I am delighted to have one of my fave authors, Tessa Afshar, on the blog today to share how her personal experiences shaped Jewel of the Nile!
JEWEL OF THE NILE
GENRE: Inspirational Biblical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2021
Whispered secrets about her parents’ past take on new urgency for Chariline as she pays one last visit to the land of her forefathers, the ancient kingdom of Cush.
Raised as an orphan by her aunt, Chariline has only been told a few pieces of her parents’ tragic love story. Her beautiful dark skin is proof that her father was Cushite, but she knows nothing else. While visiting her grandfather before his retirement as the Roman official in the queen’s court, Chariline overhears that her father is still alive, and discovering his identity becomes her obsession. Both her grandfather and the queen have reasons for keeping this secret, however, and forbid her quest. So when her only clues lead to Rome, Chariline sneaks on the ship of a merchant trusted by friends.
Theo is shocked to discover a stowaway on board his vessel and determines to be rid of her as soon as possible. But drawn in by Chariline’s story, he feels honor-bound to see her safely to shore, especially when it appears someone may be willing to kill for the truth she seeks.
In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters–including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.
Three Ways My Personal Experiences Shaped Jewel of the Nile
by Tessa Afshar, author of Jewel of the Nile
As a writer of biblical and historical fiction, I have to begin working on my books over a year before they land in readers’ hands. The preparation is intense, requiring careful Bible study as well as historical and archaeological research. But often, as writers, many of us find that our personal experiences also leave their stamp on our storylines. This was very true of my ninth novel, Jewel of the Nile, which threw me an unexpected curveball just as I was about to start writing.
When I first began to outline this novel, I wanted to have one of the daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8) as my main character. Then a short email from a fan upended my plans. A young lady, whose name I don’t remember, wrote to tell me that she loved my books. But, as an African American, she wondered if I ever planned to have a central character who looked like her. Because, she explained, it was important for her to see heroines who reflected her.
I may have forgotten her name, but I could not forget her words.
They kept nudging at me, like an invitation I could not refuse. Eventually, I ripped up my outline and started new research, this time into the fascinating Kingdom of Cush.
That’s how Chariline (pronounced Cara-leenie) was born.
In the story, Chariline sets out on a dangerous quest to discover the identity of her father. Her search leads her to stow away on a merchant ship bound for Rome.
Not long before writing this story, my husband and I had experienced some unexpected health challenges, and for a spell, I found myself in the role of nurse. Though a difficult time, we both found the experience strangely sweet as it bound us together deeper than ever. Perhaps it was this personal experience that led me to make Chariline seriously ill on the ship. As the owner of the ship, Theo, nurses her back to health, a bond of love is forged between them. I think my own personal narrative definitely helped shape this aspect of the plot.
Finally, I gave Chariline a few scars, because I prefer imperfect heroes and heroines. Although Jewel of the Nile’s heroine is beautiful and talented, the wounds of her childhood blind her to her worth. She has come to believe that she is not good enough. I have had a couple of rounds in the ring with that beast myself!
What I have found in my walk of faith is that Jesus can banish these lies from our hearts. He can redeem our past and replace its twisted lies with the mighty truth of our identity in him. That is one of the threads that runs through this story. The reminder of who we really are when we belong to Christ. This is not a story about race. Rather, it is a story about looking in the mirror and knowing who we are is beautiful.
My hope for the readers of Jewel of the Nile is that they will be able to get immersed in Chariline’s world. To have belly laughs and tears, experience the wonder of Cush and ancient Rome, and have a few flutters when Theo starts to pursue Chariline. Because I write inspirational and biblical fiction, I also pray that my readers will have a meaningful experience of God and know their worth more deeply when they turn the last page.
Ultimately, as a writer, my aim is to become invisible. All the research and study, all the personal experiences that leave their imprint on the pages of this book, should be soaked up so seamlessly into the story itself that readers forget about my existence.
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. After working in women’s ministry for nearly twenty years, Tessa became a full-time writer and speaker. Tessa and her husband live in New England, where they proudly tend their mediocre garden.
Tyndale is offering a print copy of Jewel of the Nile to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar?