I am writing a Christian historical fiction, Forgotten Followers From Broken to Bold Book 1, and yes, my novel is biblical. Why would you ask? Because I show Jesus in a way that you may not have noticed before: bringing equality and freedom to people of all genders.
My novel tells the story of Mara, broken by abuse, and Joanna, broken by racism. Both lean on friendships and actively take steps to work out their self-doubt and anxiety.
Many of us are broken by pain and trials, and I hope this novel helps readers who have been hurt, cracked, or broken by abuse or racism, or by church or religion, to find healing and wholeness. It is a biblical fiction showing how Jesus loves, accepts and encourages all people. God is the potter, we are the clay. We are the work of God's hand (Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6).
Many of the women in the gospel stories have been maligned, belittled, or forgotten. My novel shines the light on women as disciples and apostles. It highlights where Jesus says that studying as a disciple is the right choice for a woman, and tells men to remember that women are equal heirs to the kingdom of heaven and to respect them as equal children of God. It includes the places where Jesus asks women to go out as apostles and spread the word. It relates to the biblical account that Jesus chose women as the first witnesses to the resurrection and asks the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit on men and women, empowering them to preach and teach. All of this I found in the Gospels. It is not fiction.
The novel is consistent with Gospel accounts and based on real people in the Bible. The themes come from the Bible, and the biblical interpretations are consistent with God's message. The character development and backstories are fictional but plausible with the Bible and with history.
My process of writing the novel started with reading and studying the Bible. I studied the gospel stories, their sequence and their meaning. While looking at what Jesus said and did, I also looked for women in the stories, and what they said or did. I found 35 women in the gospel stories and included all of them in the novel.
I did not start out to write a book about women's rights, only to write a story about the women followers of Jesus. I wanted to discover more about them. It was in studying the Gospels that I found that Jesus encouraged women to be eyewitnesses, accepted them as financial patrons, called them to be students and disciples and authorized them to go out and spread the word as apostles.
Whenever I struggled with how to present a scene or dialogue, I returned to the Bible as my primary source and prayed for understanding. A novel obviously does not replace the Bible, and I hope that those who read the novel will be encouraged to take another look at the Bible.
Next, I researched Bible interpretations, devotionals, articles, books, online discussion groups, videos and movies. I discussed ideas to ensure accuracy and to see what was plausible and consistent with the Bible. I worked to make the story both biblically and historically accurate. I was not tied to a preconceived theological understanding from one church denomination or theological school. My goal is to honour God and to present Jesus' message in the way that it may have been experienced by the women of Jesus' day. I wanted to take the truth of Jesus' message into today's language and show its implications for today. Many times I felt unqualified to be writing historical biblical fiction. I am not a minister and have not gone to theology school. Maybe my background enables me to look at the gospel stories with a fresh eye, without traditional patriarchal interpretations.
I also studied the craft of writing. I joined author's groups, writing communities, book clubs, online webinars and writing courses. I asked for advice, read articles and watched videos on professional fiction writing. I networked with writers, editors and publishers. The result is easy to read, with well-developed characters overcoming challenges that are common today, and action that breathes fresh air into familiar stories by including egalitarian biblical interpretations.
Since the Bible was the primary source of content, you can trust it to be true to Jesus' message. If it challenges your own biblical interpretations, ask yourself which point of view is consistent with God's greatest commandment. Look again at which beliefs are built on manmade traditions or interpretations. Consider whether the novel is plausible and fits with the overarching message of God's redemptive love. How did Jesus treat men and women with equal respect? Did he model teaching all genders and encouraging them to teach? How did he live as an example of the Golden Rule, to treat others as you would like to be treated? Did he treat men and women differently, or did he authorize all of them with teaching, prophesying and healing powers? How can we as Christians follow Jesus, showing love so that all people will know we are his followers?
Who am I to go to religious leaders and tell them to free women from subservience?
Yet God replies 'I will be with you."
Moses said to God, "who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Exodus 3:11
"God answered, 'I will be with you.'" Exodus 3:12.
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Maybe I am unqualified from a worldly point of view, but it’s not about what I can do. It's about what God can do through me. God has planted a passion in my heart to show how Jesus turned upside down the hierarchies of his day. God equipped me, calls me, empowers me, and opens doors for me. My qualifications are irrelevant. I am a broken clay pot, but God is at work. The themes of my novel will show readers how God's love can inspire and empower you to be free to use the gifts God has given you.