Jill, welcome back to Austenitis! We did an interview a few months ago when Sarai came out, but here we are back again for the most recent book in the Wives of the Patriarchs series, Rebekah. Could you give us a quick blurb about it?
Rebekah is a story of relationships – between husband and wife and parent to child. It deals with topics of barrenness, sacrifice, favoritism, and miscommunication. Here’s the back cover copy:
Can love heal the rift between two souls?
When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. When she is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, Rebekah’s hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.
As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve will be tested. When the rift between her and Isaac grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?
It was such a good book. You’ve written several (five published so far?) Biblical fiction books. Is it hard to write while sticking to the Biblical facts?
I suppose in some ways it can seem restrictive, but I actually like the restrictions. Knowing the framework of what did happen lets me explore the “how” and “why” behind the “what.” I like to try to figure people out, and the biblical account lets me get to know the character in some small way, but their actions challenge me to understand the deeper person. Who were they? Why did they make the choices they did? In figuring out those answers, I have to keep referring back to the Scripture as a whole to make sure their actions were plausible and don’t take us away from the truth of God’s Word.
And you do a great job with exploring the “how” and the “why” – I’ve really been impressed by that in each of the books I’ve read by you so far. And I’d also say that you do an amazing job sticking with Scripture for both the story and the “morals,” so to speak. Now, I’ve seen you mention in several places that Rebekah was your hardest book to write yet. Would you tell us a little about what made this one extra difficult?
If you read through Genesis, you get a good sense of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. But Isaac is like an afterthought, a pause, if you will, between the greater narratives of his father and son. And the only time Rebekah is mentioned is the scene of her betrothal and when God spoke to her about the twins. But a lot of years go by between those two events, with little said of them.
Who were these people? What defined them? And what led to the favoritism that later divided their household? With so little in Scripture, even in the New Testament, to give clarity, I did a lot of praying!
It’s true…I hadn’t realized how little she was in there! If Rebekah were being made into a movie, which actors would you like to take the main characters?
I can’t really answer that as far as acting ability goes because I would prefer to trust the director to make those choices. But I will tell you that Rachel Weisz was the actress I “cast” for my Idea Board. And David Strathairn is my Isaac.
Perfect. :) What is the biggest thing you’d like a reader to take away from Rebekah?
I’d like them to see Isaac as more heroic than we tend to see him just from the Genesis account. He is suggested to be a type of Christ, and if you compare their sacrifices, you just might see Isaac in a different light. Abraham obeyed God’s command, but Isaac must have allowed his father to do what he did. (Most commentators think Isaac was at least 15 at the time of his binding.) Think of Jesus’ submission to His Father and then compare Isaac’s to his. Gives a different perspective, I think. And I’d like them to see Rebekah through the eyes of one who knows the truth but is just too impatient to wait on God to bring His promise to pass. (Sounds a bit like Sarai where Hagar is concerned, doesn’t it?) I wonder what would have happened if Rebekah had waited on God to bless Jacob, rather than resorting to deceit. Their stories give us much to ponder.
You’re right, remarkably similar to Sarai. There is indeed much to ponder! So your next book, Rachel, will complete the Wives of the Patriarchs series, correct? And it also includes Leah’s story? When does Rachel come out, and can you tell us anything about what you’ll be doing after that?
Yes, Rachel is the final book in the Patriarchs series and will likely release around Feb. 1, 2014. I don’t have a firm release date yet. Yes, Leah’s story is well represented in Rachel’s story. The book is as much about the sisters as it is about Jacob and Rachel. I recently turned in to my editor the first-to-e-book novella in the Loves of King Solomon series.
Next up is to complete the first draft of Rahab, book one in the Brides of the Promised Land series. There are four books in that series – Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, and Hannah. In August, after my son’s wedding, I plan to start work on the next Solomon novella - Abishag. (There are four novellas and one compilation print book in that series.) So I am writing one full-length novel and one novella per year.
Oh wow! That new series will feature some really amazing women! I can’t wait. Moving on… Your biggest fan and supporter is…
My family. My husband, Randy, my sons, my mom, (my dad used to be), my brother and sister…I’m not sure there is only one!
I’ve always thought that question seemed hard. What’s a book you’ve recently enjoyed reading?
I’m actually reading several books at once. Fiction: I just finished Love in Disguise by Carol Cox. That was a fun read. I’m now reading Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander.
Non-fiction: Nearing Home by Billy Graham; Jesus Calling by Sarah Young; and Heaven by Randy Alcorn.
All books I’ve heard of, but I’ve only read Starflower so far. What’s a random fact about you that most people wouldn’t know?
When I was in my early teens, my dad took my mom and I (I was the only kid left at home) on a 3000-mile trip from Michigan to California and back again, making a giant loop of the states. When our kids were about the same age as I had been then, Randy and I took them on a similar trip. One of my favorite memories!
What fun. :) I’m so glad you were able to come by, Jill! It has once again been a joy to have you and awesome to learn more about you and your books! Where can fans find you on the internet?
My website and blog: http://www.jilleileensmith.com
(For Ten Things You Might Not Know About Rebekah) click here, then click the .pdf file: http://www.jilleileensmith.com/books/rebekah/behind-the-scenes/
If that doesn’t work, try this link: http://www.jilleileensmith.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/01/Ten-Things-About-Rebekah-3.pdf
Pinterest: (I have a Rebekah board you can see here: http://pinterest.com/jewordsmith/rebekah/)
Thanks again, Jill!
Oh you lucky readers...look! Jill offered to give away a copy of Rebekah! The winner will receive the book -- it'll be either signed or will come with a personalized bookplate! US residents only, please.
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Jill Smith will be the featured guest on a Live interactive Video Chat Session sponsored by “Shindig” on Tuesday February 19th at 7:00 pm EST!! It’s free to attend, and you can meet Jill and ask any questions you have for her! Go here to RSVP and find out more details about this event.
Join best-selling author Jill Eileen Smith as she presents ten facts and/or possibilities you might not know about the Patriarch Isaac's wife Rebekah. Do you have a question about the people in the Bible you've always wanted to ask? Jill will take questions about biblical characters, biblical fiction, and about any of her books in the Wives of the Patriarchs or Wives of King David series. So please, plan to join us!