Today, I am pleased to welcome author Rob Seabrook to Interviews & Reviews. Rob lives and works in beautiful Devon, is married to Gemma, with three grown up children, Bruno the dog and some chickens. As foster carers, together they have gained insight into the impact of trauma on children, and have seen that rebuilding a life takes endless patience, full acceptance, love and care, and there is always room for second chances. It is this experience that part inspired the context for Beneath the Tamarisk Tree, which he is going to talk to us about today. And as an added bonus, Rob is giving away a signed copy in the U.K. and an eBook outside the U.K.
Rob, welcome to I & R!
How long have you been writing?
I have always had the urge to write, back to my teenage years when I wanted to become a journalist. Sadly, that dream never came to fruition, but I have been writing of sorts all through my career as a marketing professional, albeit quite a mix of styles.
The call to write a novel has been nagging me for a while, and then when I got the inspiration for my first novel, Beneath the Tamarisk Tree, I decided to finally give it a go.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was at an event in the UK called New Wine, a Christian conference where a few thousand families get together for a week of worship, teaching, camping and the usual fun and games that come with it. I woke up one morning having had a very poor night’s sleep in a tent, but for some reason had the story of the thief on the cross running through my head.
I started to imagine his story, and it just seemed to keep coming. So I skipped a meeting, went to the bookshop to buy a notepad and pen, then grabbed a coffee and started writing. Some of those early scribblings still make up the first chapter.
I then had to launch into a programme of research, study and writing that took a year to complete before then beginning the process of speaking to publishers.
Is there a message in your book you want readers to grasp?
It was important to me to present the Gospel message, and of course, the Easter story is absolutely central to it! It has been truly rewarding to get feedback and reviews from non-Christian readers who have enjoyed the story but also found a clear explanation of what Jesus did for them. It has also been so lovely recently to hear two or three stories of readers who have taken it one step further and made commitments to follow Jesus for the first time.
Another important message for everyone is that it is never too late. The thief on the cross made his decision to follow Christ in the very final moments of his life. Despite his background, his misdemeanours and his sin, Jesus reached out to him and saved him. It is never too late, and no one has ever done anything that would exclude them from turning to Christ, who will welcome them with open arms.
Which character do you like the most?
I guess I have to say that I like the character of Jesus the most! But I felt a real weight of responsibility putting words into the mouth of Jesus. It seemed wrong, so I had to be very careful to ensure He was saying things that were 100% in line with what was written in the Bible. I then had some pastor friends check it over to ensure any heresies were corrected.
I do also like the lead character, the thief, Dismas. From my experience as a foster carer, I was able to write a lot of character traits that I have seen manifested in traumatised children. This was challenging, as the lack of social skills and even talking, often seen in traumatised children, makes for limited dialogue opportunities. But what I like most about him is that he has the chance to see the truth, believes in Jesus, and receives salvation.
Do you have any other books in the works?
My next project is a little different, moving away from the Biblical fiction genre. I am just starting a novel that will highlight the wonders in creation through the eyes of a young man fascinated by the natural world. He may not be looking for meaning or seeking the Creator, but he finds it through encounters with some older and wiser people who show him there is more in creation than he first imagined.
I am at the point of having completed much of the research and background reading and am about to embark on the writing … starting it is quite daunting, though!
Which do you enjoy more - reading or writing?
I do find the creative process so rewarding – I like the idea of writing being a form of worship, as we use our imaginations to bring forth a new creation in a way that reflects the Father’s infinite creativity. But then I also love escaping into other people’s creations or gleaning what I can from their teaching.
Perhaps it is a case of when I am reading I find inspiration to write, but when writing I remember what hard work it is and I want to get back to just doing the reading!
I like that description of writing. As a writer, to think of it as a form of worship is encouraging. Thank you for sharing with us today.
And now, Dear Readers, if you would like to win a copy of Beneath The Tamarisk Tree fill out the form below. One print copy will go to a reader in the U.K. and one eBook will go to a reader outside the U.K. This giveaway will run until February 15. Winners will be announced here, on Facebook and via email.
Congratulations to Ginger Sanders! You have won an eBook of Beneath the Tamarisk Tree.