Author Interview and Giveaway – Redeeming Grace – Jill Eileen Smith

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I’ve so enjoyed these pretty covers for Jill’s newest biblical series. These rich dark colors are just a favorite. AND totally go check out Jill’s website, the effect at the top is really cool! I hope you enjoy the interview.

Redeeming Grace-Book Cover

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Redeeming Grace

When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it.

Jill’s Website


Other books in this series:


Questions about Jill’s Story

What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

Ruth’s story is so well known that I didn’t really give the book a lot of thought until I sat down to write it. But then I had to come up with backstories on each of the characters and delve into their possible mindset. And it struck me then that I related more to Naomi than to Ruth—not because I’m widowed (I’m not) or have lost children (I haven’t) but because of her age and status as a mother-in-law. And I wondered how I would have felt if my husband had decided to stop trusting God for our future and moved us to a foreign land rather than wait out the difficult circumstances in the land God had given to us.

I also had to put myself into Ruth’s character, so I was essentially playing the roles of both daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, of which I’ve been both. It was interesting to see life from two differing perspectives. Most of us probably relate to Ruth when we read Ruth’s story in Scripture, and because the book carries her name, we naturally think the story is hers. But I sensed, perhaps because I related more to her, that this was actually Naomi’s story. She is the one who suffered the greatest losses and ended up with the most joyous gains.

I will say, however, that I loved the relationship Naomi had with Ruth. Ruth’s devotion to Naomi went beyond the expected, even in her day. She could have returned, as Orpah did, to her mother’s house and remarried a man from Moab. I have to think Ruth’s choices were not only for Naomi but because she was in search of a better life with Israel and their God whom she was only beginning to know. Both women took great risks, and I admire that. If the time came for me to make risky choices because God said “go” or “do,” would I have the same kind of courage to follow where He leads?

Why did you choose the year your book is set?

The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when Ruth’s story takes place. We tend to think of it coming after the book of Judges because that’s where it falls in our Bibles. But the book itself only tells us that the story took place during the time when the judges ruled. It does not tell us which judge ruled then.

So I did some research and discovered that the placing of this story is tricky and can be confusing. As I mention in my Note to the Reader in the book, I chose to place Ruth’s story actually before Deborah’s because it was under the judge Ehud that Moab is most prominently mentioned. The death of Moab’s king at the hand of Israel played a significant role in crafting the story. There is some discrepancy with the placing of Salmon’s and Boaz’s birth by choosing this timing and setting, but wherever you place it, there is no perfect solution to understanding the time when Rahab birthed Boaz and Ruth bore Boaz a son. So I went with what made most sense to the story. If my timing is wrong, it doesn’t change the purpose or theme or truth of the story and that is what ultimately matters.

Were there any historical facts that you discovered in your research that made you change something in your story?

Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem during barley harvest. In Israel, the men of each tribe were expected to celebrate certain feasts, first at Shiloh and later in Jerusalem. The women and children often went along, but the men were required to be there. I had not expected the need to include the feasts, but found that studying them fascinated me. I wanted to show the reader what those celebrations might have looked like in Shiloh.

Years ago, my husband and I visited a replica of the Jewish tabernacle. You can also see pictures of it online and the Bible gives us the place where each tribe was to set up camp around it when they lived with the tabernacle in the desert. In a sense the people were making their dwelling where God had placed His name. In the same way, in the future, Jesus came (in the direct line of Boaz and later King David) and “tabernacled” or dwelt among us. He made His home in our midst, just as the people of the Old Testament came near to live as close as they could get to God’s presence, which was a shadow of things to come.

The Feast of Firstfruits is mentioned in connection with Feast of Weeks or Shavot, Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, and Passover. All of these feasts have spiritual meaning and connection to the Messiah, but the main purpose I focused on in the story was that by giving God the first of our harvest, or the best of our resources, our talents, our time, etc., is an act of trusting that God will supply our needs for the future—even if we cannot not see what that future might be.

That trust was pretty significant for Ruth and Boaz and Naomi that first year of Naomi’s return because they had just seen the end of a very long famine. If similar circumstances occurred in my lifetime, could I have the same kind of trust?


Questions about Jill’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

I rarely reread any book other than the Bible. I can count on one hand the number of novels or non-fiction books that I’ve read more than once. That said, there are a handful that are hands-down my all-time favorites. The one that jumps to the top of the list every time is Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes. This is a love story of Joseph and Mary and I first read it when I was sixteen. I read it nearly every Christmas for years after that. This is the book that inspired my love of the Bible and brought the people in it to life. It is also the book that inspired me to want to write biblical fiction.

But I had not read it in years once I married and had children. Then nine years ago, my dad got sick and moved on to heaven four years later. That was the last time I read Two From Galilee. There is something about a favorite book from childhood that comforts us even when we are grown adults. When my dad died, my sister and I both had that desire to go back and read our favorite childhood story. That was when I reread for the umpteenth time, this favorite of all love stories.

Which was the last Christian Historical Novel you read, and what was your favorite thing about it?

The last Christian Historical Novel I read was Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar. I read an early copy for endorsement and was honored to do so. I have read several of Tessa’s books, but this one has topped them all thus far. The story is about the woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament and Tessa captures her story so well. My favorite thing about the story is the way Tessa took a little known woman, who is not even named in Scripture, and beautifully created her world. She helped us see what life would have been like for this young woman in the culture of her day. I always appreciate it when an author stays true to Scripture and brings culture to life. When I can come away feeling like I have time traveled to that place and walked in their sandals, the author has done his or her job well.

Jill is giving away a copy paperback (usa only), and I’m giving away winner’s choice of ebook of either of the books mentioned above. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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