Happy Book Birthday to Jill Eileen Smith and The Heart of a King!! I’m so honored to have her as my guest on the blog today!
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as the nonfiction book When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.
SERIES: The Loves of Solomon #1-4
GENRE: Biblical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2019
King Solomon was wealthy and wise beyond measure. He could–and did–have anything he wanted, including many women from many lands. But for all his wisdom, did he or the women in his life ever find what they searched for all of their lives?
In this engrossing novel, you’ll find yourself whisked away to ancient Israel, where you’ll meet Solomon and four of the women he loved: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula the queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon through his eyes and the eyes of these women, you’ll ask yourself the ultimate question: Did Solomon’s wisdom ultimately benefit him and those he loved . . . or did it betray them?
Hi Jill! Welcome to the blog!
Jill: Apples because though I love oranges they give me pain. Weird, I know.
Carrie: Oranges are kind-of a pain in general lol.
Jill: Summer without question! I live in Michigan where winter lasts way too long. My body loves sunshine.
Carrie: I wouldn’t mind summer so much… if it stayed in the 60s and sunny with no humidity 😛
Jill: Cats, absolutely! I had a dog as a child, but we’ve been servants of cats throughout our marriage. 🙂
Carrie: “servants of cats” – haha! that’s about right
Jill: Both. I would have said tea, as I have loved black tea for years. But lately it’s coffee. So both.
Carrie: Both is totally an acceptable answer!
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Jill: I would like it to be teleportation. Then I could zip from here to the west coast to see our kids and our granddaughter without having to fly or wait in airport lines.
Carrie: Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!?
Q: Tell me some good books you’ve read lately.
Jill: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen
Waiting on God by Wayne Stiles
WITH by Skye Jethani
A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Prodigal Prophet by Timothy Keller
The Rose and the Briar by J.M. Stengl
Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Carrie: ooo some of my fave authors on that list!
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?
Jill: Oh there are several of those because I write of ancient cultures. Here are a few:
- How to climb a palm tree.
- What did birthing stones look like in ancient Egypt?
- How to weave with an ancient loom.
- The care of sheep.
- Flowers and birds of ancient Israel.
- Cosmetic jars and henna patterns on feet and hands
- Reading about the history of Xerxes, which is colorful indeed.
Carrie: ‘how to climb a palm tree’ sounds like it would make a great children’s book lol!
Q: Did you have the whole plot outlined before you started writing, or did you let the characters dictate what came next?
Jill: I outlined this story in sections. Since this is a partial compilation of the four e-book novellas of The Loves of King Solomon series, I had four summary outlines for each of those books, but I also had a very long summary outline for the entire book with Solomon’s point of view. Outlines give me direction, but the story often strays from the original, as I am also a seat-of-the-pants writer who gets to know her characters as she writes.
Carrie: oh wow! “I also had a very long summary outline for the entire book with Solomon’s point of view” – this intrigues me 🙂
Q: You have been included on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction list and have been named a finalist for Christian Retailing’s Best Awards in the Biblical Fiction category. You clearly have a passion for this genre. When did you begin writing biblical fiction, and what ignited your love for it?
Jill: My love of biblical fiction began when I read Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes when I was sixteen. I began writing my first “novel” on King David, which was really a learning experience, in my twenties. I’ve written in other genres, though they are not in print, but my first love has always been the Bible and writing about the people there. Two from Galilee helped me to see that those people were real, and I hope my stories give readers that same experience. Ultimately, I hope readers will find that my books ignite in them a love of Scripture and that through the Scriptures they come to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Carrie: That’s what I love about biblical fiction – it brings the people to life & makes them even more relatable and it makes me love Scripture – and Jesus – more deeply.
Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote The Heart of a King?
Jill: I think studying Solomon’s life, particularly in Ecclesiastes, taught me how futile life can feel when we love the gifts of God more than the God who gives them. Solomon heard from God three times in his life, and yet he still disobeyed Him, doing what he wanted to do and justifying his actions. He ended up feeling as though life was meaningless. In the end, he came to see the truth that following God’s will and trusting in Him mattered above all else. But it took his own downfall for him to come to that conclusion. A hard truth to learn. I don’t want to be someone who learns the hard way.
Carrie: Learning the hard way seems to be humanity’s default, though, doesn’t it? So glad God is patient with us!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Jill: Actually, my writing plate is very full these days. I have a second nonfiction book due to Revell in August, the second in the series, which included my debut nonfiction When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams. I am writing a short biblical novel for Guideposts for their Ordinary Women of the Bible series later this year, and right now I’m working on Miriam’s story, which is due to Revell next March.
So three books this year, but after that, I’m planning to return to one book a year beginning with a new series, which I will be announcing soon.
Carrie: wow! A busy year! We’re looking forward to everything!
What about you? What interests you most about Jill and/or her new book?