She’s published three books, Love Amid the Ashes, Love’s Sacred Song and Love in a Broken Vessel. Another is scheduled for release with Revell in March of 2014.
The following is a March 2013 interview with Mesu.
I lived in the flatlands and cornfields of Indiana all my life until 2007, when my husband took a teaching position in Portland, OR, at Multnomah University. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve been spoiled with beautiful views and lush green landscape year round. My Rottweiler-pitbull Bouzer loves to sit with me while I write in front of my fireplace on those frequent rainy days. We have two married daughters and four grandchildren, who now live scattered across the country—I hope to be racking up the frequent flyer miles. I was raised in a Christian home, though I call myself a spiritual “mutt” since my mom’s Charismatic, dad was Quaker, and grandparents were Pilgrim Holiness then Nazarane and then Wesleyan. Eee-gad! Talk about confused! I turned away from religion as a teen and embraced Jack Daniels (whiskey) instead. When a near tragedy almost cost my life, an old high school friend introduced me to the REAL Jesus, and I’ve been enamored with Him since—Jesus AND that old high school friend. I married the friend six months later, and our first daughter was born nine months and two weeks after that. When people say Jesus changes your life…they aren’t kidding! He CERTAINLY changed mine! Because of my confusing theological heritage, I’ve always yearned to understand God’s Word for myself. I was a stay-at-home mom, while my hubby worked as a teacher/coach, then was called to pastoral ministry for fourteen years. I worked part-time along the way as an optometric/ophthalmic technician and administrative assistant in several capacities. But my heart was always attuned to studying the Word—no matter where I earned a paycheck.
How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
I never dreamed I’d be a novelist—not in a million years! I was an off-the-charts extrovert, who needed people-interaction like I needed air to breathe. I loved God’s Word with a passion and watching others fall in love with Jesus as I taught adult Sunday school classes and women’s Bible studies was almost as fulfilling as my own relationship with Him. My teaching opportunities expanded to retreats and conferences, when I began sharing the study on Song of Solomon, and folks began asking for the study in written form. So, in 2001 I attended my first writers’ conference, intending to get that one Bible study published and be on my merry way. Talk about a reality check. One editor laughed. Another one told me to stick with speaking. A third said he wouldn’t publish a Bible study on the Song of Solomon if Billy Graham wrote it—too controversial. I was utterly deflated, returned home to start speaking again, certain I’d never publish anything. A year later, my health took a dive, and I was in bed for six months. God’s Word nearly burned a hole inside me, so I began writing devotionals and sending them out to family, friends, and speaking contacts. My health never returned fully, so writing has become my voice. I’m now more of an introvert, enjoying my quiet, alone time with Jesus as much as I used to enjoy people time. Since I don’t have any theological training or degrees, no one was interested in my Bible studies or devotionals, so a very wise editor—and my nagging best friend—convinced me to take the truths I teach in my studies and use parables to teach—as Jesus did. I, of course, am not nearly as good at it as the Great Teacher, but story is a wonderful method to convey a message in a memorable way. So, to answer your question—No, I didn’t always want to write. But God gave me the desire of my heart before I even knew it was a desire! Writing keeps me in God’s Word and feeling productive—even when I’m physically limited by chronic illness. Our God is sooooooo good!
How about if I tell you what I believe is significant about Christian BIBLICAL fiction. Did you realize there’s biblical fiction out there that’s NOT Christian? There is. Lots of it. When I started writing my first biblical novel, Christian houses weren’t publishing much biblical fiction, so I read the only stuff out there—secular biblical fiction. Oh my. Think about some of the Old Testament stories. They’ll make you blush! And for those who don’t hold Scripture as unalterable Truth, authors in the non-Christian market left out biblical details—or added information—that presented treasured biblical Truths in shades of gray. I believe it’s vital that Christian publishers continue to provide strong biblical novels for those seeking edu-tainment from Bible stories. Perhaps the same argument can be made for all Christian fiction. Christ-followers love to read: Romance, Suspense, Historical, etc. I don’t believe Christian fiction should be unrealistic, portraying of a Pollyanna worldview, but I believe its significance rises from the unalterable Truth and hope at the core of every plotline: God is enough.
How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
I hope they read the last page, close the book, and rush to their Bibles to discover which parts were Truth and which were fiction! I always write an Author’s Note in the back to give little hints about how I formed some fiction aspects of the story, but the Scriptures listed at the beginning of each chapter hopefully give readers a glimpse at the Truth woven into the fabric of each page. I love it when readers ask me specific questions on biblical fact or fiction because often I can give them a particular reference or topic in Scripture to study. Or I can tell them how my wacky imagination came up with the idea.
What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?
