30 Days with Ruth – Interview with Emily Owen
30 Days with Ruth is the 6th book in the 30 Days with … series written by Emily Owen. Each thirty-day devotional looks at a character’s 'diary' which provides a way into each story, and includes thought provoking points, prayers and questions to help explore the Bible in a new way.
Emily Owen grew up in Leicester. Aged 16, she was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition, neurofibromatosis type 2, which has led to numerous operations and left her deaf. Emily speaks at meetings and events, both Christian and secular, and enjoys sharing her life experiences.
Emily, why did you decide to write 30 Days with Ruth?
I’m blessed to have readers of other books in the 30 Days series ask for more. They are the reason I wrote 30 Days with Ruth, and I’m very grateful for them. The choice of Biblical character for this book was, I have to say, firstly to even things up. Ruth will make it three women in the series. I toyed between Miriam and Ruth and, when I mentioned it to people, often they said, ‘Oh, I do like Ruth’.
Who have you written this book for?
- People who asked and encouraged me to write another in the series.
- People who would like to discover – or re-discover – their worth and value to God.
- Anyone who’d like to read it.
Ruth is one of the best loved Old Testament stories - why do you think we are so drawn to her story today?
I think Ruth is relatable. It’s quite a normal story. Not a huge amount of drama, as it follows the ups and downs of life. Plus, it has a happy ending, and who doesn’t like a happy ending!
This is your 6th book in the 30 Day series – what kind of feedback have you had from readers on this series?
Many people have said they could not stop reading after a day, so read the book straight through, and then went back to read it over thirty days. Someone said that her daughter, who was very ill, showed little interest in anything, until one day her mum read her Day 1 of a diary. After that, the girl asked for it every day. I appreciate each person who feeds back, both what they say and the time they take to do so.
You use the ‘diaries’ of the Biblical characters as a way in to their stories. How easy is it to imagine the stories from their point of view? And why did you come up with this idea?
The diaries are, as much as possible, based on Biblical fact. From that starting point, as I walk the stories with the characters, I begin to perhaps see them from their (imagined/implied) perspective quite easily. The idea originated from wanting to make the Bible differently accessible. There is so much in the Bible, yet it often has a reputation for being dull. The people we read about in the Bible were not just in stories. They lived real lives. They were like you and me. The Bible is relevant today.
What was the most challenging element of writing the book?
I think I was, actually! I originally wrote most of the diary as though Ruth were writing retrospectively. My editors pointed out that this didn’t work and - after much patience on their part - I finally realised that they were right, and so changed the diary. I’m thankful to the editors for persevering.
And what was the most rewarding element of writing this book?
Seeing the contrast in Naomi and Ruth as people, who still followed the same God. God does not ask us to be clones, He made us individuals.
Have you learnt anything new about Ruth/been reminded afresh about God/your faith while writing this book?
It was in Naomi’s mourning that Ruth saw something of Naomi’s God in her. I found this encouraging: even in our struggles, God can use us.
Your writing helps readers go deeper into the Bible. What one bit of advice would you give to anyone who is struggling to read the Bible?
Can I have two?!
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Many people struggle to read the Bible: you won’t be the first, or the last.
- Don’t give up. If you read a verse a day, or whatever you can manage, you are still reading your Bible.
What do you hope readers will most get out of reading this book?
That God will never turn His back on them.
How would you describe 30 Days with Ruth?
‘Belonging in Blessing.’ Now I think of it, that might have been a good title! Ruth teaches us that God welcomes us, and that there is blessing in His welcome.