Interview with Tessa Afshar - Author of Pearl in the Sand
Reading a book about a person who is not really well known is interesting to me. I'll likely pick it up to read. That is exactly what I did with Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar.
I know who Rahab is. I know her role in the plan of salvation. But there is very little know about her. She was from Jericho. She was a prostitute. She believed in God. She was part of Jesus' genealogy. I've always been interested in her but never really explored her. So, this book was perfect for me.
It's a fictional account of how Rahab's life might have been and her conversion to following God. It was because of her that the Israelites were able to get an idea of the city of Jericho and why the spies of Israel were saved. Her faithfulness and trust in the spies and their God saved her and her entire family while the rest of Jericho literally crumbled around her.
After reading the book and writing a review, I had to see if Ms. Afshar would consent to an interview. There are so many questions I wanted to ask her. She honored me by saying yes and the following is that interview with her that I want to share with you.
Hi Rebecca. Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to hang out with you and your readers.
Of all the Bible characters, what was it that attracted Rahab to you?
The fact that she was naughty? Here was a woman with a past, a harlot from Canaan who actually married one of the leaders of Judah—a man from one of the most distinguished families of Israel. As if this marriage was not in itself utterly astounding, the birth of her son placed Rahab in the lineage of Jesus. Think about that: some of the DNA of this former harlot swam in Jesus’ blood stream. Of all the women in the world, God chose this woman for such an honor. I think that tells us as much about God’s heart as Rahab’s. I wanted to know what helped Rahab rise out of the ashes of her past to live such a redeemed and influential life.
Was it a challenge to know so little about her?
The biggest challenge for me was how to write her story without violating the Word of God. I was writing a work of fiction. But I had to do it in such a way that the overall message of Scripture through Rahab’s story would be honored. There were also a few bewildering moments when I conducted research on line. Because of her background, I was led to all sorts of eye-opening websites. I didn’t mean to become that educated in Rahab’s profession!
How did you create her family and the intricate relationships she had with each one of them?
What a neat question. I essentially worked my way backward from what we know about Rahab and her culture. We know she was a harlot. How did that happen? Was her family involved in that decision? How did each one react to that outcome? Answering these questions revealed the personalities of each character, and the personalities dictated the relationships.
I loved how Salmone was complicated like a man in his position would really have been. You did a great job with him. Did anyone inspire you to create such a man?
Thank you, so much, Rebecca. A few single women have asked me how to find a Salmone! That, I can’t help you with. Salmone was a composite of several people. Again, I began with questions. What kind of personality might a man in such a position of leadership have? What would have been his strengths? His weaknesses? I liked that he was imperfect.
The analogies were perfect and really tugged at me. Where did you find these perfect words?
I really appreciate that compliment. I love analogies and use them in my daily life. (A while back, one of my friends told me that he and his wife of 35 years met when they were fourteen. I said, “That’s not love. That’s duckling imprinting!” Fortunately, he laughed.)
My favorite analogy in Pearl in the Sand comes in the scene from which the book derives its title. I took that one out of my prayer journal. It was a very personal moment between God and me from years ago, which I felt was meant to be shared with others.
Is there anything you would change from the book now that you have stepped away from it and finished it?
Word choices, sentence structure, that sort of thing. I always miss a few details, no matter how many times I edit a text. It’s very vexing.
How has writing been a part of your life?
I think writing permeates every aspect of my life. Even when I’m not actually writing, I’m thinking about it.
How hard was it to say the book was completed?
Not too hard! I wished I’d had more time for editing details. But I knew the larger work was done.
How much of yourself is in the book?
A little of me shows up in all of the major characters. Human beings are very complex and that works to my advantage as a writer. There is just so much material to choose from.
Do you have any projects going on now?
My next book, Harvest of Rubies, is being released by Moody in May of 2012. This historical novel is the fictional story of the prophet Nehemiah's cousin who becomes the Queen of Persia’s Senior Scribe—the only woman to have held such an important post in the Persian Empire. Sarah is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen.
Sarah is a genius who is more at home with scrolls and accounts than with people. In her early childhood years, she has experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she has come to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to be dismissed from her post. As a result, she loses her only source of external validation in exchange for a barren marriage to the nephew of the King.
In the painful aftermath of her husband’s abandonment, Sarah learns about the treasure of friendship, and the faithfulness of a loving God. Through the most painful season of her life Sarah discovers that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums. Her very being proves to be a blessing to others. And to her surprise, she also finds abiding love with a man of God’s choosing.
Thanks so much, Rebecca, for these interesting questions. If your readers would like to visit me on my website, the address is http://www.tessaafshar.com/ or visit me on my Facebook author page where there is always some new discussion going on: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tessa-Afshar/337761827820?ref=ts
I would like to thank Ms. Afshar for taking the time to correspond with me. It was such a joy and I loved reading her answers. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.
You can read my review of Pearl in the Sand and check below for the links to the Amazon site to purchase your very own copy. Above are the links to Ms. Afshar's sites where you can learn even more.
Again, thank you, Ms. Afshar. I am truly honored.