Lisa Elliott’s much-anticipated sequel to The Ben Ripple has just been released! Dancing in the Rain was shortlisted in the 2014 Free Publishing Contest. Today, the author joins us to talk about learning to live on past grief and dance in the rain—and how to help others do the same.
WAP: In a few words, what is Dancing in the Rain about?
Lisa: The subtitle gives the answer as simply as I could put it. Dancing in the Rain is about “one family’s journey through grief and loss”—my family’s journey. I could keep it at that, however, those who know me, know that I am not a woman of few words So to elaborate just a tad, Dancing in the Rain was written in the aftermath of the fiercest storm we’d ever faced; the death of my 19-year-old son, Ben, after his year-long battle with leukemia. Dancing in the Rain answers the question that I, myself was asking: “How does one go on living after facing such significant loss?”
WAP: Dancing in the Rain is referred to as a “companion book” to The Ben Ripple. How are these books different, and how are they connected?
Lisa: Rain was an ongoing theme the year that my son battled his leukemia. The Ben Ripple was conceived throughout that year. The rains continued in the aftermath of Ben’s death as grief set in and as we faced new challenges. It was out of those storms that Dancing in the Rain found its way to publication.
The common thread between both books is a quote that says, Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. While both books deal with the same subject matter, they are written from completely different perspectives and target two different audiences.
If readers want the full blown story of our family’s journey through my son’s leukemia battle, they can find it in The Ben Ripple. It has been described as a travel companion; a bedside comfort and counselor in the waiting rooms of life. It provides a wealth of practical tips for those dealing with or coming alongside someone who is going through a crisis.
Dancing in the Rain, on the other hand, explores a broader range of responses to loss and grief. It offers the reader an opportunity to not only identify with my family’s journey, but as well, to learn how to face his/her own storms of life with the use of step by step guidance, including a study guide.
Although The Ben Ripple very naturally sets the stage for Dancing in the Rain, it doesn’t just pick up from where The Ben Ripple leaves off. In other words, one doesn’t have to read The Ben Ripple to appreciate and fully engage in Dancing in the Rain.
WAP: What inspired you to write Dancing in the Rain?
Lisa: Our journey through my son’s leukemia battle was a very public one which conceived and eventually gave birth to The Ben Ripple. Many continued to follow our family’s journey in the aftermath of Ben’s death. I believe, not only to express interest in how my family was doing but, just as much, to answer questions related to how they could face their own personal storms of life. Dancing in the Rain was written in response to those questions. People are desperate to know how to not only survive, but thrive in life’s storms. And I wanted to play a part in showing them how.
But far beyond appeasing the curiosity of my reading audience, I was inspired as I watched my husband and children learn to live and embrace life again after Ben’s death. If I’m totally honest, I was in awe of what I was witnessing. Each one of my family members was on such a different journey. But they were all doing it! I wanted to know how, so I started taking notes. Quite literally!
WAP: How much was your family involved in the creation process for the book?
Lisa: The Ben Ripple stirred a lot of interest in the minds of my reading audience. They would have loved for me to disclose all the details of my family’s life and personal struggles. However, I didn’t feel it was mine to share. At the same time, I believed with all my heart that we had a story that only we could share, one that could impact and minister to a hurting world. The only way I felt that would be possible was to have each family member share their own stories, in their own words. I was thrilled when each one consented.
I gave each one some pointed questions to guide their thoughts. And although I had followed their journeys from the front row, I was still surprised at what I learned and humbled by the candor with which they responded.
I found it interesting that in the last stages of writing my book, working toward its publication, there was a long string of events that completely co-related to the events that unfolded throughout the book. For instance, on August 12, I signed the publishing contract—Ben’s diagnosis date. On August 19, the fifth anniversary of Ben’s death, I received my first edit. It gave new meaning to “life after death”.
