Welcome to the So Shines The Night Blog Tour! I am currently reading this new release from Tracy L. Higley and the adventures she has woven into Daria’s life in ancient Ephesus. So Shines The Night is the fifth book in Tracy’s Seven Wonders of the World series, not only does it give a compelling description of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis, but a beautiful display of Paul’s life and other Biblical characters. Read on to learn more about Tracy’s new book So Shines The Night in a special interview, how you can enter to win a $50 gift card and watch a unique video filmed in Ephesus with the author!
1 What inspired the theme of So Shines the Night?
The idea of community is dear to my heart, and the struggle we all have to not live in isolation. I wanted to take a look at two people struggling to do the right thing, but going about it the wrong way because they were isolated both from other people and from God, and to see what would happen when they brushed up against a community like the first century church.
2 In your last book, Garden of Madness, the heroine came in contact with the Biblical figure Daniel. Does Daria get to meet Paul and interact with him in So Shines the Night, or does she view his ministry from afar?
Oh, it was great fun getting Daria and Paul to meet. Challenging, too, since everyone has a fairly specific concept of Paul and the way that I write him might not exactly conform to others’ preconceptions. Daria also meets some other biblical characters from the book of Acts, and I tried to portray them each struggling and human in their own way, wrestling with what it meant to be this new kind of Jew, this person whose Messiah had come.
3 Do you worry about the integrity of the story when you have to add so much to the story to flesh it out from the actual Biblical account?
Yes. It’s a core value of mine that as I write fiction that brushes up against actual biblical events, that I not alter what we know of this history and people. I may not always get it right, and some may argue about their interpretation of what really happened versus mine, but I always strive to keep the integrity of the biblical account intact. There is plenty to “flesh out” around the reality, and I let myself get creative there, but not with what we truly know from Scripture.
4 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.
5 When you visited Ephesus, what was it like to be in the same city that Paul ministered in centuries ago?
It was thrilling, to be succinct. There is a sense of “this is real – this really happened” that sweeps over you and pulls you back in time and into the world of the Scripture in a new and fresh way. I loved it.
6 What is something new you learned while doing research for So Shines the Night?
That’s a tough one, because there were so many things! The whole city of Ephesus is such an interesting study. Because the river that fed into the harbor carried so much silt with it, the harbor eventually became too clogged for ships and the people basically abandoned the city. This rarely happens in the ancient world – most ancient cities, like Rome, are a mix of ancient, medieval and modern and you have to travel around to the pockets of ancient monuments that are left. In Ephesus, all you have is the ancient city, so it has this frozen-in-time feeling like Pompeii, which I loved.
7 What is your favorite thing about writing?
Seriously, writing is an isolated and lonely profession at times. I spend a lot of time in my office alone, working to put together stories that people will love, and that will touch their hearts. When I hear from readers, start to see the reaction to a new book, that is my favorite thing about the process.
8 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.
Don’t forget to enter to win a $50 gift card! To enter, click HERE
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