Mesu Andrews is the author of Love Amid the Ashes, a book that has released this month from Revell Publishing. I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing this author, and I just know you're going to love getting to meet her, too!
Amber: To start, could you share with us what inspired you to become a writer? Was Love Amid the Ashes your first story idea, or were there others that didn’t get published before this one?
Mesu: I wish I could say I was “inspired” to become a writer. I feel more like I was desperate to become a writer! Ha! I had been speaking at conferences and retreats for a few years before had a sort of health crash and ended up in bed for six months in 2002. When I realized the health issues were chronic, and life would forever be changed, I still felt compelled to share God’s Word. My only outlet became my laptop! Though I’d been a pastor’s wife for over a decade and attended a writers’ conference, no one was willing to publish my Bible study or devotionals—especially the one I’d written on the Song of Solomon. One agent said, “I couldn’t sell Billy Graham’s Bible study on the Song of Solomon, let alone a first-time author!” She was right, of course, so my dear friend advised me (nagged me) to write the study in story form—a parable, of sorts. It became my first completed manuscript. When I attended Gayle Roper’s fiction clinic at Mt. Hermon’s Writers’ Conference in 2008, I discovered just how much I needed to learn about writing fiction, but one of Revell’s editors saw a very raw gem in my proposal and asked me to send a COMPLETELY rewritten manuscript for consideration. They liked the story but needed to delay publication because of other projects already contracted, so they asked if I would write a second manuscript to be published first. Love Amid the Ashes was born.
Amber: I think I know what you mean about being "desperate to become a writer." ;)
Love Amid the Ashes is a fictional rendering of the story of Job. Is the book of Job your favorite book of the Bible? If not, which book/story in the Bible is your favorite and why?
Mesu: I love the Book of Job, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite book in the Bible. I suppose the Song of Solomon has become my favorite because it was there that I first really fell in love with Jesus. It sounds really cliché, and I hesitate to even write those words; but after reading the Song of Solomon everyday for almost a year, I discovered a new relationship with my God than I had ever known before. My favorite Scripture, however, is the place I’m hearing from the Lord at the moment. I’ve been studying Genesis during my devotional time for over a year, and I’m loving what Joseph has taught me. It’s all good stuff! Ha!
Amber: I agree--it's definitely "all good stuff!"
On your website you talk about some of what you have suffered in your own life. Did writing Love Amid the Ashes help you in some way by offering an outlet, or was it more of a painful journey?
Mesu: I think both. I studied the Book of Job during the days of my initial diagnoses and the period of adjustment as our family worked through the loss of my “normal” activities. When I began writing Love Amid the Ashes, I thought all those wounds were healed and nicely dressed, but after showing my critique partners the first draft, they challenged me on it. My description of Job’s suffering was very clinical, his encounter with God very succinct. They knew, and gently helped me see, that I needed to revisit those same emotions that Job felt in order to write it well—and heal completely. They were right (as they usually are!) and it was a painful but healthy process.
Amber: Quite a few of us who blog are hopeful authors. Could you tell us how you ended up getting your work published through Revell? Do you have a few tips to share with us still-unpublished authors?
Mesu: Attend writers’ conferences, join ACFW and create your own platform. All of which help with networking. The Christian writing community is relatively small, and word travels quickly. Always be kind and generous with others—first, because it’s what Jesus called us to do; and second, because you never know when you’ll meet that person on the other side of a manuscript! A word about creating your own platform: I began writing devotionals each week and sending them out to family and friends. The list has grown with speaking events and other acquaintances. It’s something pro-active that shows your willingness to market, but most importantly, it’s a consistent discipline. I have people counting on me each week to meet a deadline. And last, but not least, I write something every day. Even if it’s only a well-phrased e-mail to my mother…every day.
Amber: You mention on your website that your next book is going to be about King Solomon. We’d love to hear more about this future release and if you have any other contracted books!
Mesu: We're in the editing and marketing stages for Love's Sacred Song, a novel based on the Song of Solomon, sharing the story of young King Solomon's love for a shepherd girl that shaped his character and his nation. No contract on more yet, but I’m hopeful! I've started researching four more novels, revealing God's love in the Old Testament. 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!
Amber: I love that you want to share about who God really is--that His wrath is linked with His love, and that God from the Old Testament is the same in the New Testament and always!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Mesu!
Readers, you can find out more about Mesu and her work by visiting her website. And be on the lookout for my review of Love Amid the Ashes, coming soon!