Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Author Interview: Tessa Afshar (SQUEE! I LOVE HER SO MUCH)

Yay! Tessa Afshar is a favourite of mine and she is on my blog! And I am smiling so hard that the corners of my mouth hurt. I LOVE ALL OF HER BOOKS!  I LOVED Pearl in the Sand  and the moment I read it, I thought: I HOPE SHE DOES Ruth and she did.    In the Field of Grace more than met my expectations and it was one of my most anticipated books of the year!  To add, Tessa finally won the honour of the well deserved  Historical Romance Christy for Harvest of Gold. To add to that, it was through Tessa's blog that I discovered the British series Doc Martin which I love :) And she wrote me some nice things and I wasn't going to post them but even Rachels need encouragements sometimes so I am even posting those! Cause they make me smile  So you get it all, Blog!

Hi Rachel. First of all, I am delighted to spend time with you since you are one of my favorite bloggers. I really appreciate your invitation to hang out with you and your readers.

1.)What is the single most important message of the Book of Ruth to you?

In a few short pages, the Book of Ruth manages to give us a glimpse of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness through the most painful seasons of our lives. He doesn’t let go of us. He doesn’t forget about us. I love this story because it demonstrates that there are no outsiders in the Kingdom of God, no losers, no worthless outcasts. In His gracious hands, everyone finds enormous value. Shattered lives are restored. The impossible comes to pass.

2.)Ruth has such staying power. It is a story told again and again and referenced in literature and media-- even without its religious tenets. It is a story that is also often explored in fiction: sometimes even transposed to different time periods! While writing were you conscious of other fictional adaptations --- (yours is so unique. You begin WITH Boaz which was just so lovely ) ? Were you deeply involved in concentrating on your own revisionism of the tale focusing on the source material?

I intentionally try to avoid reading other versions of the book I am working on. I am writing fiction based on the Bible, so my focus is on the original text, and the world in which it occurs. The scariest part of writing this book has been the increasing awareness of the readers’ attachment to this story. With affection comes increased expectation. I would hate to disappoint my readers.

3.)The book is (as I expressed to many of my friends while gushing the moment I turned the last page) so knee-wobblingly romantic. Made more so by the lineage of poetry and symbol you suggest that Ruth and Boaz leave for their descendants. I always think of it as the Bible's Cinderella story. What are some of your favourite romances and why do you think the romantic aspect of Ruth and Boaz's relationship is so potent with readers?

Thank you, Rachel. I am delighted that the romance in the novel appealed to your heart.

Part of the reason the story of Ruth transcends time can be found in the relationship between these two unlikely characters: Ruth, a destitute Moabite widow and Boaz, a wealthy landowner of Israel. Boaz saw Ruth’s worth in spite of the fact that she was a nobody who had lost everything. The very heartbeat of romance for me is this recognition: being known at your worst, and being judged worthy of love and devotion in spite of it. These aspects of the story of Ruth captivate us.

But there is more! Boaz is an archetype of Christ in the Old Testament. He points to the Savior. I think there are elements of romance in Jesus’ relationship with us. He pursues us, protects us, loves us in ways we cannot imagine. Love means sacrifice, and Jesus fulfills the meaning of that word.

Jesus is our Boaz. That’s another reason this story resonates in our inmost being. We see shades of Jesus, accepting us, loving us, protecting us, cherishing us as we read about Ruth and Boaz.

4.)What strikes me most about your heroines--- and why I feel I identify with them so deeply--- is their flaws and the fact that they often wrestle with insecurity. They are at turns vulnerable and strong. And, they fight with self-esteem issues and feelings of displacement. How do you go about choosing which heroine you will next transpose into a fictional universe and is there anything that helps you colour them in so perfectly and dimensionally?

More often than not, God chooses deeply flawed men and women through whom He fulfills His purposes. That’s why so many of us can relate to them! A broken woman who rises above her circumstances to make the right choice, to cling to God, and to ultimately overcome is an inescapably powerful character to read about. I relate to her brokenness and am inspired by her victory. In my experience, all of us struggle with various kinds of insecurities. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt God. But in God’s hands these fissures that run through the very fabric of our being can turn into glory, because the light of His countenance can shine through them.

5.)Though your work is very much rooted in the Old Testament, the interception of grace is so transparent and--- I don’t want to give anything away--- but there is a scene in an olive grove that is very foreshadowing. How does the New Testament inform how your approach the Old Testament stories? How do you excavate the thumbprint of Grace before Christ’s time on earth?

While I was attending a secular book event, an Orthodox Jewish woman asked me if my book was written from a Christian perspective. I told her that I did my best to remain faithful to the Hebrew Bible and its rendition of the story. But I also admitted that being a Christian meant that my particular experience of God flowed into every page. Interestingly, she took the book, because she found that when Christians wrote novels based on Biblical characters, she could read the story and enjoy it, whereas when secular writers based their stories on Old Testament heroes and heroines, they often left disturbing thoughts in her mind.

I cannot write without confessing Christ. Confessing His love. His grace. His acceptance. His provision. My very soul cries out Jesus. I may never name Him. Never show Him. Yet He just pushes through my prose, because He has pushed through my soul. He informs everything I write.

6.)Finally, I hope that you have an idea of what Biblical story you might like to approach next --- what can we expect in the future?

I do have an idea percolating in the back of my mind. But I am not at liberty to reveal the details yet. How annoying is that?
Author photo care of her facebook site 

Rachel, thank you so much for spending time with me. You made me think hard with your unique questions. Thanks for being such a joy as well as an encourager. I so appreciate you.


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1 comment:

Heather NZ said...

She looks like her cover model on In The Field of Grace!