Journey to the WellJourney to the Well
Diana Wallis Taylor
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One of the most well-known and loved stories of Jesus's ministry is the encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Now the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor imagines how the Samaritan woman got there in the first place. Marah is just a girl of thirteen when her life is set on a path that will eventually lead her to a life-changing encounter with the Messiah. But before that momentous meeting she must traverse through times of love lost and found, cruel and manipulative men, and gossiping women.
     

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DianaDiana Wallis Taylor is a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and is currently working toward her MA in biblical studies at Bethel Seminary. She has published many articles and contributed stories to several books, including Growing Old Ain't for Wimps and Mom Overboard. Taylor lives in San Diego, California.

 Favorite Verse:  Isaiah 41:10  "Fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

 

 Our Interview with Diana Wallis Taylor


 

What is your favorite Bible verse?
 
 Isaiah 41:10:  "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

What prompted  you to become a CBA author?

          
Dr. Sherwood Wirt, editor emeritus, Decision Magazine, and founder of our guild once said, “The world doesn’t need more Christian authors, it needs more Christians who write.  People relate to stories.  They see themselves and the Gospel presented in Christian stories may reach someone who doesn’t go to a church.


What inspired the concept for the Journey to the Well?
 
Years ago, separated from an alcoholic husband, I was studying the account in John 4 and learned that she was the first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself as Messiah.  Since she was a hated Samaritan, and not only a woman but a woman of questionable reputation I wondered why.  It intrigued me.  I began to wonder about the five husbands and why she hadn’t married the sixth man and my imagination kicked in.  Her whole life had been a journey that brought her to the well at a time when she longed for redemption and a change in her life.  Jesus knew she would be at this well and told his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”.  He had a divine appointment with her.

 

How did you create the setting?

She was a woman of Samaria and though there is not a great deal to be found on ancient Samaria, I did find one book in the library of the Christian college where I worked: The Samaritans, Their History, Theology and Literature  by James Allan Montgomery PhD.  While it was about the current day Samaritans (1930’s)  It was helpful in showing the difference between the Jewish customs and those of the Samaritans, as in the Passover celebration on Mt. Gerazim.  I used books on Jewish customs, birds of the Bible, flowers of the Bible, etc. to add other pertinent information.


How long did Journey to the Well take you to complete?


Would you believe twenty-five years?  When I first did a little research on her, I was separated from my first husband who was an alcoholic.   After twenty-One years, we were divorced for the safety of my oldest son and my own health.  I worked on the book off and on, shelving it for long periods of time in between.  After the divorce I was so lacking in self-esteem and lonely I was prey to several wolves in sheep’s clothing, some from our own church.   When I married my present husband in 1990 and moved to Northern California, the Lord whispered to my heart to finish the book.  By that time, I knew Marah and could feel and understand what she’d been through.

 
Do you have a favorite character in Journey to the Well?  Why?


Ahmal, for he represents all the good characteristics that I appreciate in my husband.  Twelve years older than I, he has brought love and stability to my life.


How much research did Journey to the Well take?


Months, hours!  I poured through information on  customs, the town of Shechem, birds, flowers, seasons of the year, wedding and funeral ceremonies, etc. I needed to get a firm picture in my mind of daily life in Samaria so my writing would ring true.  Paul McShane, the book reviewer for Good News, Etc. a Christian newspaper with a circulation of a round 50,000, wrote in an excerpt from his full review:

“Taylor has crafted a story that takes us deep into this woman’s life and experience in such a way as to draw the reader into the mind of a woman scorned.  Taylor is a master storyteller.  The thing that is most compelling about this book is that I actually believed I was reading a historical document rife with people and places I could understand and identify with…”


 This is the effect I was striving for and has created the same reaction in those who have read the story.

 

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Journey to the Well?

Other than realizing this woman was the first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself as Messiah, I would have to say it’s the Passover ceremony performed on Mt. Gerazim by the Samaritans.  Very moving.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

 
Making my characters real and maintaining the difference between poetic license and the facts that need to be verified.  The writing itself is not a challenge, it is a joy.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?


 Being able to take events, people who have impacted my life and different experiences and turn them into stories that people will enjoy and identify with.  Dr. Wirt stressed to us that we “write what we know”, and being able to utilize that knowledge gives credence to what I write.


What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?  (Or somewhere in between?)


I once read a book about ten different well-known authors and their writing styles.  They were as varied as the books they wrote.  Journey to the Well was Biblical Fiction and required more research than most of my stories and I used 3x5 cards to keep my information in order.  Once I knew the facts, I just wrote the chapters.  They just seemed to come together and I knew where each one was going.   With most of my stories, I just sit down and begin to write and it flows.  Sometimes I’m not sure where my character is going until I sit down to write the chapter.

 

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Oh yes! They do become real.  Especially when working with them over a long period of time.


What other new projects do you have on the horizon?

   
With the help of a gifted, musical friend who has done the music arrangements, we have completed my Easter Cantata, “Glorious”.  A CD has been made with a sampling of all the songs.  Since I don’t write music, it was wonderful to finally hear on the piano what I’d heard in my head as I wrote the words to the songs.  

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

 Probably my father, who was an artist, architect, archaeologist, writer and a dreamer.  He was a teller of tales also.

 

What message would you like your readers to take from Journey to the Well?

That God loves each one of us and no matter what our circumstances, He is a God of redemption.  Each one of us has walked on our own journey to the well of Living Water.

What is your greatest achievement?

Completing the story God put on my heart so many years ago and showing her as He sees each one of us, with love.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To write stories that will lead readers to a saving knowledge of Christ through the experiences of my characters.  There is a salvation scene in each of my manuscripts.

What do you do to get away from it all?

 We live in a lovely neighborhood with many trees.  I go walking or biking to enjoy God’s beautiful world.  I go fishing in Alaska (The Big Land) with my husband, and read wonderful stories by other authors.

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