Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Jill Eileen Smith is the best-selling author of Michal, book one in "The Wives of King David" series. She has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
Jill is not just a talented fellow writer, but also a dear friend of mine. We met 13 years ago when our oldest sons played soccer together on a homeschoolers’ team. I’m sure our friendship is providential. Jill was the first person I’d met who was also attempting to write biblical fiction. Because of Jill’s encouragement and example, I became a member of ACFW and I continue to work on the craft of writing today. Thanks Jill!
Without further introduction, I’d just like to say it’s great to have an interview with one of Favorite PASTimes regular contributors this week. Welcome, Jill. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing?
I’m not sure I’d call them surprises because learning the craft and the industry has been a gradual thing, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing a number of published authors who gave me the heads up of things to expect along the way. But some nice surprises have been the kind letters readers have sent me who have enjoyed Michal, and the wonderful people who have done so much to promote the series from my publisher to readers I’ve never met. It’s humbling and an honor and a very nice surprise.
Please tell us about your latest published novel, Abigail, which by the way, has a beautiful cover!
Thanks! Doesn’t Revell do a great job with their cover art? I’m blown away! I can’t wait to see what they do with Bathsheba!
Abigail is the third wife of King David and her journey is one of heartache and shattered dreams, but in the end she grows stronger for what she has endured and her relationship to David takes an interesting turn. Here’s the back cover blurb:
"What price must she pay for true love?
Her days marked by turmoil and faded dreams, Abigail has resigned herself to a life with a man she does not love. When her husband Nabal’s foolish pride angers David and his men, she boldly steps forward to save her family—and David, the would-be king, takes notice.
Circumstances offer Abigail a second chance at happiness with the handsome David, and she takes a leap of faith to join his wandering tribe. But her struggles are far from over. How can she share his love with the other women he insists on marrying?
Abigail follows the bestselling Michal and continues Jill Eileen Smith’s rich story of David’s wives."
What do you feel is the underlying theme of your “The Wives of King David” series? What makes the focus of this theme important to you?
Reconciliation and forgiveness. I didn’t realize it when I first began writing, but this seems to be a theme that works itself into most of my stories whether I want it to or not! Forgiveness is a major theme in my own life journey, having learned the hard way that holding grudges hurts me and everyone around me, and a bitter spirit is not fun to be around. “To err is human, and to forgive divine” is true. We can’t truly forgive others until we understand just how much God has forgiven us. Once we grasp that truth, we can better forgive the grievances of others. In "The Wives of King David," each wife has her own reason for anger or bitterness, which could easily destroy her, and each must come to terms with the things that could embitter her.
Have you found that similar themes run throughout your stories? Why? Or why not?
I think I answered this above.
What has drawn you to write historical and, more specifically, biblical fiction?
I love history, but I love the Bible even more. When I was sixteen, I read Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes and closed the last page of that book with the epiphany that these people were real! The Bible came alive for me that day, and I saw the men and women of Scripture not just as characters in a story but as real, living beings whose stories God immortalized.
I fell in love with Scripture and now when I read a story in the Bible, I “see” it happening in my mind’s eye. I want to know how and why things happened the way they did. While I know we cannot assign motives to people we don’t truly know, we can imagine what might have been based on educated research. I love the study almost as much as I love creating the story.
What are some of your favorite historical novels that you’ve read?
Hmm…if we define favorite to mean books I would keep and possibly read a second time, which is really rare for me because my to-be-read pile is several shelves in length and I will never read all the books I want to in my lifetime, then I would say a few favorites are these: Mara, Daughter of the Nile (a YA book on ancient Egypt), "Mark of the Lion Series" by Francine Rivers, "Chronicles of the King Series" by Lynn Austin, Two From Galilee (as mentioned above), "Stories from Ancient Egypt Series" by Angela Hunt. Some other favorites are all of Tamera Alexander’s novels, and Maureen Lang’s work, particularly Pieces of Silver and Remember Me. Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti was great, too. (I’m noticing an ancient Egypt theme here…) Oh, and looking back to past favorites: Pride & Prejudice, Little Women, and the "Little House on the Prairie Series." (I probably reread the "Little House" books as much as I did Two From Galilee.)
What do you consider the best resources for historical research? Do you have a favorite time period?
You can find the answers to this and more questions on Wednesday!
U.S. readers only, please leave a comment to enter this
week's drawing for a copy of your choice of Jill Eileen Smith's
novels, Michal or Abigail.
To qualify please include your email in the form of
name[at]domain[dot]com by 8:30 a.m. EST.