Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Susan Dayley and "Redemption"

Recently I had the opportunity to read a fine historical novel, Redemption written by Susan Dayley. I also interviewed her and found her to be full of interesting insights. I have to admit that I hesitate to pick up and read historical fiction for fear that I will get bogged down in detail and history. In short, I'm afraid it will be boring. However Dayley's writing is anything but boring. She is s master of the English language and words and metaphors flow, causing the reader to want to see what will happen next. She weaves a powerful tale from a brief story in the bible. Wasn't the story of Jonah every child's favorite. Who wouldn't want to hear about being swallowed up by a whale and spewed into an evil land.

Here's a brief example of her writing:
After a great rushing, scraping against sharp teeth,
then a squeezing, pushing sensation, Jonah lost
consciousness. When he began to sense his body again,
he was in total darkness. Slime and weeds were wrapped
about his head, and he shut his eyes tightly. The stench was
overwhelming, but Jonah found that his arms were pinned
against his sides so he could do nothing to cover his nose and
mouth. Each breath brought in the smell of half-digested fish,
the tendrils of weeds, and very little air. Having determined
that he was within the belly of a great fish, he began to black
out again, giving himself up for dead. After a few hours, he
revived only to find he was still in a mortal hell.
For three days and three nights, Jonah lay in the belly...

Can you see why I was entranced by the words of this story? Susan Dayley's strength is creating a believable scene with description that isn't overly wordy, but vivid and at times gripping. I found Jonah to be a character that I sympathized with and saw the human side to the prophet.  H do you build suspense when everyone already knows the ending? Somehow Dayley was able to do that. The book is available at Amazon and Deseret Book and elsewhere.

Here's the interview. ENJOY! 

1. When did you first notice that you were interested in writing?

I’m not sure when I first noticed, but my third grade teacher remembered years later that I would compose reports in rhyme. By ninth grade I knew I loved to write stories.

2. How did you develop your talent? Lots and lots of writing. This last year I’ve been on a journey of soliciting feedback and taking every comment very seriously. I hope to improve the quality of my writing to match my desire.

3. What prompted you to write Redemption? I was teaching the story of Jonah as Literature at a private school. After researching background information: the city of Nineveh, Ships of Tarshish, Cities along the trade routes, etc., I found myself fascinated with this ancient world. I realized there was much more to the story of Jonah than just being swallowed by a big fish.

4. How did you do your research for the story? Aside from books written by archeologists who participated in actual digs, I resorted a great deal to the internet. There is a wealth of information published there, but it’s always good to double check for a second, confirmation of facts. Jewish sites became a favorite and I learned about the Mishnah. The Mishnah is the first part of the Torah, being a redaction of Oral Rabbinic Traditions.

5. What do you suggest for budding writers of all ages? Write what you love. Listen to the advice of others and always work to improve. Oh, and read. Read every opportunity you can. I have books around my house for reading in different rooms and between different tasks. I also read in the car (mostly when someone else is driving).

6. How would you encourage children who love to write? Learn about the authors of great stories. For example, Louisa May Alcott based Little Women on her own childhood. Have a child read the book, then write a series of stories about themselves.

7. What is your writing schedule like? Lately, as much as I can get away with. Actually I wrote about this recently at  http://annebradshaw.blogspot.com/2010/09/guest-blogger-author-susan-dayley.html

8. What is your current work in progress? It is the story of King Hezekiah. The more I learn, the more amazed I become. I had no idea how fascinating his story was.

9. Three words to describe yourself? Rejoicing, inquisitive, adventurous.

10. Who are some of your favorite authors and books?  In no order: Leon Uris—Mila 18 and Exodus; Dickens—Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield; M.M. Kaye—The  Far Pavilions; David Barton—Original Intent; Ayn Rand—Atlas Shrugged; Frederic Bastiat—The Law; Taylor Caldwell—Captains and the Kings; Homer—The Illiad; C.S. Lewis—The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity; Ann Wigmore, Jethro Kloss, Arnold Erhart; and of course,  Jane Austin—Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Another day and I would add a dozen more.

11. If you could go back in time for a day where would you go? This is difficult to choose, but that is why I love books—I can go back in time to various places and events. It is also why I write about historic heroes. But for today, probably to walk through Jerusalem when it is under siege by the Assyrians. I would want to see first hand the walls, Hezekiah’s tunnel, the machines in the towers, and the sundial And of course, the temple. And perhaps the palace buildings. But most of all, I would want to peer into windows and walk through the markets and observe the daily life of a people whose faith and faithfulness is their greatest defense.

12. How much of Redemption is true? And how much is imagined?
The story of Jonah in the scriptures is limited. The Mishnah added about his mother, his prophetic calling by Elisha and his ordaining Jehu as the next king. For Jonah to go to Nineveh he would have to cross the desert. He probably travelled with a caravan along the trade routes. So how much is imagined? Most of it, of course, but all of it is probable.

1 comment:

Inspired Kathy said...

Thanks for signing up for the spooktacular giveaway hop.
I just need to know where you are willing to ship to. Can you email me toobusyreading at gmail.com