I told you, dear readers, that I had a lovely Q&A waiting just around the corner for you! In honor of her newest release, author Tessa Afshar has been making time for interviews. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to ask her a handful of questions! Tessa’s author bio as well as a bevy of other relevant links are at the bottom of this post, so please take a look at those if you are interested in learning more about Tessa after you’ve finished reading through her warmhearted answers. Let’s jump right in!
R: Your newest release, Daughter of Rome, is launching February 4th; I noticed almost immediately that the main characters will encounter Paul the apostle. This isn’t your first book featuring an appearance from Paul (Bread of Angels and Thief of Corinth immediately come to mind), and I’m curious if it’s more than coincidence that you feel drawn to write about him. Do you relate or resonate with his life?
T: What a good question, Rebekah! Because so many of the New Testament letters were written by Paul, we know more about him than almost any other person in the early church. We know of his travels, his travails, his triumphs. We know his friends and his enemies. We know his background and struggles. For a writer like me, Paul’s trailblazing life provides the perfect fodder for a novel.
More subtly, Paul’s presence in different books acts as the cord that pulls the stories together. For example, Bread of Angels is inspired by the story of Lydia, who came to faith through Paul’s preaching in Philippi. Not long after that, Paul traveled to Corinth. So it was natural to have him show up in Thief of Corinth. Paul also first met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth. Of course, I had to include him in Daughter of Rome as well. He makes a great spiritual father!
R: You also have a number of books set in the Old Testament era—fleshing out the stories of Ruth and Rahab, among others. Do you find it easier to write in one time period versus the other (Old Testament versus New)?
T: I prefer to remain in a specific time period for several years. The more you linger in a certain era, the more you learn about it. Books have a way of expressing that facility and knowledge, creating a more powerful story for the reader. I am currently working on another New Testament book, but eventually I will return to the Old Testament. I have a few ideas percolating in the back of my mind already! I will probably spend the first year in a flurry of research, trying to find answers to too many questions. But it will ultimately be worth it.
R: I was taking a look through your website and noticed that you feature a Bible verse there—Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Such a beautiful verse. Do you feel it is the heartbeat of your novels? A message of healing through Jesus Christ?
T: I certainly feel that it is an important part of my writing. Jesus said he came to bind up the broken-hearted (Isa. 61:1). For me, the best of my writing contains a touch of the Balm of Gilead for the reader.
R: Reading through an excellent interview with you by Mesu Andrews (link to that here) I saw that you mentioned working a day job (at least at the time) in addition to writing. Do you mind if I ask what your occupation is when you aren’t crafting a story? English teacher? Caped superhero? Dye master, like Lydia in Bread of Angels?
T: Actually, I have been a full-time writer for some time now. That interview was from five years ago. At the time, I worked full-time in women’s ministry and prayer ministry, writing whenever I could. Looking back, I can see the grace of God made that crazy schedule possible.
R: Do you feel that having lived the early years of your childhood in Iran gave you a better perspective for detailing the settings of your novels? While I’ve never been to Israel, I’m of the opinion that you deftly capture the flavor of the Middle East.
T: Thank you, Rebekah! I think some of my Middle Eastern background definitely makes its way into the novels. My voice as a writer comes out of a well that was once watered by ancient poems and epic tales of adventures in the East. I was raised eating pomegranates and saffron rice. Those sights and smells are still a deep part of my life, and they spill out on the paper when I write.
It’s been a pleasure hanging out with you and your readers at A Page Out of Her Book! You are an awesome host, Rebekah. Thanks for asking such great questions.
R: Oh, it’s been a joy having you here! All the best.
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical fiction, including Thief of Corinth, a 2019 Inspy Award finalist; Land of Silence, which was voted by Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of 2016; and Harvest of Gold, which won a 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Born in Iran, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship.
Tessa’s Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2870-7| Hardcover: $25.99
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2871-4 | Softcover: $15.99