Since much of the research for BROTHERS took place while I was writing DREAMERS, I hope you’ll forgive a little repeating here. My first inclination for research was to travel to Egypt . . . but since I often travel alone on research trips, that didn’t seem like such an appealing idea. So I decided to travel to London instead, because the British Museum has an incredible array of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Plus, I was also working on books set in England/Ireland, so I could do a lot of research in only one trip.
In writing biblical fiction, it’d be a mistake to read only Bible-based books. I read those, of course, lots of commentaries and the like, but I also read books by Jewish rabbis and Muslim authors. I didn’t agree with everything I read, but seeing Joseph/Yosef through the eyes of these authors helped to sharpen my own way of thinking.
For BROTHERS, I also read THE RED TENT, as it centers on the subject of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter. However, though THE RED TENT is certainly well-written, it emphasized paganism to the point that I thought it became unrealistic. Jacob may have been a hands-off parent, but I doubt he would have allowed the sort of pagan worship depicted in The Red Tent. So I did not rely on that book for any of my research.
I devoured all things Egyptian, learning about their clothing, their music, their art, their customs, religion, and philosophy. I visited museums and took lots of pictures. It was truly a fascinating period in history.
One tricky problem was the timeline. At one point Scripture says that the people of Israel were in Egypt for 430 years, and if you take that time literally, it’s hard to find a place where Joseph fits AND Moses fits. Either Joseph falls too early, before the arrival of the Hyksos, or Moses falls too late.
I found the answer–a delightful one that fits with literal Scripture and with the historical timeline. And you’ll find the answer spelled out in the interview in the back of the book. 🙂
Whatever research I did, I used the Bible as my “plumb line” for truth whenever the so-called “experts” didn’t agree on a matter. And I came away happy with the result.
One thing I realized in the writing of this book (and other historicals) is this: people are generally the same, no matter when they live. They have the same emotions, passions, desires, and needs. I think that’s what makes historical fiction so compelling. The scenes and technologies may be different, but the people of yesteryear deal with the same issues that modern people face.
Tomorrow: the writing.