|Love's Sacred Song, Treasures of His Love Series #2|
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Standing in the massive shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, wisdom and folly. In the uncertain world of alliances and treachery, Solomon longs for peace and a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.
A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah remembers the first time she laid eyes on Solomon in Jerusalem when she was just seven years old. Since then she has known that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father, a leader of their tribe, secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams may come true.
Mesu Andrews is an active speaker who has devoted herself to passionate and intense study of Scripture. Harnessing her deep understanding and love for God's Word, Andrews brings the biblical world alive for her readers in this debut novel. She lives in Washington.
Favorite Verse:Zephaniah 3:17 – “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Our Interview with Mesu Andrews
Where did your inspiration for Love’s Sacred Song
In 1999, our ladies’ group at church had chosen Ann Spangler’s and Jean Syswerda’s, Women of the Bible, as our Bible study book. While preparing to lead the discussion on “The Shulammite Woman,” I did as the book suggested—I read the whole book of Solomon’s Song of Songs in one sitting. And was thoroughly confused. I absolutely can’t stand to read God’s Word without understanding it. I once heard Jill Briscoe say she refused to end her quiet time with the Lord until she heard from Him in word or concept. I tend to be equally stubborn. I searched for explanations from commentaries. They all disagreed. So I read different Scripture translations: The Living Bible, King James, NIV… All were equally confusing. So I put away all the commentaries and stuck with one translation—1984 NIV—to create a consistent canvas on which I asked the Lord to paint His pictures. I read all eight chapters of Solomon’s Song of Songs every day for the next year, and as I read, God’s brush strokes became clearer. A story began to unfold. At first, it came as an allegory of Christ’s ferocious pursuit of my adulterous heart and His immense sacrifice to overcome our enemy’s deceit. It became the most requested of my retreat and conference topics, “Sacred Love, Sacred Dance.” When folks began asking for the story in written form, my fabulous editor helped transform Love’s Sacred Song into a novel, changing allegorical figures into real characters with depth, emotion, and believable flaws and victories.
Do you have a favorite character in Love’s Sacred Song? Why?
My favorite character is Jesus. No, he’s not in the character list at the beginning of the book, but bear with me… The Song of Solomon changed my life because it totally renewed my relationship with Jesus, my Bridegroom. During the year that I read the Song’s eight chapters every day, I came to know the unyielding, unquenchable, unchangeable love of my Savior. That is the kind of love I hope the readers see from the little shepherd girl, Arielah. It’s definitely a different spin on the interpretation of the Song of Solomon, but the intriguing part is—it teaches us the exact same lesson that commentators have taught using Solomon as the Christ-figure. The intimate love of God for the individual soul is the most fulfilling love of a lifetime. Arielah has the heart of a shepherd, and she calls Solomon to come away from the worries and cares of life in order to draw on the strength only God’s love can provide. This little shepherdess is a fun combination of spunk and spirit.
How much research did Love’s Sacred Song take?
Research for this book was more difficult because I did a huge chunk of it in 2000—before I intended to write a book! So when I had questions on certain cultural data, I had difficulty locating my sources and had to start over on many, MANY details. Ugh! But it only took about three months of serious research to regain my bearings in Solomon’s era and culture.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Love’s Sacred Song?
Some of the most intriguing facts always revolve around peripheral relationships—what other biblical characters were alive while my main characters are acting out the plot? I love digging around in the various Scripture passages to discover brothers, uncles, or cousins who might give the story an unexpected twist. I learned that Solomon’s firstborn, Rehoboam, was likely already born when Solomon took the throne. I discovered that the spring at En Rogel, where Adonijah declared himself king, was not really a spring but a well. Much like Adonijah only appeared to be the king, but his brother, Solomon, was crowned at the true life-giving spring of Gihon in Jerusalem. I love research! I could easily get caught up in research and forget to write fiction, but I try hard to use the interesting facts to illustrate the incredible truths!
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Time. I suppose that’s true of most people’s lives. My husband and I have two adult daughters. Both have gotten married in the last two summers, so our nest is officially empty! Woohoo! We’re blessed that our kids live close and we love spending time with family. I’ve cut back on speaking engagements in order to write more, but I’ve also committed to more writing conferences to continue honing my craft. The main challenge to all these rich blessings is health. I continue to battle chronic illness and daily migraines. I write as long as I can and thank the Lord for a life that allows me the flexibility to do what I love with the people I love.
What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?
