Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suffering, The Second Manuscript, and Song of Solomon: Meet Mesu Andrews!

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!

16 comments:

Renee Ann said...

When I saw Amber was doing this interview I had to stop by! I noticed your beautiful book cover somewhere and did what I usually do--read the reviews. The glowing praise at Amazon and Romantic Times had me moving Love Amid the Ashes to my wish list and then this week I purchased for my Kindle. Last night after grading papers, I began reading. I'm only 6% along (according to Kindle) but I love it! I can't wait for the weekend so I can finish Dinah's story.

Even tho' I'm only at the beginning of the book, I can tell this is a weighty story. I'm not surprised it was born out of your deep study of the Scripture. I think that kind of background truly makes a story enthralling--no matter what the topic and whether it takes place in Bible times or modern day.

(BTW, I love what you say on your website: "Satan is throwing his worst attack at me—physical suffering—and each day that I live victoriously is a direct reflection of God’s power at work in me.")

Blessings, Mesu and Amber!

Ruth said...

Wonderful interview! I can't wait to dive into Love Amid the Ashes either!

Bluerose said...

I agree. Great interview!! I've now been inspired to start a study on Song of Solomon. :)
I can't wait to read Love Amid the Ashes! I hate to admit that the book of Job isn't one I've studied much.

Julia M. Reffner said...

What a great interview! Can't wait to read this book. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on the writing craft with us newbies.

Amanda said...

What a beautiful and inspiring interview! Once gain the Lord has placed something so timely in my path this week and blessed and encouraged me through it. Oh, dear Job - what a story and example he left us! I've become well acquainted with "the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away" but He's still teaching me the words to say in the midst of it all: "blessed be the name of the LORD."

Thank you, Amber, for this! Looking forward to your review :)

Blessings,
Amanda

Michelle said...

Wonderful interview. I can't wait to read Love Amid the Ashes, and I'm looking forward to your Song of Solomon book as well

Julie Lessman said...

AMBER AND MESU -- WONDERFUL interview!! Song of Solomon is one of my favorite books in the Bible, so you hooked me in with your love of that, Mesu. Love Amid the Ashes sounds FABULOUS and I can't wait to read it!!

Hugs,
Julie

Amber S. said...

Renee Ann,

Thank you so much for stopping by! :) Mesu's book is quite engaging, isn't it? And it certainly has a beautiful cover, too! :)

And I agree that deep study/research makes for a much more enthralling read, because the author can really place the reader in the setting.

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Ruth,

Thank you! I've started Love Amid the Ashes (I'm almost about 1/3 of the way through), and it's very intriguing. :) Happy reading!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Bluerose,

Thank you!

I love God's Word--some books that you think wouldn't be perhaps "fun" to read can offer so much. :) Every part of the Bible has so much to offer!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Julia,

Mesu shared some wonderful responses and ideas, didn't she? :) Thank you for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

I'm glad that God used this interview to bless you! :) You are such an inspiration to others, especially me. I know God is working powerfully in your life, my friend! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, and I'm also eager to read more of her work. :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Julie,

Aww, thank you for stopping by! :)

And why am I not surprised that Song of Solomon is one of your favorite books of the Bible. ;)

~Amber

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

This looks sooo amazing! I wish I hadn't passed on reviewing it but alas my schedule was full...this will be a book I will have to look for to buy at some point or another...and Love's Sacred Song sounds great too! So many books, so little time! :-(

It was fun meeting you Mesu!


XOXO~ Renee

Amber S. said...

Renee,

It was really an interesting book! I hope you get a chance to read it sometime. :) And Love's Sacred Song does sound really good!

~Amber

P.S. It is really hard to keep up with all the great books out there!