Wednesday

Guest Author Interview: Shawne Ebersole, 27 Years Writing in Bangladesh



Today, I welcome a dear friend and fellow writer, Shawne Ebersole! When I lived in Bangladesh, Shawne was one of the women I admired most. It wasn't till later that I found out she was not only amazing at adapting to culture, loving the people of Bangladesh and keeping fit, but she's a writer too. And a really, really good one.

Shawne was the person I went to when I wrote my Stolen Series. She checked each of my books for cultural accuracy, and her comments made the books so much better. But I'll stop rambling and let you hear from her yourself!
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Shawne Ebersole-writer, teacher, adventurer (and mom and grandma too!)
1. Welcome, Shawne! How long have you lived in Bangladesh? 
My husband Harold and I came soon after our wedding, 27 years ago.

2. Do you feel called to be a writer as well as to serve overseas, or is being a writer part of your service overseas?  
 Actually God gifted me to teach, and I include writing in that job description.  Writing is a powerful medium for teaching; the message in a book isn’t as easily forgotten as the lesson in the classroom is; a book can be read and re-read and passed on.

3. Do you write most for enjoyment or for ministry?  
 Though I enjoy writing, I do it purposefully; I guess you could say I write “for ministry.”


4. What inspires you to write?   
We Americans are blessed with a rich array of literature for every age-group and in every genre.  Throughout my life, authors have been my primary “mentors/teachers.”  When we went to Bangladesh and visited new friends in their homes, I was horrified to realize that few Bangladeshis own books.  Then in the marketplace I saw that very few books are available.  Bangladeshis need truth.  God has shown me that, so I need to act on it.

5. Do you have a regular time you write, or just when you can get to it, or otherwise?  
 I work with our mission’s Literature Division (publishing house) in researching books to translate and in applying for publication grants.  I also like to talk with Bangladeshis about what types of books are needed.  All that to say, each day I have a scheduled time to do literature work; writing is included in that.


6. How has living in a different culture affected you/your writing?  
 Living in Bangladesh has deeply affected me.  I write about what God is showing me.  I write about Him.

7. Tell us about where you live/what you do.   
We work by a rural, mission hospital; my husband is hospital administrator; I teach and write.  As God shows us and our colleagues the many needs around us (educational, physical, and spiritual), we seek to meet needs and point people to God who is Provider of all good things. 


8. Why do you do it?  
 I do it because God has given me life… literally abundant, eternal life.  A number of years ago, I had a sudden, surprise brain hemorrhage.  Afterwards the surgeon remarked on what a “lucky girl I was” that I can still talk.  That very day, I read this Bible verse, and I realized that God had a “project” for me:  “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.”  Writing is one special way that I can tell His worth.


9. Do you feel you have missed opportunities by living overseas? Or in other words, have you had to sacrifice to be where God wants you to be? 
LOL!  People who haven’t lived overseas are missing amazing opportunities.  My life is full indeed.  I wish this kind of life for everyone who possibly can come.

Shawne riding "sidesaddle" behind her husband, Harold.

10. Do you feel there are certain advantages to serving overseas that you would not have (in life or in writing) had you remained in the US?   
I see all the more clearly and regularly my desperate need for God…and I see His amazing grace which is sufficient (and that’s the understatement of all times).

11. What are some interruptions to writing you have there that we writers here might not have? (tick-tickies, monsoons, etc.) 
Kim, this is a fun question.  Sure, we have the geckos inside and monsoons outside.  We have sudden guests at the door and countless urgent jobs.  But those very interruptions open my eyes to people’s needs… and hence to writing topics.

You wouldn't believe the adventures Shawne has had!

12. What would you tell someone who wants to be a writer but is feeling hesitant, not good enough, or afraid?   
Don’t focus on yourself; that’s a trap.  Instead, focus on the beauty of the One Who is guiding you to do this.  After all, simply by looking at Jesus  Peter could walk on water.  If you’re supposed to write, you have all you need to tell your story.

13. Anything else you'd like to tell other writers? 
Madeleine L’Engle, who is a brilliant thinker and writer, tells us that writing a story is an “incarnational activity.”  We’re giving birth.  We’re co-creators with the living God.

14. How important do you think it is to be culturally accurate when writing about a different culture for an American audience? 
 It’s essential to tell the truth in our story.  This certainly includes our portrayal of other people-groups.

15. Do you think an author needs to in some way encounter a culture before they write about it?   
Take the challenge:  Go to that country and visit the people; research the land and people, their religion and worldview; interview people who have worked among the people.  Be a cultural anthropologist, jotting observations and questions; learn all you can.  And after you write your story, ask people from that country to read your story and affirm or correct your tale.

Then after all that hard work, celebrate by writing more stories about the same people-group!

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Thanks, Shawne, for your beautiful perspective! 

Shawne's book, What is God Really Like?, is available by order through mail, in English or Bengali/Bangla, and the proceeds go toward Bangladeshi children's camps!
Here's how to order:
To purchase an English or Bangla copy of the book, people should send a minimum $5 donation and their mailing address to 126 Cedar Lane, Laurel Springs, NJ 08021, USA, until this coming September; if they want a Bangla version, they should tell me if they want the book in the Hindu or Muslim dialect.  The $5 donation will cover the book’s publication and shipping, plus help Bangladeshi kids. (All money will go toward Bangladeshi children’s camps this coming year.)

Post some encouragement for Shawne below, or any questions you have for her. Gotta go--I'm going to go order her book!




Next Week: How to Write a Query Letter, and How Not To!
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