Author Interviews · Uncategorized

Q&A With Tessa Afshar

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!

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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.

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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 AfsharTessa 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
February 2020
Tyndale.com

 

 

Author Interviews

Q&A with Janice Cantore

Have you ever fancied yourself a rather good detective? Solve this conundrum: what’s a sure way to brighten a book blogger’s morning? If your answer involves giving her the opportunity to interview an established author, you’re right on track. Make it a Q&A with Christian Fiction storyteller Janice Cantore, a former LBPD officer, and I’m sure you can deduce that I was elated. While I’ve only just been introduced to Cantore’s works of police/romantic suspense, I truly enjoyed this interview and feel more than hopeful you will too! For clarity, my questions are in italics and Cantore’s responses follow in bold. Let’s jump in!

I ask almost everyone I interview if they would be willing to share how they came to know Christ as their Savior. I love hearing about God’s redemptive work in human hearts! Would you tell us your testimony?

I was raised Catholic but stopped attending church in my teens. In college, a girl in my dorm was with Campus Crusade for Christ, she shared the Gospel with me, and I accepted Christ, but I really had no idea how to be a Christian. Much later, when I was going through a really tough time as a new police officer, I found a church that reminded me of my commitment, and I rededicated my life. It was there the sacrifice of Christ and the resurrection finally sunk in. And it was then that faith truly brought me peace, because faith is trusting God, and trusting God means recognizing that he is in control of all things. His promise of eternal life, and that He works all things out for good, is the most precious promise of all.

The characters in your Line of Duty series address some tragic topics and crimes that are sadly pretty common and relevant today. As a former police officer for the LBPD, did you or do you ever feel overwhelmed by the brokenness in this world? Are there any Bible verses that particularly comfort you?

I remember one night, I responded to a robbery. A man had been shot coming out of the market because he didn’t give up his wallet fast enough. When I got there, paramedics had already taken him away and I stayed with his handicapped wife, holding her hand until her son got there. She was inconsolable, and I remember praying for her. I did feel overwhelmed, because the woman could not take care of herself, and she had just seen her caregiver/husband shot down in front of her. It made me appreciate the power of prayer, because I do believe that the Lord heard me that night and was with her in the coming days. I prayed for people I came across, even when I didn’t know what to pray, because I know the Lord intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). 

Cold Aim, the third Line of Duty book, is coming out in July. One element of the plot is a 25-year-old murder case, and I’ve noticed cold cases are a common thread in more than a few of your stories. Is there anything besides the inherent mystery that draws you to write about them?

Cold cases have always fascinated me. It’s the justice side; I hate seeing people get away with things. (Of course, I know that they never really do.) I used to watch Cold Case Files (the true life one, not the fiction series) and whenever they would end with the case still not solved, I would be frustrated. Over the years, several of the most heinous crimes have been solved—the Golden State Killer, for example—and I find that very satisfying. I also peruse the FBI site, reading up on the most wanted, and cold cases there. Sometimes asking ‘what if’ sparks the seed for a story, and I can make sure justice is served, if only in fiction.

On a lighthearted note, I read on your blog that you love Science Fiction, à la Star Trek and the old Twilight Zone! I’d love to see more Christian Science/Speculative Fiction published–would you ever consider changing gears and dabbling in a new genre?

I do love Star Trek, and a lot of science fiction (I have a degree in biology), but I could never see myself writing science fiction. It’s too technical, at least the really good stuff is, and writing that way is just not my cup of tea.

Oh well, we can just keep wishing! Thank you so much, Janice, for sharing your time and insights with us here on a page out of her book.

Find out more about Cold Aim, which releases early July 2019, (as well as her other books) on her official website– www.janicecantore.com.
Author Interviews

Q&A with author Mike Dellosso!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an interview on my blog; you may remember the first one was with the lovely Stephanie Grace Whitson back in June. (Take a look at that here if you missed it.) I love interviewing; it gives a whole new depth to the books I love as I start to get to know a little about the author and where he or she is coming from as a fellow believer. Understandably though, many of the authors I’ve contacted with interview requests are very busy and (while they’ve always responded kindly) haven’t been able to commit to a Q&A.

I’m especially thrilled, then, to have the opportunity to hear from Christian fiction author Mike Dellosso! I very recently reviewed Mike’s suspense/thriller Centralia and am looking forward to reading his other titles. To shamelessly steal Mike’s official Bio:

Mike is the author of eight novels of suspense, an adjunct professor of creative writing and popular conference teacher, a husband, and a father. When he’s not lost in a story or working or spending time with his family he enjoys reading and dabbling in pencil sketching. Mike has a master’s degree in theology and serves with his wife in their local church. He is also a colon cancer survivor and healthcare worker. Born in Baltimore, Mike now resides in southern Pennsylvania with his wife and five daughters.

Now that you know a little about Mike, let’s move right into the Q&A:

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First off, on your website you mention being a sinner saved by amazing grace! Praise God! I love to hear testimonies, would you mind sharing how you came to Christ?

