CROSSING OVER GENRES
Hi, y’all! Readers probably know me as an author of historical romance as more than half of my sixty-plus titles fall into that category. I also write contemporary romance, action adventure—some dystopian—for young adults and mid-grade readers, and most recently, mysteries, but my true favorite is Biblical fiction.
I think the first and foremost reason has to be the research. I love God’s Word! I love digging into Scripture for any topic and finding golden nuggets that give me clues! I so enjoy ‘fleshing out’ God’s story, but I am definitely a purist—I do not ever change His story!
Back in the mid-80s, getting close to forty years ago, I decided to love and appreciate me just as God had made me to look. I quit cutting, curling, and coloring my hair and stopped painting my face. A la natural!
My thoughts were how dare I think for on minute I could improve on His creation. Holy Spirit impressed me that I should love myself as His unique, beautiful creation just as much as I love and marvel at a sunrise or bird or flower.
It wasn’t easy at first, but it became effortless in no time, and people got used to me looking like me!
For me, it’s like that with writing Biblical fiction. How dare anyone think they can improve on His story! From The Ten Commandments to The Greatest Story Ever Told to A Night With the King . . . I am ever disappointed because the movie creators/authors cannot seem to stick with God’s story!
And they make senseless changes! Like in The Red Tent, they had Rachel kissing Jacob instead of the way it is in the Word where he kisses her. Why did they change that? There was no need!
So, if you read a McAdoo Biblical fiction, rest assured it lines up perfectly with the Living Word! Now it may absolutely not be the story you grew up with . . . but it could be the true account according to Scripture!
Take REPLENISH THE EARTH, my story of Noah that begins with the rain coming, the fountains of the deep bursting forth, and God closing the door on the ark. One reviewer gave it fewer stars because we left out so much important stuff.
She mentioned not having evil people beating on the ark, crying to be taken aboard, but that is not in the Word. It’s in the stories we’ve been told since birth. Some authors might include that in their Biblical fiction, but it is fiction. That is not in the Word!
THEN THE DELUGE COMES follows Noah as he builds the ark with the help of his father Lamech and grandfather Methuselah. Did you know it had never before rained on the earth? That Lamech died about five years before the ark was completed, but Methuselah only right before—did you know his name means, ‘when he dies, the deluge comes’?
Have you ever realized Japheth, Ham, and Shem were triplets? Really! They were all born when Noah was five hundred years old! (Genesis 5:32 “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”)
Little facts like that fascinate me, and when God leads me to write a Biblical fiction, I adore discovering little tidbits of Truth from the Word as Holy Spirit takes me to verses I never saw before—though I’ve read the Bible through several time in my life times!
The other reason I love writing Biblical fiction is having the characters come alive and meeting them as real people! Regular men and women like you and me who God called, just as He’s called us, to serve His Kingdom—they as kings and queens or prophets and warriors, me as a writer.
So, Ron and I have been talking and praying about writing the story of the three days Jesus did not spend in the tomb for years, but we never wanted to get into “God’s POV”—His point of view, His head. But then we came upon the idea of our Lord as a man’s guardian angel telling the story.
We decided that angel would be one we introduced in our first Biblical fiction, Centurion. He has since chosen the name Dodi which means beloved. And another, Namrel, first of the Cherubim also is with Dodi. These are characters of our imagination, but we’ll be surprised if we don’t meet them in Heaven!
Holy Spirit took us through Old and New Testaments alike as we sought out Scripture that spoke of those three days Jesus did not spend in the tomb, and we’ve included all that we found in the story and the section at its end called “Scriptures of Interest” so that readers may study the verses in context.
I pray you will get your copy of THEN JUDGMENT, on pre-order until it’s debut on April 8th, just in time for Palm Sunday when our Lord rode into Jerusalem lauded and honored—Passover, Leavened Bread, and First Fruits, the three Spring Feasts God set in place for His people (I am one of His people, aren’t you?), and our Resurrection Sunday.
I do not call that day or time ‘Easter’ for it conjures memories of rabbits and colored eggs which tradition (of Satan) comes from the pagan celebrations of Ishtar, the false goddess of fertility). It astounds me that churches host those pagan traditions—how unholy. How it must sadden God’s heart.
Linda Brooks Davis
Voices. Sometimes they wear me out. So I love the mute button on my television remote. When particular news pundits appear, I just hit Mute. When profanity raises its ugly head in a movie, again I go to Mute. And I don’t know what I’d do without Fast-Forward. On-screen sex scenes be gone!
