The Refuge of Reading by Elizabeth Musser

Please welcome my guest today, Elizabeth Musser.  *applause*

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again…”—well, not exactly in a dream but by watching the Hitchcock movie, Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s bestselling novel. And it awoke in me the wonder, the thrill, the mystery, the ache of a story well told. It reminded me of those teenaged days I spent reading and then rereading Rebecca and longing to write a story like that. It reminded me of the discovery of Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels when I was also a young teen and curling up with one of her heroines in exotic lands where romance and mystery abound. It reminded me of my dear grandmother, well-read, loving history, talking of books and kings and Europe and encouraging me that I too could, and should, write.

Remembering these things is again like a low, deep ache of pleasure, of a time lost, a time of innocence, even as the unnamed heroine in Rebecca was innocent at the beginning of the novel. As a teenager, I dreamed, I longed to tell tales like the ones I was reading. I didn’t know why I longed for that—it wasn’t actually a decision. It was a need. A passion. A calling.

But I had another passion: Jesus. Could Jesus and story-telling go together? That was my deepest longing.

I snuggled under blankets and escaped into these stories and found a true refuge that protected me from the sometimes scary world around me. These novels also inspired me to use my fledgling talent to craft stories that would, in turn, inspire readers to hope and dream and trust again, even after devastating loss and in the midst of impossible choices. When, in 8th grade, my fifty-page short story about a blind gymnast received an A+ and my teacher asked me to read it in front of the class, I trembled with excitement and fear. Would they like it?

Amazingly, they did.

Reading great literature of the past during my high school and college years kept my dreams alive as I lost myself in the works of Shakespeare and Dickens and Hugo and Joyce and so many others from centuries gone by who naturally incorporated religious themes into their writing.

Then as a young adult, I discovered Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Mrs. Marshall penned beautiful prose with mystery and love and Jesus. Many authors of bygone days wrote masterpieces which wove biblical truth into story, but now I was reading it in more contemporary literature.

And so I began writing ‘entertainment with a soul’. It took many years before one of my tales was actually published, but I had my goal and about thirty years’ worth of prayers. As Catherine Marshall had done, I wanted to create more than just a good story with an interesting plot.  I wanted the reader to find the soul in my book and in my characters. I desired to write the best literature I could, with real characters and themes that struck a chord in the reader’s heart and forced the reader to think, to ask questions, to laugh and cry and hope.  To be entertained way down in her soul.

To find that refuge.

Little by little, over the past twenty years, it has happened. As a novelist, I gain no greater delight than hearing from one of my readers that she has indeed found a refuge in reading one of my stories and has also been inspired and encouraged in her faith. As I launch The Long Highway Home this week—a novel about refugees seeking a refuge—my desire and prayer remain the same.

And this morning, as I sit with the sun seeping through the French doors and the daffodils all yellow and bragging outside and the sweet, sweet sound of the doves cooing over a nest somewhere in the yard, I am grateful, so very grateful for the refuge and inspiration I found in reading so long ago. Excuse me now while I once again lose myself in a wonderful book.
I’d love to hear a few favorite books which have been a true refuge and inspiration to you.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years. All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America.

TO CONNECT WITH ELIZABETH:   website ⎸facebook ⎸twitter ⎸blog ⎸pinterest

Title: The Long Highway Home
Author: Elizabeth Musser
Publisher:  MacGregory Literary
Release Date:  January 19, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Literary Fiction 

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known. When the doctor pronounces "incurable cancer" and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss. Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession back in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along the refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost? Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life's darkest moments.



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  1. Hi again! I spoke to you on Carrie's blog! I'm being a fangirl!I feel the same way about writing where you say-"with real characters and themes that struck a chord in the reader’s heart and forced the reader to think, to ask questions, to laugh and cry and hope. To be entertained way down in her soul."
    I hope to achieve that with my little stories. Not sure I have the literary part...
    I fell in love with Christian fiction through a number of writers: Francine Rivers, Charles Martin, Randy Alcorn, Lynn Austin. As I mentioned before, my book club and I loved your series as well!
    Great article!!

    1. hahah. Janet! Love it, you a fangirl!! See, that is a good question, I'm going to ask authors...who do they fangirl?!! Thanks!

    2. Thanks to you both, Janet and Annie! As you've heard me say, hearing from my readers is like receiving a big hug from the Lord. AND it's kept me writing even though my latest novels (including TLHH-my first indie-published novel) have been turned down by my American publishers. The writers you mention, Janet, are my favorites too. And Ann Tatlock and Sharon Garlough Brown. Just read Billy Coffey's 'When Mockingbirds Sing' and loved his 'out of the box' approach, too. And I'm not sure I have the literary part either, but it's my goal. Thanks for letting me be here, Annie! Hope you will both see this. I'm never sure if my replies actually are received.


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