Friday, May 18, 2012

Tessa and her Harvest of Rubies

Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. Tessa then moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte’s writings, before settling in the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

SKC:    We welcome you, Tessa. What book or project would you like to tell us about today?

Tessa: My new release is a historical novel called Harvest of Rubies. The central character, Sarah, is the prophet Nehemiah's fictional cousin who can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on tablets of clay, and solve mysteries. As a result, the talented Sarah is catapulted into the center of the Persian court—working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and becoming the queen's favorite scribe. Yet a devastating past has left Sarah with two conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her achievements are the measure of her worth—a measure she can never quite live up to.

And then she meets Darius Pasargadae, a man accustomed to having his way. A wealthy and admired aristocrat, the last thing he expects is a wife who scorns him. Throw two such different people together and the sparks fly as Sarah learns to overcome the idols that bind her. 
SKC:   That sounds like a very intereseting story! What inspired you to become a writer?

Tessa: I couldn’t have been a writer if I weren’t a voracious reader; books have always formed an important part of my life. Making up stories in my head is just the other side of the coin. I love coming up with new plots and characters that capture the truth of God and challenge the lies that we seem to believe about ourselves.

SKC:   What encourages you to continue writing?

Tessa: I believe God has called me to write. Even on days when the writing isn’t going smoothly, I hold on to that conviction. Another encouragement is hearing from my readers. Just this morning I read the following comment in a reader’s review:I feel like Pearl in the Sand has forever changed my outlook on life.” I am not likely to ever meet this person face-to-face. Yet somehow through a work of fiction, God touched her heart in a substantial way.

SKC:   What message are you trying to convey, if any?

Tessa: Most of us don’t know our true worth in Christ. The majority of my stories grapple with this reality. Can you really believe, in spite of your history—your successes and your failures—that you hold more value for God than all of creation? Can you believe that Jesus considers you His treasure, not because of your accomplishments, but simply because you are His?

SKC:   What is your Tessa secret to writing a good book?

Tessa: Wished I could figure that one out! Free chocolate with every book? I’m not sure one can come up with a clear-cut formula for writing a good book. I know what I like to read: characters that grip my heart and make me laugh and cry. Plotlines that are believable and engaging. Themes that challenge how I view myself and others.  Add to this a distinctive voice and a few fresh surprises and I am hooked.

SKC:   What plans do you have for 2013, Tessa?

Tessa: I am contracted with River North (the fiction arm of Moody Publishing) to write the sequel to Harvest of Rubies for release early next year. Generally, I live life the way I write—by the seat of my pants! So I don’t have too many plans set in stone for 2013.

SKC: We appreciate that you are offering a book to one of our readers. What would you like to ask one of our readers today?

Tessa: Other than the Trinity, if you could choose one biblical character as your roommate for one year, who would she be and why?

SKC: Oh, I love your question. I am really looking forward to reading what our viewers answer to that one. THANKS so much for being with us, Tessa. Tell us how we can find you and your books.

Tessa: Shirley, thank you so much for inviting me on your wonderful blog. It’s been an absolute pleasure. You can find my books or e-books available at all popular booksellers. If your guests would like to visit me on my website, the address is or visit me on my Facebook author page where there is always some new discussion going on: 

Check out Tessa's great question for you above.
We look forward to hearing what YOU have to say. 
Be sure to leave an email address s
o when I draw the winner's name, I can FIND you.


  1. Tessa, Good interview. I love your book cover too. From how you described the story, I am very interested in reading it.
    Daina Cray

  2. I'd like to room with Mary, the
    mother of Jesus. She was an ordinary woman to whom was given an extraordinary gift. She could teach me much about trust, courage, obedience, prayer, praise, and unconditional love.

    Shari Hughes

  3. I would love to be roomies with Ruth. This was a woman who held tight to her destiny, whose loyalties were so unwavering it's almost unbelievable, who lies right in the ancestral line of Christ, who knew humility, pain, and true love! I would learn a lot from living with Ruth!!

  4. If I could be a room mate with anyone it would definitely be Paul, through the Holy Spirits leading his words have been my 2nd greatest counselor. ;-)

  5. Definitely Paul. He would teach me true humility before God, and about God's Grace and His Love for us sinners. Paul would be the guy to talk too! Can't wait to read your book Tessa!

  6. Enjoyed the interview and I loved Pearl in the Sand. You have a wonderful gift, Tessa, writing historicals. I'm going to say Rahab as a roommate. Her faith was something else for the times.

  7. Good interview. I think if I had a biblical character for a roommate, I would want it to be eitheer Ruth or Esther. They are a couple of my favorites. And I love their witness.
    Betty Fimple

  8. It's been so fun reading all your comments. I like the different roommate choices. Paul would certainly be an interesting roommate. Prayer times would be mind-boggling, and your tent would always be in good repair!

  9. How about Rahab? She is listed as of questionable character in Chapter 6 of Joshua but in Matthew 1 is listed as the great-great grandmother King David. What happened to her that made her hide the Hebrews spies, to be so different from everyone else in her nation?

  10. I know who I wouldnt want to room with. JEZEBEL. Just thought I would go the other way.
    Erin Hannah.

  11. Hi Shirley and Tessa!
    I would want to room with Eve--and ask her, "Yikes--What were you thinking?"