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Susie Finkbeiner | 20 Questions: THE NATURE OF SMALL BIRDS

July 9, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release?


2–What is it about?

In 1975, 3,000 children were airlifted out of Vietnam to be adopted into families in Australia, Canada, and the United States in what was known as Operation Babylift. This is a story of a family who adopted one of these little girls. 

3–What do you love about the setting of your book? 

This story is set in a fictional town in Northern Michigan. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to do my home state justice, but I really love living here. That’s why I love writing stories about people who are fellow Michiganders. 

4–How did your main character(s) surprise you? 

This is the kind of book that needed more than one main character. That certainly surprised me while I was writing it! Bruce has the 2013 timeline, Sonny narrates 1988, and Linda is the main character in 1975. But, really, all of their stories point to Minh, the daughter who was adopted from Vietnam. 

5–Why will readers relate to your characters? 

You know, in a lot of ways this is a story about letting go. Letting go of long-held wishes in order to dream of new ones. Letting go of hurts that do nothing but hold us back. Letting go of our kids so they can spread their wings. Haven’t we all be in the position of letting go? It hurts sometimes. Other times it’s liberating. But we can always choose to grow from the experience. I hope readers are able to see themselves in one of the characters and feel less alone. 

6–What was one of your biggest challenges while writing this book (spoiler-free, of course!)? 

Honestly, the biggest challenge was writing during a global pandemic. I had three kids at home, each trying to navigate virtual school in different corners of our small home which was a little bit distracting (reader, it was MASSIVELY distracting). On top of that was the emotional toll, worrying about loved ones and having so many exciting events off the table. But through the challenges, I grew. We figured things out. We persevered. And the novel got finished, even if it was difficult. I think I might love it all the more because of it. 

7–Do you look forward to or do you dread the revision process? 

I LOVE the revision process. I think that’s where my creativity really kicks in. I especially love working with Kelsey and Kristin, my editors at Revell. They’re brilliant, encouraging, and make me look so much smarter than I actually am. They’re a fabulous team. 

8–What’s your favorite snack to have on hand while writing? 

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. That counts as a snack, right?

9–Where would you go for an ideal writer’s retreat? 

A quiet cottage along Lake Michigan. No wifi, no TV, no frills. Just the Big Lake, strong coffee, and lots of time to dream. 

10–What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? 

I am insufferable perfectionist when it comes to my writing (if only I cared as much about keeping a tidy house!). But the perfectionism paralyzes me every single time it takes hold. The best advice I’ve received is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. What I’m working on at the moment is a draft. It can be mended and reshaped and altered later. It’s liberating to write with such a mindset. 

11–Who is the fictional character you want to hang out with the most? (anyone in literature!)

Ramona Quimby. Hands down. 

12–What’s one of your earliest book memories? 

I remember sitting on the couch and letting my big sister, Ginger, read a book to me. I have no idea which book it was. All I remember is knowing that she loved me. That was what reading together communicated to me then, and still does now. When we share books and stories, we’re sharing our love. 

13–If you had to write in a different genre, what would it be and why? 

I would love to try my hand at Middle Grade fiction. Some of my favorite authors write in that genre. Gary D. Schmidt, Christopher Paul Curtis, Caroline Carlson, Kate DiCamillo, Daniel Nayeri to name a few. These authors write with authenticity, great skill, and deep care for the hearts of their readers. These authors have the great ability to help kids make it through the rough years between ten and thirteen and I think it would be great to be among them. 

14–What song will automatically put you in a good mood? 

Music is deeply important to me, so I really love this question. Whenever I hear “Sing, Sing, Sing,” I remember how good this life is. I can’t help but feel optimistic when I hear that song. 

15–What is your favorite way to practice self-care?

Lately, it’s been important for me to get out into nature for a hike. It’s there that I’m reminded of God’s gentleness, His power, His ability to see me. In THE NATURE OF SMALL BIRDS, Bruce refers to “the cathedrals of Creation”. When I’m on a hike or sitting in the sand, watching the sunset over Lake Michigan I feel as if I’m in a sacred space and feel my heart lift in worship. I’m always refreshed after those special times, ready to get back to the work. 

16–What can you eat and never get sick of? 

Popcorn. Cheese. Chocolate. Salmon. Not necessarily mixed together. 

17–Will you share a favorite, recent-ish book you recommend? 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is so creative, touching, and beautifully written. I’ve recommended it to so many reading friends. 

18–Do you have any hobbies? 

I do! I play ukulele, sing, paint (not super well, but that’s okay), and love trying new recipes. All of these serve as a creative outlet for me. Plus, they’re fun!

19–Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’m a night owl. I love staying up late!

20–What can readers expect from you next? 

I have a novel releasing in 2022 set in 1952 Michigan. It includes women’s baseball, the Red Scare, and a little bit of Shakespeare. What a combination, right?


The Nature of Small Birds

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Christian | Historical | Romance [Revell, On Sale: July 6, 2021, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780800739355 / eISBN: 9781493430468]

About Susie Finkbeiner

Susie Finkbeiner

Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women’s events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.


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