But voices are just part of life, aren’t they? Some are soft, others strident. Civil protests have dominated national and international news lately. Some have been blatantly criminal while others have been peaceful. And everything in between. However, news outlets appear to have little interest in covering peaceful demonstrations. Just not much draw. The more boisterous and/or violent, the better for the news cycles.
Which takes me back to when I first began brainstorming about a series of novels set in early twentieth-century Indian Territory (later, Oklahoma), the time and place of my maternal grandmother’s marriage and motherhood. The research took me again and again to the suffrage movement and to the suffragists’ myriad tactics—both peaceful and not so much.
Today’s Canadian truckers aren’t the first demonstrators to stop traffic. Some suffragists paved the way, as Ella in The Calling of Ella McFarland knew well. Civil rights marchers in the ’60s could have taken some cues from the suffragist parades of the early twentieth century. And the Silent Sentinels Adelaide in The Awakening of Miss Adelaide met while standing watch outside Wilson’s White House. Broken store windows, you say? That’s old news if you look at the firebrand Baptist preacher J. Frank Norris’s mother and what she did in 1880s Fort Worth. She smashed up a local saloon and its every bottle of liquor where her alcoholic husband hung out, as Lily in The Mending of Lillian Cathleen learned.
The first meeting of reformers for the purpose of addressing equal rights for women—including the vote—was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. This was much earlier than I would have guessed. Out of that first convention came the Declaration of Sentiments, which demanded equal social status and legal rights for women.
Frankly, the women’s movement had never particularly interested me. My impression of suffragists? Many behaved in unseemly, shameful ways, as my mother would have put it. I assumed they were something approaching pagans—unbelievers at the very least—who claimed neither Jesus nor traditional morals.
After all . . .
Firebrands stopped traffic and defied the law.
Hellions took bats to liquor bottles in saloons.
Rabble-rousers drew crowds and instigated civil disobedience that led to arrests.
Others jeered men at voting sites, the president in the White House, and all levels of office holders, sometimes receiving ripe tomatoes or eggs in their faces as a result.
Some advocated for “free love” and abortion on demand and wouldn’t be caught dead in church
Still others used every sort of household implements as weapons to advance the cause
None of which I could square with Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 4:11 (AMP) – make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (AMP) – I urge that petitions (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others) and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in [positions of] high authority, so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Ephesians 5:19-20 – Paul identifies hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and riotous behavior as part of the sinful nature.
Ephesians 5: 22-23 – Paul highlights the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Titus 2:3-5 – Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Voices of Debate and Disagreement
Right away, I found historically significant rifts occurred among women nationwide over the methods they would utilize to achieve their goals. So I asked myself if women devoted to Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture participated in the movement. Turned out, research revealed that many devout followers of Jesus supported the cause, but they were unable to their cohorts’ sometimes boisterous, disruptive—even law-breaking—behaviors with Scripture.
Other Voices: The Awakening of Miss Adelaide
All of which brings me to the last novel in the Women of Rock Creek series: The Awakening of Miss Adelaide.
Surprisingly, this story begins with my mother’s cedar chest, which bore an unwritten warning: Hands off! Priceless treasures resided in its depths. My parents’ wedding suits. An old tattered quilt. Mother’s felt hat with a jaunty feather at the rolled-up brim. Bible notes. A stained tablecloth. Equally stained ladies’ handkerchiefs. And old, crocheted, scorched pot holders.
My paternal great-grandmother wrote letters and created intricate, painstaking handwork while she was committed to an asylum in Terrell, Texas. They represent the dearest items in the cedar chest.
This dear lady was born in Sebastian County, Arkansas in 1870. She married and bore four children. Her eldest daughter, my grandmother, married in Hall County, Texas in 1911. Her grandson, my father, entered the world in 1914.
Incalculable are the times over the years when a family member would comment Great-granny didn’t appear insane at all. I often wondered how it was she resided at a state mental hospital from 1900 until her death in 1948. How could an insane person write coherent letters and create such handwork?
Mystery shrouds those answers as surely as Great-grandmother herself. All we know certainly is that her eldest child, my grandmother (photo, left), assumed the role of “woman of the house” at eleven years of age. She prepared meals and kept the house and tended three younger siblings.
