Latest project: A.D. 30 (9781599954189, $25, Oct. 28).
Center Street (Hachette Book Group).
What is the premise of A.D. 30?
A.D. 30 is the story of an outsider, a Bedouin woman from the Arabian Desert named Maviah, who has been devastated by tragedy and thrust into an impossible situation. When all hope is lost at the midpoint of this epic, she encounters an enigmatic teacher and worker of wonders named Yeshua—a man who speaks of things too wonderful, and dangerous, to believe. His Way of being in the world turns life on end and promises staggering power in the face of the storms that rise to crush us all.
How is this book different from your previous novels?
This is the first novel I’ve written that’s rooted deeply in history. Where “The Circle” series retold our redemptive story in a fantasy world, the A.D. trilogy engages that same story of transformation as it was, on the ground. It’s also the first time I’ve written about our redemptive journey in a non-allegorical way. Over the past several months, my publisher, Center Street, has put the book into the hands of hundreds of Christian retailers, pastors and church leaders across the country. One thread of conversation runs through nearly all of our interactions with them, and it’s that many are experiencing Yeshua again for the first time.
In what ways is A.D. 30 similar to your other work?
All of my novels are born out of an obsession to discover the truth for myself—the truth about our Father, His love for us and the truth about who I am in Him. It’s been said that life is a never-ending cycle of remembering and forgetting. My novels are a way for me to explore that cycle, experience what it’s like through the eyes of a character, going to the deepest depths and rising again reborn.
What inspired you to write A.D. 30?
Though I grew up in the church, I rarely saw or experienced the staggering power to live with power and love those who abused me, as He promised I would. I wanted to encounter Him in His story and engage His teachings—perhaps I was missing something. What I found was spectacular; the effects on my own life cannot be overstated. I wrote this novel to discover the treasure, the pearl of great price, the Way of Yeshua for this life that He claimed we would find. It’s why I call it, “The Forgotten Way of Yeshua.”
How do you describe Maviah?
Like all of us, Maviah is an outsider to the Jewish context. She’s experienced deep pain and loss that’s scarred her, and she lives in a culture that views women as little more than property. Though a strong woman to the core, she lives in a perpetual state of fear and cannot fathom true love. The teachings of Yeshua, and more, His presence, radically challenge her view of herself. His news seems too good to be true, and His Way promises great power in this life. Maviah’s story is our own; it belongs to all of us. Who hasn’t felt deep shame or cut off from ourselves and others? Like Maviah, we long to love effortlessly and cast aside fear in the face of the storm, though it seems so impossible those storms rise.
What is one of your favorite scenes?
So many, naturally, or I wouldn’t have written them. The first kiss. The hilarious encounter with Arim. The death of Brutus. The first encounter with Yeshua, halfway through the book. To see Him is to be in awe. The encounter on the lake haunts me still in the best of ways. The climax in Petra, while tens of thousands look on—may we all follow the Way of Yeshua.
What research did you conduct to write this novel?
I’ve never researched a novel to the extent I did A.D. 30. I have stacks of books and notes from conversations with scholars. I also retained one of the world’s leading authorities on first-century Arabia to act as a resource and editorial sounding board for every aspect of the story. As I was writing it, I remembered why I’ve stayed away from historical fiction for so long. To do it well requires a tremendous amount of effort and attention to details, however obscure they may be.
What is one thing you hope readers gain from reading A.D. 30?
I want them to encounter Yeshua again for the first time. There is a significant amount of cultural baggage that comes with being a 21st-century Western believer in Jesus. We all know the doctrines about Jesus. We think we believe in the name of Jesus, and we know all of the right teachings and statements of faith. But knowing about isn’t the same as knowing Him or to believe in him. It takes two to know, to be intimate. The gift that fiction gives us is the ability to actually experience what is otherwise only teaching. My hope for A.D. 30 is that readers will experience Yeshua in a way that they never have or have long forgotten.
What additional information would help Christian retailers when talking with customers about A.D. 30?
This is a story about a woman, for women as well as for men. This is a story about our Master who has shown us the Way to live in the kingdom of heaven now among us and within us, not only that which is to come. It’s a sweeping epic with war and betrayal and romance that gently leads us away from our insecurities and fears and introduces us to the Way of Yeshua, which so many of us have forgotten.