I’m always most pleased to hear that folks have read the Bible with new passion and new understanding after reading one of my novels. With all my heart, I believe that a better understanding of the context of a passage helps us apply it more fully to our lives. Knowing who wrote the passage, when they wrote it, why, and to whom—all these things make a huge difference when trying to understand how the Lord might speak to us today with His Living Word. God and His Word never changes, but how we apply that message is relevant to every generation. I get SO excited when folks read Job, Song of Solomon, or Hosea with new eyes!
I used to spend much of my time reading Christian Living books. Purpose Driven Life, Sacred Romance, Pursuit of Holiness were some of the books that shaped my inner world. The authors of these books had amazing insights into discipleship, the “how-to’s” of Christianity, and they challenged me almost daily with some new aspect of obedience. Now, I spend most of my time in research of ancient cultures and in the Bible. My discipleship and obedience must flow directly from God’s Word to my soul. I simply don’t have time to fit in another study, so it’s Jesus and me—and it was really hard at first. I felt adrift because I’d been relying on studies to lead my relationship. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing unless the studies stop, like mine did, and then we’ve got to sink or swim. I think I’m still dog-paddling. The lessons my characters learn in the novels are often my personal tutorials reflected on the page. I suppose we’re all a work in progress, aren’t we?
Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?
I want to love my family well. Our parents are getting older, and we want to honor them with the same love they’ve shown us. We’ve got grandkids now, and I want to be a part of their lives, even though we’re far away. The Lord recently blessed us with a miraculous little parcel of land in the foothills. We’re not sure what He has in mind for that—maybe a writers’ retreat someday or a short-term pastors’ haven (since we spent fourteen years in ministry and know what “needing a break” feels like).
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Movies! I love movies! Old, new, all kinds of movies. My favorites are historical epics: Braveheart, Gladiator, Patriot, Troy, Dances With Wolves, Ten Commandments. But I also love sappy ones: P.S. I Love You, Return to Me, Notebook, Wedding Planner. I used to do some cross-stitching and scrapbooking—but I seem to have little time for that anymore. We like to picnic at several waterfalls near our house, quietly taking in the beauty, reading a good book…or two.
My newest release (March 1, 2013) is Love in a Broken Vessel, and tells the story of Hosea and Gomer. Here’s a peek from the back cover:
Deserted by those who love her and betrayed by the gods she once worshiped, Gomer lives a bitter existence…until one day her childhood friend reappears—Hosea. But is it too late for Gomer? Is her heart too broken to capture even a drop of love? While unfaithful Israel breaks God’s heart, Gomer’s broken spirit tests Hosea’s faith. Can the two find faith in Yahweh’s power to love?
Love Amid the Ashes
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Love's Sacred Song
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Love in a Broken Vessel
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?
The next book will release March 1, 2014 and is titled, The Shadow of Jezebel. Here’s a sneak peek of that story:
Princess Jehosheba (Sheba) wants nothing more than to please her Baal-worshiping abba, Judah’s King, and his first wife Queen Atalyah, the daughter of notorious Queen Jezebel. But when a mysterious letter from the dead prophet Elijah predicts doom for the king’s household, Sheba realizes her dark skills as Baal’s priestess reach beyond the world of earthly governments. When both light and darkness align, forcing her to marry Yahweh’s high priest, Sheba enters the unknown world of Yahweh’s Temple. Her husband shows her Yahweh’s truth and a love beyond hope, but can Sheba overcome Jezebel’s lingering torment? Can Yahweh use a fallen priestess to shine the unquenchable light of His love to faithless Judah? The Shadow of Jezebel--Meet the woman who saved a king, delivered a nation, and preserved the Light of the World.
I hope to see you someday! My hubby and I love to travel and would love to visit some of the countries that have been my biggest supporters. Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand have been wonderful, several folks contacting me from those countries to “chat.” To the New Zealand folks specifically, I say, Thank you for my obsidian necklace! Our family was given a gift-cruise to visit your beautiful homeland in 2009, while I was researching Love Amid the Ashes. I learned that the volcanic stone obsidian was imported to Israel from three places—one of them being New Zealand! So we scoured all the ports and found a beautiful piece in Dunedin. I treasure it, and will always remember the dear people we met on that trip—and the yummy Cadbury chocolates as well! We toured Israel in 2000, and someday I’d also like to return to there—and venture into Egypt, Turkey, and Greece. There’s simply no substitute for walking the land, smelling the flowers, and seeing the REAL thing!
Do you have any parting words?
Thank you to every person who has read one of my books. I can’t even describe the awe I feel at God’s grace. Thank you for opening your heart to read about a biblical character—a REAL person that lived thousands of years ago—who served the same God we serve. I pray my research will bring clearer understanding to help you absorb God’s Truth with deeper meaning.
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