Due to a paucity of records, photos, and other documentation, mystery veils Great-Granny’s growing-up years. We know only that she and her husband married and lived in Indian Territory and Wise County, Texas from 1888 to 1900.
Family legend developed around her. Stories varied from “She wasn’t crazy. Her husband wanted to get rid of her” to “She was an Indian who chose her last name to avoid White bias against the indigenous people.” The truth hides somewhere amid the deadfall of her tragic life.
The Soft Voice of Precious Memories
Over forty-eight years of commitment, Great-Granny wrote a handful of letters to her daughter, my paternal grandmother. I am the keeper of those treasures, along with two items of handwork—a baby dress she sewed by hand in 1914 for her grandson, my father; and a table doily in 1920.
Great-Granny’s voice was all but silenced during her lifetime. But through her letters, she speaks to me more than a century later. She demonstrates humility, patience in suffering, loyalty, and kindness. I’m thankful I could give voice to her character in The Awakening of Miss Adelaide all these years later.
With an abundance of love and respect for Great-Granny; her daughter, my grandmother; and her grandson, my father, I offer this imaginary story. It contrasts two different women: one with a voice heard around the world and the other with no voice at all.
Linda Shenton Matchett
An Unlikely Job for a Princess
My husband is mechanically inclined, so much so that he went into engineering as a career. On the other hand, I’m am clumsy when doing any sort of mechanical task. During the early years of our marriage, we performed our own car maintenance to save money, and it was soon apparent my best contribution was to hold the flashlight so he could see into the engine compartment!
As a result, I was intrigued when I discovered that thousands of women in the U.S. and Great Britain were trained to be vehicle and aircraft mechanics during World War II. (Remember, this was during a time when few women held a driver’s license.) All four U.S. military branches – the Air Force was not a separate branch until 1947 – taught all personnel, including women, how to do preventive maintenance and repair work, and many women were assigned to stateside bases as mechanics. In the civilian world, the American Red Cross taught their ambulance drivers how to maintain and repair their vehicles in case of emergency. The American Women’s Voluntary Service also provided female ambulance drivers and mechanics to the war effort.
Across the sea, Britain recruited women for military and civilian organizations from those not working in the defense industry. The Mechanized Transport Corps and the Auxiliary Territory Service were two organizations that provided key support to the war effort in the areas of driving and vehicle maintenance.
Founded in 1939, the MTC was a civilian organization that provided its own uniforms and vehicles. The ATS was the women’s branch of the British Army and initially only used the recruits as cooks, clerks, and shopkeepers. As the war progressed and more men were needed in battle, additional positions for women included radar operators, ambulance drivers, mechanics, military policy, and anti-aircraft gun operators. Despite not being allowed in combat, more than 700 ATS women lost their lives during the war.
One ATS recruit was a young woman named Elizabeth Windsor. Having turned eighteen, the future queen insisted that she be allowed to “do her bit,” and the king agreed, indicating that she not be given any special rank within the organization. Elizabeth was inducted as a Second Subaltern and later promoted to Junior Commander (equivalent of Captain). She attended her driving and vehicle maintenance course at Aldershot and qualified on April 14, 1945. A photograph from the time features her showing her work to her father, King George VI, and her sister Princess Margaret. Newspapers dubbed her “Princess Auto Mechanic.”
Later, she talked about her involvement in the VE Day celebrations: “I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes…I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, and all of us were swept along by tides of happiness and relief.”
How I Choose My Character’s Characteristics
Creating characters is one of the most fun things about being an author. It’s a little bit like playing God. I determine what the shape of their face is, what hair and eye color they have, how tall they are, what their build is.
I also get to figure out how rich or poor they are, what their relationship to God is like, where they live, what their favorite color is, and much, much more.
I have long sheets of characteristics that I draw from. When trying to determine what my character is like, I refer to long lists of flaws, quirks, redeeming qualities, and so on. Sometimes, it’s just a wild pick, something I think would be fun to write. Other times, what I pick depends on the story. Because I write historical, I can’t have the characters addicted to their cell phones, for example.
I always have my eyes and ears open for quirks, habits, and the like that I see in people around me. Authors are always observing, whether while in the doctor’s office, the grocery story, or church. Be careful. You never know when you have an author watching you.
