Today I’m excited to introduce you to a new writing friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Barbara Britton. Barb writes Biblical fiction infused with rich details from  Hebrew Scriptures–the Old Testament. Her latest book, Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey, takes place during the time of Nehemiah.

AND, there’s a giveaway! Details at the bottom of the post!

Before we start the interview, here’s a bit about , “Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey.”

When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.

Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?

Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.

Welcome, Barbara. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.

Hi Kelly! I am happy to be here talking about history and romance.

I’m a California girl who has lived in Connecticut, Texas, Illinois, and for the past sixteen years—Wisconsin. I’m celebrating thirty years married this month. Yahoo! I have two boys who are twenty-somethings. I love the Lord and I taught chapel for many years at a Christian school. Bible stories are the best. My husband gave me wonderful advice for teaching kids…don’t bore them with the Bible. It’s the most exciting book ever. I have to agree, that’s why writing Biblical fiction is so much fun. I say I write Bible stories with kissing.

What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

“Jerusalem Rising” follows the narrative of Nehemiah, chapters 1-8. I always say, “God has the best story lines.” Nehemiah left the comforts of the palace at Susa and returned to the city of his fathers to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. This wasn’t an easy task even with the king’s blessing. Bad guys show up and the politics among the Hebrew people weigh on Nehemiah’s heart. The wall gets built in 52 days with God’s provision. Nehemiah was a man of prayer who boldly followed God in this task of restoring Jerusalem.

What historical facts did you learn in writing this book?

I have taught the story of Nehemiah many times, but the lessons did not include some of the women in this narrative. How did I miss Nehemiah 3:12 where Shallum and his daughters are listed as wall builders? Women construction workers? Yes, in the Bible. We don’t know how many daughters Shallum had, or their names, but I gave him two daughters Adah and Judith.

Also, there is a prophetess named in the book of Nehemiah. Her name is Noadiah (Neh. 6:14) and she works against Nehemiah. In fact, Nehemiah asks God to remember Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who “have been trying to intimidate me.” Whoa! That’s not very prophet—y. All those years of teaching and I missed these women who played important roles in God’s plan.

What are some other fun facts you’ve learned about writing Biblical fiction?

It’s difficult to write romance in Biblical fiction because there was no PDA in Bible times. Men and women did not touch, let alone kiss, in public. My characters have kissed in a dark cave, behind a door, and in a vacant shepherd’s pit. Not the most romantic of places!

Barb’s eldest son visited Israel in January and had his picture taken outside of Jerusalem with “Jerusalem Rising.”

Here’s an excerpt from “Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey.”

She reached for the mint-scented oil and dabbed a drop on a piece of cloth. The aroma of the crushed leaves usually calmed her spirit. One breath. Rest. A second. She opened her eyes and stood with insides wrapped tighter than a weaver’s thread. How was she going to stack stones when she could barely lift them?

She shuffled her jar back and forth over a flat knot in the table’s grain. “Lord, I need guidance,” she prayed.

“If you rub that bottle any faster it may break.”

Adah whipped around at the sound of Othniel’s voice.

He leaned against the threshold to her workshop, arms crossed and resting comfortably across his belt.

Had he heard her prayer? She glanced at her hand. A small tremor unsteadied her fingers.

“I’m mixing oils.” He can see that.

He strolled closer, his smile as content as a well-fed lamb. “May I?” He held out his hand for the vessel. No dust covered his skin this morning and the curls she spied escaping from under his turban were dark as charcoal. He hadn’t been in the fields digging in forsaken soil. Not yet anyway.

She offered him a different jar. “I hope you find this soothing.”

He breathed deep. “Ahh. I am in a shady grove with a sea of moss and buds aplenty.”

“Will you take me there, so I can flee humiliation?”

“You cannot leave.” He returned the fragrant mixture to her. “All around the market people are talking about how Shallum and his daughters are going to restore a section of the wall.”

Turning slightly toward her wares, she attempted to cap the bottle of tuberose and agar wood oils. Her fingers fumbled the carved poplar cap. Three tries later her mixture was stoppled and set with the others. “I would not doubt King Artaxerxes has heard of my madness.”

Her belly cramped. She had volunteered to rebuild the wall, so her family would be remembered not ridiculed. She faced Othniel and forced a reluctant grin

“Come now.” His voice calmed her soul more than the mint leaves. “Your father agreed to the work as did your family.”

“Alas, I am convincing as well as conniving. My father cannot labor like a young man. I will be the death of him.” Her heart beat as swift as the rhythm Othniel drummed on the table. She sighed. “I will speak with Nehemiah today.”

“Then he should refuse your appointment.” He opened his arms wide as if to embrace her.

She stood as still as a statue.

He stepped closer. “I am here to assist you.”

Could God have acted this swiftly in answering her plea? Or was Othniel offering his services out of pity? She shook her head. The gossip muttered among the barterers could not have been kind.

Barb’s Giveaway

Barb has graciously offered to giveaway one copy of any of her books in either E-reader or paperback format–winner’s choice. To enter, comment below by Thursday, May 10, and tell us which Biblical story inspires you the most and why?

The Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Deborah Hackett who will win a copy of any of Barb’s books!

Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.