Thursday, February 15, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Barbara Britton!

The Delight and Dilemmas of Writing Biblical Fiction

By Barbara M. Britton

I love bringing little-known Bible stories to light. I spent many years teaching chapel where I taught stories from the Bible using drama and visuals. My teaching eventually morphed into writing Biblical Fiction.

When you write about history, sometimes you have to go against traditional writing rules.

Main characters should have names that are easy to pronounce, so the reader isn’t confused. Some of the heroes of the faith have names that are difficult to pronounce. Most readers are familiar with Noah and Abraham, but throw in Ittai and Micaiah, and readers are left wondering how to say the name of your character. Writers are also taught to avoid similar-sounding names. History is history, and families didn’t necessarily take writing rules into account when naming their kids.

When I wrote about the daughters of Zelophehad (Who?), all the sisters had names that ended in ‘ah.’ I tried to give the sisters personalities that eclipsed their similar names. Biblical Fiction readers deserve a star for wading through complicated names.

Romance is the bestselling genre of all time. But, in Biblical Fiction, the customs of the day prohibited men and women from casually associating with one another, let alone touching. Chaperones were plentiful to protect one’s reputation. There were no couples slipping off in the dark at a fancy ball. Biblical Fiction authors have to work extra hard to show a relationship budding without physical contact.

I’ve written contemporary romance stories, too. In a critique group, one of my friends asked me if I
was writing a romance because my characters weren’t touching. Not even holding hands. I realized that I was staying in the Biblical Fiction groove, and I needed to change how I approached characters in the twenty-first century. For me, it was almost scandalous to have my characters kiss.

Research goes hand-in-hand with writing historical novels. While we have plenty of photographs and memorabilia from the WWII era, we have little, if anything from biblical times. Biblical Fiction writers have to cross-reference Bible passages and find relics near the time of their Bible story. Sometimes, we have to take an educated guess at how people in the Bible performed tasks.

You’ll find many writers delving into research to avoid getting words written on a page. That writing truth crosses every genre. Research can lead down rabbit trails and pretty soon the day has flown by. Writers of historical fiction work to bring a time period to life for the reader. I enjoy diving into the Bible and learning something new. The Living Word never ceases to amaze me. Authoring Old Testament, and even New Testament stories, makes my job a challenge, yet it’s a delight. I may break a few writing rules when crafting a story set in Bible Times, or about a Bible hero, but without brave authors, we wouldn’t have Biblical Fiction.

Who is your favorite person from the Bible? Have you read any Biblical Fiction about their life?

David is easy to pronounce, but Ittai?

About “Defending David” (Yes, there’s romance).

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six hundred warriors.

Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman's niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.

Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir's betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?

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  1. Thank you for having me back on the blog, Linda.

  2. I am reading Barbara's book, Lioness, and find myself captivated by the story, characters, and time period. Well done!

    1. Thank you for reading "Lioness." I had so much fun bringing those five sisters to the page. The daughters of Zelophehad are amazing. Thanks for joining us.