Mesu Andrews calls herself “a spiritual mutt.” Her father was a Quaker, her mother was a Charismatic Protestant, and, for a while, she says she “turned from the Lord” before returning to the texts of the Bible to read them for herself.
All that investigating eventually turned into teaching at Christian women’s conferences and, when several chronic illnesses kept her home for long periods of time, to writing biblical fiction. Her first book, Love Amid the Ashes (2011) garnered her an ECPA Christian Book Award and was followed by Love Among the Ruins (2012), both for Revell. In March, Revell will publish her third book, Love in a Broken Vessel.
Andrews says her books, based on stories from the Old Testament, are the result of her own struggles with trying to make sense of the lives of biblical figures. Love Amid the Ashes looks at the story of Job through the eyes of Dinah, while Love Among the Ruins is based on the love story at the heart of the Song of Solomon.
“I try to find stories that have been confusing to me, that I have had to come to grips with, that I have worked through,” Andrews says from her home in Vancouver, Wash. “I have to get settled in my own spirit with what I believe those stories say. I hope that I can share some of that struggle and then share some of that peace with readers.”
Love in a Broken Vessel fleshes out the story of the prophet Hosea, who was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. The story allows Andrews to use long-ago lives to explore questions still confronted by contemporary readers.
“How do you trust after being betrayed time and time again?” Andrews asks. “How can you open your heart to love again after it has been crushed? Those are the questions that demand to be answered when you read what Hosea was asked to do.”
Biblical fiction makes up only a small slice of the category of Christian fiction, but Vicki Crumpton, Revell’s executive editor, says its readers are dedicated and hungry. Crumpton, who discovered Andrews at a writers’ conference, says she has what Revell is looking for--stories that are not just biblically based, but plausible within the world of the Bible. “What Mesu brings is a wealth of Old Testament knowledge that enables her to tease out facts and details and connections that most readers, even experienced ones, miss,” Crumpton says. “She puts an enriching background around characters we’ve read about in Bible lessons.”
For Andrews, this is no time to rest. The day Love in a Broken Vessel debuts is the day the manuscript for her fourth book, scheduled for 2014, is due to Revell. This one will look at the story of Queen Atalyah from Kings 2 and Chronicles 2.
“So it is history, yes, and spiritual insight, yes, but it’s all because I think it is necessary for a Christian to understand the Old Testament for them to understand the New Testament,” Andrews says. “I hope through all of these books that readers will see the preparation for the Messiah.”