Contemporary Christian Fiction · Special Features

Q & A with Amy Sorrells

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good. As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-59-24-pm

My Review

I read Lead Me Home as a message to the church, an S.O.S. of sorts. A wake up call for all believers, regardless of denomination, to set aside our petty preferences and preconceived notions of how church should be and start being the Church.

Amy Sorrells descriptive writing planted my feet back in the Indiana soil where I spent my childhood. Not only did it remind me of the sights, smells, and muggy weather of home, it also had a way of weaving these characters into my heart. I am keenly familiar with Reverend Horton’s way of looking at situations retrospectively and wondering what he could have or should have done differently. Furthermore, Sorrells wrote of Horton’s ministry burn out as someone who has experienced it first hand. Perhaps you will relate to this book and it will be an encouragement to you to press on or take time away, in order for God to refresh your spirit.

Despite the sad demise of Sycamore Community Church, this story was laden with examples of God’s grace. Grace in our grief. Grace to redeem broken relationships. Grace towards our doubting and wandering hearts. As far as contemporary Christian fiction goes, this is one of my favorites of 2016.

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Q & A with Amy Sorrells

amysorrellsGetting to Know You:

A long-time believer in the power of story to change lives, Amy’s diverse writing career includes three years as a weekly op-ed newspaper columnist, over two decades of medical and freelance writing including journal publications, and most recently, literary novels, including Lead Me Home, Then Sings My Soul, the award-winning How Sweet the Sound, and a fourth novel coming fall, 2017, from Tyndale House Publishers.

An Indianapolis native and graduate of DePauw University, Amy is also grateful to be a practicing registered nurse at a busy suburban hospital. She lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana.

About the Book:

In my review I stated “Sorrells wrote of Horton’s ministry burnout as someone who has experienced it first hand.” Would you like to share with my readers how you were able to write so intimately about ministry burnout?

In many ways, I’ve been in ministry my whole life. I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember, and the 1 Peter 2:9 has always stuck out to me, the fact that the Lord has chosen not only pastors, but individuals like you and me to be His representatives. I fail Him often, but I do try to keep the His will at the center of all I do, which means I try to live my life as a ministry. In addition, I actually was employed by a large church for a couple of years, and have spent a lot of time volunteering. Two particular seasons of formal ministry were very painful because of significant church leadership controversies that rocked me to my core. In many ways, James Horton portrays how I felt, and as I wrestled with his character I found myself wrestling with my own healing from those experiences. I think there are a lot of “James Horton’s” around us, who need to know that formal or volunteer, in the church or in their homes and neighborhoods, their place in the work of The Kingdom is eternally essential.

James had a friend in Charlie Reynolds to whom he could let down his guard, voice his insecurities, and obtain good and godly advice. Do you have a friend like Charlie? How important do you think it is for Christians to have such friendships?

I think friends like Charlie Reynolds are essential for Christians. It’s so easy to be friends and spend most of our time with people who are as immersed in ministry as we are. That’s great for accountability, but it’s not-so-great at providing opportunities for us to see what life is like outside the bubble of Christian-ese. We are to called to be separate from the world, but we can’t reach the world if we don’t at least stick a toe in it. Friends like Charlie might not “do church” like we think they should, but they can offer perspectives and truths we wouldn’t see without them.

Did you experience any apprehension about addressing the pettiness of Reverend James Horton’s former congregants?

The characters like Gertrude and other former congregants in this novel were the most fun for me to write, and I actually culled those scenes from real life experiences from dear friends who are pastors and their wives. The amount of frivolous complaints and demands that pastors have to deal with is at once hilarious and horrific.

What are some of the truths you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will get a sense that the ministry of each of our lives matter, no matter where we are or whom we serve. I hope that they might see that in this current age of often over-done, progressive religion, tradition and simplicity and old-fashioned reverence still matter—perhaps even more than they used to. And I hope that in the midst of our ever-shiny world they might get a sense that 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 still rings true:

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 ButGod chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 

I have 5 quotes (more like paragraphs) from Lead Me Home that really struck me. Do you have a particular favorite quote you would like to share with us?

I have a few:

“A crisis doesn’t mean the end. More often than not, it signals a beginning.”

“Critics usually aren’t heretics. They are, however, usually hurting.”

“You’re not in this alone, so don’t try to do this alone.”

“The grass isn’t greener at the church down the road.”

“Culture changes. The gospel stays the same.”

“…walls and buildings come and go—some grow too large, some get too small, some join together, some split apart,–but the body of Christ and your purposes, your will, never fail.”

You have now written 3 books in addition to working as an RN. Do you dream of writing full-time?

I get asked this one a lot. While I admit there are times it might be nice to have a singular focus, I can honestly say that I am super grateful to have two careers that I adore. Nursing is a profession that allows me to grow the part of me that loves science and caregiving, and I get to meet so many interesting patients and co-workers. I can’t imagine giving that up, and in many ways I feel like it fuels my passion for writing words for hurting people. 

Who is your favorite Christian author? Why?

My favorite Christian authors are always changing, but if I have to pick, I’d choose Francine Rivers, Henry Nouwen, and Eugene Peterson. I love Francine because she writes about real people and contemporary situations, and she’s not afraid to address difficult topics. Her two novels, Redeeming Love, and The Last Sin Eater, were the reasons I decided to begin writing fiction after years of focusing on nonfiction. The wisdom in Henry Nouwen’s words, such as his book The Return of the Prodigal, are like poetry, and truly like a salve to my soul when I’ve felt most broken. Eugene Peterson is the same way, and his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society has been pivotal for me, as well as his memoir, The Pastor.

What is your favorite place to curl up with a book?

My back patio swing is my favorite place in the world, and when it’s too cold for that, I love to snuggle down in my bed with my dogs.

Do you have a current project you are working on?

I’m in the editing phase of my fourth novel, slated for release in the fall of 2017. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s a story that deals with finding hope in the midst of broken motherhood. It was inspired by the story of Moses’ birth and adoptive mothers.

What is your preferred social media platform?

I enjoy Facebook for the way it allows discussion with readers, but I have to say I like Instagram the most.

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Giveaway

I am extremely grateful to Amy for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. As an added bonus, she is offering a signed copy of Lead Me Home and a little gift to one lucky reader.

There are 3 ways (1 point each) to earn entries in this giveaway:

  1. Visit Amy’s author page https://amyksorrells.com and tell me something you’ve learned about her or ask Amy a question in the comments below.
  2. Share this post on social media. I’ve made “share squares” to help with Pinterest shares. {tell me where you’ve shared in your comment}
  3. Follow this blog via email. {If you already do, thank you, please type “freebie” in your comment.}

The giveaway will close next Wednesday 10/19/16 at 5pm (Central Time). The winner will be notified and given 48 hours to respond and claim their prize.

Share Squares

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10 thoughts on “Q & A with Amy Sorrells

  1. I admire that Amy has a career outside of writing. I’m a teacher and never thought I’d have time to write, too. Maybe I do!!

    I visited her site and learned about her book How Sweet The Sound. I totally want to read that one! I loved her other two.

    Also pinned one of your Share Squares.
    Dianna

    Like

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