mary's book basket ~ author interview mesu andrews

I am delighted to host the lovely and talented Christian Inspirational author Mesu Andrews. Ms. Andrews  book "Love Amid the Ashes" re-tells the biblical story of Job and Dinah from the Old Testament. It is a powerful tale of trust and redemption. I have written a book review here. 

 Mesu, I absolutely LOVED the book. What inspired you to tell this moving tale of Job and his family?
Curiosity at first. Ministry at last. From the first commentary I opened, I
found Job's wife fascinating. I'd always wondered about her. Did she lose
her faith or did she have any to begin with? Did she end up at his side or
in the ground? But curiosity turned to compassion and compassion to intrigue
as I discovered Job's family connection to Esau (Job considered by many
commentators to be "Jobab" in Genesis 36). When research grabs me at the
beginning, I know that the Lord plans to work in my heart through the story
I'll write. And since I had worked through the Scripture of Job when I was
diagnosed years before with my own chronic illnesses, I knew this story
would change me. Many of the emotions in the story are so real because they
were real to me and to my family as we endured changes during my adjustments
to illness. None of our trials were nearly so great as Job's, but I think
everyone endures times of grief that affect the whole family, when each
member must work through his/her own emotions. This is the ministry piece
that came during the writing and I hope happens as readers are swept into
Job's world.

How long did it take to do the research for this project? What advice
would you give to authors writing historical fiction?
I researched for about three months before I did any writing. Then the itch
just got too great, and I had to write a few scenes! But honestly, I
researched the whole time I was writing, and the project required a little
over a year to complete. Even that is a cheated estimate. It doesn't
account for the years of biblical fiction I've read or the dozens of times
I've read the Book of Job straight through. To write historical fiction, I
need to immerse myself in this world, and even then I can make mistakes. For
example, I had written that Job's wife loved silk. My good friend, Jill
Eileen Smith read the manuscript and mentioned that her research had shown
silk trade entering Palestine in Solomon's days. After double-checking my
resources, I discovered she was right and changed my manuscript before it
went to print! Historical fiction is tricky. Every word, every detail must
be examined for modern thought. Words like "minutes" and "time ticking away"
don't apply because there were  no clocks. A man's anger cannot "explode"
because there were no explosives known at the time. The best advice I can
give ANY writer is to find excellent critique partners that complement your
skills. (Notice I did not say compliment.) In my group of three, one is a
grammar-nazi, one is a big picture girl, and the third is an emotion
glutton. We love each other dearly but are compassionately honest. It works.

Your personal story of suffering is a powerful witness of God's healing
and mercy given on a daily basis freely and wholly from a Savior who loves
unconditionally. You have struggled for years with fibromyalgia, chronic
fatigue and P.O.T.S. (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). What
advice would you give a writer struggling to write in the midst of
difficulties wether they be physical or emotional?
My advice is the same to a writer or to anyone who has to maintain a
concentrated line of thought. Get totally quiet with the Lord, and then move
out of that peace into whatever you need to do for the day. MUCH easier said
than done. One of the great villains to us all is self-focus. Whether we
become consumed in positive thinking or negative projections, concentrating
on ourselves is deadly. Notice God's instruction to Job, immediately after
revealing His awesome grandeur, was that Job pray for someone else. It's
easy for those of us who struggle with constant pain to become consumed by
that pain, every thought, every decision, every conversation. Don't do it!
Get a hobby! Find your passion and pursue it! Become consumed with Jesus!
You'll find you're much happier, and others will enjoy your company more.

Who is your favorite author? What is you favorite book?
VERY tough questions! I could be really cheesy and say God and the Bible
(true but not what you meant). My favorite book is The Red Tent by Anita
Diamant. It's what opened my eyes to authentic Hebrew history incorporated
into biblical content. But my favorite author is a little more difficult.
I've limited my reading to almost exclusively biblical fiction over the past
few years, so my pool of candidates is somewhat more limited than most.
Still, my favorites are the women who wrote passionately about the
history...Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series  and Lynn Austin's
Chronicle of the Kings series are two of my favorites. I love their writing
expertise and used the stories as textbooks after I read them for pleasure.

What's next for you? 
More biblical fiction! We're in the editing and marketing stages for my
second Revell book, Love's Sacred Song, a novel based on the Song of Solomon
telling the story of young King Solomon's love for a shepherd girl that
shaped his character and his nation. I've started researching four more
novels, hoping to reveal more of God's love in the Old Testament. I hope
each of my Old Testament novels will begin with the word, "Love..." Too many
times folks say they see only a god of wrath in the Old Testament; but I
want to unveil God's adoration--the same yesterday, today and forever--equal
in the Old Testament to the New Testament love that gave His Son for our
sins. I hope to pick famous (or infamous) men and then bring the women in
their lives out of the shadows. Very challenging, but loads of fun!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer them for my readers.  I wish
you every success with this and any future projects.
Thank YOU, Mary! Good questions and fun to answer the personal ones along
with the writing ones. Blessings as you minister to those on your blog!