Healing in fiction: interview with author of Mary, Woman of Magdala

Category: healing in fiction

Even in fiction, themes of healing are seen. Please enjoy this interview with Diana Wallis Taylor.

Diana Wallis Taylor is an award winning poet, songwriter and author. Her book of Biblical Fiction, Journey to the Well was published by Revell in 2009. Her new novel, Martha, will debut in May, and she is presently completing Mary, Woman of Magdala, which will come out in June of 2012. Her other works are a romance novel, Smoke Before the Wind, a book of poetry, Wings of the Wind, and in collaboration with a friend, she’s just completed an Easter Cantata, “Glorious”.

Diana and her husband, Frank, have six grown children between them and ten grandchildren. They now live in the San Diego area where, between writing projects, she participates in Professional Women’s Fellowship; serves on the Board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, and is active in the music ministry of her church. She enjoys traveling to interesting places with her husband and grandchildren, teaching poetry and writing workshops and sharing her heart with women of all ages.

Martha: Diana, please tell the readers something about your new book.

Mary, Woman of Magdala will be published by Revell in June of 2012.  She is the third of my series of  books on “misunderstood” women of the Bible. I like to take a character that has been portrayed in a negative way and show them in a more positive light.

Martha: Explain some of the misconceptions about Mary Magdalene. Was she a prostitute?

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.  That’s a conception put forth in Hollywood movies.  The only thing it says about her was that Jesus delivered her from seven demons, and it shows that she was a devoted follower of His.  If you had been tormented as she was, and then suddenly healed, you’d be grateful to the person who set you free, especially when she believed He was the Son of God.

Martha: How did people in those ancient times view someone possessed?

There were exorcism rituals that the priests used, but I don’t know how well they worked. There are many instances in the New Testament of Jesus dealing with demons. Evidently this was more common than we imagined.

Martha: Did they see all mental disorders as possession by the devil?

I would say they saw demon possession more as mental disorders.  The woman bent over, humpbacked for 18 years was an example of a person who was just thought of as crippled. It was Jesus who recognized that it was Satan who had control of this woman’s body, for Jesus “loosed” her from her infirmity and attributed the condition to Satan.

Martha: If Mary had not been healed, what would her life have looked like? Do you show it in your story?

I show Mary’s life before she was healed.  I had to come up with a scenario for how she came to be demon possessed in the first place. I show her kidnapped and going through an extremely traumatic situation when she is 11.  Following her ordeal, she begins to get migraine headaches, seizures, and nightmares which escalate over the years.

Martha: How was Mary’s healing different from say, the healing of a blind man?

There was no need for mud to be put on her or for her to do anything.  Jesus recognized the cause of her condition, and because He was God, he merely had to speak the words, “Leave her!” and the demons had to obey.

Martha: Was it significant that she was a woman? It doesn’t seem as though there are that many healings of women in the scriptures.

There was Jarius’s daughter, Peter’s mother-in-law, the woman healed of an issue of blood, the woman bent in posture, the Syro-Phenician’s daughter, and while it didn’t specifically mention who were men and who were women, when he healed “everyone who was brought to Him”, I’m sure a good proportion of them were women.  He actually elevated the status of women and treated them as equals, something unheard of in His time.

Martha: What more do we know about her, beyond her healing?

She was a devoted follower of Jesus, traveling the road with Jesus and the disciples along with other women  who provided for the Lord and the group out of their means. Someone had to do the cooking and washing of clothes, mending and other tasks while “on the road” . She was there at the cross, comforting the Lord’s mother, and the first to the tomb, the first to actually see the Lord after He had risen.  Following the Lord’s ascention into heaven she is not mentioned again and her life after that is speculation.

Martha: Is there anything you would like to add about Mary’s healing and how it changed her life?

I show her married, but unable to be a wife, to have children.  Her husband loves her but is helpless to do anything for her. The exorcisms don’t work.  Just before her healing, she is confined (locked up) in her room which has been stripped of anything she could use to harm herself, screaming, throwing things, hearing voices in her head and attacking those who enter her room to bring her food.  Her hair is matted and disheveled, her clothes are dirty and she is more like a crone than the beautiful woman she had been.  When Jesus heals her, the whole world around her changed. She heard the birds sing, looked up at the sky and felt the joy of being alive again. She could return to her beloved husband and resume a normal marriage.  Everything changed when she was set free.

See more about Diana on her Website:  www.dianawallistaylor.com

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