Today we’re sitting down with Mesu Andrews who wrote the second book in “The Psalm Series” title “By The Waters of Babylon: A Captive’s Song.” Release day for this book is August 1st 2018.
Now we shall get started to learn more about Ms. Andrews:
- Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you write? I’m a Jesus-lover, wife, mama, daughter, and friend. I write because I can’t not write. I get cranky if a couple of days go by without putting thoughts and feeling into words on a page or screen. I grew up as a spiritual mutt-Mom, charismatic and Dad a Quaker-so the Bible was pretty confusing to me. When a friend from high school led me to faith in Jesus Christ, it was through his changed life and by showing me that the Bible was a single story, not a bunch of random verses. I followed Jesus because I saw Him in Genesis 3:15, not just John 3:16. That’s part of why my passion is to write about Old Testament stories that point to the coming of the Messiah and the never-changing God in the single story of Scripture. I love God’s Word and have no desire to write anything but biblical novels-with a few Bible studies thrown in to complement them.
- What first drew you toward contributing to the multi-author project, “The Psalm Series?” I’ve loved the Psalms since I was a kid-maybe because they were short and easy to read. As an adult, the Psalms are the first place I turn for comfort when dealing with depression or confusion or extreme joy and celebration in life. When my friend, Brennan McPherson, first floated the idea, I was intrigued. He told me I could choose whatever Psalm I wanted and then I knew I wanted to explore the Captive’s Psalm (#137) to expand on my upcoming book on Daniel, “Of Fire and lions.” When he said he was doing Psalm 23 in his brand of allegorical style, I was immediately on board. Then we found out Carole Towriss, a dear friend and fabulous author, was planning a New Testament twist on Psalm 42. It felt like prefect timing and a great fit for all of us.
- What do the psalms mean to you? The Psalms validate human emotion. Not only do they validate it, but the Psalms encourage sharing our deepest emotions with the lord, especially incorporating it into prayer time. They remind us that we don’t have to say the right thing while praying. My words don’t have to be pretty or planned or perfect. My God has broad shoulders and nothing I hoist onto them is too heavy for Him to Bear. the Psalms also remind me to praise Him; that nothing I receive is too small for a little gratitude. They teach me to celebrate in the moment, not to let God’s gifts pass by unnoticed. He is the Source, the giver, my Rock, and my Strong tower. The Psalms are my spiritual grocery list, reminding me of the essential elements that keep prayer real.
- How did you approach writing a fictional story based on a psalm? I hated history in school, but I LOVE it when researching a portion of Scripture. That’s what gave me a passion to find a story behind Psalm 137. The Psalm itself is devastatingly sad, the last two verses incredibly bitter and vindictive. I asked myself, What kind woman would write such things? and the answer was, Anyone who endured what this woman endured! The challenge was portraying such devastation and violence in a way that could be hopeful to God’s people today. I believe the main character, Merari, experienced a journey that was both true to historical facts and biblical Truth in a way that reminds us all that we serve a loving Heavenly Father who desires only good for His children.
- What made approaching a fiction book based on a psalm different from approaching a fiction book based on biblical narrative? When writing a novel based on biblical narrative, I’m usually given more of a skeletal plot outline to follow. Even when choosing remote characters as I’ve written about in the past (Job’s wife, the Song of Solomon’s shepherdess, Isiah’s daughter, etc,) there’s a meaty plot structure that surrounds the male character. With Psalm 137, however, I had far more freedom to choose what window of time during Jerusalem’s captivity I chose to write. Writing the Psalm meant I began with the emotion and formed the characters and story around IT rather than eliciting emotion from the plot.
- Why did the psalm you picked stick out to you? Does the psalm have some personal significance? I was deep into research for my Daniel novel, “Of Fire and Lions,” when the opportunity to write this novella arose. In writing the full-length novel on Daniel’s life, I knew I couldn’t spend much time on any of Nebuchadnezzar’s three exiles in Judah. The first in 605 B.C., when he took Daniel and the other three boys (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,) gets the most attention in the full-length novel. But the complete destruction of Jerusalem gets only a small mention in the context of how it affected the exiles in Babylon. Writing the novella on Psalm 137 gave me the opportunity to explore in more detail what the captives’ journey from Jerusalem to Babylon might have been like. How long did it take? Where might they have stopped on the way? Where were the captives dispersed in Babylon? These questions and more were fascinating to me and were best answered in a shorter work of fiction.
