Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King and Star of Persia: Esther’s Story. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. She broke onto the biblical fiction scene with her first novel, Michal. In her newest novel, Miriam’s Song, Smith explores the story of Miriam, the sister of Moses. With impeccable research and a flair for storytelling, she offers a rich exploration of the many facets of Miriam’s life, bringing this character from the background to center stage. Miriam’s Song is a heartfelt novel about a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection.
FF: This is your fourteenth biblical novel. What inspired you to write about Miriam?
I can’t recall exactly when Revell and I made the decision to pursue this story, but Miriam was one of several women we discussed to go along with Esther’s story (Star of Persia). They liked Miriam best of the choices given, and I agreed. I didn’t realize at the time just how hard her story would be to write!
FF: You offer both impeccable research and an imaginative flair in each of your novels. However, there have been times when there is very little information about your characters. How are you able to craft a story when there are few historical details?
This is exactly what happened in Miriam’s Song. If you look at her life in Scripture, not much is said of her. We know she watched her brother Moses when he was placed in a basket in the Nile and spoke up to the princess for her mother to nurse Moses. She is called a prophetess, and she sang a song after the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea. She was a leader in Israel who complained against Moses later in life and had leprosy for seven days. We also know approximately when she died. That’s it. That was very little to go on, so I had to focus a lot on Moses and Aaron in order to put Miriam in the context of their lives and the lives of the Hebrew slaves. We aren’t told if she married or had children, but because that would have been the norm in her society, I created a husband and children for her.
Sometimes filling in the blanks is easier than at other times. This was not one of those easy times.
FF: What challenge did this present as you wrote Miriam’s Song?
It’s always a challenge to remain true to the times and yet flesh out a character we know very little about. I looked to Miriam’s bravery as a child, her older-sister protectiveness, and her calling to be a prophetess to give me insight into the type of woman she might have been.
FF: What do you hope readers will gain from Miriam’s story?
I think for this story, my prayer for my readers is different than that of many of the others. I got a greater glimpse of God’s holiness and glory and finally understood that His holiness cannot coexist with our sin without a mediator. Miriam’s people could not see God the way she or Moses and Aaron did because each one of them had personal encounters with Him. Some of the men even ate a meal in the presence of God! I’d never seen that before or grasped what it might have looked like. So I truly hope that readers will see God in His holiness and have a new appreciation for His love for us. If not for His great, amazing love, His holiness would consume us. Yet He made a way for us to one day share in His holiness and see His glory—something very few people even in Scripture ever had the privilege to see.
FF: You have received praise for your attention to detail and your in-depth biblical research. How does research factor into your writing, and what does that process look life?
Every writer researches, even if they are writing something we would consider contemporary. But the farther back we go in history, the harder research becomes. I’ve been writing in ancient times for over ten years, so many of the customs are already embedded into my way of writing. But each new book is set in a different place or time, so I do have to research those times. Of course, I also study the person from Scripture. I usually spend a month or more, if I can, to research, then I pick my characters from pictures of actors who look close to my characters’ ethnicity. (I am very visual, so seeing what I think they looked like helps me write about them.) Then I summarize a plot and finish by doing a first draft seat-of-the-pants style. In other words, I don’t write by a strict plot. I let the characters lead me as I try to keep to the Bible’s timeline and stay true to what is written there.
FF: How did you become interested in this genre?
Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes has been my longtime favorite story. In my late teens, I read the book and realized the people in Scripture were real. I fell in love with the Bible after that, and one day after coteaching a Bible study on King David, I wanted to read a biblical novel on his life and couldn’t find one. Long story short, I began to write the book I wanted to read. Twenty years later, I finally figured out writing well enough to see The Wives of King David contracted.
FF: What are you working on next?
The story of Joseph. There is no title yet, but I am about a third of the way through the first draft. I have to go back and fix some of the timeline, but I’m anxious to get that first draft down so I can edit. Editing is a lot more fun than writing a first draft. I do about four to five drafts per book.
She has prayed for deliverance from Egypt.
But perhaps the greatest liberation happens within the heart.
From the very beginning, Miriam has lived in her younger brother’s shadow. Thrust into the role of protective older sister before Moses was even born, she will grow up into a woman who not only keeps her family’s secret but bears the burden of leading a new nation.
In her mind, she knows that she is serving both her God and her people. But in her heart, Miriam yearns for more. She longs to experience the privileges Moses has—to talk with God face-to-face. But when God finally does speak directly to her, the outcome is not at all what she expects.
With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic novel to fill in the gaps in Miriam’s story, following her from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises He provides—in His own perfect timing.
Jill Eileen Smith
Genres: Historical, Biblical
Release Date: March 2, 2021
ISBN-10 : 0800734726
ISBN-13 : 978-0800734725
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