Today Christian Shelf-Esteem has a special guest, author Jill Eileen Smith. Jill just so happens to write in my absolute favorite genre of biblical fiction. She is a master storyteller whose writings transport readers back into ancient times. Her stories inspire, convict, and give hope to her readers all while bringing glory to our amazing God.
It is my pleasure to share this interview with you…
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Tell us about Jill Eileen Smith! We’d love to get to know you more. If you want, include something silly or funny that we might not know about you.
My bio reads: Jill Eileen Smith is the author of The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story, #1 Daughters of the Promised Land series, The Desert Princess, #1 e-book short Loves of King Solomon series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and bestselling author 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 loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, eat at healthy restaurants (when she doesn’t feel like cooking), or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
The condensed version that I posted on my Twitter page is: Best-selling author of The Wives of King David series, wife, mom, cat owner, aspiring Bible scholar, amateur historian, musician, above all- a Christ follower.
The more detailed version of both is: I’ve been married to my sweetheart, Randy, for going on 38 years. (Wow! Where did the time go?) We have three adult sons and two lovely daughters-in-law. We have had three cats over the years – right now Tiger is our only, but we are considering adopting another. When you have an empty nest, you have to fill it.
I fell in love with the Bible at around age sixteen and over the years have attempted to improve my knowledge though Bible studies and a lot of self-study, reading the works of other great authors and studying the Work itself.
I took piano lessons as a child and began teaching in my teens – preferring that to babysitting. I stopped teaching when I got married but picked it up again after our kids hit their teens and the extra money helped fund my writing addiction (and trips to writer’s conferences.)
I’m not sure this qualifies as silly or funny, but I love animals. I wish the possibility existed on this earth (as I believe it will in the new heaven and earth someday) to play with otters and snuggle lions and bears, to ride a kangaroo or giraffe or swim on the back of a dolphin or whale. I love nature, though I hate bugs. One of the best trips we took as a family was an 8000-mile trip from Michigan, up through the northern states all the way to Montana, Washington, down through California, then to the Grand Canyon and beyond. We saw the best of the national parks – Yellowstone, the Badlands, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Glacier, the Painted Desert and more. Nothing on earth can match what God has created, and nature truly shows us His glory in ways nothing else can.
All of your books, so far, have been in the biblical fiction genre (which just happens to be my favorite), what do you find to be the biggest obstacle to writing biblical fiction? What has been the greatest reward?
The biggest obstacle would be working with characters in Scripture that seem too perfect, given the little we know of them. I ran into this problem with The Prophetess, Deborah’s story (the book that follows The Crimson Cord) and can see similar struggles will come about with Ruth’s character. While we would love to live lives with little to no conflict, we don’t want to read stories without that conflict. Personal or spiritual tug-of-war, dealing with a nemesis—something!—helps shape the characters’ values and allows for them to change in the end.
The greatest reward – probably when a book comes together in a satisfying way when I truly wondered if it ever would! And when readers find joy in the stories.
THE CRIMSON CORD
Not really. That is, I have always tried to write suggestive or abusive or other difficult scenes with understatement rather than over indulging the senses. Less is more in my opinion because our imaginations can fill in blanks. And while I want to create an emotional experience for the reader, that emotion does not have to be overtly sensual to be inspiring or romantic.
What spiritual lessons did you apply to your own life while you wrote this manuscript?
Each book is a journey, as life is a journey. Joys and trials accompany us along the way, and I tend to apply the trials and struggles I face to something in the current heroine’s life. The Lord seems to remind me in my trials that perhaps these people felt the same way I may be feeling at the time. As for spiritual lessons I learned, most of those things are personal to me, but the universal reminders to trust and hope and continue to grow in faith hopefully come through in most of my writings.
What are some of the great conflicts your heroine faces that the modern-day woman might relate to most?
Rahab faced a number of conflicts in my version of her story. Women who have suffered for the sins of others or who have been forced into situations they did not choose could hopefully relate to Rahab’s plight. Anyone who has ever realized they face a life and death choice—to die or be saved, literally or spiritually—can understand the risk of faith it took for Rahab to trust a God she did not know and leave all she did know behind her.
CONNECTING WITH YOUR FANS
When is your next book due out and what can you tell us about it?
There are two upcoming stories.
The first, coming in August 2015, is the second novella in the Loves of King Solomon series. The Shepherdess is the story of Abishag, last wife of King David whom Solomon inherits when his father dies.
The second is Book 2 in the Daughters of the Promised Land series, probably releasing February 2016. The Prophetess, Deborah’s Story tells the story of the only female judge in Israel’s history.
How can readers connect with you?
Contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website: http://www.jilleileensmith.com.
Connect with Jill on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jilleileensmith
I would like to extend a special thanks to Jill Eileen Smith for taking time out of her frenzied book launch campaign to answer my questions. She has also offered one copy of her latest novel The Crimson Cord as a giveaway. If you would like to read my review you can do so by clicking here.
Below this interview you will find a graphic linked to the giveaway hosted by gleam. Simply click the graphic to enter.