Welcome, Mesu. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Since many of my biblical characters are real people, and some have a great deal of integrity (or lack of) and personality prescribed by the scriptural text, I have to go with what’s given. However, it’s fun to play with some of the supporting cast. I don’t necessarily write myself into the stories—more so bits and pieces of my family show up occasionally. In Love’s Sacred Song, Solomon goes to an old vinedresser for romantic advice, and the verse the old man recites was taught to me by my dad when I was in junior high: “Love is such a funny thing—shakes like a lizard, runs around your heart, and grabs at your gizzard.” My dad is now bedfast and can’t see to read, but he laughed aloud when my mom read him that portion of the book. Those are the kinds of things I like to write into my characters—secret treasures shared with family and friends.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I was in high school, I was good friends with two of my teachers. Not like Facebook friends. I mean friends. Like go out on Friday night. Spend the night at their houses. Hang out. Talk about our love lives. I look back now and wonder, Why in the world were they friends with a high school junior/senior? Quirky is a good word for that ongoing hmmmmmmm.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in bed for six months and physically couldn’t do anything else! I’m a little slow on the up-take, so I think the Lord had to get my full attention. J I wrote my first script for (and performed in) a play in second grade. I have written love letters to boys since third grade. I received A’s in all my English classes and was valedictorian. But I was an extrovert. I couldn’t sit still long enough to write! My sole desire in life was to be a wife and mom. When the Lord stirred my hunger for His Word, I added one more vocation—Bible Student/Teacher. I began speaking because that’s what extroverts do. When my body rebelled, that God-given desire to study and teach was satisfied through that latent joy of writing I’d once dabbled in. I learned “dabbling” isn’t good enough to get published, and now I constantly read, learn, and study the craft to become the writer God intends me to be.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Biblical fiction—with some regency and historical. Honestly, I have so little time for recreational reading, I guard that time for the stories that grip my heart…and those stories are the ones about ancient
and God’s people. I’m a very task-oriented person. If an activity has no
purpose, I find it difficult to carve out any of those precious, irretrievable
24 hours in my day. I read for edu-tainment.
I want to be challenged, to learn, to be changed. If it’s just a nice
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Well, it’s actually pretty simple for me. If I run, run, run, my body falls down, down, down. J Or it hurts, hurts, hurts. Chronic illness changes a person’s perspective. I no longer need to get out of the house to feel sane. I try to schedule all my appointments and errands on one or two days a week. I actually need to be in the house, quiet before the Lord, and give my body time to rest at least three or four days a week in order to function long-term. I’m blessed with an incredibly helpful husband, and I sometimes have to ask others for help. It’s humbling. It’s good to be humbled, and it’s good to be quiet.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I use a couple of websites to look up biblical names and Hebrew names to check their meaning. If I’m naming a nasty character, I pick a surly name that epitomizes what I want that individual’s personality to resemble. In Love Amid the Ashes, I used a website for Arabian names. Sayyid meant “master,” because he would lord over his servants and was the antagonist who would try to master the protagonists. In Love’s Sacred Song, Arielah meant “Lion of God,” and I used that image several times to indicate her strength.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I would love to say, “My kids,” because our daughters are fabulous human beings who have chosen incredible husbands and are in the process of providing me with adorable grandchildren. The problem is…if they were screwing up their lives, I wouldn’t take the blame, so I don’t think I should take the credit! So I think I’ll have to say my marriage. Roy and I were married in 1984, just eight months after an old boyfriend had ditched me (after a five-year relationship). Everyone said I was rebounding, that Roy and I would be divorced in a year. But everyone didn’t know that I’d fallen in love not only with Roy Andrews but also with his Savior. We’ve had some hard days, even some rocky years, but our foundation has always been Jesus. I believe He has been the glue in our relationship. So I guess I can’t take the credit for the marriage either! Ha!
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I want to be a BEHEMOTH! (Check out Job 40:15-24 for more details, but in a nutshell…) This guy ranks first among the works of God. He’s powerful, strong, and awesome, yet he’s gentle enough for children to play nearby and he’s so peaceful. No matter whether God comes at him with a sword or the rivers rage around him…he’s peaceful. I love that!
