gr-promo-pictureThe following is a list of interview questions I have been asked about GLORY REVEALED: Sisters of Lazarus, Book Two. If you have a marvelous question whose answer I have neglected to include here, please send me a note through my “Contact Paula” page.

Q: What is GLORY REVEALED: Sisters of Lazarus, Book Two about?

A: GLORY REVEALED: Sisters of Lazarus, Book Two is the continuing story of the biblical Mary, Martha and Lazarus found in the novel, Sisters of Lazarus: BEAUTY UNVEILED.  Both books are set in first century Israel and, as much as possible, I tried to remain respectful to the historical settings and culture as well as to Scripture.

In BEAUTY UNVEILED, Martha and Mary, the two sisters of Lazarus, couldn’t have been more different. Martha, the elder, was plain and self-conscious; Mary, the younger, was beautiful. One saw her value only in serving, while the other believed her outward appearance was her only asset. Their worlds were turned upside down when Lazarus offered hospitality to an intriguing new teacher named Jesus.

GLORY REVEALED: Sisters of Lazarus, Book Two picks up immediately where BEAUTY UNVEILED ended, and carries the story of Christ to its glorious conclusion as seen through the eyes of those who witnessed firsthand the greatest story ever told.

Q: Where did you come up with the idea for this story?

A: Whenever I have read the story of Mary sitting listening to Jesus while Martha is being a perfect hostess, it was obvious that the two sisters didn’t get along. We often think of people in the Bible as being above something as petty as sibling rivalry. But they weren’t. That intrigued me and gave birth to BEAUTY UNVEILED.

After that book released, I had so many people who wanted to know, “What happened to this character?” or “that character?” I realized these people had become invested in the lives of those characters and I knew I had to continue their story. While I had never intended to write a series, that is what has happened.

Q: Why are you drawn to writing biblical novels?

A: Writing biblical novels combines two of my favorite things; Scripture and history. When I read stories in the Bible, I wonder about how or why the people said or did certain things. How did Noah gather the animals into the ark? Why would Rebekah and Isaac favor one son over the other? Why did Balak not run screaming in terror when the donkey spoke to him? What did Peter think when he was walking on the water? Who could afford perfume that cost a year’s wages?

Perhaps because of their “moment in time” nature, the people in these Bible stories are often viewed as iconic figures on a stained glass window. David was a courageous young boy. Solomon was the wisest of all. Peter was brash and impulsive. Judas was a traitor. Martha fretted over a meal while Mary sat peacefully at Jesus’ feet. People misunderstood Who Jesus of Nazareth truly was.

But these people were more than a boy with five stones, a man with a floating zoo, parents who played favorites, a disciple who acted before thinking, a woman with an expensive bottle of cologne or people following the teacher from Nazareth.

As I learn more about their time period and culture, the Bible stories come alive and I glimpse possible answers to some of my questions.

Q: You state that both BEAUTY UNVEILED and GLORY REVEALED are “biblically and historically respectful.” What does that mean?

A: Let me state up front: BEAUTY UNVEILED and GLORY REVEALED are both works of fiction. These are not history books, nor are they a direct translation of Scripture. In each book, however, I did try to remain biblically and historically respectful. While I am neither a theologian nor a historian, I am a good researcher. In order to engage my readers, I have researched Scripture, the historical time period, the customs and the political situation in first century Judea. From a biblical perspective, while I paraphrased Scripture to match the conversational style of the book, I tried to remain respectful of the meaning of the passage. As far as respecting history, I try to avoid using modern concepts, thinking or slang in stories set in another time period.

Q: What type of research did you do for this story?

A: I read the story from different versions of the Bible. I drew on dozens of biblical reference materials as well as reference materials for that historical time period. I gathered information and pictures of people, places, architecture, furniture, clothes, etc. that would have been part of daily life in first century Judea. I complied all of this research and kept it close at hand while I was writing, to create what I hope is a story of what might actually have occurred.

For those interested in my research, I have listed some of it on a page on my website: Glossary and Research Information for GLORY REVEALED. Much of the research was used in BEAUTY UNVEILED.

Q: You portray the biblical characters as ordinary people, instead of the iconic saints we imagine. Why?

A: With the exception of Jesus bar Joseph, they were ordinary people. They had flaws and strengths, likes and dislikes, favorite foods, hopes and fears, pride and insecurities. They were ordinary people, all going about their ordinary lives; until the extraordinary day they met Jesus.

Just like us.

By taking these people out of the stained glass windows and wrapping them in flesh and bone, I hope my books make the Bible come alive for readers, allowing them to feel a connection to someone in Scripture who struggled with the same issues they might have.

Q: You mentioned struggling with issues. Beyond telling the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus as they—along with the other followers of Jesus—experienced Passion Week, this book has an underlying message. Would you explain that?

A: Just as Beauty Unveiled had an underlying message of our value being found in the fact that we are created and loved by God, Glory Revealed also has an underlying message based upon my own—and what I assume other people’s—experiences.

By nature, I am more like Martha. I like order in my life. I create lists daily and live by them. I prefer to think things through before acting. I will even write down talking points before making an important phone call.

Occasionally, however, I act spontaneously like Mary did when she poured the spikenard over Jesus’ feet. During those moments, I feel wonderful, I feel exuberant. Once I walk away, or wake up the next morning, however, I begin to question the motives behind my actions. I sometimes wonder, “What does this person or that person think about what I did?”

When it is ordinary, everyday life, it is not a bad thing to question our motives. When that spontaneity is an act of worship, however, it is not uncommon for the enemy of our soul—Satan—to whisper in our ears, suggesting that people will not understand what we did and that our value in their eyes will diminish. While it’s sad that some people might think less of us, our Savior will never think less of us for acts of worship directed towards Him. And Jesus Christ’s opinion of us is all that truly matters.

Q: What is next on your writing agenda?

A: I am always writing something and have many ideas for books and plays simmering in the back of my mind. Presently, I am adapting “Little Women” into a stage play. And, due to a nudge from my publisher and from my readers, I am beginning to ponder and plan a third book in the SISTERS OF LAZARUS series.