If you’re looking for a unique contemporary romance, look no further than The Esther Paradigm. I had the pleasure of reviewing this novel earlier this year, and I was absolutely entranced—firstly by the hero, Karim Al-Amir, 😊 but also by the way in which Hannah and her family immersed themselves in the Muslim culture in order to reach the Bedouins for Christ. You can read my review here, but today we’re going to meet the author, Sarah Monzon.
~ About the Author ~
Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough; she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.
Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, has finaled in contests such as the Inspy Awards and received a 4 star review from Romantic Times.
Plotting: *cringe* Run away fast!
Spelling and Grammar: Someone help me, please.
Reviews: Thank you so much readers who review. ❤
I am quite disciplined about my writing time: This is pretty true.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Brainstorming. The excitement of possibility when thinking about a new story is addictive.
What is your least-favourite part of the writing process?
Self-editing. Once I finish a draft and write The End, I’m mentally finished with that story. I have a hard time making myself go back and read my own work.
Where is your favourite place to write?
The gym on an exercise bike! It’s the only place I am kid-free.
What is the average time it takes for you to write a first draft?
The first book I wrote (which will never see the light of day) took me 5 years. The next book took me 2 years. Now I can write a full-length novel in roughly 6 months, give or take.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes the name just comes to me. Sometimes I used names I’ve always liked and would have used to name my own kids if I’d had more. Sometimes, especially for my dual-timeline stories that have a historical thread, I search for popular names at a specific period of time. Sometimes I scroll through my Facebook friends and steal their names. 😉
How do you celebrate typing THE END?
A bowl of ice cream and a few days away from the story to read a stack of books before I get back to it for editing.
The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.
As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.
In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?
Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance.
Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
I think I was laying in bed one night and it just came to me. That’s usually what happens with my stories. But once it came, it consumed, and I just had to write it down.
What was the first part of this story to come to you?
How a modern-day story inspired by the Biblical account of Esther could plausibly take place. Meaning, mostly, the characters.
Where did you get your inspiration for these characters?
From the book of Esther. My sheikh, Karim, is fashioned after King Xerxes, Hannah is my Esther, and there may or may not be a Haman character trying to wreak havoc on everyone.
How did you get to know these characters?
I had to take the most time getting to know Karim. I’ve never been to his side of the world, experienced the culture there, nor the religion. I immersed myself in documentaries, biographies, and other books that would help me understand what life would be like for a Bedouin sheikh.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
Finding a balance and not crossing any lines. Due to our political climate and current events, “Muslim” can be a trigger word among some for fear, and sadly, hate. I didn’t want to alienate and enrage my audience, but wanted to shine a light into another faith and people group that the media has managed to skew in otherwise peaceable minds. Expose the beauty, enlighten the memory of God’s love for all, as well as stay true to the story. I didn’t set out to make any political or theological statement, but when the story went there, I wanted to be as true and sensitive as possible.
What was the easiest part about writing this novel?
Is writing a novel ever easy? No. This one, however, wrote me instead of the other way around. I sat down, and the words flowed, oftentimes surprising myself when I went back to read over it all.
What was the most interesting piece of research you did for this novel?
I found all of it fascinating. The setting, the beliefs, the culture. Obviously I found the wedding ceremony customs interesting since I spent a number of chapters just on that alone.
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