Behind-The-Books with Tessa Afshar, author of Harvest of Rubies
Today we welcome Tessa Afshar back to the blog. If you missed her beautiful book trailer or 5 Terrific Things about her, read those too! She’s here answering a few questions about her writing and her new book, Harvest of Rubies.
Tell us some of the things you enjoy doing besides writing.
I love hanging out with friends and family. Decimating desserts that contain whipped cream and chocolate is another favorite pastime. Knitting. Cooking. Praying. Watching movies, especially BBC dramas. Sleeping. Sleeping while watching BBC dramas. Not traveling is also something I enjoy.
Name two writing tools that are indispensable to your stories.
Another area of core importance for me is exploring the hero’s sense of self. Desire rises out of your image of yourself. If you feel that your worth lies in your achievements, for example, then you are going to desire to achieve amazing things, because you believe your worth is only as great as your latest achievement.
What is new in your life?
I just had to buy my first pair of glasses for driving at night. I hope they add ten points to my IQ, that’s all I can say. Also, after thirteen years, I bought a new car, which is equipped with heated seats. Who knew what a joy it was to have a warm behind in the winter? Perhaps most exciting is the release of my second book, Harvest of Rubies, which comes out in May through River North Fiction.
Tell us about the book.
Harvest of Rubies is the fictional story of the prophet Nehemiah’s second cousin, a brilliant woman named Sarah who is more at home with scrolls and accounts than with people. The Queen of Persia, impressed by her talents, employs her as her Senior Scribe, the only woman in the Persian Empire to achieve such a position. Sarah is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen.
To her dismay, Sarah’s life falls apart as she is forced into marriage with the King’s cousin, Darius. Unintentionally, she offends him publicly on their wedding day; furious and humiliated, Darius abandons her in his palace. But instead of finding herself alone, Sarah learns the joys of true friendship. Discovering irregularities in the running of Darius’s estate, she and her friends face grave danger in order to solve the mystery that surrounds them.
Unannounced, Darius returns, and Sarah finds herself falling in love with a husband who despises her. In the midst of her sufferings, Sarah discovers that God is truly faithful, and that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums. Sarah learns that her worth is not in her achievements, but in her very being.
What do you hope your readers will take away from this story?
Apart from fun, laughter, and the joys of a rocky romance, I hope my readers will rediscover that God’s love is ever near, even when we choose to wander far from Him—even when the painful circumstances of life tempt us to believe He has abandoned us. Like Sarah, I hope we can internalize the reality that our worth is not in what we achieve, but in who we are in God.
Your were voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored 2011 Reader’s Choice Award for your debut novel Pearl in the Sand. How has the positive reception of your first book affected your writing?
Although I am as touched by human praise as the next person, I try not to let it take a central place in my heart. The fathers of the church used to practice a virtue called magnanimity, which was essentially the opposite of selfish ambition. Magnanimity is the desire to bring great glory to God in the practice of our gifts. Its goal is not that I become famous, or admired, but that God receive greater glory in our world. This may mean that I will sell only two books, but those two books lift up the truth of God in profound ways so that the lives of the people who read them are drawn closer to Him. My responsibility as a writer is not to worry about sales or other people’s opinions; it’s to glorify God to the best of my ability.
[The Lord] will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:4)