One thing I LOVE about Biblical fiction is how it brings God’s Word to life. Carole Towriss, author of In the Shadow of Sinai, tells us how her passion to know the Bible more intimately, inspired her to write Biblical fiction.
She is offering a giveaway to one lucky commenter so make sure you enter. And don’t forget to check out the link to her book trailer below. It’s really well done!!!
So tell us, Carole, were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I was—I read a lot. That was when I read my first Biblical fiction. My mother gave me Lloyd Douglas’ The Robe when I was twelve or thirteen. I loved it. That’s when I fell in love with Biblical fiction.
Oh! I loved that movie. Sorry, didn’t read the book.
Did you ever dream of being an author?
No. Once in college, a professor told me I should consider a career in writing, but I laughed it off.
Not laughing at him now, are you?
When did you first begin writing, and why do you write still?
My first book was my debut novel. Unusual, I know. I keep writing because the story is not finished.
As with life.
Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I found an online writers’ circle specializing in historical fiction. I submitted chapters and critiqued the chapters of others. I had a lot to learn. Sometimes I would see a notification in my box and it would take me two days to open it, because I knew it would be full of track changes. But my partners were patient and gentle, and I steadily improved.
It’s so important to have patient and gentle “critters” while they tear your stuff apart—sigh!
Then Sandi Rog, now an award-winning author, told me my main character was boring, and no one would care about him, that I needed to add a flaw. I did, and she finally proclaimed it worthy. I had to rewrite most of the manuscript, but it flowed easily from there. I completed it in February 2011.
Gotta agree with Sandi. Love the flawed characters. They make me feel better about myself ;o).
I went to a conference that April and an agent asked for the full manuscript. I sent it, but then I never heard from her again. I’d finished it, but not all of it had gone through my crit groups.
While I waited and polished, I entered several contests. Most were romance contests, as they are most popular. I always got dinged because my story is not a romance and does not follow the very strict rules. But I learned even more—it’s a great and inexpensive way to get good feedback. I won second place twice and first place once.
Whoa! Nice job!
Eight months later, when the manuscript completed the crit rounds and I was happy with it, I tried the agent once more, then I queried a small, traditional press that I’d heard was looking for Biblical fiction. He asked for the full an hour later. Three months later he offered me a contract. Six months after that I had a book in my hands! With my name on it! That’s the advantage of working with a smaller press.
The idea for Sinai first came to me as I was reading in Exodus. God says to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…” I wondered, how does a slave learn to make all the beautiful pieces that were in the tabernacle? Did God just say, “Poof! Now you know!”? Sometimes he works that way, but not very often, and it’s not very fun that way, so I made up a story to explain it.
One of the things I love about writing myself is that it provokes me to ask those kinds of questions, prompting me to know the Bible better.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished the self-edits on the second in this series, By the Waters of Kadesh, which I hope will come out next fall. Time now to start on number three!
Awesome. Can’t wait.
In three words describe your style of writing.
Wow, that’s hard. Realistic, researched, spare.
Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer?
Since the underlying story comes from the Bible, mostly a plotter. But their personal stories sometimes don’t go the way I planned. Sometimes my characters don’t listen to me and I have to change my plans.
I’d say I hate it when they do that, but sometimes—by golly—our characters do know best.
Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?
I think I do unconsciously. Ahmose, the little boy in Sinai, takes after my son quite a lot. Some of that was intentional some not.
I’m sure that makes him loveable.
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
In my current work in progress, there is a scene where the hero comes home in very bad shape—beaten, black eye, lost weight, etc. His wife doesn’t notice that because he’s been gone so long and she’s just so happy he’s home safe. Some may say that’s unrealistic. But when my husband and I had been married only a couple years, he was sent to Vietnam to cover the 10th anniversary of the fall of Saigon in 1975. (He was with CNN.) He was gone six weeks. This was before skype or cell phones or any way really to communicate overseas. I only got two messages through the foreign desk. He got amoebic dysentery and lost 20 pounds. When he came home I did not notice! I was just so happy to have him home. A week after he got home his grandmother died. He went to Indiana for the funeral. His mother cried when she saw him! When I saw the photos from the funeral I realized how bad he looked.
Eek! Remind me not to let you watch my kids ;o). Juuuussst kiddin’. I’m sure you’re very diligent.
Carole has offered one free book to a commenter. Just leave your email below and I will choose a winner by Sunday, February 3, 2013. What an awesome way to feel what it’s like to live in Moses’ time!
And don’t forget to check out this trailer! It’s awesome!!!
In the Shadow of Sinai
Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order,
Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been
banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.
When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its
core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year,
Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave,
the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful, young concubine.
When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel.
But that’s only the beginning…
Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, writes, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her first novel, In the Shadow of Sinai, released November 1. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.
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