I am beyond honored to host today’s guest, Tessa Afshar. Her personal story is so close to my heart and her novels are among my favorites.
Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of Bread of Angels, Land of Silence, and several other historical novels. Land of Silence won an Inspy Award in the general fiction category and was voted by Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of 2016. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious Christy Award in the historical romance category, and Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award for fiction. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year by the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards.
Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She serves part-time on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being exceptionally fond of chocolate.
First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.
After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.
Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.
When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.
Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”
Hi Tessa! Welcome to the blog! I’m so honored to have you here ♥
Tessa: Summer! Today, on our porch I saw a humming bird, a butterfly the size of a humming bird, and flowers and herbs that smell of heaven. Didn’t even have to wear a coat. Definitely, summer!
Carrie: What a lovely description!
Tessa: Tea. Especially sun tea with a sprig of mint. You have to taste it to understand.
Carrie: I have! And if I liked tea i would have it that way all the time lol. The mint adds a lot, even just a sprig.
Tessa: Audiobooks. What’s to explain?
Carrie: Because #books
Tessa: Ocean, hands down. I feel as if all is right with the world when I am near the water.
Carrie: There really is something about the ocean, isn’t there?
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Tessa: My superpower is that I keep going, even after I hit the point that I want to give up. I hit that point fairly early on. So I would be in a lot of trouble if I didn’t keep going.
Carrie: That is a wonderful superpower to have!
Q: Why a thief? What made you want to write about such an unusual profession?
Tessa: Many of Corinth’s inhabitants were on the naughty side. In his letter to the house churches he helped to build, Paul said they had been greedy, immoral, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers before Jesus grabbed hold of them (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). I wanted to write about a character that fit this mold. Someone who was a bit of a rascal with a lot of spunk and yet at the same time seemed lovable.
Carrie: Something I had never really thought of before – the ‘past’ of Corinth’s believers. What a great reason to create a main character who is a thief!
Q: What are some of the central themes you explore in Thief of Corinth?
Tessa: One of the themes that emerges from the story is the lingering wounds of divorce. Another thread the novel grapples with is that of broken self-esteem: the way we try to fill that void by trying to win affirmation, affection, or admiration. Perhaps the most central theme of Thief of Corinth is that of love, the fallen nature of it, the imperfection and brokenness of it, and the sole solution to all our struggles, Jesus Himself.
Carrie: Amen. ♥
Q: Divorce seems like a very contemporary problem. Yet you write about it in a first century context. What made you choose this topic?
Tessa: Divorce is not a modern invention. For thousands of years, it has plagued human relationships. Today, it has become a commonplace part of our existence but remains as damaging as ever. Having gone through the experience of my own parents’ divorce when I was thirteen, I knew firsthand that the ensuing separations and divisions often leave a deep mark. Many of my readers have been touched by the wounds of divorce in a personal way. I wanted to write a story to which they could relate. One they would find realistic, but ultimately encouraging.
Carrie: One of the things I love so much about your novels is how you take biblical-era characters and remind me how much we can relate to them still today. Because people are people and hurt is hurt and sin is sin and Jesus is Jesus, no matter what year it is 🙂
Q: You choose a well-known text (1 Corinthians 13) and put an unexpected twist in the familiar words. Tell us why you chose this passage as a central theme for this novel.
Tessa: To begin with, we Christians think of those verses as a wedding passage. But in fact, the original intent was for everyone to apply them to their lives. Because we hear them so often, we have stopped listening to the words. But they are extraordinary! At the end of that section, Paul says, “Love never fails.” I wanted to examine the discrepancy between those words and our lives. Our love does fail, with shocking regularity, at least according to the 1 Corinthians 13 standards. Thief of Corinth focuses on this discrepancy and asks us to honestly examine our relationships. The story helps us to intentionally invite the healing of God’s own love into the many gaps left by our love.
Carrie: There IS such a discrepancy, you are right. I can’t wait to discover how you explore this in the book.
Q: Tell us a little about why this novel is different from what we might expect from a more typical work of biblical fiction.
Tessa: Increasingly, fans have been asking me for a book they could share with friends who are not practicing Christians. I wrote Thief of Corinth mostly for them. It is a more lighthearted story than you usually find in the genre. Thief of Corinth has more action and adventure than you may expect to find in biblical fiction. I hope my readers will be able to escape into a world that will make them laugh, cry, cringe, clap, and emerge feeling satisfied and strengthened. The novel still grapples with a few important issues, and of course it takes the reader on an adventure of faith. But that adventure occurs later in the story, giving the reader time to settle into the plot first before coming face to face with God.
Carrie: Much like God does in our own lives, sometimes 🙂
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Thief of Corinth?
Tessa: I hope they will feel encouraged that God can work through the messes we make with our mistakes, that He can cover the gaps we leave in our relationships. When our love fails, His remains perfect, faithful, and unshakable.
Carrie: Yes. Amen. ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today… were there any characters from this novel you would like to bring back in upcoming books or is that a big secret?
Tessa: There is a character named Theo who absolutely won my heart from the first page. Readers will discover a few shocking revelations about Theo’s past in Thief of Corinth. But I want to tell the story of his future, hopefully in the final novel of this series which has been based on minor characters from the Book of Acts.
Carrie: I can’t wait!
Tyndale House is offering a hardcover copy of Thief of Corinth to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What most interests you about Tessa Afshar and/or her new book, Thief of Corinth?