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History Buff is a site
for history lovers everywhere. It is also a site very interested in women
of the past. Although I (sadly) no longer have time to continue these interviews, here is an archive of Q&As about women's lives
in history. And please feel free to stop by History Buff's
sister site for archaeological discoveries making news today. Enjoy!
historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the
past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
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Monday, September 1, 2008
Q&A With Historical Fiction Author India Edghill
In your first novel, QUEENMAKER, you wrote about King David's wife Michal, and in your second, WISDOM'S DAUGHTER, Michal's influence affects the lives of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. What was it about Michal that made her so compelling? Michal is an amazing character. She's the only woman in the Bible of whom it's specifically noted that she loved a man. ("And Michal Saul's daughter loved David…" 1 Samuel 18:20) Her life parallels the rise of the monarchy, illuminating the changes in rulership styles. I told QUEENMAKER entirely from Michal's point of view – and was surprised to discover how much influence she had on WISDOM'S DAUGHTER, although Michal dies before that book takes place. In WISDOM'S DAUGHTER, Michal is seen through the eyes of others, and they see different things – including the fact that Michal learned to manipulate power as cleverly as any other politician.
Your new novel, DELILAH (St. Martin's Press, the end of 2009), is about the notorious Delilah and her relationship with Samson. What was it about Delilah that fascinated you? The most fascinating thing is how little we know about this woman who brought down the most powerful hero of his time. I must confess that I was heavily influenced in favor of writing about Delilah because Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 SAMSON & DELILAH is one of my favorite movies. Then there's the rather peculiar, perverse erotic subtext of Judges 13-16, where the story of Samson is told. You keep wanting to ask these two people what they were thinking!
How much of Delilah's life is fact and how much is fiction? Since we know nothing about Delilah except her name – people usually assume she was a Philistine, but all the Bible says is that Samson "…loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." (Judges 16:4) – everything about the Delilah of THE IVORY GATE is fiction. I tried to set her in a specific time and place. Despite our modern usage of "Philistine" to mean "uneducated boor", the Philistines were the most cultured and artistic people of their era. Ancient Ascalon was a beautiful city to work with. It was a jewel; a rich trading capital, with a massive road that led from the harbor to the city gate. I imagine it as being as vibrant and volatile as New York City.
Tell us something surprising about life in Delilah's time (circa 11th century BC) The most surprising fact I ran across was that there was a dog cemetery in ancient Ascalon! Archaeologists say the dogs weren't sacrifices, but had been carefully and loving buried after a natural death. That was the basis for my temple "therapy dogs".
What was the average woman's life like in ancient Canaan? The average woman ran her household and raised her children. She spent a lot of time spinning and weaving; grinding grain and baking. She would have been responsible for the household gods. Woman's work's never done, and it's always been cyclical.
In what way is Delilah distinctive of her time? In what way is she unusual? She's of her time in her faith and her dedication to that faith. She's unusual in the strength of her loves and hates.
Are you working on another historical novel, and if so, what is it about? Yes. Actually, it's already written. It's called THE MIRROR'S DAUGHTERS, and retells the story of Esther, interweaving the stories of Queen Vashti and Esther.