I am pleased as can be to announce that Jewel of Persia is the pick for an online book club for the month of November! It's at Reading to Know, and everyone is welcome to check it out and join in. =)
So to celebrate, my friend Annette (who is responsible for JoP being the November pick--thanks, Annette!) and I decided to offer a joint giveaway and chat about the book. So here on my blog, I am giving away TWO (2) digital copies of Jewel of Persia. To be entered, just leave a comment below.
To be entered for the one (1) print version being given away, enter on Annette's blog, This Simple Home.
Got that? Commenting here = entries ONLY for the digitals, and commenting there gets an entry ONLY for the print. You're welcome to enter for both, but cannot win both, LOL. We will have a total of 3 separate winners; international entries are eligible only for the digitals. All winners will be drawn on Tuesday, October 23. (My little girl's birthday, as it happens *grins*.)
Okay, technical stuff is complete. =) Now onto the fun!
As my loyal readers undoubtedly know already (all five of you, LOL), I wrote Jewel of Persia for a few reasons. First, my agent at the time recommended I follow up my first biblical, A Stray Drop of Blood, with another of the same genre. So as I was contemplating biblical stories I love, I kept coming back to Esther. Esther has always been my absolute favorite Bible story. But let's face it--it's been done. And done again. And done some more. And...
I knew that if I was going to write a novel based on Esther, it would have to be different. Very different from what was already out there. So I got to thinking about my way of writing historicals--namely, to have my heroine be fictional, but interacting with historical figures. Why not do the same here? But who else could it be about?
I was in the shower pondering this, thinking back on the Esther story, when a line from a Vacation Bible School skit about Esther that I'd written sprang to mind--about how if she hadn't gained the favor of the king after her first night with him, she would have gone to the harem as just another wife.
Just . . . another . . . wife. Hmm. That was it! One of the other wives! And so Kasia was born, and her story as Esther's best friend and Xerxes' favorite before Esther joined the harem churned its way to life in my brain. Then in a whirlwind two days, I pounded out the first five chapters. And I knew I was in love--but needed to refresh myself on some research.
One of my favorite things about Jewel of Persia is that it allowed me to join together two awesome things--the book of Esther from the Bible, and one of the Greek histories that I had to read in college but never dreamed I'd put to use afterward, Histories by Herodotus. Herodotus details the Greco-Persian war as waged by Xerxes, who most scholars agree is same king known as Ahaseurus in the Bible. I wasn't entirely convinced they were one and the same going in, but as I did my research, it really started to make sense. The timelines clicked together perfectly, and so did the personalities described in both Esther and Histories. Both kings even had this habit of offering cities to those who pleased him, "up to half my kingdom." Perfect!
Jewel of Persia is by no means a simple story, nor is it the Esther story you think you know. For any who haven't read it yet, I'll warn you of that up front--Esther is an important character, she is a lovable character, she is an upright and inspiring character. But she is not the main character, and most of the negative reviews I've gotten have been from people who didn't want an Esther story where Esther wasn't in the spotlight. Which I can respect. But that's just not what this book is. So be forewarned. ;-)
And because JoP has so much history woven in, I have put together a Companion Guide to detail where fact ends and fiction begins, delve more into the cultural tidbits, the histories of the factual characters, and as an excuse to post more of the awesome pictures of the cover model in costume. ;-)
I was going to list the blog entries where I talk about this stuff too, but it occurs to me that they're almost identical to the Companion Guide, so I'll save us all some time. ;-) And instead, share some of the reader feedback that has made many a day for me.
Kathy Lund says: