Friday, August 27, 2010

PEARL IN THE SAND - Tessa Afshar - Free Book

I'm so happy to welcome Tessa to the blog. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

A bit of me leaks into most of my characters, I think. My personal experiences tend to inform my writing, because I believe in the maxim, Write what you know. However, that’s not always possible when writing historical or biblical fiction; I am relieved to say that I don’t know what it’s like to be forced into prostitution, for example. But I do know what rejection feels like, and I use that knowledge as a steppingstone into Rahab’s heart.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Becoming a Christian is pretty quirky.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I remember when I was eleven, I wrote a short story in one sitting; I can’t even remember the plot line anymore. It was the first story that I asked my father to read, because his opinion was so important to me, and I wanted to wait until I had just the right story. When he finished it, he had tears in his eyes. “Did you really write this?” he asked with wonder. None of the accolades I had received at school made me feel half as good as that moment. I knew I was a writer then. By my dad was also an incredibly practical person, so I grew up believing that being a ‘writer’ meant having a hobby.

 Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Jane Eyre is hard to beat; it has everything—intrigue, romance, God, a critique of Christianity gone bad, and Mr. Rochester. Anything by Jane Austen. Most things by Dickens. The Narnia Chronicles; The Lord of the Rings Trilogy; Busman’s Honeymoon; The Princess and Curdie; To Kill a Mockingbird. O dear, I think I’m running out of room; this is tragic. There’s so much more…

Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorites, too. I just reread it this year. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Keep? I think it’s too late for that! Reading is a wonderful way of holding on to the last dregs of sanity though. It’s the one activity you have to be still for. You can’t really multi-task with reading. You have to be still and focus on this one magical world that someone else has created. Bliss. That, and eating slowly. I love to take my time over food.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

In historical and biblical fiction, one doesn’t have much choice. Rahab, Salmone, and Joshua were already part of the story. I try to do research into the time period for the other characters’ names. The novel I am working on now is set in ancient Persia during the time of Nehemiah. I wanted to name my main character Leila, because it’s a Hebrew word meaning /night/. But I found no evidence that this was a name used at the time amongst the Jews. So I called her /Sariah/ after a woman who was the wife of a soldier in a Jewish garrison close to this time period. Naming my hero has been even harder. Ancient Persian names are hard to pronounce! No wonder the Greeks complained so much and changed them all.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Getting through yesterday while clinging to Jesus? Every day is an accomplishment to me—at least everyday I trust in God and choose to believe Him over the lies of this world.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

O my, Lena. No one has ever asked me that. Let me see: Jesus’ pet lamb? For obvious reasons.

Sounds good to me. What is your favorite food?

Medium rare steak and homemade French fries with a lightly dressed green salad. My concentration is totally shot now; all I can see is that thick, juicy steak. Can you smell it?

My husband hasn't been able to eat a steak for over a year, so I haven't either. Now I'm craving one. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

What has surprised me about the process of writing is that most of my experiences of rejection have been internal. Many times, I have had to battle the forces of discouragement as I write, so I am astonished at the doors God seems continuously to open. I think this is a skirmish that I’ll have to face again. My heart is susceptible to self-doubt. But Jesus is greater than my heart. I don’t stand on my gifting or my strength, which are both limited; I take my stand on Him who holds my future. Or at least I press on toward that goal.

Tell us about Pearl in the Sand.

Pearl is based on the story of Rahab, the Canaanite harlot who is famous for having saved Israel’s spies from death. She then went on to marry one of the leaders of Judah, and is in the lineage of Jesus. Think about that: some of the DNA of this former harlot swam in Jesus’ blood stream!

This is the story of a woman whose world was a mess, whose life was a mess, whose heart was a mess, but in encountering God, she found to her shock that her life was salvageable. More than that—it was valuable. She found that she was lovable. For her, this process happened through the love of a godly and persistent man who was nonetheless, flawed.

