I am pleased to bring you a fantastic interview/excerpt giveaway from a fantastic author/book that I reviewed here.
David. His name meant ‘beloved.’ Dah-veed. I clicked my tongue and pinched my lower lip with a wet bite. David and Michal. I rolled the words and imagined long walks in the woods and lingering evenings in the moonlight.
I changed into a delicate, rose-colored dress and twisted my hair with a golden comb. A necklace of fiery rubies and matching earrings completed my outfit. Satisfied with my appearance, I opened my door and peered down the corridor.
It was the quiet time right before the evening meal when Mother napped and Father held court. Merab sang love songs in her room, mooning over Adriel, a married friend of our family. What my parents didn’t know could fill a book.
I meandered through the garden and slipped past the kitchen to the servants’ quarters. What luck! David sat alone on a bench, reading. I stepped to his side, cast my shadow over his scroll and startled him.
“Walk with me.” I presented my hand, and he took it. But before he could press it to his lips, I withdrew. “You’ll have to catch me first. There’s an abandoned guard shack right above the granary on the old section of the palace wall.”
Not waiting for a reply, I walked across the storage yard and skipped up the wooden steps. A new set of walls extended a hundred yards beyond, leaving this part of the battlements isolated. Here, I often spied on my brothers while they exercised in the training yard below. I also had a view of my parents’ separate bedchambers.
A veiled woman entered my father’s chamber. A few years older than I, she was given to my father to promote her father’s position. I would have pitied her if she weren’t so haughty, although being bed toy to the king was hardly a laudable accomplishment.
“I found you.” David appeared at the top of the steps.
“I knew you’d come.” I pursed my lips to hide a smile of delight. This was easier than I thought.
“Are you alone?”
“Why no. You’re here, aren’t you?” I held out my hand. “We haven’t been properly introduced. Michal, daughter of Saul, of Gibeah.”
He clasped my hand. “David, son of Jesse, of Bethlehem.”
His voice as unyielding as his grasp, he swept my palm to his lips. Warm tingles radiated from his kiss. His honey-colored eyes brightened before lowering under gold-tipped lashes.
I leaned toward him. “Have you ever courted a maiden?”
He straightened to release my hand, but I squeezed his fingers and trapped him with my other hand. A fierce blush colored his face. “I’ve never courted a princess.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Would it matter?” He cocked his head and turned up a corner of his mouth.
“How dare you! Of course, it matters.”
“Would it matter that I’m a poor man? A servant of your father?”
I dropped his hand and leaned over the windowsill. The scent of night jasmine wafted from the garden below. “It depends on what you wish for in your heart.”
“My wishes or yours?”
“Yours first. Tell me.”
He gazed at the horizon. He seemed an intelligent man with a masculine face. Not broad, but angular—strong brows over deep set eyes, a distinctive nose, and a crown of copper-brown hair unruly like my goat-hair pillow. When he settled his eyes on me, I hardly dared to breathe.
“Peace for Israel,” he said.
“Is that possible?” I drew closer.
“Yes, if we have peace with God first.”
His profound statement stirred my pulse and kindled a flame, an aching, twisting pang. Unable to sustain his probing gaze, I turned toward the setting sun. Its burnished rays bathed the jagged walls of our palace, dappling the rugged hills with shadows of gold, crimson, and brown.
“So you’re a man of peace. Very good. What about love? Do you wish for love?”
He took my hand and traced my palm with his thumb.
Oh, my soul. A thrill shot straight to my heart. A lone hawk screeched, banked and crested toward the tip of the disappearing light.
“Princess, how old are you?” His voice deepened.
I hovered into the warmth of his chest. “Ancient. As old as these hills.”
“Have you ever been courted?”
I shook my head.
“As old as you say you are and a princess too. Tell me, Michal, have you ever been in love?” He raised my hand to his lips but dropped it without kissing it.
Crickets serenaded the darkening sky with scratchy chirps, accompanied by the throaty croak of a persistent toad. I trembled, and David wrapped his arms around me. His scent pulsed hot with sandalwood, raking me with a newborn sense of longing. And his hands, oh, so firm, tightened around my waist, and his prayer shawl entangled my fingers, and his body, oh, the press of his body… made me want…
Voices sounded from the courtyard below, and I pulled back from the window ledge.
David turned me into the shadow of the wall. He brushed my lips so lightly I couldn’t tell if he had touched me with his breath or his mouth. The wind gusted, and he was gone.
I clung to my shawl, holding in his warmth, the strength of his shoulders, the excitement of his chest. I had never allowed a man to hold me before. But David was different. He awoke strange and uncontrollable sensations. A tiny star shivered, wavered, and plummeted straight into my heart, mingling with my unspoken wish. And I knew at once why songs are sung and ballads told.
Rachelle Ayala, Author Interview
1. Since this is a work of fiction based on events from the Bible, what kind of research did you do?
I used the Bible as my primary reference. There’s so much about David in there, even the less savory parts, such as when he allies himself with the Philistine King Achish. I also read a few biographies about David, but they were very critical of him. I think one of them called him a mass murderer and a psychopath. These were not as useful to me, so I went back and studied the Psalms, paying attention to the ones David wrote. In college, I had a few courses in Bronze Age Greece culture, including the Minoans of Crete. It was a nice surprise to discover that the Philistines originated in the Greek isles. In fact, Achish sounds very much like Achilles. I also read about the excavation of Gath, and how the Philistines were actually culturally richer than the Israelites of that time. This allowed me to create the Philistine culture that the fictionalized Michal would encounter.
2. Being a Bible college graduate, many would criticize your depiction of Michal. What inspired you to develop her character and story in the way you did?
