#YourNextBeachRead is continuing into July as a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s featured author is Paula Parker, author of Sisters of Lazarus series.
What’s your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
I’m Paula Parker. I was born in Waco, Texas; since 1994, I have lived in the Nashville, TN area.
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I have been writing all my life. My father was a poet, my mother an essayist, and my grandmother a storyteller; writing was part of my childhood. In 1981, I took a course with the Institute of Children’s Literature, which I highly recommend. At the end of one assignment, my instructor told me the article was publishable and suggested several periodicals I might submit the manuscript to. I did, it was accepted, and I was thrilled the day I received the payment.
Who are some of your influences?
I love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I have adapted three of Ms Austen’s books into stage plays that have been performed around the U.S. and in the U.K. Ms Heyer’s Regency romances were historically respectful, well written, and the characters fully-developed; if anyone is interested in learning more about that time period, I highly recommend her books.
I love Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; stellar writing. Stellar!
In biblical fiction, I love Lloyd C. Douglas; The Robe and The Big Fisherman was what started me on the path to writing historical biblical fiction.
Charles Martin. Every one of his books is a master class in writing.
What is your book about?
My Sisters of Lazarus series is about the three famous siblings in the New Testament; Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The first book, Beauty Unveiled, centers on Martha and Mary, the two sisters of Lazarus, couldn’t be more different. Martha, the elder, is plain and self – conscious; Mary, the younger, is beautiful. One sees her value only in serving, while the other believes her outward appearance is her only asset. Their worlds are turned upside down when Lazarus offers hospitality to an intriguing new teacher named Jesus.
The second book in the series, Glory Revealed, picks up after Mary anointed Jesus’ feet, goes through the events of Passion Week, culminating at the Ascension. The third – and final – book in the series, Grace Extended, follows the characters through some of the first events in the Early Church as listed in the Book of Acts. It releases this October.
Where did you get the idea?
In 1982, the Christian duo Harvest released a song, “Because I Am.” It was about Jesus raising Lazarus. The song was evocative; I could see the scene, feel the grief of the two sisters, and the rejoicing when their brother was brought back to life. That stayed with me for years. In 2015, when my publisher [Authentic Media Group in the U.K.] asked me to pitch him several ideas for a novel, that was one I mentioned.
How long did it take you to finish it?
It took about half a year to write the first draft.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
I have published 4 biblical novels, 1 children’s picture book, 3 non-fiction books, and 4 stage plays.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
My husband was the inspiration for Michael in my Sisters of Lazarus series. I did lots of research in order to be historically, culturally, and biblically respectful. Why these books are works of fiction, the way I portray Jesus is exactly how I see Him.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
The crucifixion was the hardest scene to write, but probably my favorite.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
I co-wrote two books with NYT best-selling author, GP Taylor. When I was writing my first novel, I emailed him and asked for tips on plotting the story, developing characters, etc. He responded with, “Just write.”
What’s the worst?
Have everything outlined and researched before writing and then stick to it. I did have a good idea of where I wanted the books to go, ideas and continued research birthed new scenes and shifted the story line.
Where can we buy your book?
All my books can be purchased through all major e-stores. Autographed books can be purchased from my website.
Paula K. Parker has been writing as long as she can remember. With a poet father, writer mother and a story-teller grandmother, she has always been comfortable in the world of words. Early training in music and theater led Paula to a life-long love for the arts. This passion eventually brought her to Nashville, Tennessee, where she—along with her writer husband, Mike–helped establish Carpenter’s Playhouse and Springhouse Theatre Company [formerly LampLighter’s Theatre].
Since 1995, Paula has been a professional freelance writer, with more than 1000 articles, sketches, plays, scripts, corporate copy-writing, nonfiction books and novels to her credit. She has written for such national publications as Christian Single, Christian Health, Clarity, Family Fun (Disney), Citizen (Focus on the Family), HomeLife, Living with Teenagers, the National Drama Service, ParentLife, Release Ink, PB&J, Profile, and Bible Express magazines. She contributed to The Young Believer’s Case Files with Stephen Arterburn (Tyndale), Thomas Nelson’s award-winning Thomas Nelson Bible-zine, Becoming, their American Women’s Bible, and The Common English Bible’s Deep Blue Kids Bible. Online she has written for Crosswalk.com and was a contributing writer for the entertainment page at LifeWay.com for over twelve years. She is the Senior Editor for the online entertainment magazine, BuddyHollywood.com. Since 2013, she has written curriculum for the WinShape Foundation’s summer camps.
Paula is an accomplished playwright, having written numerous produced full-length plays—which have been performed internationally—short sketches, and One-Acts. She is best known for her sparkling stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility and Jane Austen’s Emma.