Q&A with Mesu Andrews,
author of Isaiah’s Daughter
The author / publisher is graciously giving away one copy of Isaiah's daughter. USA only. Please include contact information
Isaiah’s Daughter is a story of both tragedy and triumph. It tells of difficult days in Judah’s history under King Ahaz’s reign, when moral bankruptcy and child sacrifice led to a nation on the verge of destruction. A little girl named Ishma sees her parents brutally murdered and is led into captivity, but a series of events finds her miraculously delivered to the prophet Isaiah’s home to live—so it seems—as a servant in his household. The rest of the story follows this little girl from captive orphan to captivating queen, and I hope readers will feel the same wonder I felt as I watched the story unfold through my research.
2. What drew you to research the history of the main character, Hephzibah?
I don’t remember the first time I discovered the prophet Isaiah had a daughter, but I was immediately intrigued. The Bible mentions his two sons (Isa. 7:3; 8:1) and calls his wife a prophetess (Isa. 8:3), but there’s no direct reference to a daughter—at least not specifically calling her a daughter.In Isaiah 62:4, Isaiah mentions the coming of a “vindicated” Jerusalem and calls the new and righteous city, Hephzibah. Imagine my surprise when I discovered rabbinic tradition teaches that King Hezekiah’s wife—Hephzibah—was Isaiah’s daughter! Connecting Hezekiah’s wife with Isaiah’s daughter opened all sorts of “what ifs” in my imagination.
3. Your biblical fiction novels tend to use biblical and historical facts as a foundation. What is your process like for interweaving these facts with fictional details?
Research is my favorite part of the writing process. I get to dig into ancient texts and Bible commentaries. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, cultural commentaries and all sorts of archaeological data make this part of writing like a big treasure hunt. Weaving them all together is somewhat less glamorous than you might imagine. I open a blank Excel sheet and start filling in confirmed dates on the left side—column A. I then put important “Names” across the top (Row 1) and begin listing events in the appropriate cells corresponding with date and name as I find information in biblical and historical resources (making note of which resources used). I begin a second sheet in the same Excel document, labeled “Historical/Biblical/Fiction,” and again place all the dates in column A. This time, however, I put only three divisions across the top: Historical, Biblical, and Fictional. Then I fill in events from the first sheet under the proper category—never changing the truth of Scripture or facts of history—and begin to “connect the dots” by adding whatever fictional details in the third column will smooth out the story for a believable plot.
4. What was the most fascinating information you discovered in your research for this book?
I think the prophet Isaiah walking around barefoot and naked for three years (Isa. 20) was pretty fascinating—and quite shocking! Perhaps even more fascinating was the idea that Isaiah may have thought Hezekiah was the suffering Messiah he spoke of in Isaiah 53. Christians see that chapter as a clear description of Jesus Christ, but some of my research made a strong case that Isaiah might have thought Hezekiah “took up [Jerusalem’s]pain and bore [their] suffering” with his near-death illness in Isaiah 38. This book really made me think about how prophets might have viewed their own words in their current circumstances.
7. How has your research and writing of biblical fiction impacted your understanding of God?
Thankfully, I’ve had two incredible editors, who won’t allow me to just write a story. They make me dig deeper into the characters to pull out meaning from the conflicts and events of the plot. When the characters learn something—that means I have to learn it with them. It’s not always fun; and it’s never easy; but it’s always worth it.
Book Summary: Gifted Bible teacher and award-winning author Mesu Andrews reaches into the pages of Biblical prophecy and Hebrew tradition to unearth a rags-to-royalty story of the devastated orphan, Ishma—meaning “desolation”—in Isaiah’s Daughter (Jan. 16, 2018, WaterBrook). At just 5 years old, Ishma’s life crumbles around her when Israelite soldiers violently kill her family and take her into captivity. Upon her release, the royal prophet Isaiah welcomes her into his home where she meets Prince Hezekiah (Hezi)—a boy who has also experienced great tragedy. Ishma and Hezi bond in their suffering, and as they grow in age, so does their love for each other. Aware of their developing relationship, Isaiah adopts Ishma as his daughter and presents her with a new name that will qualify her to marry royalty—Hephzibah (Zibah), meaning “delight of the Lord.” Hezi and Zibah marry, but after difficult times of barrenness, Assyrian aggression, disease and challenging prophecies from Isaiah, Zibah remains trapped by fear. Can she entrust everything to the only One who gives life and delivers both a captive heart and a desperate nation?
Mesu Andrews is the award-winning author of Love Amid the Ashes and numerous other novels including The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam. Her deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Andrews lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren. For more information, visit www.mesuandrews.com.
Blog Tour Stops
1/15 – Lena Nelson Dooley
1/15 – More Than Poetic Musings
1/16 – Seriously Write
1/16 – Lighthouse Academy
1/17 – Jill Eileen Smith
1/18 – Kristie Moments
1/19 – Coffee Cups & Camisoles
1/19 – Montana Made
1/20 – Fiction Aficionado
1/21 – Angie Arndt
1/21 – Christian Chicks Thoughts
1/22 – Carole Towriss
1/22 – Backing Books
1/23 – God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae
1/24 – Faithfully Bookish
1/24 – Mommynificent
1/25 – Just Commonly
1/25 – Bibliophile Reviews
1/26 – Reading is my Superpower
1/26 – The Mary Reader