Q&A with Mesu Andrews, Author of Isaiah’s Daughter

Mesu Andrews Isaiah's Daughter

Award-winning author, Mesu Andrews, returns in 2018 with Isaiah’s Daughter. Andrews’ eighth book is an epic Biblical narrative about  a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household. Any fans of Andrews’ previous work – Love in a Broken Vessel and Love Amid Ashes, to name a few – are sure to enjoy this latest release!

Mesu Andrews answered a few questions about the inspiration behind the book as well as what stories she is planning to pen in the near future.

Q: Can you tell us about your new book, Isaiah’s Daughter?

A: Isaiah’s Daughter is a story of both tragedy and triumph. It tells of difficult days in Judah’s history under King Ahaz’s reign, when moral bankruptcy and child sacrifice led to a nation on the verge of destruction. A little girl named Ishma sees her parents brutally murdered and is led into captivity, but a series of events finds her miraculously delivered to the prophet Isaiah’s home to live – so it seems – as a servant in his household. The rest of the story follows this little girl from captive orphan to captivating queen, and I hope readers will feel the same wonder I felt as I watched the story unfold through my research.

Q: What drew you to research the history of the main character, Hephzibah?

A: I don’t remember the first time I discovered the prophet Isaiah had a daughter, but I was immediately intrigued. The Bible mentions his two sons (Isa. 7:3; 8:1) and calls his wife a prophetess (Isa. 8:3), but there’s no direct reference to a daughter – at least not specifically calling her a daughter. In Isaiah 62:4, Isaiah mentions the coming of a “vindicated” Jerusalem and calls the new and righteous city, Hephzibah. Imagine my surprise when I discovered rabbinic tradition that teaches that King Hezekiah’s wife – Hephzibah – was Isaiah’s daughter! Connecting Hezekiah’s wife with Isaiah’s daughter opened all sorts of “what ifs” in my imagination.

Q: Your biblical fiction novels tend to use biblical and historical facts as a foundation. What is your process like for interweaving these facts with fictional details?

A: Research is my favorite part of the writing process. I get to dig into ancient texts and Bible commentaries. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, cultural commentaries and all sorts of archaeological data make this part of writing like a big treasure hunt. Weaving them all together is somewhat less glamorous than you might imagine. I open a blank Excel sheet and start filling in confirmed dates on the left side – column A. I then put important “Names” across the top (Row 1) and begin listing events in the appropriate cells corresponding with date and name as I find information in biblical and historical resources (making note of which resources used). I begin a second sheet in the same Excel document, labeled “Historical/Biblical/Fiction,” and again place all the dates in column A. This time, however, I put only three divisions across the top: Historical, Biblical, and Fictional. Then I fill in events from the first sheet under the proper category – never changing the truth of Scripture or facts of history – and begin to “connect the dots” by adding whatever fictional details in the third column will smooth out the story for a believable plot.

Q: What was the most fascinating information you discovered in your research for this book?

A: I think the prophet Isaiah walking around barefoot and naked for three years (Isa. 20) was pretty fascinating – and quite shocking! Perhaps even more fascinating was the idea that Isaiah may have though Hezekiah was the suffering Messiah he spoke of in Isaiah 53. Christians see that chapter as a clear description of Jesus Christ, but some research made a strong case that Isaiah might have though Hezekiah “took up [Jerusalem’s] pain and bore [their] suffering” with his near-death illness in Isaiah 38. This book really make me think about how prophets might have viewed their own words in their current circumstances.

Q: Which character do you most identify with from any of your books? Why?

A: That’s easy. I’m Gomer from Love in a Broken Vessel. Though I wasn’t an actual prostitute, and my husband isn’t the prophet Hosea, I lived a pretty hard life before that good man followed God’s call and loved me in spite of my brokenness. He showed me what unconditional love really meant and introduced me to a personal relationship with Jesus. Then married me six months later.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from Isaiah’s Daughter?

A: Two things. I hope they’ll realize that our only true security rests in the eternal love and life Jesus provides. And I hope when they get confused or discouraged in their faith – that all they do know about Him will help them trust Him for all they don’t know about Him.

Q: How has your research and writing of biblical fiction impacted your understanding of God?

A: Thankfully, I’ve had two incredible editors, who won’t allow me to just write a story. They make me dig deeper into the characters to pull out meaning from the conflicts and events of the plot. When the characters learn something – that means I have to learn it with them. It’s not always fun; and it’s never easy; but it’s always worth it.

Q: What can readers expect from you in the future?

A: Summer of 2018, I’ll release a novella in The Psalm Series, based on Psalm 137, called By the Waters of Babylon. It follows one of Jerusalem’s exiles into Babylon and explores her emotional transition to a foreign land. But it also affirms the truth that God always keeps His promises.

Winter of 2019 follows with a full-length novel on Daniel’s life and ministry in Babylon. I’m really excited about this time-slip format that spans Judah’s seventy years in exile. Daniel’s earnest desire to find the Ark of God’s presence so he can send it with the remnant of Jews returning to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, no one seems to know if the Ark made it to Babylon after King Nebuchadnezzar’s three attacks on Jerusalem. In an effort to find the Ark in Babylon’s empire, Daniel and his wife, Abigail, recount the beloved stories in the Book of Daniel, and we join generations of treasure hunters in pursuit of the lost Ark.

Fore more great reads by Mesu Andrews, click here! 

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