Each time as I've neared the completion of a writing project, God has seemed to kindle an interest in a specific topic or portion of Scripture. And I have a ridiculous number of concept ideas. But when there's an unquenchable burning to answer a question, to figure out, to understand - that's where I invest my efforts. And writing is just my way of working things out.
After writing The Girl in the Mirror and No Matter What, both devotional workbooks for teens/young adults, God led me to 2 Kings.
No Matter What was my struggle through a difficult season. For two years I gazed into the tide pool of Psalm 104, watching the ripples, unearthing the mysteries, finding the joy.
And then God gave us our second son, our healing in the midst of muddy waters, and we named him Jordan. And God fixed my attention on the story of Naaman.
I needed to understand the biblical backgrounds, the literal lay of the Land, the characters, the big picture and the minute details.
It was important for me to get the history right. I plotted a timeline of 2 Kings 2-8, piecing in the facts in a plausible order. I cross-referenced other portions from the biblical history books to make sure I had my Northern and Southern kingdoms' kings (who seem to use identical names in some of the versions). I borrowed other people's research to check my own. I drew maps. I poured through Manners and Customs of Bible Lands.
Pretty early on I knew this book wasn't going to be a devotional. Instead it would be a middle grade adventure novel grounded in the reality of the biblical story.
Guy Vanderhaege writes, "History tells us what people do; historical fiction helps us imagine how they felt."
So I kept rereading the passages with inquisition and imagination.
I knew from the beginning I needed to tell the story of the little maid (I called her Cassia). I needed to see through her eyes, to experience her life. At one point I even limited my own Bible reading to only what Cassia would have had available to her.
As I began to tell the story, I realized that I couldn't tell all of it from the character's perspective. I knew I didn't want to write from an omniscient viewpoint, and as I started working through the passages, I came to the realization that I could tell the whole story (from 2 Kings 2 through 8) with just three POV characters:
Cassia, the little maid from Israel,
Marcus, an attendant to Captain Naaman,
and Gehazi, servant to the prophet Elisha.
With three years of full-time resource teaching and two more children added to our family along the way, the journey of this novel has been a ten-year trek that I cannot wait to share with you. I learned so much along the way!
One of my early readers, an elementary librarian friend of mine, shared: "Just finished it!! Could hardly put it down. Absolutely AMAZING read. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. ... Loved the way you weaved the Bible history together." And later she wrote again saying: "Just so you know, my mind has replayed this story many times since I've read it. Looking forward to buying several of the finished copies."
I've had a bit of a pause in my writing since completing this novel, and I'm ready to see it in print too! Ready to see the illustrations and cover art that Justin Gerard comes up with! Ready to hear from you about how this story has kindled a desire in your heart to read Scripture with your imagination engaged. Because that is the whole point - to spark into flame a passion for knowing and understanding the Word.
And even as I move on to my next project (writing a women's devotional through the book of Philippians), my heartbeat remains:
That the Word would fuel my writing ...
and that my writing would fuel your pursuit of the Word.
Multiplied grace and peace,