Interview with Mesu Andrews, author of Love Amid the Ashes
Hi, I am Cindy, from Cindy's Reviews, and I want to thank you for taking time to answer some questions for my readers and myself.
Just to start out, for fun, tell us something fun or out of the ordinary about yourself that most people would not expect from an author or a speaker?
I’m not hooked on reading. I would choose a good movie over a good book any day. In fact, most of the novels I read relate somehow to a project I’m writing or will write in the future. I read with purpose, not necessarily for sheer pleasure—though I enjoy a good novel once I’ve started it. I detested history in high school, but I love the research aspect of writing biblical fiction because the historical context is like learning my own family roots. Oops! Is that two weird things about me?
Now on to the book, with so many different genres out there, what was the driving force behind you choosing to write Biblical fiction?
God’s Word is the air I breathe. It is living and speaks life to me each time I read it. Before health issues curtailed my speaking schedule, I was a Bible teacher whose greatest satisfaction was that “Ah-hah!” moment on the faces of those in the audience. When chronic illness made speaking a more occasional pursuit, and writing became my new passion, I found it difficult to publish Bible studies or devotionals because I had no educational degree or large TV audience. So a dear friend suggested I use Jesus’ technique of teaching—parables. “Teach your Bible studies through story,” she said. Since I don’t have the perfect knowledge and wisdom of Jesus, I have to rely on my imperfect research and study, but it’s great fun for me; and I hope others enjoy the stories as well as the authenticity of context I try to provide.
Is the story of Job a favorite story for you? And why from the viewpoint of the wife, when the Biblical story is from Job's point of view?
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with the Book of Job. I love the message, but I hate the whining! Because I have personally struggled with chronic illness, I turned to Job’s Scriptures many times when I was feeling bitterness and self-pity during those early days of my diagnoses. However, it’s not just the one suffering who bears the pain. Just as Job’s wife became discouraged, I watched my family endure the hardships of a wife and mom who couldn’t DO and BE the wife and mom she’d always done/been. Scripture records ample understanding of how Job felt, but what of Mrs. Job? My hope was that readers would see and feel the emotional hardship and strength required of all those surrounding a sufferer, not just the one suffering.
What do you want the readers to most remember about this book, after they finish the story?
I hope, when readers turn the last page, they realize suffering isn’t God’s way of pounding people. It’s His way of turning the enemy’s evil plan to good—shaping us and revealing Himself. Though Job asks “why” time and time again, God never reveals the cosmic reason for Job’s afflictions. He reveals only Job’s frailty in the shadow of a loving, almighty God. Job doesn’t respond with groveling and terror (as one might expect in the presence of such a display of God’s power), but Job shows wonder and obedience. I suppose that’s what I hope for from readers – wonder and obedience as they see God in a new way.
If you can, please share what the readers can look for next from Mesu Andrews?
We’re in the editing and marketing stage of my second book with Revell, Love’s Sacred Song. It’s based on the Song of Solomon, a story of young King Solomon’s early reign and his love for a shepherd girl that shapes both his character and his nation. I’ve started research for four more novels, hoping to reveal more of God’s love in the Old Testament. I hope each of my Old Testament novels will begin Love… Too many times folks say they see only a god of wrath in the Old Testament; but I want to unveil God’s adoration—the same yesterday, today and forever—equal in the Old Testament to the New Testament love that gave His Son for our sins. I hope to pick famous (or infamous) men and then bring the women in their lives out of the shadows. Very challenging, but loads of fun!
Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions and for being on my blog, I look forward to more books from you.
Thank you, Cindy, for letting me share some of my heart and hopes! Blessings!
Bio of Mesu Andrews...
Though my parents weren’t missionaries, my grandmother was. In fact, she and my grandfather were both ordained ministers in the Pilgrim Holiness, then Nazarene, and then Wesleyan churches. My dad was a Quaker and my mom charismatic. As you might imagine, God was a central figure in most discussions when I was growing up, but theology was like a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. That rebellious teenager pictured at left is yours truly. I rejected God and His Word, despite my parents’ and grandparents’ faithful prayers. But during my sophomore year of college, I was intrigued by an old high school friend, who had never attended church but played basketball for a Christian college. He returned home changed, talking about a God I didn’t know. Oh, it was the same God I’d heard about all my life, but different somehow. Looking back, I wonder if his message was all that different than my parents’ and grandparents’ or if hearing it from a transformed life opened my heart. Whatever the reason, I saw Jesus as a life-transforming Savior–and my life was indeed changed, inside and out.
A month later, my old high school friend asked me to be his wife. Roy and I married six months later, and within nine months and two weeks, our first daughter was born. Soon after, our second daughter came along, and we began attending a small church. Suddenly, my desire for God’s Word exploded. So I began scouring the only theology books a young mother has time to read—children’s Bible stories and my Bible.
I devoured God’s Word during my days as a full-time mom, but when our family moved to seminary, my husband became Mr. Mom, and I went to work. Roy became the one saturated in God’s Word, and he was the one our daughters ran to when they scraped their knees. Though I knew we were in the very center of God’s will, these were hard days for me. When my husband graduated from seminary and received his first call to ministry, I promised the Lord I would forever cherish His Word and never again take for granted the blessings of motherhood and marriage.
Our daughters are now grown and telling their own stories of journeys with Jesus. No doubt, they had joys and sorrows in a pastor’s family, their mom’s speaking ministry slowed by chronic illness and their personal questions for the Creator. It is my prayer, however, that those children’s Bible stories we used to read together have matured into the biblical novels and devotional studies I now write. In a way, I still tell Bible stories to my girls. We just include a host of other folks who enjoy relating to the real people in God’s Word.