Interview & Giveaway with Roseanna White
Contributor
Written by
Amanda Stephan
January 2011
Contributor
Written by
Amanda Stephan
January 2011

About the book:

How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?
Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes' wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.
Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they’re not the Spartans or Athenians. The threat lies with those close to the king who hate her people. She determines to put her trust in Jehovah–even if it costs her her marriage.
Years of prayers are answered when Kasia's childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?
Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus's Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire . . . and the friendship that saves a nation.




Now, about the author!
Hello, Roseanna, thanks for being here today.


How long have you been writing?

Approximately forever, give or take six years. =) I started writing short stories in first grade, and ever since then it has been my favorite pastime. I finished my first (awful) novel at 13, had eight to my name by the time I graduated college, and have more than doubled that in the years since. Naturally, most of these are unfit for the light of day. But they're a part of me, so I don't regret any of the hours spent pouring over my laptop. And I have plenty to fall back on when I'm in the mood to rewrite!

Tell us how you come up with characters.

Characters are my favorite part of a book—in my opinion, it's the characters that determine the action, the voice, the conflict, everything. So I always have a blast developing them. I usually start with their story, which may or may not ever make it into a book. And usually sounds something like, “So there's this girl, who has this, this, and this going on, right? And she's really XYZ. And then . . . you know, plot stuff happens.” The plot stuff usually comes as I discover exactly who the people are. I then go about selecting names, which with historicals means researching what names I can accurately use, finding their meanings, and picking one based on the sound, the meaning, and, well, which ones I can pronounce, LOL.

In Jewel of Persia, I had to deal with something I never have before—one of my main characters was a historical figure. I've had historical figures play secondary roles before, but never be the hero. It was sometimes challenging and always interesting to layer on fictional motivation to make sense of some of the bizarre—and quite possibly exaggerated—exploits of Xerxes the Greet.


Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

Oh boy. It's hard to pick a favorite from your babies! But one that has most stuck with me is a book I never intend to publish, actually. It's called Darkest Devotion and is about a femme fatale who spends ten years of her life under the thumb of a brilliant, charming, ruthless man—beginning when they're both little more than children and stretching into adulthood. I love this book because my whole premise was to write a heroine who was a villain, and then redeem her, making her pitiable at first and then lovable as the story progressed.

Though it ended up a story far too ugly and gritty for the Christian market and far too Christian in its end for the mainstream market, I love what I learned in writing this book—and the closeness that developed between me and my hubby when he read it. Through that story he saw depths of me I'd never shown anyone before, and it sparked a new level of understanding between us, an openness I hadn't realized was missing until then, when he looked me in the eye and said, “How can you write about stuff like this, stuff you've never dealt with? And how can you write it, then be the same person you were before?” Exploring the answer together, and the faith I drew on to craft this character, drew us closer than ever.

Tell us about your latest book.

Jewel of Persia is what I call my not-about-Esther Esther story. =) Esther has always been my favorite book of the Bible, and I started thinking how I'd love to fictionalize her account—but (a) that's already been done and (b) I like my heroine to be someone totally fabricated, so I began casting around for ideas on how to bring a unique angle to it. It hit me in the shower one morning—what about all those other wives of the king? What if one of them were also a Jewess, someone who had inadvertently turned the court against her people, which led to the events in Esther? What if that someone were Esther's childhood friend?

And Jewel of Persia was born. In a feverish day and night I did some breakneck research and hashed out the plot. Then I took a week and wrote five chapters. Then I put it aside, because at the time I was finishing up another book. But it kept needling me, and when my agent suggested I follow up my first biblical fiction, A Stray Drop of Blood, with a similar title, I dove gratefully into turning those five chapters into a book.

In addition to the familiar story of Esther, Jewel of Persia explores the intricacies of harem life and Persian culture as they went to war with Greece—events recorded by Herodotus, an ancient Greek who lived a few decades after the Greco-Persian war. I discovered that if we assume the king in Esther is Xerxes (I feel this is a safe assumption) the events of the two histories line up beautifully. And of course, all the mysterious or complicated events are now explained through my fictional heroine, Kasia. =)

Favorite scripture and/or quote:

One of my favorites, which has come to be my prayer as a writer, is from I Samuel 3:19. Samuel has just been given his first prophecy, and it says, “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”

As a writer, that just made me sit back and go, “Wow.” Words are how we reach people, how we communicate. Words have such great power . . . yet so often we use them poorly. But this is what I want to be able to say at the end of my life—that I have grown, that the Lord was with me, and that none of my words fell to the ground. I'm certainly no Samuel—but that's my prayer.

What one thing would you like to tell the world about yourself?

That I love little more than getting to know new people, especially those who love novels as much as I do. =) I adore working with book clubs—my family has an online bookstore so that we can sell autographed copies of my books and give discount rates for orders of multiples for clubs. And I'm a total e-mail addict who LOVES to hear from you!

And because I'm also of the mind that anything that interests me might just interest others (it's either think that or admit I'm dull and boring, LOL), I've compiled all my research into short, chatty articles about the people, places, fashions, and events mentioned in the book at http://www.roseannawhite.com/index.php/books/jewel_of_persia/companion_guide/ . And far more interesting than the cool history is the cool pictures. =) I got to use quite a few pictures of the cover model that didn't work for the cover on here, and I also took the opportunity to tell everyone the story behind the bracelet featured on the cover, which is a key theme in the book. It's real! And the jeweler is so awesome!!

Can't wait to get to know your readers, Amanda! Thanks so much for having me.

Friends, you can find Roseanna at these places:
http://www.roseannawhite.com/
http://roseannamwhite.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/roseanna.white#!/roseanna.white

And, Roseanna has graciously offered a two-option giveaway. You can either win a digital copy of her book, or a paperback copy when they're released in late spring. Leave a comment with your email address and which type of book you'd prefer.

Want extra entries?

+1 - follow my website
+2 - tweet about this giveaway
+2 - leave a link on your Facebook page
+1 - follow my other blog, The Eclectic Crafter

Giveaway ends January 16th
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Comments
  • Amanda Stephan

    LoL, Sussan ~ it does! I always hid my stories so no one would read them. :)