WIN a copy of Michal, the first book in the Wives of King David series,
by Jill Eileen Smith!
I am thrilled to be able to share with you an interview with an author who lives in my home state of Michigan. Jill Eileen's biblical fiction series focuses on the wives of King David. If you enjoy biblical fiction, you'll want to get in on the drawing for this exciting novel. Contest details are posted at the bottom of this blog post.
But first things, first. Join me as I chat with Jill about her writing life, biblical fiction, and what she likes to do for fun.
LYNDA: When did you discover your love for writing?
JILL: That's hard to pinpoint. I wrote poetry and journaled in my teens, but I didn't seriously get into writing fiction until my youngest son was born.
LYNDA: What authors did you love as a child and did any play a part in your desire to become an author?
JILL: Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marguerite Henry...then in my teens I got into Christian fiction - Grace Livingston Hill, Janette Oke, and most inspiring Marjorie Holmes. Two From Galilee was the book that made me fall in love with the Bible and I read every biblical novel I could get my hands on after that.
I don't think I realized the desire at that time to become an author myself. Friends tell me I was always asking biblical questions, so the desire to figure out the "how" and "why" behind the Bible's stories has been ingrained in me for a long time. But the deep need to write fiction didn't hit me until I had kids and realized that though being a wife and mom was my dream job and a wonderful blessing, I needed another creative outlet too - a goal to hang onto so I'd have something to do when I outgrew my job as a homeschooling mom. :)
LYNDA: Do you remember the first thing you ever submitted for publication?
JILL: Probably one of my poems. I sold a poem I wrote for my then two-year-old son, Jeff, but then the magazine changed their format and canceled publication. I remember the first article I sold to Home Life. The weird thing was, I had trouble selling articles after that. I wrote songs and sang them in church, but God shut the door on most everything but fiction, as though He was gently pushing me in that direction.
LYNDA: You’ve placed in several writing contests over the past few years. What do you feel are the benefits of contests and have any of your winning pieces gone on to be published?
JILL: Michal took 4th place in the first contest I entered. That gave me courage to enter the Noble Theme and Genesis, but Michal never placed again. Several other stories placed and One Murder Too Many (unpublished romantic suspense) won the Genesis in 2006. So no, my only "winning" piece has yet to see publication. Maybe someday...
The benefits of contests - most of the time the feedback from the judges is good if you're looking for a critique. Sometimes, however, by the time the judges' comments came, I had already tweaked and changed the submitted chapters so that their comments were of little use to me.
Still, the experience of putting yourself out there, of risking rejection and on the flip side risking success are good things. They stretch us and teach us to pray and depend more on God and His timing in all these things.
LYNDA: Even though Michal never placed again in another contest, it went on to be published just this year. And the second, Abigail, is due out in February 2010. Tell us about this series. What made you decide to write biblical fiction? And what drew you to the wives of King David?
JILL: Michal is the first wife of David who falls in love with him while he is still a shepherd. Here is the back cover blurb:
Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury? The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister. As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the handsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace. Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?
Abigail is David's third wife, come to him when he is a fugitive on the run from King Saul. She lives with him in caves and in a foreign land, enduring one hardship after another. Both men she had married, first Nabal, then David, have flaws in their character that bring her pain. The first marriage ends in tragedy, but she dares to hope the second will be better until she is forced to share her husband with six other women. It is a story of longings denied and longings gained, a search for forgiveness and peace.
My first steps into writing fiction came when I co-taught a Bible study on David's life and loved the study! I didn't want it to end, but what I really wanted was to read a novel about him that would take me there. I searched high and low and could not find such a novel, so I began to write the book I longed to read. Those first attempts ended in a two-volume epic on his life. After 28 rejections and a suggestion from an editor to refocus David's story on Michal, I shelved the idea and went on to write about six other books. One of those books was a first draft of Abigail which carried the framework for the story Revell is soon to release. Michal's story finally emerged after lying dormant for years when the suggestion from that editor would not leave me. After many rewrites and years of shopping it around the CBA block, the series finally sold to that very editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont, now with Revell, who had suggested I focus on Michal 16 years earlier.
LYNDA: Are you working on more books for this series? Do you have any other projects in the works? And where do you see your writing career five years from now?
JILL: I'm working right now on Bathsheba, the third and final book in The Wives of King David series. After that I have another 3-book contract with Revell to write a series on The Wives of the Patriarchs - the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That will take me to 2012.
Five years from now? I've got ideas for another set of biblical novels floating in my mind. Eventually, I think I would like to have the freedom to switch into other eras of history - perhaps dig up and rework some of the novels I've already written. One thing is true of me - I love the Bible, history, and romance, so I hope to stay within a loose framework of those genres for the rest of my career.
LYNDA: Finally, when you’re not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
JILL: I love to read great stories. I just finished reading God's Smuggler, probably the best true-life story I've ever read. I also love to spend time with my family, to travel, to grab lunch with friends, to watch movies, and someday I'm going to pick up my crochet hook or knitting needles and finish some projects I started long ago. I also hope to get back into picture scrapbooking again someday. Most of my free time is spent reading.
LYNDA: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. Best wishes for continued success with your series. I look forward to reading it.
Jill Eileen Smith is the best-selling author of Michal, book one in The Wives of King David series. Book two, Abigail, will be released in February, 2010. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family; in person, over the webcam, or hopping a plane to fly across the country. She can often be found reading Christian fiction, testing new recipes, grabbing lunch with friends, or snuggling one or both of her two adorable cats. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
Visit Jill online at: http://www.jilleileensmith.com/
Learn more about the Wives of King David here: http://www.wivesofkingdavid.com/
WIN A COPY OF JILL'S BOOK, MICHAL! Leave a comment on this blog post and you'll be automatically entered. Deadline is midnight on Thursday, October 8th. Winner will be announced in next Friday's blog post.
*Regarding contest: Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents. Odds of winning depend on number of entrants.