Spotlighting Beth Moore and The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

Today, the INSPY Awards spotlights best-selling author, Beth Moore. Her novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus (Tyndale) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Debut Fiction category.

Beth is busy travelling so conflicts prevented her from joining us, but her publicist kindly sent us some questions Beth answered for publicity purposes. Please join us in welcoming Beth.

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him–or her grandmother, the ice queen–in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus. – Goodreads


INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

1. Beth, you are well known to millions around the globe as a Bible study teacher, speaker, and the author of nonfiction books including So Long, Insecurity. What made you decide to write your first work of fiction?

I was ambushed by the love of story from both sides of my bloodline. My mother all but ate books, and from the time I was six years old, my father managed movie theaters. My fate was sealed. I still love both forms of entertainment, but to this day, what I love best about a movie is not landscape or costume. It’s dialogue. It all boils down to words with me. Before I could write my ABCs, I’d cat-scratch pretend cursive all over Big Chief tablets from the Piggly Wiggly, playing like I was writing a book. Through the years of writing Bible study curriculum and nonfiction trade books, I’ve been drawn like a magnet to the stories of the men and women in Scripture that seemed particularly complex. David and Absalom, for instance. Miriam and Moses. I love narrative. I love imagining what these lives of faith were like away from the page and how these men and women in the sacred pages interacted with those in their sphere of influence. Sometimes those imaginations would turn into creative writings.

Way down deep in my heart I wondered if I’d ever try a novel. Bible study curriculum is my first love and keeps me busier than I can even manage, so I couldn’t imagine how the time would present itself. Still, that seed was down in that soil, where I figured it would always stay. One day in discussions about So Long, Insecurity, Karen Watson glanced across the table and asked out of the blue, “Hey, Beth, have you ever thought about trying your hand at fiction?” I felt the heat go to my face like someone knew something on me she wasn’t supposed to know. And I don’t know how else to explain it—it was like she tipped a cup of water right over that soil and that sleepy seed started waking up. I went through something really hard not long after that. Something I wasn’t

free to talk about. There at home, trapped in my imagination, a storyline began to sprout, green and gawky but with enough semblance of form, I kept at it. I couldn’t have imagined I’d ever keep writing it, let alone finish it.

2. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus is a unique title. Can you tell us who—or what— Saint Silvanus is?

Please hear this word through a wide but ever-so-respectful grin: Nope.

3. New Orleans is a fascinating setting for your novel. Why did you choose to place your first work of fiction in this particular locale?

When I was fifteen, my little brother and I, the only two kids left at home, took a grueling two-day road-trip with our parents to our cousins’ house in Florida for vacation. Houston reaches Florida by the long, skinny arm of Interstate 10, the only decent bicep of the trip being New Orleans. I have no idea what got into my father’s head, but he decided to trot the four of us right down Bourbon Street. We’d only recently moved to Houston from a small town in Arkansas, so we hadn’t even acclimated to crowds yet. I’m pretty sure he had no idea what he was going to walk his family into the middle of. I was not an innocent adolescent. Our family had dangled on the precipice of hell for several years. I would have told you I wasn’t naïve, but I’d never walked by a strip bar in my life. Not sure I’d ever driven by one. The pictures posted at the front doors were explicit and so disturbing that I couldn’t shake them out of my head for years. Dodging drunks, we finally made our way to Jackson Square past painters and sidewalk entertainers and palm readers. It was the wildest thing I’d ever seen.

Fast forward many years, and Keith and I would go back to that city for anniversaries and bask in the deep-fried goodness of New Orleans’s brighter side. Still plenty spicy. Just not as seedy.

Fast forward a few more years, and I was asked to teach the women of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church at their annual conference. I guess it was as close as I’ve ever come to love at first sight. That whole congregation accepted this white girl like I was one of them. To be loved and embraced by them is still one of the greatest honors and joys of my ministry life. We are blood kin in Jesus. My Bible study Breaking Free was taped in their auditorium. When my younger brother was transferred there for work, FABC also threw their arms open wide to him. He attended that wonderful, warm church for several years until he was transferred again.

New Orleans is second in my heart only to Houston. I’m not sure I can explain exactly why. I’ve had a complex relationship with it. But that’s just it. I’m somehow rarely drawn to simple relationships.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about the novel that I haven’t asked?

I can only think of one thing right now and I’ll set it up by supplying the question.

“Beth, did you enjoy the process of writing a novel?”

Every single second of it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Best-selling book and Bible study author Beth Moore is a dynamic teacher whose conferences take her across the globe. She is a dedicated wife with two adult daughters and three delightful grandchildren. Beth lives in Houston, Texas, where she leads Living Proof Ministries with the purpose of encouraging and teaching women to know and love Jesus through the study of Scripture. Beth is one of the best-known women in the evangelical Christian arena. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus is her first work of fiction.


Hope you enjoyed learning more about Beth and the inspiration behind her debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.