Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Tessa Afshar!

As some of you may remember, I have interviewed Tessa Afshar one other time, about her wonderful book Pearl in the Sand. I loved that book, and when I heard that she was soon coming out with another book, called Harvest of Rubies, I was delighted to invite her for another interview! Read my review of Pearl in the Sand, and my first interview with Tessa. Also, coming soon, my review of Harvest of Rubies! Make sure you read to the bottom for the giveaway.

Hello, Tessa! I’m so glad to be welcoming you to Austenitis again. :) Would you please begin by re-introducing yourself?

Charity, it’s a pleasure to be visiting Austenitis again. What a fabulous title your blog has. The first time I read Jane Austen was whilst attending an all girls boarding school in England. We had to study Pride and Prejudice for exams. I have loved her ever since, though I didn’t like taking the exam.
I am a chocolate-loving, bookoholic. A bit of food, a true friend or two, a good book, and I’ll purr like a cat. 
I have lived on four continents and been a citizen of three countries. I feel truly blessed for the diverse experiences in my past, which have taught me that the greatest privilege in my life is to be a citizen of heaven.

Awww, thanks! I too have loved Jane Austen for quite a while! And how interesting to be in a girls' boarding school...will have to ask you more about that someday. :)Please tell us a little bit about the plot of Harvest of Rubies, your newest book that comes out on May 1.

Thank you for asking, Charity. Harvest of Rubies is the story of Sarah, the prophet Nehemiah's fictional cousin who can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on tablets of clay, and solve mysteries. As a result, the talented Sarah is catapulted into the center of the Persian court—working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and becoming the queen's favorite scribe. Yet a devastating past has left Sarah with two conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her achievements are the measure of her worth—a measure she can never quite live up to.
And then she meets Darius Pasargadae, a man accustomed to having his way. A wealthy and admired aristocrat, the last thing he expects is a wife who scorns him. Throw two such different people together and the sparks fly as Sarah learns to overcome the idols that bind her. 

How long did your research take for this book?
Over a year! The ancient Persian culture is a complex and mysterious world. In recent years, scholars have made important breakthroughs in their study of the Persian Empire. I had to become familiar with these discoveries, while also studying Nehemiah in the Bible.

Why did you decide to write a story involving Nehemiah?
I had committed to writing three biblical novels that involved the symbol of walls. My first novel, Pearl in the Sand, dealt with Rahab, a woman who literally lived in a wall. Nehemiah, as the rebuilder of the walls of Jerusalem, was another obvious choice. But as I began to write Harvest of Rubies, my main character, Sarah, took over. Her personality was so compelling that I had no choice but to tell her story, and tackle the walls that surrounded her world. In the follow-up novel, Harvest of Gold, I will tell the story of Sarah and her husband as they accompany Nehemiah to Jerusalem.

Is there any special story about the cover?

River North (the fiction arm of Moody Publishing) wanted to create a brand around me. So although Harvest of Rubies is not a follow-up to Pearl in the Sand, the two covers are clearly connected. The idea is that any potential reader would be able to pick up the book and know immediately that Tessa Afshar is the writer.

Actor you would like to play the role of your characters?

I think of Sarah as Kate Winslet (when she hasn’t been on some Hollywood super diet) with dark hair and eyes.

I wasn't able to find the right kind of picture, but y'all get the idea. :) What is the biggest thing you’d like a reader to take away from Harvest of Rubies?
Sarah is an immensely talented woman. But her achievements have become the measure of her worth. I think this is a dilemma that modern men and women struggle with as well. What we do becomes who we are. Harvest of Rubies asks the primal question of identity: who are we? What gives us value? Do we live as if we believe our own theology?
This novel also grapples with human pain: how do we deal with a good God who sometimes allows bad things to happen (even if He may not be the author of them.)

 Do you have another book in the works yet?
I am working on the sequel to Harvest of Rubies, which is called Harvest of Gold.

Oh yay! I can't wait to read either of those books. :) What’s your favorite classic book?
Jane Eyre.

Great book. Thanks so much for coming, Tessa! Where can fans find you on the internet?
Charity, thank you so much for inviting me to hang out with you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. If you would like to visit me on my website, the address is or visit me on my Facebook author page where there is always some new discussion going on:
Short Author Bio:
Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

Back to me! And yes, there's a giveaway!

You could win your very own copy of Harvest of Rubies! Trust me, this is exciting. :)

Want to enter? Tell me (because I'm curious) which Bible character you'd most like to see a Biblical fiction about. Not necessarily a main character could be someone who's only briefly mentioned.

