The following is a list of interview questions I have been asked about SISTERS OF LAZARUS; Beauty Unveiled. If you have a marvelous question that I neglected to include here, please send me a note through my Contact page.

Books arrived!Q: What is SISTERS OF LAZARUS; Beauty Unveiled about?

A: SISTERS OF LAZARUS: Beauty Unveiled is the novelization of the biblical story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  It is 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 the book, Martha and Mary are at two ends of the spectrum. Martha, the elder, is plain and self-conscious, and sees her value only in her housekeeping, cooking and being known as a great hostess.  Mary, the younger, is beautiful and vain and believes her outward appearance is her only asset.

Their worlds are turned upside down when their brother Lazarus offers hospitality to the popular and intriguing new teacher named Jesus.

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.

Q: Why are you drawn to writing biblical novels?

A: Writing biblical novels combines two of my favorite things; Scripture and history.

I am a visual learner. Whenever I read stories in the Bible, I try to picture the scenes and wonder how or why the people said or did the things they did. How did Noah gather the animals into the ark? Why would Rebekah and Isaac favor one son over the other? Why didn’t Balak 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 worth of wages?

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

Q: You state that this story is “biblically and historically respectful.” What does that mean?

A: This book is a work of fiction. It is not a history book, neither is it a translation of Scripture. While I am neither a theologian nor a historian, I am a good researcher. In order to engage my readers, I have researched the 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.

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

A: 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.

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

Q: Beyond telling the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, the book has an underlying message of godly value. Would you explain that?

A: About the time I began writing this story, I read a news report that stated the acceptable size for “plus” models had grown smaller, and that supermodels from the 1980s and 1990s would be considered plus-size models today.

That is not only sad, it is tragic considering how many people believe society’s claim that if you’re not as beautiful or skinny as an actress, a rock star or a fashion model, then you have no value. It is not just appearance; there are also those who place a person’s value on their skills, their accomplishments, their possessions, or their intellect.

All of these are lies; these things are temporal and, according to Scripture, our value is not found there. Jesus said that we were worth so much more than birds of the air or flowers in the field. Our value is not based upon what we have, what we do or how we appear. It is based upon our position as sons and daughters of God.

Q: You received an endorsement for SISTERS OF LAZARUS from Roma Downey. How did that come about?

A: In my role as an entertainment journalist, I have had the privilege to interview Ms. Downey on several occasions, but we are not best friends. I finished writing the novel about the same time that Ms Downey’s mini-series, THE BIBLE, became a television sensation. A mutual industry contact arranged for Ms Downey to read my novel and the rest – as they say – is history.

I was thrilled and humbled to receive her endorsement, as well as the kind endorsements I received from other influential people.

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.

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