Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mesu Andrews {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Mesu...

Mesu Andrews' deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers. She and her husband, Roy, live in a log cabin snuggled into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains with their dog, Zeke. The Andrews' have two married daughters and a small tribe of grandkids. Mesu loves movies, football, waterfalls, and travel.

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Get to know Mesu...

You and Writing 

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

I never intended to be a writer. In fact, I read my first full novel in my late twenties (don’t even ask how I got A’s in high school Lit classes). As an off-the-charts extrovert, I was always too busy talking to sit still and read a book—let alone write one!

Until an annoying flu-bug hit in 1996, I was a healthy, happy pastor’s wife with two elementary-aged girls. Just a harmless little virus, right? Nope. After a fever of 102º for six days, it finally broke, but the other symptoms didn’t go away. After a month of prolonged aching joints and muscles, brain fog, and fatigue, I returned to the doctor to find every test result within normal range. During the year it took to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I began journaling daily for the first time in my life.

Fast-forward to July 2002. I’d learned to manage fibromyalgia with exercise and medication—so I thought. My life had grown crazy again with a busy speaking schedule, a husband who was both full-time pastor and full-time PhD student, and two very active teenage daughters. I woke one morning unable to move my arms and legs and barely able to breathe, so I whispered a cry for help. Once again, medical science had no answers. My blood work showed some anomalies, but nothing conclusive. I spent six months in bed with a laptop as my best friend. I wrote my first book. Writing saved my sanity.

My stamina never returned, and in 2005 I spent two weeks at Mayo Clinic where they diagnosed four chronic issues. If I didn’t have writing, I would feel pretty useless. One day of “normal” activity wears me out. Though I still enjoy speaking occasionally for retreats and conferences, I must rest the following week to recover. Writing makes me feel like I’m still very much involved in reaching folks with Jesus’ Word. I can sit in my cushioned chair for hours during a day and love people through words. It’s a joy and privilege to serve my Jesus in this way!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book....

Miriam is a fascinating character for many reasons. She’s the first woman to be deemed “prophetess” in Scripture and yet God chooses her brothers—not her—as His instruments to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. As I read about the ten plagues and the Exodus, keeping in mind that Miriam, Aaron, and Moses were all over eighty years old, I pondered how the “octogenarians” in my life today would have handled all that upheaval and change.

My mom was Miriam’s age at the writing of this book. How would Mom have reacted to uprooting her life and leaving the only house she’s ever lived in? What would my mom have thought if God suddenly sent frogs to fill her house, her oven, and every nook and cranny without any explanation? I wanted to write this book from the perspective of those who—unlike Moses—didn’t have that 1-800-GOD hotline to know what was coming.

However, as I wrote this book, I found that my favorite characters were the secondary ones, Eleazar and Taliah. Why? Because they asked the hard questions of Yahweh. They were the non-believers, the ones who either didn’t know God or had some knowledge but had turned away because of life’s disappointments and/or hardships. I found myself—through these two characters—asking questions that were too difficult to answer! And that became the unexpected theme of the book. A god we can understand or explain completely is man-made, an idol in essence. Yahweh, on the other hand, is God beyond comprehension, and every character in this book—as well as its author—had to reach that conclusion in order to cross the Red Sea.

It took countless pots of coffee and lots of revelations during my morning showers to let my characters struggle with answerless questions. I like neatly tied bows, but life isn’t like that, and neither is this story. It’s messy, but it’s victorious.


Let’s talk about your writing life...

When I started writing, I was convinced I should write Bible studies. I was a non-fiction girl through-and-through. I studied God’s Word like it was my job, taught adult Sunday school and women’s Bible studies, and spoke at every retreat and conference where someone gave me a microphone.

The first critiques of my fiction writing came from an editor and an agent. The editor said my writing was so bad I should stick with speaking, and the agent called my biblical fiction heresy. Ouch. When I finally worked up the courage to attend another conference, I proposed non-fiction, got an agent, and for three years she tried to find a publisher. Still no nibbles. My agent and I parted ways, and I registered for the 2008 Fiction Mentoring Clinic at Mt. Hermon with Gayle Roper as my mentor.

I submitted three very bad chapters of my novel on Solomon’s Song of Songs, and Revell’s editor happened to be looking for biblical fiction at that conference. The first day of the mentoring clinic, I realized how AWFUL my first draft was and expected to have the same terrible experience at my critique appointment. However, Revell’s editor knew I was being mentored by one of CBA’s best teachers and said she saw the seeds of a good storyteller in my writing. My first novel was published twelve years after that first horrifying writer’s conference.

I never counted rejection letters. I only count God’s intervention. It wasn’t my talent or skill that got my first contract. It was all God’s timing, His plan, and His grace. And every contract since then has been by the same reasons. When the contracts and book ideas stop coming, I’ll know this part of my ministry to the Body of Christ is over, and I’ll look for the next step in God’s plan for me.


What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
For as long as I remember, my mom has been the strongest example of Christ I’ve known. When I was a rebellious teenager, she was a thorn in my side, but at the lowest points in my life, she’s been my earthly anchor in the storms. I was nineteen, an alcoholic, and had gone through a life-shaking break-up with the guy I’d been dating for five years. Mom had no idea I’d nearly taken my own life the night before, but the next morning she called me into her bedroom and asked me to sit down on her bed. She reached for my hand and held my gaze.

“I know you may not believe this, but I saw Jesus this morning,” she said. “He sat right here on my bed and told me you were going to be all right, darlin’.” She hugged me, and we cried together.

I didn’t believe a word she said, but a week later an old friend and I went to a football game together. Six weeks later that old friend led me to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Seven months later, I married that old friend. Now, I totally believe Jesus sat down on her bed that morning!

If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
Give me comfort food! Is that a category? I grew up in rural Indiana, and we raised our kids in northern Indiana Amish country, so I’m all about mashed potatoes, noodles, gravy, and fried anything! We moved to the Pacific Northwest where they eat grass and twigs, and I felt like a fish out of water, but we recently moved to the Appalachian Mountains, and I’m back in my element. Give me that southern home-cooking any day of the week and twice on Sunday—with a baked dessert please!

What are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Walls of Arad by Carole Towriss. She’s a dear friend, and this is her first self-published novel though it’s the third in her series. It’s wonderful! It continues the story of the Israelites at the end of their forty years of wandering, and I’m halfway through…just as they’re about ready to start taking the land of Canaan. Very exciting.

And I guarantee my next read will be biblical fiction! It’s my passion to read and to write. My favorite standbys are Tessa Afshar, Tosca Lee, Jill Smith, Lynn Austin, and any of Francine Rivers’ books, but since biblicals are making a comeback, I’ll be trying some of the new authors like Connilyn Cossette and Texie Susan Gregory. I’ve heard all good things about them! I’ll post reviews of the books I read in my monthly newsletter. You can sign up for it on my website (in the right-hand column of any page) and also get inside info on some of the other fun stuff going on in my writing life.

Thank you so much for being my guest Mesu! Readers, check out the amazing giveaway below and spread the new about this lovely book!!!

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