I was introduced to Tracy (forgive the formality) when she was giving away 5,000 of her books. (For more information, read about it -- http://tracyhigley.com/the-great-book-giveaway/) I love free books - after all, isn't that why I started blogging and reviewing books was to receive them for free?? (Yes!)
Author Q and A:
What inspired the theme of So Shines the Night?
The idea of community is dear to my heart, and the struggle we all have to not live in isolation. I wanted to take a look at two people struggling to do the right thing, but going about it the wrong way because they were isolated both from other people and from God, and to see what would happen when they brushed up against a community like the first century church.
What's one thing you learned about Ephesus and its importance to Christians that you found surprising/interesting/challenging?
I had never realized or noticed until studying this time in Paul’s life, how much time he spent there (nearly three years). I always pictured him hopping around from place to place fairly quickly. I was challenged by the time that he invested in people’s lives, the relationships and bonds he formed. Later, when the Ephesian elders said goodbye to him, the book of Acts tells us that they were literally weeping. It’s easy for me to minister to people “from afar” but I was really challenged by Paul’s relational approach to sharing Christ.
How do you do your research?
It’s a multi-tiered approach, with very basic research at first (sometimes even juvenile non-fiction), to get a high-level view, then going deeper into the specific days/years I’ll be writing about, and then getting a broad view of the daily life and culture through dusty textbooks. All of this goes into my “notebook” and inspires specific plots and scenes. As I am actually writing the first draft, I often leave placeholders where more specific research is needed, like an XX where a number or detail should go. At the end, I go back and find all those placeholders and research the details, often online where it’s much easier to search for very specific information.
What is the condition of the Ephesian church today?
Ephesus was eventually abandoned as a city because the harbor became clogged with silt, so there is no real city or church there today. The nearest city is Selçuk, which is a predominantly Muslim population. I did a quick Google search in answering your question, and came up with this page, which is really cool: http://www.worshipinephesus.com/
I have read a couple of her books, Marduk's Tablet and So Shines the Night. I have started Isle of Shadows, but I haven't gotten too far into it (b/c of lack of time). Over the years, I have discovered that I enjoy reading historical fiction. I really enjoy a story that can teach me about another time period and is interwoven with people and stories from the bible. It's a win/win for me! So Shines the Night is set during Paul's time in Ephesus and explores all the activities happening during that time frame. I have enjoyed reading about other events going on during that time and getting a fuller picture of all that people were exposed to during this time. Our current day struggles aren't so different from their struggles. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy suspense, historical fiction and drama. You will not be disappointed.