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Interview with Mesu Andrews

Mesu Andrews writes intriguing Biblical fiction, and is celebrating the upcoming release of her latest novel set in the days of Daniel. Have you seen that gorgeous cover? It's only a foretaste of the delight you'll find in the story.

Welcome, Mesu. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for Of Fire and Lions, a novel based on Daniel’s wife Belili?
Any story I write needs a little romance to keep me interested in the characters. Since many historians have speculated that Daniel and his three friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were made eunuchs when taken captive to Babylon, their story would have been difficult. But I LOVE Daniel!! So I studied him more in-depth and discovered that the Hebrew word cariyc, translated eunuch, was also used in Genesis to describe Potiphar, Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard. Potiphar was married, so he was obviously not a eunuch—at least not in the sense I was thinking of the term. Suddenly Daniel became the most eligible bachelor for my next biblical novel! But to give him a wife, she needed a story as fraught with hardship and blessing as his.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your newest release?
Daniel and Belili were taken from their homes as children and experienced Yahweh in many different ways, locations, and seasons of life. When the Temple of Jerusalem was ultimately destroyed, Yahweh proved His presence wasn’t limited to hovering over a gold box behind a curtain. Daniel and Belili learned that Yahweh wasn’t limited to a place, a people, or a phase of life. I hope readers will also see proof that though the manifestation of His power and presence changes to fit their life-seasons and specific needs—God Himself never changes.

For a budding author of historical fiction, what advice would you give them about research?
Become best friends with research librarians! If you have a college or university near you, they’re a fabulous resource for the community (my Appalachian State University library card was $10 for a lifetime community card). Their research librarians are often happy to help anyone (as long as it’s not at the beginning or end of a semester) with a project and are wizards when it comes to searching databases all over the world! I’ve even found them willing to take a few topics and do “homework” for me, pulling stacks of books and marking pages that I can look through at a later time in a single sitting.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing fiction based in Biblical times? What is your favorite part?
I’d say the most challenging part is also my favorite part! God’s Word always provides the immovable, unchangeable, Truth of my books. It’s the foundation that CANNOT be tweaked or fluffed to smooth out a story wrinkle. Daniel’s eunuch status is a good example. I simply couldn’t write that story while believing he was unable to marry. I refused to change what I believed to be Scriptural Truth—until there was a reasonable, fact-based, plausible explanation to write a fiction-based wife into his story. Then I get so excited!!! When the Lord shows me a way to sprinkle creative fiction around the biblical Truth and historical facts, I have so much fun imagining and creating the characters and story!

Which Biblical character inspires you personally and why?
Since I learned the meaning of Hephzibah’s name (The Lord’s delight is in her), I’ve been fascinated with her. She was married to the most righteous king of Judah (Hezekiah), mother of the most wicked (Manasseh), and Jewish tradition names her as the prophet Isaiah’s daughter. As the wife of a strong and righteous man, I’ve often marveled at how difficult it would have been to watch a son destroy all the good my husband stood for. Though not in Scripture, historians hold that Manasseh executed Isaiah—his own grandfather. How could Hephzibah love such a son? Did she maintain her faith in Yahweh? Though Scripture doesn’t tell us her story, Isaiah’s mention of her as the personification of the New Jerusalem—her vindication and splendor shining like the dawn—I believe she weathered her family storms with a grace and faith women today can aspire to. Her story certainly helped put into perspective my rough days with rebellious teens and difficult adult children!

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a strange mix. Since a lot of my plot is prescribed through Scripture and historical data, some dates, facts, and cultural norms are restricted by research. I’ve discovered I like plotting—especially as I get older and my Swiss-cheese brain loses spontaneous great ideas that I once retained so well. However, just because I plot most of the book before I write, doesn’t mean I follow the plan! Plotting is sort of like speed limit signs—only suggestions.

Do you prefer to write in a certain place or at a certain time of day? Do you write in silence or while listening to music?
I always write in a recliner. Gotta be comfy because I tend to be manic about my writing, doing 12-16 hour-days when I’m on deadline. I write best early in the day since I’m plagued with daily migraines that begin in mid-to-late afternoon, and my medications sometimes make me fuzzy. I normally write in silence, but if I’m trying to drown out Hubby’s TV, I’ll put in earbuds and listen to instrumental worship. If I hear words to the song, I begin to sing along!

What fills your time when you’re not writing?
Grandbabies!!! We moved to NC in 2016 to be nearer to family (after nearly 10 years in the gorgeous Pacific NW). We love being 15 minutes away from one of our girls’ family and having the other daughter’s family only a few hours away makes regular visits easier. What a joy!

What books are on your nightstand?
I like to stay current on new biblical fiction releases, so I’m currently reading a novel on Joseph and Jesus’ early years (not yet released) called, They Called Him Yeshua, by Donald L. Brake, a retired seminary professor. I’m also listening to (audible) Angela Hunt’s newest release, Jerusalem’s Queen.

Parting thoughts?
I’m so grateful for the amazing ministry of ACFW, its volunteers, and other authors who sowed seeds of wisdom into me as a young author. I remember doing several online classes in my early years (I didn’t even know what POV was!) that taught me so much. My first ACFW national conference was like a dream, meeting fellow newbies as well as many veteran authors who were eager to not only help but also to learn. I’ll never forget sitting in the same workshop with Liz Curtis Higgs and thinking, I can’t believe I’m learning the same stuff she is! The very best authors never stop learning, never stop honing their skills.


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CJ Myerly is a graduate from Clearwater Christian College. She resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband and two children. She’s always loved reading and writing and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. She hates clutter, loves organization, and has a love/hate relationship with all electronics. CJ blogs about books, writing, motherhood, and homeschooling at http://momentsdippedinink.com.




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