I can hardly read through the book without a box of Kleenex. Partly because of the memories and events I relive as I read the individual stories, but also because of the pride that wells up from within me as a result of how well each one has made it through the rain. Maybe it’s just my bias, or perhaps my personal and invested interest in their lives, but to me, their input and contributions have taken this book to a whole new level!
WAP: You describe Dancing in the Rain as an invitation into the living room of your heart. What do you mean by that?
Lisa: Dancing in the Rain is a very vulnerable book. My family and I share some pretty intensely personal things that would typically be solely subject to “family-talk”, shared within the privacy of one’s own home. It’s been said by some of my readers that they feel like they’re rifting through our closets as they read it. Their consolation comes with the realization and assurance that they’ve actually been invited to do so.
WAP: What do you hope your reading audience will gain from reading this book?
Lisa: My ultimate hope is that readers will see that there really is life after death—and not merely when this life on earth is over. I want my readers to witness firsthand, page by page evidence that life can go on after experiencing significant death and loss.
Secondly, my hope is that my reading audience will find the guidance and practical help they need to enable them to weather the storms of life; that readers will find, within the pages of my book, someone who will journey with them and speak truth into their lives.
In my experience, people are interested in real life stories that provide hope and encouragement from someone whose been there, done that. Furthermore, they appreciate raw honesty. Vulnerability provides people with validation and helps deter loneliness and isolation in whatever they’re facing. The content of Dancing in the Rain is about as honest and vulnerable as it comes.
WAP: What sort of a path is Dancing in the Rain leading you down? Are you finding it’s different than The Ben Ripple, or is it carrying on that same legacy?
Lisa: Those who seem to be most drawn in by The Ben Ripple are those who have heard of or connected with our journey in some way. Given that it specifically addresses the loss of a child to cancer, some may feel they could never relate, or don’t want to imagine the possibility. The good news is that once they discover the wealth of practical tips and the relativity of Scripture as it applies to their own set of circumstances, they eat it up and, apparently can’t get enough of it! It has found its way into the hands of professional counselors, pastors, social workers, church libraries, hospitals, and funeral homes.
Dancing in the Rain seems to be opening up a wider range of audience. It could be due to the fact that it identifies and deals with a wider range of relatable topics such as depression, transition, and other storms of life that are more common to the general public. Already, I have been surprised by the rampant interest.
I’m very excited to see where else and how else the Lord will use both of these books for His glory.
WAP: Do you have plans for any more books in the future?
Lisa: Apparently, yes (LOL). Not simply because it’s something I have been aspiring to do. Rather, I’ve been told. My reading audience have said things like, “This won’t be the last we hear from you, Lisa Elliott!” Others have outright asked when my next book is coming out. And in all honesty, I’ve got a book brewing in my heart as we speak, Straight from the Heart. I have no idea really how it will look when all is said and done, but I do know that there’s so much more to the story of my life than has taken place in the last six years. And I believe it’s worth telling. As I mentioned, people relate to real life stories. God has given me a story to tell, and I’m the only one that can tell it. So, by His grace, and as He inspires my mind and plants impressions on my heart, I plan to! As long as I remain willing to allow Him to use my life for His glory, I believe He’ll continue to feed me the words He wants me to share with an audience who needs to hear them.
Catch Lisa Elliott as she travels across Canada, sharing words of healing and hope for those who are experiencing the storms of life.
Saturday, May 2 – St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Ladies Day Retreat – Fergus, ON
Saturday, May 9 – Townsend Community Church Ladies Day – Townsend, ON
Monday, May 25 – Abundant Life Community Church – London, ON
Saturday, May 30 – Bridlegrove Bible Chapel – Scarborough, ON
Saturday, June 6 – Collier St. United Church Ladies Conference – Barrie, ON
June 11-13 – Write Canada Conference and Word Awards
August 9-14 – Fair Havens Bible Conference Centre – Beaverton, ON
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in London, Ontario, Canada.
Visit Lisa online
Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org