We have a marvelous church family, and it’s a joy and privilege to serve alongside the women there. I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), both the national, regional and local organizations. Within each of these groups is a fantastic web of support on a variety of levels. Monthly online writing courses, regular writing events, chat loops, prayer loops—you name it, and they’ve thought of it! My local ACFW group is a wonderful mix of published and aspiring authors. It’s lots of fun.
Do you have a critique partner?
Yes! Several! I would never have been published without the solid critique of other authors. Love’s Sacred Song began as a very rough draft at an intensive fiction mentoring clinic led with Gayle Roper in 2008. It’s undergone quite a transformation since then, much of it attributed to my editor, Vicki Crumpton—but also to the faithful efforts of my three critique partners: Meg Wilson (author of Hope After Betrayal – Kregel), Michele Nordquist, and Velynn Brown. Each of them has a specialty (plot, grammar, emotion), but Meg has been the emotional and editing support I’ve leaned on most. My husband, Roy, is always the final edit. He’s a professor at Multnomah Bible College, and his red pen always finds those intricate little details.
When you meet someone who has a passion for books and writing, what advice do you give them?
Go to a writers’ conference. Meet folks in Christian publishing. If you can’t afford to attend a large conference, find a one-day event, and start small. Get some training. Begin to network. I attended my first conference in 2001 and didn’t know a soul. At my second conference (2005), the Lord blessed me with an agent. At my third conference (2006), strictly learning. Fourth conference (2008), I met my editor, and she saw a very rough diamond in the story Love’s Sacred Song.
What were your favorite books as a child?
I’m embarrassed to confess—I was not an avid reader as a kid. In fact, I liked Dr. Suess and skipped to Jane Eyre and skimmed the rest of high school. When I became a Christ-follower, I read children’s Bible stories to our daughters. Then I began reading God’s Word during my quiet time and creating the stories to tell my little ones. I devoured Scripture and read mostly non-fiction until I came across Liz Higgs’ Bad Girls of the Bible. Then I thought, If someone can write fiction like THIS—biblical, educational, AND entertaining—I’m in. That’s when I was sold on biblical fiction.
Are there any other new projects on the horizon?
Absolutely! I’m praying for the Lord to open doors at just the right time. My heart is to share the treasures of His love from the Old Testament. Too often I hear folks say God is a god of wrath in the Old Testament and a god of love in the New Testament. That makes me sad because His love is SO amazing in the Old Testament. I believe if we see the story of Scripture as a whole, we begin to see God as the same yesterday, today, and forever. One of the most enigmatic love stories in Scripture is the relationship between Hosea and Gomer. I would love to eventually tell the story of all the prophets within the sequence of their kings and Israel’s history.
What message would you like your readers to take from Love’s Sacred Song?
I hope readers turn the last page and realizes what I think Solomon realized at the end of his life. None of this matters without a real, intimate, passionate relationship with the One who gives us life. Don’t read the book of Ecclesiastes if you’re having a bad day—it could push you over the edge—but that’s the essence of Solomon’s whole life of searching. I pray that my readers can feel the passion of Love’s Sacred Song and know the message in its pages changed the author’s life.
What is your greatest achievement?
Some days—getting out of bed! Ha! I think getting a couple of books published is a pretty big deal, but these paperbacks will go on sale in a few months and probably be forgotten a few months—at most, years—after that. But achievements are different. Achievements last. My greatest achievement comes when someone writes me e-mails and says she read her Bible for the first time in years after reading my book. One of my greatest achievements came in July 2011—a woman, newly released from prison, called and told a friend she accepted Jesus Christ after reading Love Amid the Ashes. Achievements aren’t really about what I do. They’re about me being faithful and then watching God do His work in people’s lives.
What do you do to get away from it all?
Movies. I’m a movie junkie. Give me historical, epic, action-adventure, romantic-comedy. I don’t care. I like movies. If I’m beyond the help of even vegetating in front of the TV screen, my husband knows to take me to water. Any rushing water will do, but my favorite spot is about thirty minutes north of our house. Beautiful, secluded waterfalls with salmon jumping in season. God just seems nearer there, and I can whisper instead of shout.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to say Thank You! to those who read Love Amid the Ashes and took the time to respond through a review, Facebook or my website. Your kindness and encouragement was amazing. I also appreciated those who had questions about research or the plotline. It’s always fun to interact with readers, and some of your questions were fabulous!
If anyone has questions about Love’s Sacred Song, please contact me through Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MesuAndrews), Twitter (@MesuAndrews) or my website. I’ll do my best to answer within a reasonable time frame!