I am a fifth-generation Oregonian transplanted in Texas. I teach at my alma mater, Dallas Theological Seminary and I serve as one of the bloggers for bible.org’s women-in-leadership site, Tapestry. I'm also the wife of one husband, the mother of one child, and the follower of One Lord.
Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?
I love writing fiction. I’ve authored or coauthored four works of medical suspense. And right now I’m finishing up a work of historical fiction—my first foray into the past. I love losing myself in that world of creation. I imagine it’s the closest I’ll ever get to creating something out of nothing. I think and worlds appear!
Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?
- I am a fifth-generation Oregonian whose ancestors came across the country on a conestoga wagon and were saved from hypothermia on a wet night by some Native Americans who shot a firebrand across a river.
- I used to get paid to sing back-up vocals in the same recording studio where the Dixie Chicks got their start—where I went on to become a “studio mom” for the Barney and Friends music production team. (Please don’t hold this against me.)
- I survived a rigorous backpacking trip out of the Grand Canyon by putting one foot in front of the other and chanting “hot shower” and “the things you do for love.”
Besides the obvious Jesus and my family and friends, right?
- Writing fiction
- Traveling—I especially love the Tetons and Italy; Alaska’s on my “wish” list
- Reading classic novels—favorites include Uncle Tom’s Cabin; My Antoniá; The Brothers Karamazov; and A Tale of Two Cities
- Drinking coffee in bed every morning with my husband, Mocha Café
- Talking to women who like to use their brains
Winston Churchill. I keep his picture on my refrigerator to remind me that a strong will properly channeled can save the entire free world in a pinch.
Yes, I admire Winston Churchill. What is your favorite Bible story?
I love the story of Hagar. As Sarah’s Egyptian slave, Hagar started out with race and class against her. Yet once she conceived her master’s child, Hagar’s status changed. That led her to despise Sarah—or perhaps gave her freedom to express what she already felt. (If someone forced me to bear a child for her, I’d dislike her too.)
Sarah felt the shift. And instead of recognizing her own agency, she blamed Abraham. To keep the peace he told Sarah to handle it however she wanted. And Sarah was so harsh that Hagar chose “alone and pregnant in the desert” over the safety of “home.”
When the angel of the Lord “found” Hagar by a well, he didn’t rebuke her for leaving. And while the Lord sent her back to Sarah (Gen.16:7–9), He also made Hagar some promises (Gen.16:10–12). First, He promised to multiply Hagar’s offspring (Gen. 16:10). She’s the only woman in all of Scripture to receive such a promise. Second, He told her to name her baby “God listens.” Then He promised that her child would be “a wild donkey of a man.” Now, when we call someone a wild donkey, we insult them. But what animal did Jesus—like Solomon—ride during his Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:7)? In the ancient Near East, rulers and rich people rode donkeys (Zech. 9:9). And to be “wild” was not to be crazy but free, as opposed to being a slave. Imagine our equivalent: “Hagar, though you’ll return to slavery, your offspring will be free white stallions.” (He kept His promise, too. For centuries Arab Bedouins have lived in freedom.)
God promised another blessing: that Hagar’s son would “dwell in the presence of his brothers” (Gen. 16:12). By their proximity to Israel, Arabs are in a unique position to witness God’s unfolding plan. Among them have been Job, Agur, Lemuel and probably “the magi.” Since these, we’ve also seen thousands of Arabs in church history, and many are still coming to Christ today. The same texts promising restoration to a Jewish remnant (Isa. 60:1–5) predict the restoration of a greater remnant among Abraham’s Arabian descendants (Isa. 60:6–7).
After receiving these lavish promises, Hagar gave God a name. She named Him! Hagar called Yahweh, “The God who sees.” Hagar reminds us that God is sovereign over wombs and nations; that He has a plan for both Jew and Arab; that He is a husband to the husbandless; that he hears the cries of the mistreated; and that He is El Roi, the God who sees.
There you go, readers. Your mini Bible study for the day:-) Thought-provoking answer, Sandra! I loved it! How do you choose your characters names?
My character names come from a variety of sources. Sometimes I choose a name I love. Lethal Harvest’s main character, “Marina,” I named after a former neighbor. When I heard that name for the first time as young girl, I thought it sounded beautiful.
That character’s nickname, Marie, came from an infertility nurse who brought life-giving comfort to us through years of heartbreak.