Michal is truly a fascinating character. She’s the only woman in the Bible who loved a man, the only one who defied two kings, her father and husband, and she lived a very tragic life. I’ve always felt sorry for Michal because she was depicted negatively by so many commentators and preachers. In a time and culture were women were invisible, she was a woman who didn’t hesitate to take matters into her own hands or voice her opinion. She singlehandedly preserved the line to Jesus Christ when she saved David from her father, and because she fell out of favor with David, she was never given credit for her great love and faith.
My first version of Michal’s story stuck pretty closely to the Bible, but once I got beyond 2nd Samuel Chapter 6, she is not mentioned again except peripherally when her five adopted sons are executed. It felt like a big letdown to leave her at her worst, when she and David have had a very public marital spat. I began imagining her having more fun and meeting people who truly cared about her during the times David was absent. Since the Bible documents that Phalti, her second husband, loved her greatly, I wove in a love story for them. But that was not enough since it also ends tragically when she is taken back by David.
I then realized that Michal’s life story parallels that of the nation Israel. She is called by the king when she marries David (Genesis, call of Abraham). She is abandoned when David flees (Exodus). I embellished this part by having her go to Philistia and meeting Ittai. She comes back and is married to Phalti (Joshua, Judges, Ruth) and then is brought back to the Kingdom (1st Samuel-2nd Chronicles), only to be exiled again after she disobeys David (Isaiah-Malachi). Bathsheba is the type of the Gentile church and after she gives birth to Solomon, Michal is set aside. In my book, I do have her being friends with David and teaching Solomon his lessons. Abigail dies [rapture] right before Absalom’s rebellion [type of Anti-Christ] and Israel flees into the wilderness. She falls for false religion [marrying Ittai in a hand-fasting ceremony] before returning to her king [actually the king fetches her], but not until many are killed [the hanging of the 5 sons] and she herself suffers much tribulation [locked in dungeon]. By the way, Ittai is the type of a tribulation saint.
So, with this explanation, Michal’s Window has got to be craziest book you’ve ever read, because underlying everything is an epic love story that people who no zip about the Bible can enjoy.
3. Some people are rather hesitant when it comes to reading Biblical fiction. They may tend to think you are adding or subtracting from the Word of God or adding an interpretation that God did not intend. What might you say to encourage these people to read your book?
Strictly speaking, all fiction is lying, isn’t it? But we humans have a need for stories because we have such healthy imaginations. I love my Bible stories and would never add to or change the Word of God. But at the same time, my imagination fills in the areas that are not mentioned. This is especially true for women who are not given much thought except when their lives intersect that of a famous man. For example, do we really suppose David only had a single daughter? I mean, it is possible, but improbable. The Bible mentions and names all of his sons, but only Tamar is mentioned because she is raped by one of David’s sons. The wives David gathers in Jerusalem are not named, except for Bathsheba, because she was at the center of David’s big sin and the mother of Solomon.
I’d remind everyone that my book is fiction and to relax and enjoy the love story that is a shadow of God’s great redeeming love for us.
4. Who is your favorite character in the book? Least favorite and why?
Michal, of course! She’s spunky, full of life, and victorious through her faith in God. Besides Michal, I just about love all of them: Ittai, Jada, Abigail, Ahinoam, Michal’s sister, Aunt Kyra, Joshua and Beraiah, even David.
Hmm… Least favorite? Besides, the obvious villains like Doeg and Abner? It’s probably my depiction of Haggith, Adonijah’s mother, and Joab. I was always suspicious of Joab’s supporting Adonijah and the fact that he acted like David’s hired knife. Anytime David wanted to get rid of a rival, all he had to do was promote him above Joab, and Joab would take care of it. At this point, I suspect David is not as innocent in the death of Abner or Amasa as he claims, since he must have known how murderous Joab would be.
5. Any upcoming books you would like to tell us about?
Sure thing. I’m into contemporaries now. I seriously struggled to find another historical character as interesting as Michal and decided she’s too special for me to write another Biblical romance.
I’m working on a romance between a nurse and a triathlete who lost his lower leg in an accident. All of the plotting and research occurred before the Boston Marathon, but now I feel creeped out that this situation has actually happened. The story involves more than the hero’s disability. The theme deals with lying to yourself and burying emotions. Vera Custodio discovers that her father murdered her boyfriend’s mother twenty-three years ago. She goes on a journey to prove him innocent, but discovers a shocking truth about herself. The title is Knowing Vera, which is a play on “knowing truth,” since Vera means Truth in Latin. I’m still on the first draft but hope to have it released sometime next year.
Rachelle Ayala is the author of dramatic fiction crossing genres and boundaries featuring strong but flawed characters. She writes emotionally challenging stories and is not afraid of controversial topics. However, she is an optimist and laces her stories with romance and hope.
Rachelle has written three romantic novels. Michal’s Window is a powerful and emotional journey as lived through the eyes of Princess Michal, King David’s first wife. Broken Build is a story of redemption and healing where a man learns to love and trust the woman who destroyed his life. Finally, Hidden Under Her Heart is concerned with forgiveness in the face of judgment over abortion. She has also put together a simple one-verse-a-day Bible Verse devotional, Your Daily Bible Verse.
Visit her at: Website: http://rachelleayala.me Blog: http://www.rachelleayala.com or follow @AyalaRachelle on Twitter.
She is gracious enough to be giving a paperback copy of Michal's Window to a U.S. reader. So be sure to enter on the rafflecopter below by 9 P.M. on April 30, and then hop on for the chance to win even more books! Oh, and take a look at the "bonus" DVD giveaways I am going to go ahead and offer along with this giveaway hop.
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