Today I am SO excited to have an interview with Roberta Simpson (shown on the left), author of the new children's book, Nana's Bible Stories. Roberta has an awesome story to share and I am excited to tell you that she has given me a copy of her beautiful book to give away to a blessed reader! Please join us for this interview and leave your comments. I will draw a winner on Saturday, March 15th.
Roberta, welcome to Pursuing Simplicity! It is such a pleasure to have you stop by and share with us your beautiful children's book, Nana's Bible Stories!
It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences as a new author with you, Vickie, and the Pursuing Simplicity ladies! I am so blessed to see the work you are doing to help and encourage each other!
There are so many gifts lying dormant in the lives of women—just waiting to be discovered or understood. I pray not only that my book, Nana’s Bible Stories will be encouraging to the children in your life—but, also that my personal story will be of encouragement to many of you as you pursue your calling.
Your personal story is one of obedience. You didn’t plan to become an author. Tell us about some of the challenges you faced from family, friends, etc. on your journey.
ROBERTA: Challenges do come, and they come often. Some years ago, I did a writing seminar, here in Barbados. I remember being so excited, as I did want to write, but up until then, I had only written articles for the newspaper, and a few plays for church.
The gentleman who read and corrected all that I had written scribbled all over them with a nasty little red pen. On the bottom he wrote, “You can’t write!” I shrugged and thought, “I have five kids to raise and I have lots to do, so never mind!” He was a very influential man in Barbados – in fact, he was a well known Pastor! Lesson to be learned in this? When God says you can do it, even a well known Pastor cannot get in the way with his negative comments!
Years later, when I knew God spoke to me about writing, I felt excited and flew home (I mean drove!) and started to write. I believe what was important at that time, was obeying God, and not listening to man!
Friends and especially family have totally encouraged me on my adventure, and this is really special!
Jesus told many stories to his adult followers; do you believe Nana’s Bible Stories can speak to adults as well as children?
ROBERTA: Jesus was the greatest storyteller. The story of the Lost Lamb, he told to adults – we tell it to children!
I have had many adults, in tears, telling me how they love the stories. Some adults have bought the book, not having any children to give it to, but reading it themselves. Bible stories are for everyone, regardless of age – they are timeless!!! The truth of the Bible is for all. My prayer has been that many adults, while reading the stories to their children, will be touched and encouraged. In fact, I have had grown women call me crying after reading the stories!
I heard several stories recently that really touched my heart regarding my book. One was the mother of a friend, who was sick in the hospital. The mother wanted the stories read to her, and they brought her comfort during her pain.
Another was about a young man who died of a drug overdose. He had always loved butterflies. When his mom heard about the book, and there was a story about a butterfly in it, she went and bought it.
In Pensacola, there was a five year old little girl who died. Her mother kept thinking about butterflies. She also went and bought the book and felt comforted.
You are a Jewish believer. Do you think your Jewish heritage played a role in the telling of Nana’s Bible Stories?
ROBERTA: Yes, yes, absolutely yes! I always look on the Bible as a Jewish book to begin with. However, my love for Israel and the Jewish people is a big help. I have been to Israel too many times to count, and am in touch with the people and the culture. The land is exquisite, and when I am writing stories, I can picture the people, and the place in which the story takes place.
I do believe that often, we forget Jesus was Jewish, and many things He said and the content of the stories He told were very Jewish.
I have worked closely with the illustrator, Susan Mitchell, who was wonderful illustrator for my book. It was great fun inspiring her with pictures and describing the people as she brought Israel to life through her illustrations. I think she did a great job, in color and characters!
Your family has a rich history…tell us a little about your parents and grandparents.
ROBERTA: My life was very interesting with the parents and grandparents that I had. A lot of it was wonderful, but there were difficult times as well. I loved my life as a little girl. My father was a big band leader in England, and we had two pianos in our house. A grand piano in the living room, and a small piano in his music room. Music was such a huge part of my life, and I remember performing in front of his friends, singing and dancing! I even went to a few of his performances, which was a great treat, especially when I went up on the stage with him.
My mother was very beautiful and made a few movies with my father. My grandfather and grandmother were the last Rajah and Ranee of Sarawak. My grandmother, who was JM Barrie’s inspiration for “Wendy” in Peter Pan, was quite a character—she was an artist and an author as well. She took me to many interesting places, many of which she should not have taken me, like scary movies!
When I was around 9 years old, my parents got divorced and I thought it was the end of the world. She remarried to an American Colonel, who for a while was my hero, as he could get unlimited candy, coca cola, and chewing gum! Unfortunately, he was not a hero and that marriage also ended in divorce.
We learn difficult lessons in life, and I can relate to many people because of the things I had to face, including World War II, and being hated and singled out for being Jewish. Through all of the pain and heartache, I loved my family very much.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, wrote the foreword for Nana’s Bible Stories. Tell us how she became involved in your work.
ROBERTA: My husband and I have been friends with Prince Andrew for many years and were invited to Fergie and Andrew’s wedding.
We met Sarah the evening before the wedding and soon after they came to Barbados for a short holiday. Even though we do not see each other often, we have remained friends through the years.
I was speaking to her one day, after I had started writing my book. I asked her about the illustrator she used for one of her books, as I loved the illustrations. She was very kind, and really enjoyed my stories. She told me that when I was ready to publish she would write a foreword for my book. I am very grateful for this, and appreciate very much her offering to do this for me.
Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life and calling with you. If you would like to learn more about me or my book, please go to http://www.nanasbiblestories.com/. You may download one of my favorite stories, The Butterfly and the Cross—the story of the crucifixion as told through the gentle and tender eyes of a butterfly. I have also included a special devotional for the story which you may share with your children this Easter season. Cuddle up with a child and enjoy!
Roberta, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and encourage those that read Pursuing Simplicity. I must tell you this book is awesome. I loved every single illustration and the stories were beautiful. The book is first rate and I feel so blessed that you have given a copy for me to share with my readers. May God continue to bless you and your family! Thank you again for stopping by today!
If you would like the opportuntity to be blessed by this wonderful book, please leave a comment below. I would encourage each of you to order this book for your family. It is sure to become a treasured family book.