Friday, August 27, 2010
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?
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 tessaafshar.com, 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.
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