So Shines The Night
by Tracey Higley
-From the back cover-
Daria’s new home with Lucas in Ephesus both beguiles and confounds her, until she meets followers of The Way.
Her past has taught her that evil is real, that it can consume a person. She saw it happen with her husband, before he took his own life. Widowed but well-educated, Daria becomes a tutor to Lucas, a rich traveling merchant from Ephesus. There she discovers evil has a strong foothold and that Lucas himself seems drawn to evil and sorcery.
As her relationship with her employer grows, she fears that she will be unable to pull him from demonic influence. Tension in the city is about to erupt, as a new sect called The Way continues to draw followers. The man Paul leads a movement against the economic and political strength of the city, found in its goddess cult.
When she learns more of the ways of the Christians and their ability to defeat evil, she begins to have hope, but when Lucas is arrested and jailed for a brutal crime, it seems not even the Christians can help.
Tensions escalate in the city until thousands are pouring into the arena to protest the influence of the Christians, and a plot to kill Paul is underway. When Lucas’s execution is scheduled, Daria must find a way to prove his innocence, save his life, and help her new friends before everyone she loves is destroyed.
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Find out more about So Shines The Night
Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com
So Shines The Night
1. What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been writing about the Seven Wonders for awhile now, and when it came time to write about the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, it as a no-brainer that the action in Acts 19 would form the basis for the conflict of the story. From there, I had fun bringing it all to life!
2. What inspired the theme of So Shines The Night?
The idea of community is dear to my heart, and the struggle we all have to not live in isolation. I wanted to take a look at two people struggling to do the right thing, but going about it the wrong way because they were isolated both from other people and from God, and to see what would happen when they brushed up against a community like the first century church.
3. How long did it take to complete this story from start to finish? Was that about an average amount of time?
This story took about five months, which is just a little shorter than average. I usually like to spend six to eight months on a book, but sometimes life intervenes!
4. Do you and the main character have anything in common?
Daria is very independent, and thinks she can get things done on her own. It’s hard for her to ask for help. I can relate!
5. What is something new you learned while doing research for So Shines the Night?
That’s a tough one, because there were so many things! The whole city of Ephesus is such an interesting study. Because the river that fed into the harbor carried so much silt with it, the harbor eventually became too clogged for ships and the people basically abandoned the city. This rarely happens in the ancient world – most ancient cities,
like Rome, are a mix of ancient, medieval and modern and you have to travel around to the pockets of ancient monuments that are left. In Ephesus, all you have is the ancient city, so it has this
frozen-in-time feeling like Pompeii, which I loved.
6. How was the experience of writing So Shines the Night, compared to your other Seven Wonders novels?
It was much the same, with the addition of really being able to picture the city itself, as I could with Pompeii, after having walked the streets that are still so intact. It was also fun bringing in the “guest characters” from the book of Acts, and even an appearance of some characters from another novel (I’m not saying who – you’ll have to figure
7. What do you hope people will take away from this story?
There are a number of themes I explored here, so it will vary from person to person, depending on where they are on their journey. I hope people will get a sense of the reality of the first century church, of Paul as a man. I want people to see that the love God has for us makes us secure, and that from that foundation we can risk to love others. I want readers to long for a sense of community that is found in the church of Ephesus.
8. When you visited Ephesus, what was it like to be in the same city that Paul ministered in centuries ago?
It was thrilling, to be succinct. There is a sense of “this is real – this really happened” that sweeps over you and pulls you back in time and into the world of the Scripture in a new and fresh way. I loved it.
9. While visiting modern day Ephesus, could you really get a "feel" for what it was like in Paul's time?
Yes, the streets and buildings are in ruins, of course, but there is plenty there to know what the different buildings were used for and to picture the streets full of townspeople and the shops and temples being used. You can see mosaics and writing and all kinds of “daily life” things that make it easy to picture the city in its heyday.
10. What is the condition of the Ephesian church today?
Ephesus was eventually abandoned as a city because the harbor became clogged with silt, so there is no real city or church there today. The nearest city is Selçuk, which is a predominantly Muslim population. I did a quick Google search in answering your question, and came up with this page, which is really cool: http://www.worshipinephesus.com/
11. What influence of the Ephesian church do you see on the culture in that area?
Well, the Temple of Artemis is in ruins, and certainly Christianity came to that part of the world during the medieval period. These days, the Christians are again the minority, but I am sure they are working hard to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.
12. What are your 5 favorite things, excluding your family?
Dark chocolate, BBQ chicken pizza, a good book, foreign travel, a movie that makes me cry.
13. You are not only a writer but also run your own business. When do you find time to write?
Over the years, the only way I’ve found time to write is by making it a priority. Sometimes other parts of my life didn’t get the attention they wanted/deserved. Lately, I’ve been finding that rising early (which is not natural for me) and writing from 5 AM to about 8:30 AM is working really well, and leaves the rest of the day for business and life-stuff.
14. What's one thing on your bucket list (even if you don't have an official "list")?
I think I might like to skydive someday. I’ve never admitted that before! (And now I’m terrified.)
15. If you could travel through time to see any of the seven wonders, which would you choose.
Even though the Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt) is the only one of the Seven Wonders still intact, I would still choose that one – to travel back and see it in its glory, to see the people and the culture… ah, that would be amazing.
16. What made you interested in writing ancient history fiction?
I’m not sure! It evolved in my mind, and I suppose it was the tie-in to biblical history, to the time period which informed my faith and held so many stories I already knew and loved. But I’ve never been content to look at Scripture through the single historical lens of the Judea. I’ve always wanted to see the Old and New Testament periods through the eyes of the world outside the Jewish people, from the pagan perspective.
17. What is your favorite thing about writing?
Seriously, writing is an isolated and lonely profession at times. I spend a lot of time in my office alone, working to put together stories that people will love, and that will touch their hearts. When I hear from readers, start to see the reaction to a new book, that is my favorite thing about the process.
18. How do you pick your character names?
It’s always hard. I want them to be historically accurate, but I also want people to feel connected to the characters and that can’t happen if they can’t pronounce the person’s name. I comb through historical name lists on the internet, looking for ones that aren’t too wacky!
19. How do you do your research?
It’s a multi-tiered approach, with very basic research at first (sometimes even juvenile non-fiction), to get a high-level view, then going deeper into the specific days/years I’ll be writing about, and then getting a broad view of the daily life and culture through dusty textbooks. All of this goes into my “notebook” and inspires specific plots and scenes. As I am actually writing the first draft, I often leave placeholders where more specific research is needed, like an XX where a number or detail should go. At the end, I go back and find all those placeholders and research the details, often online where it’s much easier to search for very specific information.
20. Your books remind me of a time machine, whereas the readers are transported into the pages. How do you make the stories seem so real and life like?
Thank you so much for saying that! It is exactly what I aspire to, so you’ve made my day! I don’t have a simple answer, except to say that there’s nothing in the world I’d like more than a time machine, so it’s definitely a priority. One thing that I do before I sit down to write a scene is to take some time walking around in it in my head, trying to really experience the sensory of the scene – the sounds, smells, tastes, textures, colors, temperature, and spatial details. If I don’t do that exercise, often those things
don’t make it to the page. But when I do, I believe it helps bring the scene to life.
21. Can you share anything about your future projects?
The best way to get a sense of what I’m working on now would be to visit this page: http://tracyhigley.com/books/work-in-progress/ Although, don’t hold me to all those thoughts about the book I haven’t started yet – who knows where that will go!