 My dad came to Christ when he was 35. I was 9. He had been an alcoholic and I saw the dramatic change Jesus made in his life. I was a first-hand witness to my dad being made a new creation. A few months later I also made that decision. I was a “good” kid so there wasn’t a radical change in my life but over the years I’ve seen time and time again the difference Jesus has made and is making in my life. I’ve wrestled with stuttering, been through cancer, major disappointments, major hurts, significant life changes, and through it all God has remained faithful. He’s used every one of those situations to shape me into the image of Christ and draw me closer to Himself.

In another interview you mentioned that you have had a stutter your whole life and that through writing you feel you found your voice. While it might not compare, I sometimes feel as if I struggle to communicate my thoughts out loud to others. Do you have any encouragement or advice for others with stutters or similar difficulties?

Embrace who you are. For 25 years I fought my stuttering, struggled against it, cursed it, begged God to take it away from me. I just wanted to be “normal.” I wanted to be able to talk without it being a big chore. But every time God refused. Finally, through a series of circumstances I came to the point spiritually and emotionally where I was tired of fighting God and I gave in, I cried “uncle,” and just accepted who I was and who He made me to be. From that moment on my stuttering began improving. I was once a kid who loathed speaking in public, hated it, would look for every way out of it. And now I look for opportunities to speak. Yes, I still stutter some and at times it’s worse than other times, but I work with it now. It’s who I am and I’m okay with that.

Perusing through your old blog posts and other interviews, it would be pretty hard to miss how much you love being a dad to your five daughters! I’m sure they’re pretty proud of you too. That said, have you had any funny requests or comments from them about your books?

They haven’t read all of them. My oldest daughter says they’re too intense and scary for her. My second daughter isn’t a big reader to begin with. My third daughter has read them all and enjoys them. Number four is just seven and number five is only two. I’ve not had any funny requests from them but when they were little (and I still do this for the seven- and two-year-old) I would tell them bedtime stories and they’ve mentioned several times that I should compile them into a children’s book. Most of the requests come from other people. “Hey, I have a great idea for your next book.” I always listen politely but inside I’m rolling my eyes. I love when they say, “I’d write it myself if I had time.” I work a full-time job, a part-time job, have a wife and five kids, and am very involved in our local church . . . and you think I have time? Again, internal eye rolling.

You’re also a colon cancer survivor. What advice would you give to those, including me, with family or extended family who has cancer? I doubt this is an easy question to sum up, but was there any way you wish your friends had helped but they didn’t (maybe because they just didn’t know?)

Don’t patronize. If you don’t know what to say just tell them that. Don’t say, “I’m thinking about you.” I used to think: I don’t care if you think about me; what good does that do me? Pray for me. Let them talk, express themselves, cry. Just be there for them. Don’t tell them it could be worse (yes, people would say that to me). Don’t tell them they look good (they often feel like they’ve been run over with a septic truck). It’s about being real and honest and allowing them to be real and honest.

I just discovered your books so I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Centralia is the only one of your titles I’ve read so far (but I plan to change that soon!) “Scream” especially piques my interest… what would you recommend new readers start with? Do you have a favorite among your own works?

My favorites are DARLINGTON WOODS and A MILLION MILES FROM HOME. They are two very different novels in different genres and I loved writing both of them. I usually tell people to start with either SCREAM or CENTRALIA. If they don’t like suspense or thrillers, try A MILLION MILES FROM HOME.

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I’m so thankful to Mr. Dellosso for his honesty and time; if you’d like to learn more about him please take a look at his website, www.mikedellossobooks.com. He has two new books out: Midnight is My Time, “an end-times novel like you’ve never read before” and  A Million Miles from Home, “Southern fiction that is captivating people’s hearts.” You can explore his books here on his Amazon author page.

Author Interviews

Q&A With Stephanie Grace Whitson

Readers, some time ago I sent Christian fiction author Stephanie Grace Whitson an email asking her if she would be willing to answer a few interview questions for my blog, and she generously agreed. Stephanie’s fiction titles have been finalists for the Christy Award (among other honors) and you can find out more about them on her website: www.stephaniewhitson.com. Her most recent book is Messenger by Moonlight (2016). This is my first interview with a published author, and while my questions may be lacking, her answers are lovely, thoughtful, and warm. Please enjoy reading through our Q&A session below!

Your life as a novelist began in the 1990’s when you, your husband, and four kids all moved to an acreage in southeast Nebraska. You mention on your website being pretty sure you provided comic relief for the neighbors because of your lack of understanding about country living. Do any humorous stories or blunders stick out in your mind?

 I am from southern Illinois where my parents (born in 1913 and 1915) grew up in poverty, both taking advantage of the free food available via edible berries and greens that grew in the wild. I have very fond memories of picking dandelion greens and pokeweed for salads and roaming the countryside for wild gooseberries, blackberries, etc. in season.

Once we moved to our Nebraska acreage, I followed suit, making wild plum butter, sprinkling mulberries on breakfast cereal, etc. But the climate in Nebraska is different from that of southern Illinois, so there were wild fruits I wasn’t familiar with. One day I knocked on a neighbor’s door with a branch laden with wild fruit. Mrs. Boyce had been a farm wife all her life and she knew everything from “the old days” of hard scrabble life during the depression. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Will I kill my family if I make jelly with these?”

Mrs. Boyce: “Well, honey, what do you think that is?” Continue reading “Q&A With Stephanie Grace Whitson”