God started the most significant part of Rahab’s life by literally pulling down the walls of her home around her. As traumatic as that moment must have been for Rahab, she could not have moved on to the future God had planned for her without it. In a parallel pursuit of healing for her broken soul, /Pearl in the Sand/ portrays a God who just as determinedly set out to ruin the walls surrounding Rahab’s heart. I think women today need to know God as the wooer and pursuer of their hearts. They need to know that sometimes the most glorious breakthroughs of life come through a vector of God-ordained pain. More than anything I hope the reader of this story will come away with a deeper glimpse into her own soul, and a more profound understanding of God the Father.

Please give us the first page of the book.

If you go to my website at, you can read the whole first chapter. Even the second chapter is available under the Free Downloads tab. If you are interested in a little more interaction with me, please join me on my Facebook Author Page. I would love to have you along for that fun ride.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a guest on your great blog, Lena. You ask really fun questions!

And you gave very thought provoking answers. I've loved having you.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Annette W. said...

I would like to read this-and more biblical fiction!

Coolestmommy said...

Sounds like an interesting look at Rahab's life. And I agree with you--no wonder the greeks changed all their names. I find them tough to figure out how to prounounce, too. :-)

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Michelle said...

I've thought this book looks very good, and your second book sounds wonderful.

mchapman (at) windstream (dot) net

Nancye said...

This sounds like a very interesting book. Please include me.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Patsy said...

Oh wow, what an interesting book. Never thought about this. Thanks for giving away a copy.

grannyvon said...

Great interview and my favorite is medium rare steak with homemade fries, I hate frozen ones, I would love to win your book,too. Thanks for giving me the chance

fredamans said...

This looks to be a beautifully written story, one I would love to read. Thank you for the opportunity.

Bakersdozen said...

I am really interested in reading this book. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

I would like to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

A J Hawke said...

What a challenge you undertook, to write from such a great subject. I sense that PEARL IN THE SAND will truly affect those who read it. We all need to be able to believe that we are redeemable and Rahab is such a great example of God's power.

Blessings on you and your writing,

A J Hawke

Unknown said...

oh my goodness! I am SO excited this book is the giveaway! I have heard about it and read about it for a little while now and I am seriously SO excited for it to come out! It sounds like SUCH an amazing book! :)

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

karenk said...

please count me in...thanks :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love biblical fiction. This one has a beautiful cover and I've been eying it for a while. Tessa, I resonate with most of your favorite book list and also understand what you mean about rejection from within as someone that struggles with self-doubt.


EJ said...

So looking forward to reading this book. Last Christmas season our Pastor spoke about Jesus' lineage & he talked quite abit about Rahab & how God used her - it was soooo interesting.

Melissa M. said...

Please enter me...sounds good.


Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Sounds great... please enter me in the giveaway!

MaureenT said...

This book sounds think Rahab's DNA was in Jesus!


Carole said...

I love Tessa's sense of humor, which should be obvious after looking at her picture! I had never quite thought of being a Christian as quirky, but you are definitely right! I like my steak medium rare also, and now that's all I can think of. I also love your choice of being Jesus' pet lamb.

Pearl in the Sand was already on my wish list, and now I'm really eager to read it after this interview.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Judylynn said...

I'd love to win this book. Please enter me! Thank you.

seizethebookblog(at)gmail(dot)com said...

Would love to read the book, please enter me!

dancealert at aol dot com

Unknown said...

Oh my! There is nothing quirky about Tessa. What a beautiful mind! I would enjoy being with her in a conversation to hear all the good things she carries in her mind. The title, "Pearl in the Sand" suggests a rare jewel found in the sand and I'm looking forward to reading about Rahab's story in Tessa's setting. She already makes it seem like an unforgetable story. Thank you for providing your book for the giveaway and Lena for allowing the chance. You are both greatly appreciated.

Sharing Christ's Love,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Pain SUX said...

I'd love a a chance to win this one!


Carman said...

I can't wait to read this book! It seems like Tessa and I have similar taste in books. :) Please enter me!


Debbie said...

This sounds like a very interesting novel. Please enter me.


Unknown said...

Fascinating interview with a fascinating woman. This sounds like a very sensitive story to the workings of God in a life disrespected. I'm anxious to read this book of renewal of a life undone by sin. Thank you for the giveaway and the chance to win. I hope I win.

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

wmmahaney said...

This book sounds wonderful.