What is your favorite food?
Lobster, with pizza as a close second. (Those little Lindt Lindor white chocolate truffles are an addiction—does that count?)
Oh, yes. Chocolate is one of the food groups, isn’t it? What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I thought I was supposed to write Bible studies, devotionals, and non-fiction stuff. I tried for seven years to get published in those genres. Nothing. Not even a nibble. My best friend told me to write the Song of Solomon Bible study as a novel. But remember my task-oriented personality? (Here’s the roadblock…) I thought fiction was frivolous, just fancy stories to entertain. Then my friend asked me if I thought myself a better teacher than Jesus—since He used parables to educate the crowds.
Ugh. That’s what best friends do to help with our writing careers. They show us our faults gently until we refuse to see them, and then they club us over the head with a 2 x 4—in a Christian sort of way.
So I began learning the art of writing fiction—and I’m still learning. Good fiction is never frivolous. Good fiction is always edu-tainment. And that’s what I strive and pray to write—good biblical fiction.
Tell us about the featured book.
It’s the story of Solomon’s Song of Songs:
Standing in the overpowering shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure—a love that can be his cornerstone. A shepherdess in the northern city of
Shunem, Arielah has known since she first
laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her
father secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride
to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true. But how can this
simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon’s harem? Can Solomon set aside his
distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty,
deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?
Please give us the first page of the book.
~1 Chronicles 12:23, 32~
These are the numbers of the men armed for battle . . . men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what
Arielah tiptoed around the sleeping forms of her surly brothers. Empty wineskins served as silent witnesses to their drunken slumber. Kemmuel and Igal would be snoring till dawn. They’d been a disgrace to Abba Jehoshaphat and to the tribe of Issachar since they were old enough to tend sheep.
Kemmuel rolled on his side and smacked his lips, and Arielah stood like a stone. A moment later, she reached for the iron handle and tugged open the rough-hewn cedar door. The bottom corner scraped the dirt and creaked on leather hinges. She held her breath. Glancing slowly over her shoulder, she sighed her relief at the steady rise and fall of her brothers’ chests.
A shadow of melancholy swept over her. They looked so peaceful lying there, but their rage was a living thing boiling just beneath the surface. If only they would let her love them. But her big brothers rebuffed even the love Abba and Ima tried to offer. Arielah had learned at an early age to keep her distance or reap her brothers’ wrath, and now she spent most of her time avoiding them. Tears blurred her vision.
Focusing beyond them, she saw Ima Jehosheba seated by the cooking stones, waving her out the door. Ima’s wink and loving smile nudged Arielah into the shadowy courtyard. Abba Jehoshaphat had already gone to Shunem’s well for the elders’ meeting. Both parents had known Arielah planned to observe the meeting from a distance, since a woman was never welcome there. And though Abba was a righteous man of faith and prayer, tonight he condoned Arielah’s deception.
Keeping to the shadows, Arielah left their courtyard and slipped behind a few stacked water jars, feeling more like a bandit than the daughter of Shunem’s most revered judge. Silently she moved among the merchants’ stalls toward the well at the center of Shunem. There every town meeting was held and every bit of gossip found its voice. Crouching behind crates and tables, she remained under the shadow of goatskin canopies covering the empty booths. No merchants lingered this late to hawk their wares. Only dogs and vermin loitered to clean up the scraps.
She smiled, remembering a time when her childish spying had taken her into the busy streets of
Jerusalem. She was only seven when King David
had summoned Abba as a northern advisor to consult on a civil matter. The whole
family accompanied Jehoshaphat to the capital city. That was the first time
I saw Solomon. Arielah’s heart skipped a beat at the thought of the young
king. Tonight’s meeting would be very different from the one in Jerusalem so many years
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can find links to all my social networks and a sign-up link to my free weekly devotionals on my website: http://www.mesuandrews.com/. Or if you’d like to take a look at the book trailer for Love’s Sacred Song, check out: http://youtu.be/LYCpTmNVCQoI’ve also got an author profile on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3513697.Mesu_Andrews
Thanks so much for letting me chat a bit with your readers,
Lena! I love to keep in touch with folks, and I welcome
emails and comments from readers! Blessings!
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