series that is both breathtaking in its historical detail and swoon-worthy in its classic romance.   I adore Liz—her personality, her writing, her zeal for God’s Word—and am beyond excited to interview her for the first time on Backseat Writer.

You have a special gift for retelling stories of the Bible, yet leaving the message intact.  When did you first discover you were a storyteller?

Almost as soon as I started reading, I started writing little stories on paper for my family and friends. My first go at a novel came at age ten. Yes, I still have it, and yes, it’s laughable! But when I hold it in my hands I remember that young girl who dreamed of writing real novels someday. I kept that dream under wraps for many years, through high school and college, through my radio career and the early years of my speaking career. In the mid-90s I finally confessed to a writing friend, “I believe God is calling me to write fiction,” then waited for her to laugh. Instead she said, “Why not? You’re a natural storyteller.” Her kind words gave me the courage I needed for the next step: showing an editor my work. Thank the Lord she didn’t laugh either! I wrote two contemporary novels and a novella before turning to historical fiction in 2003 with Thorn in My Heart.

I read that the story of Ruth, the basis for Mine Is the Night, has been a longtime favorite of yours.  What do you love about this story?

It’s a romance for the ages, one that goes far beyond girl-meets-boy. A young woman leaves behind her pagan gods to follow the God of Israel, then leaves behind her family to follow her bitter, broken mother-in-law, and finally leaves behind her widow’s weeds to marry a man who is older than she, yet wise in the things of God. It’s the ultimate rags-to-riches, loss-to-redemption, sorrow-to-celebration story. Glorious! By moving Ruth and Naomi’s journey to eighteenth-century Scotland, I hoped I might help readers look at their story afresh and discover what God might be saying to us about his loving-kindness and mercy.

What captivates you about Scotland, where so many of your tales find their setting?

The land itself is beautifully green and rolling in the Lowlands, then strikingly barren and majestic in the Highlands. History is everywhere you turn in Scotland, with castles and cottages dotting the landscape. Traditions are woven into their lives like a thick tapestry. And faith runs through the backbone of Scotland like the Great Glen itself. It’s simply a magical place. I’ve been there a dozen times and cannot wait to return.

Your Bad Girls of the Bible books have greatly impacted my life and the way I look at the Bible.  How has sharing parts of your own story through your writing and speaking helped others? (And maybe even helped to heal you!)

It took ten years of sharing my Former Bad Girl story from the platform before I had the courage to share it on the pages of my first book, One Size Fits All and Other Fables, released in 1993 and now long out of print. So my healing was already well underway when I wrote Bad Girls of the Bible in 1999, praying I might help other women break free from the mistakes of their past and embrace the grace that God offers. Jesus loved hanging around with Bad Girls, with prostitutes, with those who were unclean, unwelcome, unseen. What a Savior! It’s been thrilling—and humbling—to watch God work in the lives of our sisters through the Bad Girls of the Bible series.

When was the last time you laughed out loud in a very unladylike fashion?

I do that on a daily basis! Though I have to say, this little story that arrived in my morning email made me LOL: A woman was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter. After the woman applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little girl said, “But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!” Love it.

For more information on Liz Curtis Higgs, please visit her online at LizCurtisHiggs.com.  She’s also on Facebook and Twitter.  Everyone needs a little Lizzie in her life!

Don’t forget to read Backseat Writer’s review of Mine Is the Night.

Book Review:: Wicked Company by Ciji Ware

29 Oct

By Donna Landis  Wicked Company by Ciji Ware is a historical romance which is 600 pages long. The young Scottish heroine, Sophie McGann, endures (and I do mean endures) every possible vengeful action against her. Death of loved ones, marriage to a drunkard and abuser, evil worshipers, lustful suitors, an insane asylum, theft, and deception, to name a few, are some of the wicked company of events that hound her.

Now Wicked Company is also a romance, as evidenced by Sophie’s rugged would-be actor friend/lover the ever so handsome Hunter Robertson. However, the 18th Century is a difficult place in the theatre world of London. So Sophie is forced to make her own way using her wits since the men folk she befriends (including the elusive hunk, Hunter) are traitors, evil or absent.

The novel is rich in fascinating historical detail. Historical characters are woven into the novel and mingle easily with Ware’s fictional characters. But, 600 pages of melodrama were difficult to endure when I knew (this being a historical romance) that Sophie and Hunter would find true happiness in each others’ arms. Wicked Company is a detailed historical endurance for the dedicated romance reader.

My rating: C

Donna Landis is a retired teacher (over 30 years of teaching kindergarteners was enough).  She has one daughter, Amy, who is the head honcho of Backseat Writer.  She lives in Pennsylvania and owns a cute dog named Katie.

*Thanks to SourceBooks for this review copy!*

Susan Boyle’s Got Talent

15 Apr

When Susan Boyle tried out for “Britain’s Got Talent,” I bet she never dreamed that no only would she WOW the judges (including the ol’ curmudgeons Simon Cowell and his pal, Piers Morgan) or that she would become an overnight internet sensation.  I’ve never been particularly interested in “Britain’s Got Talent” or its American counterpart, but I’ve watched this Susan Boyle clip over a dozen times by now.  Partly because I’m trying to figure out if the two guys who are the show hosts are from “The Wiggles” and partly because like so many, Susan’s triumph has touched my heart.

When watching the online video, I knew Susan and I would get along famously if we ever met.  She’s campy, quirky, and a little bit wild–my kind of gal.  However, what I might consider charming, others consider strange, even laughable.  But as soon as Susan starts singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables (one of my favorite musicals), every mocker was put to shame.  Her voice was like that of a seasoned star causing everyone’s eyes to open wide in astonishment.  The judges sat there in visible shock, and Simon even got a proud sort of smile on his face.  It was a moment to behold and those who laughed one moment cheered her the next.  Such is the gentle power of Susan Boyle.

I did a little digging on the Internet to find out more about Susan, and learned that she is learning disabled, which has caused her much ridicule during her 47 years of life.  Susan also cared for her now-deceased parents in the small Scottish town of West Lothian. A regular church attender, Susan learned to develop her vocal talents in that hallowed place.  Devastated by the passing of her mother in 2007, Susan had sworn off singing for good.  That is, until April 11, when she was featured on “Britain’s Got Talent.” (Source: SFGate.com)

There’s something about Susan Boyle’s story that strikes an international chord.  A short, dumpy woman who laughingly admitted she’s never been kissed took  a risk on the silly dream of becoming a professional singer.  Even though the audience laughed at her, not with her, Susan grabbed that microphone anyway.  The judges sneered, but she sang anyway.  It’s the stuff that dreams are made of–a real sock it to ’em.

We, who have been mocked, who have been told our dreams are too big, who have been told we’re too fat to act, and too tone deaf to sing look at Susan Boyle and say, “Yes! You go, girl!  You live the dream!”  Because maybe our dreams aren’t too big, maybe we aren’t too fat to act, and maybe we’re not too tone deaf to sing.  Maybe, just maybe, we find encouragement from the Susan Boyles of the world, who despite their fears, do it anyway.  And we hope for that standing ovation, too.

Even if it never comes, we need not be ashamed.  Susan sure wasn’t.  She sang her heart out and then started to walk off the stage.  There’s more, the co-hosts tell her, and she scuttles back onstage to receive her applause.  In her mind, Susan Boyle had already won.  The judges’ response was just decadence on the vocal masterpiece created by one simple woman.

Because she took a risk, the world now knows that Susan Boyle from West Lothian has got amazing talent.  And we’re all better for knowing her.

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