I was very interested when Liisa (yes, that's how you spell it) said she was writing a mystery set in ancient Ephesus, and when I read the Advance Reader Copy, I loved it. Obedient Unto Death came out in May. Liisa graciously agreed to let me interview her here.
LeAnne Hardy: First of all, why Ephesus?
Liisa Eyerly: Most of the New Testament was written in, to, and for churches in Asia Minor (Turkey), and Ephesus was the Roman capital of Asia Minor. The apostles Paul and John, Timothy, Pricilla, and Aquilla, visited and lived in this key city. I saw a lot of potential for this setting.
LeAnne: Why a mystery?
Liisa: Mysteries are one of my two favorite genres. I have a questioning nature, and solving puzzles and wanting to know answers fits into writing a mystery. And my other favorite genre, sci-fi/fantasy, takes a skill set I don't have.
LeAnne: I also love sci-fi/fantasy, but it's not my skills either! I love the way you have Christian, Jewish and pagan characters working together and sometimes in conflict. Was that deliberate?
Liisa: Absolutely, the world of the New Testament church is a fascinating melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and traditions. The church's struggles and pressures interacting, witnessing, and growing sparked my interest in this period and location. The drama within and outside the fledgling congregations sparked many more questions than scripture answered. (See my questioning nature above). Expanding on the who, what, when, how, and especially why led right into plotting a mystery.
LeAnne: I know you would love to visit Ephesus, but you haven't yet seen it in person. What did you do to prepare to give us such a real-life view of the ancient city and its inhabitants?
Liisa: I have attempted to get to Ephesus two times. The cruise company canceled my first trip, and Covid thwarted this last attempt. Until I can visit, I will continue to do research, research, and more research. I have
LeAnne: What was the most interesting thing you found in your research?
Liisa: That's a difficult question because I was captivated by that ancient world on so many levels. The first thing that grabbed me was the advanced society the Romans maintained. My parents didn't have indoor plumbing growing up, yet 2,000 years ago, Roman cities had indoor running water, public baths, underground sewers, heated floors, and cool water running through walls for air-conditioning. They planned their cities with fountains, market squares (agoras), parks, paved roads, public toilets, and entertainment centers for the entire populace.
LeAnne: What first made you think seriously of writing fiction?
Liisa: I was reading a lot of secular historical mystery authors, espousing their beliefs and world views through their stories. I wanted to read a "who-done-it" genre based on a Christian worldview, and I wasn't finding it. I thought if I was looking for that kind of fiction, others might also be. I have dabbled in writing most of my life. This and my curiosity about the early church gave me the impetus (after much prayer) to give it a try.
LeAnne: What can we look forward to next from you?
Liisa: I am three quarters of the way through the first draft of my second book in this series, Fortunes of Death. I hope to have some fantastic insights to share with my readers. I'm trying to figure out how to use the Roman teeth whitening recipe of urine and pumice. Research can be so enlightening.
LeAnne: Urine and pumice? I’m not sure I can honestly say I look forward to that, but I WILL look forward to the book! Thank you, Liisa.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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