Today my guest is Susan Dayley, author of the historical novel Redemption about the life of Jonah, the biblical prophet.
Susan, one of the things I found most interesting about your novel was the placement of Jonah as the son of the Widow of Zarephath.How did you come up with this idea?
It comes from the rabbinic teachings of the Midrash. I did not use everything the Midrash teaches, but this, as well as Jonah’s ordination by Elisha, and his anointing Jehu as king, come from there.
Wow. You are the only author I've ever interviewed who ever mentioned the Midrash, let alone took plot elements from it. I knew you were one smart cookie. How long have you been writing, smart cookie?
Forever and less than four years. My early years were all about writing—encouraged by junior high and high school teachers. Then in college I became diverted, and then life happened. After my children began high school I started teaching at a private school—a task that demanded 12+ hours each day (but that I loved dearly). When I stopped teaching three years ago, my husband insisted that I turn back to my old love of writing. Redemption was my first attempt.
What's next on the horizon for you?
I’m reworking the story of Hezekiah—which amazed me far beyond what I anticipated—and I am about 30,000 words into a new adventure in a YA mystery. No paranormal aspect, though.
Sounds like you're pretty multi-faceted, going from biblical historical fiction to YA like that. What do you consider your #1 strength as a writer?
Attention to detail. This is also my weakness. I get immersed in the atmosphere and surroundings of the place I set my stories in. I can visually walk though Jerusalem at the time of Hezekiah. This comes from months of research. However, feedback from others led me to cut so much detail, that yes, the story flows better, but I fret that readers will never experience it as I do.
Which authors would you say have been most instrumental/influential in your own writing?
This is another problem. I love to read classics. And classics flow at a slower pace. I’ve begun to expand my reading this last year to include more current books, but I miss the richness of language that is in Dickens, Tolstoy, Alcott, Bronte, Austen, Dumas and especially, Shakespeare.
Sigh ... Alcott ... Bronte ... Austen ...which brings me to Colonel Brandon ... (Pulling myself back) So, I have to ask, because I'm on this asking-of-weird-questions kick lately, do you have any routines or rituals you perform to get ready to write - a favorite snack, favorite comfy clothes, music, etc?
Uh, I sit down and boot up my computer. Sorry. Nothing ritual. I can be in the clothes for the workout I intended to do immediately (this is my husband's favorite), or the sweaty after-effects, while I hurriedly write down ideas that came during, or cleaned up for the day. I can work right through a meal time and not notice, or suddenly get a craving for something that takes an hour to prepare and spring up to make it.
And if you had ten thousand dollars to spend on a dream vacation, where would you go?
The Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise, Canada in the summer until the money ran out—probably somewhere on the second day. I love nature, lakes, hiking, the music of solitude, fine dining and luxury. It has it all. That or a train ride through Switzerland and Austria. Yep, I’m a mountain person.
I just followed that link and checked out the pictures ... I can see why that would be your choice. Holy cow. We should plan a writer' retreat up there sometime.
Thanks for hanging out with me today, Susan! It was fun to get to know you a little better.