What made you interested in writing Christian Historical Fiction?
If it weren’t for lack of plumbing, medical care, and the obvious challenges of time travel—mainly its non-existence—I would routinely travel back in time. Who can resist the charms and secrets of history?
My genre is a mix of biblical and historical fiction. Because the stories of the Bible inspire us with hope and life-changing truths, they already contain the basic principles of fascinating books.
Charlton Heston taught me that there are two kinds of biblical fiction. Seriously! Remember The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur? They were both biblical stories in their own way. The Ten Commandments was based on the story of Moses, so a character directly from the Bible, while Ben-Hur’s central characters were fictional. This diversity allows the biblical writer a wide margin of creativity to write in. I love that about my genre.
What is challenging, of course, is to retain the integrity of God’s Word, remain faithful to its principles, while adding the extra dimensions, characters, and plotline that a fictional account ultimately requires. The book of Ruth, for example, is only four pages in the Bible. We know almost nothing about Ruth and Boaz’s motives or interior world, and precious little about their background. As a novelist, it is my job to speak into these things. You can’t write three hundred pages of good fiction without dipping your pen into creative waters. Yet you have to do so with extreme caution in order to keep the main storyline intact and uncorrupted.
It was only a few years ago when you published your first book, Pearl in the Sand. How has being published changed your life?
One of my favorite things about being a published writer is the letters and comments from the fans. I am constantly astounded by the power inherent in a story to touch lives, to call forth new hope and insight. Another blessing about being published is that it’s a lot easier to connect with people in the industry and have new contracts. On the other hand, I have never been this busy. There are no days off, anymore. I rarely cook, which I love, and don’t get to spend as much time hanging out with friends as I would like. Being a published writer comes with its own sacrifices.
As a writer, I’m sure your reading time might be limited from what it once was, but please share what is your favorite book you’ve read of all time?
An impossible question to answer without breaking your rules. I cannot stick with only one book! I have always loved Jane Eyre for its wit, uncompromising faith, strong characters, and romance. And then there is anything Jane Austen; even Lady Susan makes me laugh.
Favorite book recently?
Unbreakable by Laura Hillenbrand.
Something that I have found to love in most of the books that I read lately is the act of putting quotes at the beginning of chapters. What is your opinion of this practice in publishing? Do you have a favorite quote? Favorite scripture?
I have read some books where the quotes at the beginning are better than the book itself. I agree with you Margaret. I think it’s a brilliant practice. In my most recent book, In the Field of Grace, I use biblical quotes to prepare the reader for what is coming, a sort of lens through which you can read the chapter. I don’t have a favorite Scripture or quote, because, as I mentioned earlier, I am challenged in this area. Still working on a favorite color and ice cream flavor at this time. Not much success! Just too many good things to choose from.
Can you share some of the exciting things God is doing in your life right now?
My novel, Harvest of Gold was nominated for the Christy award, so I will be attending ICRS for the first time this June. I am thrilled and honored to be nominated, but I am just as excited to be around so many talented Christian writers and publishing professionals. Besides, I am going to have an excuse to wear sparkly shoes. How often does that happen?
I have read different places about the dialogue of choosing this title, could you tell us a little more about that?
We really struggled with choosing the title for In the Field of Grace, which is based on the story of Ruth in the Bible. Contrary to what many imagine, writers don’t get to choose a book’s title, or even its cover. You may have a lot of influence in the ultimate decision, but you don’t have final say.
We ended up asking the fans, and their votes carried the day. You might say the fans chose the title for this book.
Because many fans are very familiar with the story of Ruth, they have strong opinions about the title. Ultimately, we found their enthusiastic participation in the process extremely useful.
Margaret, thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog. You ask such fun and unique questions!
Please feel free to visit me on my webpage at: tessaafshar.com, tweet me @tessaafshar or join me on my FaceBook Author Page at: page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tessa-Afshar/337761827820?ref=ts.