Rel:~ What appeals to you most about writing fiction?
Mesu:~ I began writing fiction because it was the only way I could hope to publish the message of my Song of Solomon Bible study. I began presenting women’s retreats in 2000 based on an incredible love story drawn from Solomon’s most famous song, but no self-respecting editor would take a chance on a novice author writing a Bible study on the controversial Song of Songs. So I taught the principles through compelling fiction…and now I’m hooked! I have always enjoyed studying the context of Scripture, the history, the original languages, the environment of a scene. Now that I write fiction, I get to share those intriguing details with those who read the stories…instead of boring my husband and children with endless facts!
Writing Biblical Fiction ~ the burdens and the joys?
I love it when my writing partners read a scene and say, “Is that really in the Bible?” Or when we laugh out loud or cry with the biblical characters. Writing biblical fiction is different than other forms of fiction because in many cases the characters are the real forefathers of our faith, the preservers of the sacred text that bears God’s Name. Since historical data is limited, I am given liberty to dream and imagine, but I am bound by my faith in God’s Word to remain completely faithful to its unyielding truth. I cannot, will not, deviate from biblical details (to the best of my knowledge and research). That can at times be burdensome because—quite frankly—God doesn’t always make believable choices, and fiction’s first rule is that it must be believable! But my greatest delight comes when readers hurry to their Bibles and read familiar passages with new passion because of the story my imagination has spun for them.
Which character did you connect to the most?
Nogahla—hands down. This little Cushite maid was supposed to have a few mentions as Dinah’s handmaid, but by the third chapter, she was practically writing her own scenes. I fell in love with this character’s simple yet profound faith, wishing that in life’s most trying moments, I could slice through the tension with Nogahla’s grace and innocence. She’s sort of like a pre-Holy Spirit.
Another “hands-down” winner—Job. Because I, too, have struggled so long with chronic illness, I dreaded Job’s emotional tug-of-war with his friends and with God. I really thought I had moved past the grieving of chronic illness (there is a grieving of one’s lost healthy self with a lifetime diagnosis), but I discovered in the days of writing Job’s scenes that my grief simply was dormant. Perhaps Job’s exchange with God was so poignant because I was blessed anew with Job’s realizations. A God who never leaves, never stops loving, always has a greater purpose and greater blessing waiting for those He adores.
What was your favourite scene to write in Love Amid the Ashes or share your favourite paragraph?
Okay, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this…I’d like to say it was one of the great spiritual revelations of Sitis or Dinah or Job or… But I’m a romantic at heart, and my favorite scene is actually on p.124, when Job arrives in Sitis’ bedchamber all ash-covered after grieving their losses. She mops his face with her scarf and says he looks nothing like her husband with his head shaved and tear-streaked cheeks. When he asks her to close her eyes and speaks to her so tenderly, asking, “I this your husband’s voice?” And then, “Was that your husband’s kiss?” Well! I just want to kiss him myself! It’s another glimpse of Job’s integrity, beyond his godliness, into his masculine tenderness.
NB. I’m sorry to say I am a bit behind in my reading but look for my review of Love Amid the Ashes soon