I’m connected with Christian author Sheila Deeth in two (or more?) online writing groups. So, when she said she was looking for people to host her to promote her newest book in the Five Minute Bible Story Series (all of which, by the way, are just fabulous!), I readily agreed.
Here’s my interview with the lovely Sheila Deeth.
1. How would you describe Bethlehem’s Baby to someone who has not yet read it?
It’s a chance to imagine yourself in the world of the first Christmas: walking the streets of Nazareth, Bethlehem, and an unknown village in Egypt; meeting shepherds and kings; hiding out from King Herod; avoiding Roman soldiers; and wondering if God told Zechariah to “Hush!”, and that’s why he lost his voice. It’s a set of forty, five-minute, read-aloud, kid-friendly, Bible-based stories with plenty of history and science thrown into the background.
2. Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
I hope kids will realize the Christmas story isn’t a fairytale. It’s about real people in a real historical world, interacting with a very real God.
3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?
Why we need to let our children imagine and ask questions, even about things where we think we know all the answers.
4. How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?
I took the best research I could find to help me imagine the real world of Jesus’ birth, and, of course, the whole thing is based on the Bible. There are Bible references with each story, and author’s notes at the back of the book to explain the things I learned along the way. As for the characters I’ve imagined in the story, they’re based on all the various kids I’ve known—the noisy ones who always ask “Why?” quiet ones, thinking deeply and drawing the wrong conclusions; wise ones who think they know it all; and happy-go-lucky ones who don’t even want to…
5. How did you get the idea for the book?
It’s actually the sixth in the Five Minute Bible StoryTM Series from Cape Arago Press. I used to tell stories to kids in Sunday school and for children’s sermons. When I lost my job I started writing them down—something I’d always wanted to do. Somewhere along the line I realized I was working my way through the Bible, which is kind of cool because I remember reading the Silmarillion at college and wishing there were Bible stories that would seem as fun and exciting to the reader. After all, the Bible’s full of fun exciting stories—it’s just we don’t seem to read them that way.
6. Which came first, the title or the book?
The earlier books all have two-word titles, so I wanted something with two words. I think I’d settled on Bethlehem Baby or Bethlehem’s Baby almost as soon as I started writing. Now I’m working on Nazareth Neighbors, Galilee’s Gift and Jerusalem Journey.
7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?
That’s a good question. I like all the stories, but maybe my favorite is the one with a little boy making too much noise in the Temple. I guess my boys had a habit of making too much noise—I just enjoyed giving him that surprise insight that sometimes grown-ups talk too much for God as well.
8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?
I think there’s a typo in there. In fact, I’m sure there must be more than one. But I remember my sons being told in school about prayer rugs always having a mistake in the pattern, to remind the pray-er that only God is perfect. My book’s not perfect, and maybe that’s just as it should be.
9. What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m trying to think what would qualify as my first book. There was the one I wrote in elementary school with a multi-colored pen. I wrote each chapter in a different color then tied it all up with string. I think it was inspired by those stories I told my brothers every night on summer holiday—if the brother’s annoyed me I’d threaten, no story tonight. What an evil sister I was!
10. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve just looked back at how I answered that question when I visited your blog a year ago. I wouldn’t change a thing… Typing is still way easier than holding a pen. There’s still many a slip twixt thought and keyboard. And editing still feels like sculpture or art, or tuning an orchestra maybe since these stories are meant to sound right when they’re read aloud.
11. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
Honestly, the most fun part is the time I spend writing and editing. It’s like drinking rich, smooth, chili-tinged chocolate—a treat to be savored, that rolls around the tongue, and makes you believe that everything’s right with the world. Then you send it off to a publisher and realize everything else is stress and panic.
12. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
I’m sure there’s some genre I’ve not written, or at least, not written seriously. But I’m not sure what it is. I just love writing.
13. What book are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading and reviewing four books—one on kindle, one on kobo, one in a pdf file and one on real paper. I’ve just finished reading Alexander McCall Smith’s The Importance of Being Seven just for myself.
14. What’s up next for you?
My highest priority at the moment is finishing Nazareth Neighbors for Cape Arago Press. I have a romantic novel that’s listed as “coming soon” on another publisher’s website, and a spiritual speculative novella waiting for a reply. My middle grade fantasy keeps reminding me two unpublished books don’t make a series, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. Plus I’m reading and reviewing tons of books.
15. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just write. Celebrate rejections with chocolate and look forward to a feast when things go right. Enjoy baby-steps.
16. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I hope you’ll like my book, or one of my books, or some of my books… And thank you for reading this interview. Thank you for interviewing me too, Mishael!
>>It’s my pleasure, Sheila. It’s just been delightful!<<
Bethlehem’s Baby Blurb:
Meet the Emperor Augustus’s advisors, the quiet research student helping wise men study stars, the shepherd whose granddad keeps complaining, an Egyptian fisherboy, a Roman soldier, and more in this set of 40 5-minute read-aloud stories based around the events of the Christ Child’s birth in Bethlehem.
Find Bethlehem’s Baby at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EY172MA/
More of the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series on the publisher’s website: http://capearagopress.com/Five-Minute.html
Connect with Sheila at:
Sheila Deeth: http://about.me/SheilaDeeth