Most of my friends and family have appeared as characters—most want to be villains! A drug lord in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico named “Carlos” got his name from an international student whom we claim as our son. His name is Carlos, he’s from that town, and he wanted to be one of my villains. Most people want to be villains!
Sometimes I search online for “common Greek girls’ names” and “most popular male Russian names,” depending on my characters’ nationalities. I have books of character names, and I comb through them. And if I meet a person with an interesting name, I write it down if it has “character” potential. The most recent was a girl named “Briar.” Look for her name in some future work of mine.
Villains? Interesting. If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?
I have that dream job—I teach. I love helping to mold some of the world’s future writers and thinkers. I have a great interest in women’s history and women’s justice issues. And one of the classes I teach at Dallas Seminary focuses on the tough “woman” verses in the Bible and what they mean in their cultural contexts. Though my husband and I endured ten years of infertility treatment, we never had the large family we wanted. Yet my work at DTS is a great outlet for my desire to parent the next generation.
Do you have any books that are soon-to-be-released that we should keep an eye out for?
Yes, I’ve just finished writing my fourth draft of The Ephesian Fragments. In it an unbelieving female scholar on an archaeological dig in Ephesus, Turkey, discovers ancient manuscripts that turn out to be the third volume Luke wrote for Theophilus, following Luke/Acts. The manuscripts consist of first-person accounts by a range of first-century women, from one who witnessed the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, to one who knew Paul, to Joanna, who witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus. As the contemporary character encounters these women and their timeless choices, she realizes she must choose either to live with bitterness or to forgive.
The 300-page novel comprises the first three-quarters of my dissertation. Now to finish the scholarly portion that accompanies it, and then the fiction portion goes to my agent.
I'll definitely keep an eye out for The Ephesian Fragments! It sounds interesting and enlightening. And if I can learn something new while reading your interview (during your mini-Bible study), then I'm certain that I'll learn something new while reading a 300-page novel written by you! Please tell us about the featured book.
|Buy At Amazon|
Can you please give us the first page?
”What’s that awful noise?” Dr. Ben McKay asked the obstetrics resident as they walked together from the ER to Labor and Delivery.
Fred shook his head. “Don’t know. Sounds like one of those old baruga car horns.”
“You’re too young to remember those.”
“Hey, no need to make yourself sound so old. Forty’s not that ancient. And yeah, I’m old enough to remember. . . .”
The sound grew louder, then quit as the two dark-haired men approached the L&D unit located next to the maternity-wing entrance. Suddenly a woman dressed in black leather and high-heeled boots slammed through the door screaming, “Help! Someone help me! She’s having a baby— in my car!”
My turn again, thought Ben, the OB attending physician on “walk-in” call. All OB specialists associated with the Northern Virginia hospital took a turn each month serving as “doc in the box.” This entitled them to render care to everyone who showed up at the hospital without a personal physician.
Ben picked up his pace. “Go grab a nurse and a precip pack,” he told Fred. “I’ll see what’s up.”
Fred nodded, then hustled through the L&D door barking, “Got a delivery on the dock. Grab an OB pack and come with me!”
Ben followed the hysterical woman—clearly a “lady of the evening”—out to her car. He fiddled with the door handle on the well-worn early-70s Caddy with rusting chrome everywhere and faded purple paint. When the door finally opened, Ben was met with a blood-curdling scream: “It’s coming! It’s coming!”
“It’s all right, everything’s going to be fine,” Ben said, trying to calm her with his voice. “I’m a doctor—we can help you. Let’s just see what’s . . .”
Before his next word, another contraction gripped the woman. She took her hands from between her legs and grasped Ben’s forearms with all her might, digging her long nails into his flesh. Ben ignored the rush of pain and worked to find the baby’s head. He could see sufficiently, thanks to the fluorescent light of the ambulance loading dock. There it was—the tiny head, already delivered.
Ohh, Intriguing! Thank you for the fun interview, Sandra! I must interview you when your next book releases. Readers, you can learn more about Sandra in the following places:
Just itching to read Lethal Harvest? Great, because Sandra has kindly offered to giveaway a print copy of Lethal Harvest. To be entered for a chance to win please leave a comment with your email address. Giveaway is open for the lower 48 states of the U.S.
For extra entries:
~Be a follower +1
~Add my button to your blog +1
~Post about this giveaway +2
~Add my button to your blog +1
~Post about this giveaway +2
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)
Giveaway ends on Sunday March 25, 2012 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen using Random.org.