Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meet outstanding author Stephanie Landsem: Illuminating history--$100 Amazon giveaway

  1st Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card

10 more winners will receive an olive wood pocket

cross from the Holy Land

Enter the Giveaway below, then scroll down for a list of upcoming blogs, interviews, recipes, and drawings to win copies of The Tomb, A Novel of Martha.

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Interview with outstanding Christian historical author Stephanie Landsem

 Has writing biblical fiction made a Bible student out of you, or were you one before?
Although I’ve always loved the Bible, I wouldn’t have called myself a Bible scholar. There is so much depth in the Bible, so many layers of meaning, that people far wiser than me could study it for a lifetime and never know it all. Still, I’ve found over the past few years of researching the historical events and settings of the New Testament, I’ve been able to look at stories I’ve heard hundreds of times with new understanding. I hope to bring a little of that to my readers.

What has it meant to you spiritually to bring biblical characters to life?
For me, it’s made me even more aware of how Jesus is seeking an intimate friendship with each one of us. I love to think of how he interacted with people of the New Testament, always with love, mercy, and compassion. I feel like my own personal encounter with Jesus is more real, more concrete and meaningful, than it’s ever been.

How do you fill in the unknown details?
I use both history and imagination. For example, there aren’t any cookbooks from 2,000 years ago. But I do know what food was available. And I can imagine that there were women like me—and Martha—who loved to cook beautiful and delicious dishes. So I used my imagination and did some recipe testing until I felt I had a good idea of what Martha may have cooked for her family and for Jesus.

How has your extensive research into biblical history made an impact on you?
When I read or listen to the Gospels now, I have a much clearer image in my mind of what is happening. I can see it. Especially as we approach Easter, the crucifixion and resurrection are much more real to me.

How about your travels? Where did you go and what did you do?

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to travel a great deal, and I hope to go many more places. I’ve been on 4 continents and visited over 25 countries. My favorite thing to do is wander in a new city. I love to soak up the culture, meet people who live there, and of course try all food!

Why did you decide on biblical fiction when just a few years ago most publishers weren’t interested in it?
To tell the truth, I had no idea that publishers weren’t interested in biblical fiction when I started. The Living Water series began with a question after hearing the John’s Gospel account of the woman at the well. Who was this woman that Jesus stopped to speak to on a lonely road in Samaria? I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I wondered not only why Jesus had spoken to her and what her story was, but what had happened to her after her encounter with Jesus. These wonderings turned into the story of The Well, the first book in the Living Water Series, and then went on with The Thief and The Tomb, A Novel of Martha.

Do your stories usually include romance?
I love a little romance in a story, so I always include it in my writing. Women of biblical times had a harsher life that we do and their ideas of marriage were significantly different. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t hoping for love in addition to the security that marriage offered.

What prepared you for this genre of writing?
I’d say that the only preparation I had was a love of history, a lifetime spent reading historical fiction, and a desire to bring my readers into the Bible with me.

What is your next project, and where is your writing ministry going in the future?
In between book clubs, conferences, and promoting The Tomb, I’ll be researching an idea for a new novel. Although I still love biblical fiction, I’d like to explore some new historical periods. I’m currently playing with an idea of the prodigal son—this time a daughter—set in depression-era Hollywood.

Thank you, Stephanie, for being our guest.

Here's the back cover copy for The Tomb:
Back cover copy:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love. 

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?