Super happy to have Mesu Andrews on our blog today! A biblical fiction author, she's brought smiles to our faces in person and on the page!
Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
Miriam is the story of Moses’s sister, the first prophetess mentioned in Scripture. She was eighty-six years old when Moses returned from exile in Midian and declared Israel’s God had a new name—Yahweh—the God she’d served faithfully her whole life. How did Miriam feel as all of Israel experienced the devastation of the first three plagues—the Nile turned to blood, masses of frogs, and biting flies—alongside the ruthless Egyptians?
Miriam’s story was especially meaningful to me since my own spunky mama is also eighty-six. I tried to imagine my God-lovin’, change-hatin’ mom enduring all that upheaval, and my heart broke for Moses’s older sister. I admired her strength, her faith, and the fire that drove her to submit to her younger brothers’ leadership and yet lead the women in a dance after crossing the Red Sea. I love Miriam more now than I did when I began my research. She is a true biblical heroine.
Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I actually love Eleazar, the lead male character, Aaron’s third-born son. Later in Israel’s history, he became the nation’s high priest, but in this story (fiction) he’s embittered against God at the inhumanities as a soldier slave in Egypt’s wars. Eleazar is a crusty old bachelor, who adores his grandparents and Aunt Miriam and faithfully shares his rations with them. His hard shell is tested by a beautiful Hebrew harem girl who is exiled into Goshen’s slave village. She frustrates him to the point of exasperation—and then infatuation—making him even grouchier. Their relationship was so complex and especially fun to write!
Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut :)
I have a fantastic editor. That being said…she cuts LOTS of scenes, chapters, and in Miriam she even cut two full characters out of the book. This meant I needed to rewrite the whole manuscript, taking out these characters from each scene in which they appeared.
Why did she ask me to take them out? Because they really weren’t necessary. I can say with absolute certainty—readers didn’t miss a thing when I cut Abigail and Caleb. Abigail was the grand-daughter of a character from The Pharaoh’s Daughter, my first book in The Treasure of the Nile series. Though Abigail was interesting, she wasn’t essential to telling Miriam’s story. The second character, Caleb, was Joshua’s side-kick during the Wilderness Wandering. But this book ends at the parting of the Red Sea, so no one really cares about Caleb at this point, right?
Everyone needs a good editor! And I’m thankful for mine.
How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?
The location of the land of “Goshen” is debated by scholars, but it is widely accepted that the Israelites were concentrated in Egypt’s northern Delta. Exodus 1:11 tells us that the Hebrews built store cities in Ramesses and Pithom, making it fairly simple to mark where the Exodus began. I kept the path of the Exodus rather vague since few resources agree on the exact journey the Israelites took to the Red (Reed) Sea. I try to make the reader feel their surroundings but, due to the controversial locations surrounding the Exodus, I kept most of the physical descriptions rather general.
What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?
Both Miriam and Eleazar were biblical characters whose names were given. I chose the secondary woman character’s name—Taliah—because it was somewhat familiar to our culture but had Hebrew roots and meant “dew,” which would become significant during the wilderness wandering if I were to write future books in the series. (The miraculous bread from heaven—called “manna”—came as dew on the ground.) My next book is about Isaiah the prophet, but if I ever come back to the wilderness wandering, I’ve got a great cast of characters to begin the story!
Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?
I hate cleaning! I don’t mind cleaning toilets or doing the laundry, but sweeping, dusting, windows, kitchen, etc.—ICK!
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
Grandkids!!!! Two grand babies now live with us (for a short time), and the rest only a few hours away, so I plan my days around those sweet little faces. And movies. I love movies—all kinds. My favorites are the epic historicals: Gladiator, Braveheart, The Patriot, and Regency period films. But I also like Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, and just about any chick flick you put in front of me.
Summer is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this summer season?
Moving across the country…it was a gorgeous drive!
We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
My books tackle some difficult life and faith questions that my characters meet head-on. Guess who gets to write that dialogue? Yep, as my characters wrestle, my heart is wrestling with them, and I read and study to find answers. Then I ask a team of godly folks to read the first draft to be sure the concepts are biblically sound. It’s both a personal quest and a team effort. I believe God’s Word must affect my heart before it can have an effect on my readers.
Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)
My life has been a little crazy since I’ve been speed-writing since May (a full rough draft in 5 months is speed-writing for me). In August, we moved from Vancouver, WA to Boone, NC, and my first draft was due October 1st. On writing days, I get up, brush my teeth, make a pot of coffee, and begin writing by 7-8am. I live on coffee, protein bars, and yogurt, and write until my brain is mush—usually around 10-11pm.
Since I made my deadline (woohoo!!!), I haven’t actually found a great schedule. I’ve been sleeping later (7-7:30am) and having a leisurely breakfast with my hubby, daughter, son-in-love, and grandkids (the kids and grands now live in our basement). I work in the morning and unpack boxes in the afternoon. Life is grand!
…Until edits come back sometime after the holidays. **Grin**
We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. A pot a day—all decaf—mostly because I love the taste of hazelnut creamer.
And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?
Pink dolphin. Yep, I Googled it, and of the ten coolest animals living on or in the Amazon, the pink dolphin gets my vote!
If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?
EASY!!! I want to SEE Jesus! But I would want to go back in time to do it (not just have been born during that time)…because I’m afraid I might have been one of those who didn’t get it. Would I have believed He was the Messiah and Son of God? I’m not a risk taker. I’m sort of suspicious of anything out of the norm. Jesus of Nazareth would have definitely stretched my faith if I’d been alive during His earthly ministry. What am I saying? Jesus stretches my faith NOW even though I know He’s the Messiah and Son of God! I like the era I’m born in…
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! :) Please share something below:
“When there is a prophet among you, I
, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.”
~ Numbers 12:6 ~
I am Miriam, old but of use. I am a slave, a midwife, a healer with herbs. This is what I do, but El Shaddai makes me who I am.
The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer. But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel and the messenger of El Shaddai. When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.
During my eighty-six Inundations, His presence has swelled within me like the Nile’s waters, quenching my thirst, meeting every need. No relationship imprisons me. No task consumes me. No despair conquers me. I’m His alone, free to love others as He loves me.
But as I dab my parents’ brows, creeping dread crawls up my arm like a living thing. Last night’s dreams have shaken our divine union. El Shaddai, Your messages have always been so clear. Why not give the meaning with the dreams?
I know they portend death. But whose? Fear coils around my heart like a serpent. Please don’t take my parents, Shaddai. A ridiculous request, I know. Abba Amram has seen 137 Inundations and Ima Jochebed 109. They are the wonder of the tribe of Levi, and even the Egyptians whisper rumors of a slave couple favored by the gods.
Abba’s chest rises and falls with shallow breaths. Ima snores quietly. My heart will break when I must say goodbye.
A flash of light, and my mind grows dark . . . until Shaddai shows me a single soldier walking toward me. It’s Eleazar. Last night’s dream-creatures dance around him, taunting, but he can’t see them. My nephew walks quickly, calling my name. As suddenly as it came, the vision is gone.
Abba and Ima sleep peacefully while I lean into the constant presence of my Shaddai. Eleazar will arrive soon with our morning rations, but now I know last night’s dreams have something to do with him. Thank You, my Shaddai, for your tender consolation. For though the evil creatures tested and taunted, they could not destroy him. But I know there’s more to the dreams than that. Show me, Shaddai. Show me more.
A warm breeze stirs the stifling air within our mud brick house, and I know it’s El Shaddai. All right, I’ll try to be patient. New-found peace grapples with niggling angst. I’ll sing. Singing always soothes me, lifts me, transports me deeper into His presence.
The tune is the same. Haunting, groaning, yearning. But something changes. The breeze dies. A strange chill races up my spine. I hum a familiar melody, waiting for new words of praise that never come—like the dream without a message.
Heart racing, eyes burning, my soul cries out, El Shaddai, are you there?
I look out our window. The sun still shines. The birds still sing. But a chill breeze stirs in the hot sun, and I know. Change is coming. Change is here.
Thank you so much for visiting today! It was a blast!
Please visit http://www.mesuandrews.com/books/miriam-a-treasures-of-the-nile-novel/ to download a sample chapter or buy Miriam.