My Philosophy Concerning Historical Novels

I have written one historical novel set in the days of Noah because I was very interested in the probable difficulties that Noah and his family may have faced in the building of the Ark, and in living during a time period that the biblical history portrays as extremely wicked. I adopted the interpretation of Genesis chapter six concerning the angelic sons of God (the Nephilim or “fallen ones”) and the daughters of Adam, which accepts the cohabitation of these “sons of God” in cloned human bodies with the women of that age. It appears to me that this was the epitome of wickedness, which caused God to nearly exterminate the human race. I have not in any of my novels permitted any of the characters to be perfect and without fault. They are human beings. So many novels which deal with biblical subjects seem to be written with childlike readers in mind. I want realism to be an element in my stories. I do not use unseemly language, but I do make it plain that passion exists even among good people. I do not use explicit language, but I do imply things. I think people want realism in my novels. In the novel LOST MEMORIES OF EDEN, Noah has to contend with supernatural enemies who would destroy the work of the Ark. His family was attacked even before he was born when his teenage mother was seduced by a very powerful fallen angel in a human body. Noah was born right after this and subjected to suspicion concerning the legitimacy of his birth most of his life. His mother fell in love with the fallen angel and caused great grief to Noah’s father, who mistreated her even though he loved her.

Noah fell in love with a girl in a Cainite family, who was descended from Cain and Seth. In this ironic situation I attempted to treat the idea that the descendants of Cain were not all evil, and the descendants of Seth were not all good. Naamah is a beautiful girl, the daughter of Lamech-Cain. Her loyalties are torn, but she tries to remain faithful to her husband Noah even though she is swayed by the charms of the same fallen angel who seduced her mother. These are real people who have real struggles even though they love God. That is one of my continuing themes in all my historical novels which have biblical themes. Christian people are not perfect. Sometimes they are unfaithful and sometimes they do not live up to the standards that have been set for them. They are human.

In the other four novels the setting has generally been in the third century in the Roman Empire. The three Sabelius novels center around Rome and Cyrene, but encompass other parts of northern Africa, including Alexandria and even certain islands in the Mediterranean.

I have an unpublished fourth manuscript SABELLIUS GOES EAST which carries the characters all the way to Antioch, and eastward to Byzantium (present day Istanbul). All of these scenes, however, are in in the third century since Sabellius lived c. AD 180-260.

In the fourth Sabellius unpublished novel, Sabellius, his wife Hecate, and a married couple who are friends take a trip to Byzantium to find his friend’s wife’s family. In Antioch, Sabellius’ wife Hecate is kidnapped by a priest of Apollo, sold as a slave, and put on board a ship headed up the western coast of the Mediterranean and Aegean sea. The ship is wrecked in a violent storm and the captain saves her life, only to die in the effort. Hecate is claimed as a slave by an evil sailor and his two companions. She is taken to the famous city of Aphrodisia and sold to the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. There she is forced to train as a temple prostitute. She finds a friend in a petite Ethiopian girl and in a big German eunuch who help her. In the meantime her husband, Sabellius, and his friends are searching for her. She fears to reveal her true status as a Christian because she is afraid she will be sold n the local slave market or placed in a brothel. There is a race against time to save Hecate from actually being forced to become a temple priestess against her will. The high priestess of Aphrodite has her eyes on Hecate and this complicates the situation. Hecate is desperate. Moreover, after her husband and his friends trace her to Aphrodisia, Sabellius spots Hecate being carried through the city as one of the favorites of the high priestess and he thinks Hecate has been unfaithful to him and has betrayed her Christian faith. Hecate’s friend, however, undertakes to rescue the girl. After a harrowing escape from the temple and from the city, all five people in the group make their way finally to Byzantium only to find themselves in trouble there. Sabellius manages to preach in the church at Byzantium before the authorities discover where the escaped “slaves” are.

In THE QUEEN AND THE HERETIC I was again drawn to the scene of Antioch where a great deal of the novel’s action occurs. However, the time element is in the latter half of the third century rather than in the first half as in the case of Sabellius. This novel involves two very powerful characters. One is the bold and beautiful Queen of Palmyra, Zenobia. The other is the enigmatic and popular bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata. I was so impressed with Zenobia as I studied her history. I knew she protected and befriended Paul of Samosata against his enemies when she was the Queen of the powerful empire of ancient Palmyra, but when I read a historical tidbit (which can neither be proven or unproven) that she was involved in a brief teenage marriage to an unknown person, a plot began to evolve. Accusations against Paul by his enemies that he was involved in finance also intrigued me. Gradually, a plot evolved in which this young girl who would one day be a powerful queen and this young man who would one day be a popular bishop of the third largest city in the Roman Empire (actually for a time in the Palmyran Empire) and the novel came to fruition. Their teenage elopement and brief marriage in the city of Tarsus was thwarted by the girl’s powerful family. Zenobia was forced to divorce Paul and to marry a young, powerful prince who became the ruler of Palmyra, a nearby desert kingdom. The two young people never stopped loving one another, even though life went on, and Paul went on to become the very popular bishop of Antioch. Paul, before he became a Christian, despaired of ever having his wife Zenobia again, and could not stay away from her. After he became a Christian and a powerful bishop, he agonized over his love for her and his love for the church.  She could not understand why the church meant so much to him. The tale ends up in tragedy with Zenobia defeated by the great Roman general and emperor Aurelian, and Paul losing his life in defending her, thus proving to her that he still loved her and making her proud of him. There are many subplots in this novel, and someone has called it a “Romeo and Juliet” novel. In some ways it is. It is a struggle between destiny and love. I do not believe that destiny conquered love.

I find that life itself is exciting and it is most interesting in settings that are not always familiar to us.

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