Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Caravan Review: So Shines the Night by Tracy Higley

About Tracy:

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com

Interview with Tracy Higley:

1. You have gone on so many amazing travels. What was one of your favorite things about visiting Ephesus? I think it was the sense of being somewhere “where Paul walked.” Sitting in the theater, looking down over the Harbor Street where he was likely kept prisoner at times, I had this amazing moment of “I can’t believe I’m here” – the kind of moment that gives you chills and makes you feel connected to something larger than yourself.

2. What's one thing you learned about Ephesus and its importance to Christians that you found surprising/interesting/challenging? I had never realized or noticed until studying this time in Paul’s life, how much time he spent there (nearly three years). I always pictured him hopping around from place to place fairly quickly. I was challenged by the time that he invested in people’s lives, the relationships and bonds he formed. Later, when the Ephesian elders said goodbye to him, the book of Acts tells us that they were literally weeping. It’s easy for me to minister to people “from afar” but I was really challenged by Paul’s relational approach to sharing Christ.

3. What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received? Keep writing. If you haven’t finished anything, keep writing. If you’ve finished something and are trying to submit and sell it somewhere, don’t wait for an answer, keep writing. If you’ve gotten some interest and it’s moving through the process, keep writing. The publishing industry can move very slowly, and the best way to be ready for your “big break” is to keep improving through practice, practice, practice.

4. What's one thing on your bucket list (even if i you don't have an official "list")? I think I might like to skydive someday. I’ve never admitted that before! (And now I’m terrified.)

5. Can you share anything about your future projects? The best way to get a sense of what I’m working on now would be to visit this page: http://tracyhigley.com/books/work-in-progress/ Although, don’t hold me to all those thoughts about the book I haven’t started yet – who knows where that will go!

6. How has your writing, research, and travels affected your spiritual life? Great question. All of it has definitely given me a larger sense of the world and what God is doing in it, both now and through the past. It’s made me realize, as I’ve studied God’s work in the nations throughout history, that He has always been calling all people to Himself, and that He still is. It’s also given me a desire to see the kind of Christianity that was born in the fires of Roman persecution become part of our experience now – a living, breathing faith that radically transforms our lives.

7. What are your 5 favorite things, excluding your family? Dark chocolate, BBQ chicken pizza, a good book, foreign travel, a movie that makes me cry.

8. Who is your greatest inspiration - as a writer, mom, Christian?...any and all of those criteria. As a writer, I’m inspired by C.S. Lewis (of course), but also by Stephen Lawhead and Frederick Buechner, both of whom have the ability to pick the reader up and carry them somewhere else. As a mom, it is the awesome friends I have, whose daily interactions with their children I am privileged to witness, that inspire me most. And as a Christian? The lives of those who live big and adventurous for the kingdom – willing to love and risk because they are secure in Christ.

9. What is your favorite book you have written and why? I am absolutely in love with the Beauty and the Beast motif, and Guardian of the Flame was my homage to it. I really loved writing that book.

10. What touched you the most on your travels for this book? I think it was the sense of “realness” that being in the same city where Paul ministered brought to me. There’s a connection to faith and Scripture that happens, and it’s very powerful.

11. What do you hope people will take away from this story? There are a number of themes I explored here, so it will vary from person to person, depending on where they are on their journey. I hope people will get a sense of the reality of the first century church, of Paul as a man. I want people to see that the love God has for us makes us secure, and that from that foundation we can risk to love others. I want readers to long for a sense of community that is found in the church of Ephesus.

12. What is the condition of the Ephesian church today? Ephesus was eventually abandoned as a city because the harbor became clogged with silt, so there is no real city or church there today. The nearest city is Sel├žuk, which is a predominantly Muslim population. I did a quick Google search in answering your question, and came up with this page, which is really cool: http://www.worshipinephesus.com/

13. What influence of the Ephesian church do you see on the culture in that area? Well, the Temple of Artemis is in ruins, and certainly Christianity came to that part of the world during the medieval period. These days, the Christians are again the minority, but I am sure they are working hard to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.

14. In Revelation, Jesus commends the perseverance of the church of Ephesus, but He also says that they have left their first love and urges them to repent and do the things they did at first. What evidence do you see in Ephesus that the church received and did (or didn’t) act upon this letter? That’s a really tough question to answer. We don’t have any writings specifically about the Ephesian church after that time period, but it is traditionally believed that after John’s exile to Patmos he returned to live in Ephesus, and also that Timothy pastored the church there. With these two godly men in place, and such a specific revelation to challenge them, it seems to me that God would have been doing mighty work there, as He continues to do around the world today.

Here's my review of this incredible read:  First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Tracy Higley and her publisher for sending me a copy of "So Shines the Night" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

As a member of Tracy Higley’s Caravan, I am thrilled to review her latest novel: “So Shines the Night”. This latest effort in Tracy’s Wonders of the World series is a wonder in itself. In 57 AD, Daria escapes the island of Rhodes, traveling to Ephesus as the tutor to wealthy merchant, Lucas. But she soon feels that she hasn’t really escaped what she fears as sorcery seems to become even more prominent in her new home.

Tracy’s gift for dramatizing history gives life and breath to this story of the first century church in Ephesus. With a gripping cast of characters that includes the apostle Paul and his son in the faith, Timothy, this story dramatically brings the Bible to life and draws the reader into an encounter with the Almighty God.

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