Talkshow Thursday: Welcome David Harder
Linda: Welcome to my blog. Congratulations on your latest release, Persuaded: The Story of Nicodemus. What made you decide to try your hand at biblical fiction and what was your inspiration for the story?
David: I was reading the gospel of John and the time when Nicodemus came to visit Jesus. As I continued to read, I saw that Nicodemus was mentioned three times. In each case, Nicodemus shifts his perspective from doubter, to defender, to caretaker. I couldn’t find the name, Nicodemus, mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. John wrote his gospel long after Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their versions of the Jesus story. John was reluctant to write his gospel because he felt he couldn’t add anything, but eventually he did complete his story of Jesus. Jon took a completely different style when he wrote about Jesus and covered many events that we will not find in the other gospels. I felt the mention of Nicodemus was significant, especially since John covered three separate events. John’s style of writing wasn’t extravagant, but he focused on important elements that highlighted the love of Jesus. The risks that Joseph and Nicodemus went through, to care for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, spoke about their commitment to Jesus. My studies led me to believe there was a story about Nicodemus that readers needed to hear. Over the course of two years, I developed the material covered in Persuaded.
LM: What sort of research was required to write Persuaded and did you stumble on any tidbits you knew you had to include?
David: Countless hours were spent searching for related material to the Persuaded story. My bookmark for research contains over 100 tabs for the material alone. I read extra Biblical books, history records, research papers, and dissertation papers in an attempt to piece this puzzle together. When I covered the burial of Jesus, I could not find anything related to first century Jewish burials (Tahara in Hebrew). The information I did find indicated the process took several hours and longer than the time afforded Joseph and Nicodemus. It was rushed, which explains why the women rushed to the tomb to finish the job after Passover was complete on Monday. I devoted more than one chapter regarding this event because it needed to be told.
Joseph and Nicodemus were both associated with the Sanhedrin and part of the powerful and wealthy organization. To care for Jesus after the Sanhedrin had dishonorably condemned Jesus to death, indicated these two men risked their reputations and possibly their lives to perform the Tahara. The second tidbit about this event covers the Jewish law regarding being unclean. According to Mosaic Law, touching a corpse prevented an individual from participating on religious services or functions without first a cleansing ritual (which included a sacrifice on the alter in the Temple). On Friday at around 6-6:30 pm (sundown), was the beginning of the Sabbath. It would end at Sunrise on Sunday. Friday was also the beginning of the Passover, a highly regarded holiday for Hebrews. Passover would last seven days.
This means that Joseph and Nicodemus could not participate in Sabbath, nor could they attend Passover because they were unclean. Once they atoned for their actions in the Temple, everything would be right again. For two highly educated men in the Sanhedrin to remove themselves from a Sabbath and holy holiday, and care for a man condemned of breaking the Law, meant this was an important event.
LM: In addition to being an author, you are also an artist. How do you balance the two creative careers?
David: At present, my clay art is on hold. My latest back surgery required rods and screws where they fused my lower spine. Once I’m healed, I hope to return to the potter’s wheel, but I suspect
my projects will be smaller. For me, spending time on a wheel is centering. I disassociate with the world and get lost in the creativity with my hands. It’s no wonder there are plenty of references to clay and potters in the Bible.
I use my wheel in churches where I present my personal testimony and cover the parable about the prodigal son. The visual demonstration, connected with the words from the Bible, leave a lasting impression on people’s minds. It’s a form of ministry for me.
Writing allows me a different form of creativity and I can participate in the medium anywhere and anytime. I take notes on my phone and set down with my laptop and start new books all the time. I have four or five stories started in my computer for the future and at least five completed manuscripts. I’m always tinkering with my stories whenever I learn new information about the craft of writing, and receive inspiration for individual manuscripts.
LM: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
David: Never quit writing. If you feel inspired to write, then write. I started writing for my own sanity. Personal stress and calamity left me in a dark place of depression. When I wrote my first book, it was after I clawed my way back to the normal world. I wrote about that journey and it’s called, Carving Hope Out of Depression (non-fiction). Once you do start writing, realize your work may not appeal to a wide audience and it will contain many, many more errors than you realize. Be humble and accept the criticism, learn from your mistakes, and hone your craft.
LM: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
David: For me, becoming an author is pretty quirky. Looking back at the dismal grades achieved in English classes of high school, I'm sure my teachers would find this news rather earth shattering. My careers revolved around high-tech computer gear. After my back injury in 1995, I realized that I would need to find different hobbies. I’ve made huge adjustments to physical activities and spare-time projects since then. With a creative mind and lots of energy, I need an outlet and writing has fulfilled this for me.
LM: Here are some quickies:
Mountains or Ocean for a vacation?
David: Mountains. The smells, the quietness, the beauty – nothing compares to the majesty of the great outdoors.
Sweet or Salty for a snack?
David: Oh, definitely both! In fact, Celtic sea salt caramels from the company Bequet (out of Montana) are divine. For some reason, salt and sweet work well together and probably why so many coffee houses offer drinks associated with these flavors.
Coffee or tea as your “go-to” drink?
David: I gave up caffeine years ago for health reasons. I switched to decaf teas and like the different flavors. Teas with an earthy taste appeal to me.
LM: What is your next project?
David: Currently I have two complete manuscripts which I’m putting the final touches on for publication.
The first, Adage Lake, is about a man name Sol King. When fire reduces his cherished wife and home to ashes, he travels to a different area to avoid the grief. Driven forward, his desperate intentions fail when life pushes back two-steps with harsh life-lessons. His heart hungers for peace, but he cannot get a break. Sometimes grasping for optimism is the sole enduring human strength that survives life’s challenges. This story examines the depths of a man’s character and his inner demons. Unwarranted tribulations shadow Sol’s journey, but he persists in the faith of a happier future. With wisdom, he redeems his situation, gains more than he expected, and finds restoration for his spiritual relationship. Adage Lake is Christian Fiction, Drama/Suspense.
The second project is Nazareth’s Craftsman:The Story of Joseph. We know so little about Jesus’ earthly father, and known as the husband of the Virgin Mary. While Biblical records provide limited information, oral traditions and extra Biblical texts provide more. A careful examination of the gospels provides additional insight about Joseph—his kindness, generous nature, and how devoted he was to God’s calling.
Nazareth’s Craftsman takes the reader on a journey through time and brings the Biblical characters alive. Joseph’s obedience and wisdom would prepare his adopted son for the world. Jesus wasn’t a soft, work-free individual, he rolled up his sleeves and pulled fishing nets into a boat. When Jesus sets off to start his ministry, his half-brothers and sisters are upset because as the oldest son, it was Jesus’ responsibility to care for the family and its business. In the formative years of Jesus, Joseph imparts his work ethics and a devotion to his mother.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
About Persuaded: The Story of Nicodemus:
Escaped narrowly after the fall of Jerusalem...
Pursued relentlessly by the Sanhedrin...
Entrusted covertly with a mission more significant than he had imagined...
From the prison colony on Patmos, the Apostle John entrusts Nicodemus with manuscripts for the Christian fellowships increasing throughout the Roman Empire. While transcribing the manuscript, Nicodemus is prompted to recall his former life and his encounter with Yeshua – a man of mystery, a healer, a teacher, and a prophet. It is an encounter that changes everything.
Under the cover of darkness, risking his reputation and endangering his life even further, it is here that Nicodemus realizes the world-changing power of the Good News...and what being a follower of Yeshua truly means.