You can also get some extra entries by...

+2 -- following Austenitis.

+3 -- blogging about this giveaway.

+2 -- adding this blog to your Google+ circle (see the button thingy on the side-bar, or look it up as Austenitis in Google+).

+1 -- if you've read Pearl in the Sand. :)

Go ahead and enter now! This giveaway closes on April 24. Open to anyone in the US. Good luck!


Liz R said...

I would like to read a story from Leah's pov. You always hear about Rachel and poor Leah sort of gets forgotten about. A story about Prince Jonathan would be interesting too and I think it would be really different to hear from someone on the ark besides Noah, maybe one of his daughter-in-laws?

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway!

I'm a follower.
I added Austenitis to my Google+ circle.


Charity U said...

Liz R, you mentioned wanting to hear one from Leah... Jill Eileen Smith is doing a Wives of the Patriarchs series. So far, only "Sarai" is out, but she's also planning to do "Rebekah," "Rachel," and "Leah"! :) I've really enjoyed her books, so.

Katrina said...

One person I would like to read a story about is the young woman at whose wedding Christ performed His first miracle. I actually have come up with some plot lines, but not being a writer, nothing has happened with them. :P
I am a follower though I do not have a blog myself.
kmrs0892 at live dot com

Linda said...

I'd like to read a story on Jabez. I know there is a study, because I've done it. But a Biblical novel would be great.

I already follow Austenitis.

I haven't read anything by Tessa yet. This would be my first. Would I need to read Pearls in the Sand first?

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

rubynreba said...

I enjoy reading Bibical fiction and this sounds so very good! I'd like to read about Esther,

I am a follower.


karenk said...

i would like to read more about mary, jesus' mother.

i'm a follower

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

lorlyn63 said...

Wow - there are so many in the Bible I wish I knew more about - people who touched the hem of Jesus's clothing - what did they experience and what were they thinking, what was the life of the man who carried the cross the rest of the way up the hill for Jesus when he became too weak, what about the Roman soldier who accepted Christ as he died on the cross and so on - there are countless good stories out there that one could create from God's Word - I love stories set back in that time and would love to win Tessa's new book. I have been wanting to read her work. Thank you for the opportunity at the giveaway!



Leah said...

I am now a follower.
And I have read Pearl in the Sand.
This book looks super good! And sounds really interesting, I cant wait to read it!

Benjamin. Josephs younger brother.
He seems like a really interesting person. I am looking forward to meeting him someday!

Thanks for this chance to win!

Charity U said...

Katrina, oh, that one would be interesting!

Linda, no, you don't have to read "Pearl in the Sand" first. Both books are stand-alones. :) But PitS is an awesome book that I recommend!

rubynreba -- there are several books out there about favorite is "Jewel of Persia" by Roseanna M. White. :)

Leah, good idea!

Mary Beth said...

~Someone already mentioned this, but I would like to read about the experience one of Noah's daughters-in-law had on the time up and during the Flood. Also, a servent or somebody attending Queen Esther would be interesting to read about...there are all sorts of possibilities!!

~I follow this blog

~I follow Austenitis on Google+


P.S. I had Pearls of Sand checked out from the library, but I had to return it before I could read it. I keep hearing how good it is!!!
Also, I don't have a blog, but I shared this on Google+...

Raechel said...

Oh my goodness. Oh wow!!!! I didn't know there was going to be another books! This almost has me in tears :) I can't even explain how much I adored "Pearl in the Sand" That book was absolutely amazing, and I've read it numerous times, getting something new from it each time. Tessa Afshar really let God write through her pen. Wow! I don't think I have wanted to win a give-away so badly as now!

Which Bible person would I like to read about in a fiction book...hmm, that's a tough one. I think I'd want to read about either Anna the prophetess who got to finally see her Savior, or Hannah, the mother of Samuel. There are so many though. I actually hope that God will allow me to write a Biblical fiction centering around Hannah, Samuel's mother. That would be so amazing :)

Raechel said...

I follow you via Google Connect - +2

Raechel said...

I now follow via Google + - +3

Raechel said...

I have read "Pearl in the Sand" (!!) numerous times (and want to read it again) - +1

Raechel said...

I posted about it on my blog, here:

- +3

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

The publishers did a great job with making the covers similar b/c I definitely knew at once who the author of the book was!!

I think i'm too late for the contest, but if not, I'm a gfc follower!

inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

Charity U said...

Sorry, Carrie, you were too late. :) But thanks for reading the interview!