Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling The Crimson Cord, the Wives of King David series, as well as the Wives of the Patriarchs and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
Jill is giving away a copy of her novel, Rahab, to one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, click the link at the bottom of this interview and follow the instructions.
Welcome to PASTimes, Jill. Tell us a little about what you write.
I’ve been writing biblical fiction for many years. My first biblical novel, Michal, released in 2009. There are currently seven full-length novels and two novellas available—though the second novella actually becomes available August 4, 2015. (That novella or e-book short story is titled The Shepherdess.) All of the series can be found on my website with more information, but they are: the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, and the Loves of King Solomon.
Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?
I would be classified as a full-time writer, though I do not work typical hours. I set goals with word counts per day and then normally try to get those in. LIFE would be the biggest obstacle, but without life’s interruptions there would be nothing to write about. Even life’s trials add to the richness of understanding the characters. But sometimes I would prefer a little less understanding!
Since you write Biblical fiction, how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?
It varies with each series. I spent three books and now the new Solomon series in about 1000 B.C. With the patriarchs, I jumped back 1000 years to 2000 B.C. With the judges era, we were somewhere in between with dates hard to pinpoint. But the culture even with those time jumps didn’t change that much. It mattered more whether they were living in tents or palaces or hiding in caves, etc.
To immerse myself in each era, I read all I can find to support that era. Some types of books are cultural atlases, life and times books, commentaries, maps, Bible encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, and more. I have some of the lists of the books I used in the Wives of King David series listed under Bonus Features on my website. (They are listed with each book.)
Do you find Biblical fiction harder to research than other time periods?
Sometimes. There can be very little information on certain characters or geographical areas of the day as topography and geography changes, even in as little as ten or twenty years. Imagine what things were like millennia ago? But little information can also work in my favor as I don’t have to keep up with the current gadgets of an ever (quickly) changing technological world. I just have to be sure I use language and customs that fit the era. If there is disagreement between an archeological source and a biblical one, I will err on the side of accepting the biblical one.
What is it about Biblical fiction that inspires you?
It can bring the Bible to life for readers. Biblical fiction gave me a love for Scripture many years ago, and a well-done biblical tale can still take me there, make me imagine how it might have been. My only concern would be that readers keep in mind that my books are fiction, my imaginative retelling of how and why things might have happened. I don’t change the “what” of Scripture.
Have you considered writing about another time period? (Which one?)
I have several unpublished novels on my computer, some contemporary, some historical. They range from the 1920s to present day. Women’s fiction and Romantic Suspense are two of the genres.
Which Biblical character do you find most interesting?
King David. He’s the most well drawn character of Scripture apart from Jesus Christ, and yet in all the years of studying him, I’m sure there are things about him I might see differently someday. When I meet him in heaven, I expect to ask a lot of questions!
Introduce us briefly to the main characters in your most recent book.
Rahab, Salmon, and Joshua are the main characters. Rahab’s husband Gamal, her family, the leaders in Jericho, Joshua’s family and a few others in Israel make up the cast. Rahab is a prostitute that we all know from the book of Joshua. Salmon is descended from one of the warriors, a prince in the tribe of Judah, who would have passed on before Israel crossed the Jordan to seek Canaan’s conquest. I have chosen to give Salmon a prominent role in his tribe, as his father had had. And Joshua is the main leader of Israel, a fatherly figure to most of the people left living at this time.
What are you working on now?
I will soon be receiving galley edits for The Prophetess, Deborah’s Story, book 2 in Daughters of the Promised Land. I just finished the first draft of Ruth’s story, book 3 in that same series (no title yet), and will begin research on the Queen of Sheba (working title) the last e-book short story in the Loves of King Solomon series.
Join us tomorrow for Day 2 of the interview with Author Jill Eileen Smith. To win a copy of Jill’s new novel, Rahab, click the link below and follow the instructions.