Vered Ehsani has penned a new novel inspired by quotations from the Baha’i Writings on the theme of death. I was very curious to hear more about this unique novel and how it came to be. Vered generously agreed to tell us about and here’s what she said:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been a writer since I could hold pen to paper, which is a lot longer than I care to admit. Originally from South Africa, I grew up in Canada, and have lived in Kenya with my family for the past two decades. I began my Bahaʼi journey in my early 20s.
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your novel, The Last Ten Minutes?
Zain Fischer is experiencing a life review, although she doesn’t know it yet. She thinks she’s at the hospital for a routine medical check up. But there’s nothing routine about the waiting room which has a caged bird and a lot of closed doors. Each door leads to a specific memory. As she explores her past, she begins to see her behaviour and achievements from a different, otherworldly perspective. Her discoveries challenge her previous priorities and push her to reevaluate her beliefs about what makes life meaningful.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired the story?
I was deeply affected when my father-in-law Abbas Ehsani passed into the next stage of his soul’s journey. The joyful stories that were shared at his funeral reminded me of the beautiful words of Bahaʼu’llah:
O SON OF THE SUPREME! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve?
At first, it seems strange to think of death as a messenger of anything but grief. Isn’t death something to be avoided? Abdu’l-Baha uses the imagery of a bird in a cage to explain why it’s a source of joy:
To consider that after the death of the body the spirit perishes is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage.
What bird doesn’t want to fly free?! This powerful symbol wove itself into the story and represented Zain’s journey.
Baha’i Blog: What was something you learned in the process of creating this novel?
Most of my books are in either the cosy mystery or SciFi genres, and usually set in Kenya. This was my first foray into literary fiction. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this new genre. Having specific Bahaʼi quotes in mind as I wrote The Last Ten Minutes kept me focused on the mood and message. The quotes also provided a constant source of inspiration. However, the story itself is suitable for a wide audience regardless of their specific beliefs or non-beliefs.
Baha’i Blog: What words of encouragement might you have for other aspiring Bahaʼi writers?
Don’t aspire. Just do it. Set aside time each day to write, even if it’s only a paragraph or two. Bit by bit, the words add up. We need more stories inspired by Bahaʼu’llah’s Revelation. Please consider writing for the wider community, not just for Bahaʼis. This Revelation is a gift for all humanity. Our job is to share it.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Vered, for taking the time to tell us about your novel!
The Last Ten Minutes can be found at all major online bookstores and here: https://sterlingandstone.net/