- How do you use the psalms in your personal devotions? For the past two years, I’ve done a chronological read-through of the bible, so I’ve read the Psalms interspersed in the text with the author’s story who wrote them. However, the Psalms are also my go-to place for personal encouragement during difficult days. I’ve committed Psalm 63:1-8 to memory and recite it silently whenever my thoughts turn to discouragement or fear. Psalm 91, 51, 103, and 139 are also favorites that I read over and over.
- What good is there in reading (or writing) fictional stories based on the Bible? If you had asked me this question twenty years ago, I would have said, “Absolutely none!” Yep, seriously. I considered myself a serious Bible student, committed to studying commentaries, original languages, archaeological finds, cultural and historical insights, etc. Too academic to read someone else’s imaginings. I taught four Bible studies a week and couldn’t get published. My best friend suggested I teach through writing a biblical novel. I was horrified. She said “Oh, I’m sorry…are you a better teacher than Jesus? Because, you know, He taught through parables.” EEEEk! That’s when I signed up for my first fiction mentoring class. People remember story. They learn through examples, pictures, color, texture, sound-and a well-researched, well-written biblical novel teaches the Truth of God’s Word using all of those tools.
- What do you hope readers do after reading your contribution to “The Psalm Series?” I hope the first thing readers will do after reading “By the Waters of Babylon” is pick up their Bibles and read 2 Kings 24:8-25:26. After that, I hope they’ll be curious enough to read the Book of Jeremiah. His story is alluded to in the novella but never fully fleshed out. Look for more full-length novels in my “Prophets and Kings series” (see below for contact info!)
- What are the main takeaways you hope to leave with readers as they read your book? Like most people, I find the Old Testament passages about God’s judgement difficult to read. No matter that I KNOW God is good, just, and righteous, the torturous loss of life seems harsh and cruel. However, researching and writing Merari’s story changed me. I’ve seen through her journey the loving provision of Yahweh on the other side of His judgment. Though the Old Testament Scriptures still pull at my heart, I now understand at a deep, core level that every faithful child of God was met-in captivity or in heaven-with a new and better way of living. Because they say God as true to His Word, in both His reward and His discipline, as every good Parent should be. I pray that my readers will also recognize our loving Father amid whatever discipline they witness-personal or borne by other-and reap its eternal fruit.
- What’s your next project going to be about? My full-length novel on Daniel’s life “Of Fire and Lions,” releases February 2019 (Waterbrook/Multnomah, Division of Penguin Random House Publishing.) The epic tale scans the spectrum of Daniel’s life and Judah’s reformation from captivity to life in Babylon, Culminating at the end of Jeremiah’s prophesied seventy years when the exiled remnant returns to Jerusalem. Experience the wonder of Yahweh, the God who controls the power “Of Fire and Lions.”
- Where can reader connect with you best? Please visit http://www.mesuandrews.com/ to order free bookmarks, download Bible studies or group discussion questions. | Facebook: Mesu Andrews|Instagram: Mesu Andrews|Twitter: MesuAndrews|Pinterest: MesuAndrews| Goodreads: Mesu Andrews
- How do readers find out more about “The Psalm Series?” Is there a website they can visit? Absolutely! Just go to https://psalmseries.com
Thank you Ms. Andrews for going above and beyond to tell us about your book and what we have to look forward to in your work to come.
I hope everyone picks up copies of this Psalm Series and that you look forward to our next interview with author Carole Towriss who’s contribution will be released September 1st 2018.
Happy reading everyone, hope your Thursday is going well and you have terrific books guiding your day and night!
Author Interview graphic found https://scarboroughmysteries.com/2016/05/22/author-interview-margret-geraghty/