Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Welcome Author Jill Eileen Smith - Day 1

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel of the Wives of the Patriarchs series and best-selling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of the Wives of King David series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.
When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She can often be found reading, testing new recipes, or snuggling Tiger, her little writing buddy who chews her fingers as she works. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan. She loves hearing from her readers. You can link to her website here. Her blog here.

Welcome, Jill Eileen Smith, and thanks for joining us at Novel PASTimes! We’re so glad to have this chance to learn more about you and your books. Tell us a little bit about your latest novel, Rachel.
Rachel is the 3rd book in the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and captures the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.
Beautiful Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Maybe then she would not feel so scrutinized, so managed, so judged. Plain Leah wishes her father Laban would find a good man for her, someone who would love her alone and make her his only bride. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.
But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery and the victim of a cruel bait and switch. The man who wanted only one woman will end up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Since Rachel was the second wife of Jacob, do you feel this novel is also Leah’s story, as well? Their saga in the Bible is so intertwined.
Rachel definitely includes Leah’s story. You can’t have Rachel’s story without Leah’s, but the focus of the story is the love story of Jacob and Rachel. The conflict comes when Leah longs to share Jacob’s love as well, a love that was intended for just one wife. It’s truly an amazing story in Scripture, rife with deception, strife, and struggle. Great fodder for a novelist!

You have chosen challenging characters for your fiction: Women from the Bible. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of portraying true characters in fictional form, from the book that Christians hold in reverence?
The hardest thing I face as I write about biblical characters is to stay true to Scripture and to try to understand these people God created. He knows them. I don’t. Even when I study the Scripture, the life and times, and all of the cultural and archeological evidence I can find, I am still an amateur when it comes to fully understanding the story that only God can know for certain. So…I do a lot of praying. I ask the Lord for insight and understanding. It is a daunting task every single time.

Tell us about your travels to Israel for research—what places you’ve visited, the most memorable locales, etc.
In 2008, my husband and I joined our church for a trip to some of the major tourist sites in Israel. To name a few, we visited Tel Aviv, Joppa, the Mediterranean Coast, the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Masada, Galilee, Bethlehem, Nazareth (drove through), the Gihon Springs, Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, the many churches that are shrines to commemorate places of importance, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of the Nativity, etc. We walked the Via Delarosa and had communion in the garden where they say they found the empty tomb. We visited archeological sites and ruins that truly sparked my imagination. (And I rode a camel and floated in the Dead Sea. Fun memories!) I had already researched so many of these places, but to actually see them with my own eyes was amazing. My favorite? Jerusalem. It is the only place besides my hometown that felt like “home”. I would love to spend more time there.

You have written many successful novels. Has any one of your books been more challenging to research than the others?
Rebekah! Book two in the Wives of the Patriarchs series. I say that because Rebekah’s story was not the same as the others. Her journey and Isaac’s journey was much more relational than action adventurous. The others all had a lot of physical conflict. Rebekah and Isaac had more internal and emotional conflict – not so much outside conflict from other people. I seriously prayed over every scene and stressed continually that there would be no story. But in the end, when it came together, it was as though God whispered, “If I gave you the contract, I can give you the story. Trust me.” So, though I am now facing another very difficult story (Deborah), I will trust God to get me through.

Please tell us about your writing journey. Did you always know you wanted to write?
 To read the answer to this and other question, please join us tomorrow for Day 2 of our interview with the delightful Jill Eileen Smith!

Jill has offered a copy of her latest release Rachel, A Novel to one of our commenters from the U.S. In order to be put in the drawing to win, please leave your e-mail address in the comment and answer our guest author's question of the week. Here is Jill's question for you:

Who do you empathize with more—Rachel or Leah?

Revell, the publisher of Rachel, A Novel is offering a contest! You can enter here for a lovely giveaway! 


Susan P said...

I think it has to be Leah, only because I feel she got the wrong end of the deal. I can only imagine the thought process of writing this story!
I have been to Israel twice and loved every minute of it. I want to go back. Floating in the dead sea is a wonderful experience!
lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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