I also write a past for each character because what he or she experienced prior to the opening of the story is also important. It influences how they think, behave, and respond throughout the novel. I need to figure out what lie they believe about themselves, how they perceived themselves and others. All of that is shaped, in a way, by what has come before. Yes, it’s a little like playing psychologist.
When I’m starting a new novel, I can spend a day or more on developing each character. I spend that time with them so that I know them front and back, inside and out.
So they are putty in my hand.
Even with all that work put into characterization, they usually go off and do something totally unexpected. They may have a different favorite color than I assigned them, or they may believe a different lie than I thought. Some of the changes are small, some affect the rest of the book.
While it can be fun to watch them grow and develop (kind of like watching your own kids grow up), I have been known to scold them for doing or saying something unexpected, especially when it means more work for me. Ugh.
Without great characters, you can’t have great books. As an introvert, I really like getting to know someone on paper! In the end, I hope they grow throughout the book into characters that readers will like, will relate to, and will learn from.
Marguerite Martin Gray
As a reader, do you read and consider the dedication page that some authors put at the beginning or end of their books?
I might not be a normal reader. I tend to read cover to cover including all those extra pages. Even though I do not know the people personally, I read the names and the relationships of the individuals on the dedication page. A sister or brother, parents or grandparents, friends or teachers, a spouse or a child. In honor. In memory. To Jesus, my Lord and Savior.
The dedication is part of the author’s story, a link to the pages of the novel. It might answer a question of why or how. The dedication is a thank you, a wink, or a hug. In some way, the person or persons made an impact on the writer’s journey—enough to share in the journey. Though the person might not have penned the novel, he or she pulled on the author’s heartstrings and in a silent or loud way urged the story into existence.
Here are a few examples:
To my father who showed me the way. To my husband who gave me wings.—Angela Couch, The Scarlet Coat
To my brother because brothers always hold a place in a sister’s heart; and as always, to the Saviour of my Soul, the One who owns my heart.—Michelle Griep, Lost in Darkness
To My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is guiding my writing, making it better with each story He gives me.—Carole Lehr Johnson, Permelia Cottage
For Danielle. I’m so proud of the beautiful and talented young lady you are becoming. Keep writing stories and using your talents to shine for the Lord!—Rachel Skatvold, Lady Airell’s Choice
Try reading a few in your favorite books. You might learn something about the author.
One more dedication: To Mama and Daddy: Thank you for showing me your love of family, past and present, through hours of reading, real-life history lessons, extensive travel, continuous education, and unconditional love.—Marguerite Gray, Hold Me Close.
“To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.”
Sounds like the promise and fulfillment of the Israelites going into Canaan, right?
Well actually that isn’t the wording in Deuteronomy. That one is “The Lord … will give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of good things which you did not fill, wells you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant” (Deut. 6:11)
I was shocked to see similar wording in Habakkuk. Only this time it is to the Chaldeans (Babylonians) ABOUT the Israelite’s land.
Habakkuk saw a vision of the Chaldean army on Horses swifter than leopards and more fierce than evening wolves. Coming to take over the land the Lord had promised to His chosen people.
Why would the Lord enable a pagan nation to overtake His people?
That is actually addressed back in Deuteronomy, a warning one verse after the promise of land. “Beware lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (Deut. 6:12) And it continues to list out all the ways Israel and Judah will be unfaithful to the Lord. Serving other gods, Idolatry, disobeying God’s direct commands etc.…
You see Habakkuk found himself witnessing the downfall of Judah, standing there on the ramparts watching the Lord’s chastisement played out before his eyes in the form of ruthless soldiers, set on violence and collecting captives in amounts like sand.
He asks how God can look upon such wickedness.
God’s response is unexpected. He went forth and trampled the nations in anger—yet His glory covered the heavens. Before Him went pestilence and fever, but the earth was full of His praise.
Glory and judgement.
The earth groaning and the Lord goes forth for the salvation of His people.
Studying the prophets has brought to light how serious the Lord is about sin. Yet, He still offers redemption. He shows us how to live in a way that is honorable to Him. He helps the just to live by faith.
Habakkuk ends with the prophet singing a hymn of faith.
Though life is crashing down around Habakkuk, he still is able to rejoice in the Lord. There is joy in the Lord’s salvation.
Will you remember to look for the Lord’s salvation when things are overwhelming? Even in the midst of devastation and heartache, He is there with you.
The Lord is my strength, He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills. (Habakkuk 3:19)
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.