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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Author Interview - Stephanie Landsem

Anne: Our interviewee this morning is the lovely lady above, Stephanie Landsem, author of The Well, the novel I reviewed yesterday (click HERE to see the book review).

To start off with, Stephanie, would you tell us what inspired The Well?

Stephanie: I knew that I wanted to write historical fiction, but the idea of Biblical fiction had never really occurred to me. But one Sunday, as I was listening to the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well, I started thinking about this unnamed woman. Jesus had reached out to her, but what happened after that? How did it affect those around her like her children and the other members of her Samaritan village? There were so many questions in that one seemingly small encounter. The image of a daughter came to me, a daughter whose whole life was affected by her mother's choices, and I knew that was the story that I wanted to write.

Anne: How long did it take to write this novel, and how long to get it published once you submitted it to the publisher?

Stephanie: I was a history major in college, so the research part or historical fiction wasn't hard for me, but I'd never taken a class on writing. I made all the newbie mistakes! The Well went through many, many revisions as I learned about writing. A couple years after I started it, I entered The Well in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis contest and was stunned when it became a finalist. Although I didn't win the Genesis award, it did help me get an amazing agent, who sold The Well to Howard Books in a three-book deal.

Anne: Wow! Even finalling in the ACFW Genesis contest is fantastic; they have so many entrants! Why do you write?

Stephanie: I think I write because I love to read. I love it when a book transports me not only into another time and place, but into a life utterly different than mine. Biblical fiction has the power to do not just that, but to also let us imagine what it might have been like to meet Jesus face to face. I want to do that, and I want to help other people to imagine it as well.

Anne: What is your favorite part of this book?

Stephanie: I love Shem. He started out as a wayward, arrogant Samaritan with a lot to learn, and he changed into a completely different person because of Jesus and because of Mara's love for him.

Anne: Did you ever feel discouraged while writing it?

Stephanie: Gah! Discouragement is a daily struggle. I think if you aren't discouraged once in a while, then you probably aren't being honest with yourself. So every day I tell myself that what I just wrote was terrible, but tomorrow it will look better, and after my brutal editing process, it might just come close to what I wanted it to be.

Anne: That's a great attitude, and one I think I will adopt. I battle discouragement, too! Another question: Did you ever have to make a decision as momentous as the one Mara had to make?

Stephanie: I'm sure I've never been faced with anything as dramatic as Mara's choice, but we all make small decisions every day that are important to our lives and those around us. And I think those small decisions, when made with prayer and goodwill, please God just as much as the big, dramatic ones.

Anne: I so agree. Now would you like to tell us about your next release?

Stephanie: I'm thrilled that The Thief, the second book in the Living Water series, will release earlier than expected. Look for it February 25, 2014, just in time for Easter.

The Thief is the story of a plain, sharp-tongued Jewish woman named Nissa who is hiding a dangerous secret, and Longinus, a Roman centurion longing for peace. When they find themselves caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, her secret will come between them and bring them both to the foot of a cross on Calvary.

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