The Inside Scoop!
and her Biblical novel
Land of Silence
I grew up in… Iran – land of Cyrus, Nehemiah, and Esther. Land, also, of Ayatollahs and the Islamic revolution. I lived there until I was almost fourteen, long enough to absorb the scents and tastes and feel of the Middle East.
I was inspired to write my first published novel by… My first novel, Pearl in the Sand, was based on the story of Rahab. What caught my attention and would not let go was the fact that Rahab lived in a wall. Her house was built right into the walls of the city of Jericho. It was a powerful image. Most of us don’t live inside walls literally speaking, but many of us live surrounded by emotional walls. I couldn’t resist the depth in that imagery. It kept calling my name, urging me to write its story.
The books that have most influenced my life are… The Bible, obviously. That’s in a category all its own. My life is daily shaped by it. In the realm of fiction, I have to mention Jane Eyre, anything by Jane Austen, To Kill a Mocking Bird. Anything by C. S. Lewis. Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat aren’t technically fiction, but they read with the flow and absorption of a novel. This question is cruel, Rel. There are just too many books to mention!
My biggest challenge when writing is… Time. Biblical fiction requires hours of study and research before you can even start to tell your story. Research is time-consuming. Writing is time-consuming. Understanding the theology behind the verses is time-consuming. Some days, it is tempting to feel overcome by all the demands of this work. But for me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard? If writing is a call in your life, you must persevere.
One of my favourite authors is… Jane Austen. There is something timeless about her characters. Two hundred years later, we are still making movies and writing spin-off novels based on people she made up. We are still moved by their words and their challenges and their victories.
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be… A museum curator of ancient artefacts from the time of the Bible. My husband wants me to be a race car driver. But I think I will stick to the museum.
The superhero talent I would love to have is… To move really fast, like the Flash. That way, I can get all the chores done, and still have plenty of time to enjoy time with my loved ones.
Before Christ called her daughter . . .
Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .
Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.
No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?
My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives… OK, I admit it. I cheated. I feel like the readers are more qualified to answer this question. So I went to the Amazon website and looked up some of the words reviewers use to describe Land of Silence. I cheated some more in that I didn’t necessarily use adjectives. Do you still want to read my answer? Here it is:
Healing, poignant, daughter, authentic, humour.
My main character is… Land of Silence is based on the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed of a bleeding disease. At the core of this novel is the reality that Jesus calls this woman daughter, the only person in the New Testament that he addresses in such a tender way. I have always known that there are no throw-away phrases with Jesus. He is very intentional with every word He chooses. I was intrigued by this anomaly, and wanted to understand why He chose that word. Ultimately, I think He addresses all His followers in the same way. We too are daughters and sons. And when we grasp the depth of that claim, our internal lives are transformed.
A previously unknown fact about this novel is… My husband and I fell in love as I started writing Land of Silence, and got engaged when I was in the final editing phase.
My story’s spiritual theme is… Obviously, there is a theme of physical healing to the account. But in this novel, the inner healing that Elianna receives is as important as the physical cure Jesus bestows on her. She has to learn to trust God in the midst of suffering. To forgive. To receive grace for her own shortcomings. She has to learn fortitude when her soul begins to crumble. We all need healing of some kind. We all stand in desperate need of emotional and moral restoration. At our roots, we carry bruises and scars that only God can access and heal.
While writing this novel I learned… It is important to reach for the hem of Jesus’ garment on a daily basis. Our everyday, ordinary lives need His precious touch. Even in the crowded places where we are jostled by the noise and demands of many, we need to get on our knees and reach for any part of Him that we can touch!
The title was chosen by… Actually, this title was my first choice, which is not always the case with novels. The title is straight out of Psalm 94, the ESV translation.
As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are… This is the first novel I have written that is based on a New Testament character. Normally, I write Old Testament stories. Although Jesus only appears toward the end of Land of Silence, it was still petrifying to try to capture Him with my inadequate words! How do you do justice to the Son of God? And yet, oddly, at the same time, His mere mention brought me comfort and joy.
The story I’m currently working on is… I am writing the story of Lydia, the seller of purple cloth mentioned in the book of Acts. I think we underestimate her importance in the Bible, not to mention her significance for the world in general. Not only is she the first convert in Europe, but she also established the first European church in her home. Strong, loyal, and courageous, she is a successful businesswoman in a world dominated by men. I find her captivating.
You may not know this about me, but I… Have been married less than one year, and I love being married to my husband, even though we vote for different candidates during the elections.
If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be… Have you noticed how hard the lives of our favourite characters are? They suffer betrayal, pain, loss, grief, physical and emotional depravation. Think Judah Ben Hur, Count of Monte Cristo, any character from the Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre. Ultimately they enjoy victory. But they have to suffer multitude of difficulties before they get there. I would rather be myself and just read about my favourite characters!
It’s been a delight hanging out with you and your guests, Rel. I wished I could be physically there with you all, having a great barbeque by the beach.
Sounds delightful, Tessa! Come on over
Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of In the Field of Grace, Pearl in the Sand, Harvest of Rubies, and Harvest of Gold
Tessa ~ FamilyFiction Plus interview
Visit Tessa’s website and blog
Buy from Amazon: Land of Silence or Koorong