Greetings, readers! With Labor Day in our rear view mirror and college football season under way, I am in full-on fall mode (although if someone could tell that to the weather around here, that'd be outstanding; we probably won't get real fall weather for another six weeks or so, at the very least. Bah humbug).
eLectio Publisher’s online bookstore links:
Today's guest is the delightful Hannah Joy Wilkinson, whose debut, The Moor and The Maiden, is now available for purchase at eLectio and Amazon! Plus, one lucky commenter on this post will win a copy! Here's the blurb:
Asim never should have returned to France. In AD 1150, too many people believe the dark-skinned Moor is an infidel sorcerer. The Christians who persecute him further harden his heart against God. Only Bishop Lisieux welcomes him back after years of estrangement.
During their journey to the de Montfort castle, a threat emerges. Stephan, a young Templar Knight, will stop at nothing to kill the Moor. If he finds the Bishop’s heretical secret, Asim and the Bishop will burn together.
Will Asim ever be reconciled to God amid the fear and hatred that surrounds him? Or will he be cut down before he is given the chance?
Welcome to the blog, Hannah! We're so glad to have you here!
Thanks for having me!
What was your inspiration for The Moor and The Maiden? How did you research and immerse yourself in twelfth-century France while writing this book?
I was initially inspired by the interracial love story in Shakespeare’s Othello, and then I was intrigued by the Crusades and why Christians believed in fighting to reclaim the Holy Land. I read many books about the Crusades, researched as many online primary sources as possible such as bishop’s letters, pope speeches, and the Templar code of conduct, to understand the Crusader mindset especially as it related to the “infidel”. I wanted to know in the words of twelfth-century people what they believed and how they were treating each other.
(Note from Amanda: You had me at "interracial love story." I've been living my own for almost fifteen years, and now I'm writing one!)
Which character from The Moor and The Maiden was the easiest for you to write, and why? Which one proved the greatest challenge? Why?
Leala, the eldest de Montfort daughter, was the easiest to write because her personality was the most like mine. She is focused, dutiful, task-oriented, and reserved. The youngest de Montfort daughter, Vianne, was the most challenging because she is talkative, impulsive, and passionate with energy I don’t personally possess. My own sister’s vivacious personality gave me the inspiration I needed to write the character!
How did God change you during the writing of The Moor and The Maiden? What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
At first, I enjoyed writing the romance parts of this novel more than the spiritual aspects. I was also unable to truly write a scene of salvation or repentance until my trust in God deepened. The words sounded shallow and artificial until I spent time in the Scriptures and in prayer. Only after drawing closer to God and asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance did I write with more of a genuine focus on a character’s daily walk with the Lord, because I could add lessons I learned in my own walk.
I pray that readers would see that self-righteousness, pride, and sin keeps us from following our humble Savior Jesus Christ in loving obedience. Surrendering to God’s grace can open our eyes to reaching people with His love in ways that we never thought possible.
Looking back on your journey to publication, what event or connection that may have seemed insignificant at the time turned out to be enormously important?
I sent my manuscript to the Writer’s Edge, thinking it was so good and hoping for their help in connecting with a big publisher. Instead the Writer’s Edge sent me what seemed like the longest list of edits and improvements for my story. I was devastated and set the letter as well as my writing aside for a while. Later, when I got over my wounded pride, I actually went back to the list of suggested improvements and spent a year working through each one. I believe that event is what truly gave me the confidence to send a newly edited work to other publishers, and I was finally offered a contract!
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the sequel to the Moor and the Maiden. It’s a continuation of the novel featuring the characters Stephan and Leala. Their lives have become intertwined around the life of a child in a way they never could have imagined.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love baking sweet things, finding new Pinterest crafts to make, gardening, cross-stitching, reading, volunteering at a local women’s shelter, and spending time with my husband!
If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you want to talk about?
I would love to sit down to coffee with Francine Rivers and hear about her personal testimony and how she writes with such conviction and passion! I would want to know all about her writing process for the favorite books she has written, how she studies the Word, and her thoughts on marriage and kids.
How can we pray for you?
I would appreciate prayers for my first child who will be born in a few short months, as well as prayers for writing this sequel for God’s glory. I know it will be a wonderful challenge to keep writing while caring for a newborn!
If you'd like a chance to win your own copy of The Moor and The Maiden, leave a comment on this post! We will randomly select the winner and post in the comment section one week from today, September 13.
Hannah Joy Wilkinson lives in McAlester, Oklahoma with her husband Stan and their two ornery cats. She enjoys spending time with God in His Word with a good cup of coffee, discovering the joys of growing things out in the garden, and reading too many books at one time. The Moor and the Maiden is her first novel.