Today I have Barbara Britton talking about her new book, Lioness. Barbara writes phenomenal Biblical fiction. She’s here today talking about the characters in her book and has even given us an excerpt to read.
Welcome, Barbara. Thank you for being here today.
Thank you for having me on the blog today, Theresa.
Tell us about your favorite character in your new book?
Mahlah is the main character in “Lioness,” and she has a lot on her shoulders as the eldest daughter of Zelophehad. When Mahlah and her sisters are orphaned, they make a bold “ask” for their father’s land (Numbers 27:1-11). Moses seeks God’s wisdom and God says the daughters are right. If a man dies without a son, his daughters inherit the family’s land. This was a huge change to the culture in Biblical times.
While Mahlah is steadfast and brave, I enjoyed writing the character of a mute shepherd named Jeremiah. I have a deaf family member and creating Jeremiah was a challenge but rewarding.
Do you read the reviews and comments of your readers?
Many authors have told me to avoid looking at reviews, but I always read reviews. Both the good reviews and the bad reviews tell me something about my writing. I find out what works and what doesn’t. Reviews are a window into my readership.
That being said, you have to be careful about reacting to reviews. I always say that not every book is for every reader. We all have our unique preferences in books. Some reviews can get personal and leap from not liking my story to questioning my walk with God. I remember the firm foundation that I stand on as a Christian and forget the personal attacks.
Reviews are very important to an author, especially on Amazon where they have algorithms to track the number of reviews a book has received. If you like a story, please leave a review. You can leave a review if you don’t like a story, but please stick to the facts and don’t get personal.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
I think my character are much more interesting than I am. I don’t have to fight for rights to own land, or fight to rebuild a city, or go to war to conquer land. The Israelites in the Old Testament stories encountered many challenges. God was using them to be a light to the nations. That is a big undertaking with flawed people.
I have been a Christian for over four decades and my faith has grown through grief and battling cancer. My characters have a strong faith in God, and I hope I can add some of my
faith story to their story. Some of my characters encourage my own faith. I am in awe of the daughters of Zelophehad and their certainty that God would support their inheritance.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered this amazing story. I couldn’t imagine it had gone unnoticed in my Bible readings for so many years.
The daughters of Zelophehad will have a growing fan base with the release of “Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey.” Their bravery has been hidden in the book of Numbers for too long.
While the Israelites struggle to occupy the Promised Land of God, Mahlah bat Zelophehad is orphaned and left to care for her four sisters. But daughters of the dead are unable to inherit land, and it will take a miracle for Mahlah to obtain the means to care for her sisters and uphold the vow she made to her dying mother.
Mahlah must seek Moses, the leader of her people, and request something extraordinary—the right for a daughter to inherit her deceased father’s land. A right that will upset the ox-cart of male inheritance and cast her in the role of a rebel.
But, God is the protector of the orphan and the widow, and five orphaned daughters need His help. With God, anything is possible. Even changing man’s tradition.
Her future and that of her sisters, overflowed with uncertainty. Being the firstborn of Zelophehad left her with little standing in her clan. The elders of her tribe were set to scatter her sisters into different tents. Some as wives, and others as servants.
Mahlah tipped her chin toward a bright blue sky. Her chest tightened, making breaths difficult. “I don’t have a mother or a father, God? But you know that. You know the truth.”
Tears seeped from her eyes and streaked down her cheeks. She didn’t bother to brush them away.
“How can I honor the vow I made to my mother when no one will let me? I am nothing in the elders’ eyes now that my father is dead.”
A wisp of a cloud drifted overhead.
“Are You listening, Lord? I’ve seen Your cloud over the Tent of Meeting. Your pillar of fire leading our people.” She swallowed, her throat thick and raw. “I saw Moses lifting a serpent on a stick so Your people would be saved. Or could be saved.” She shook the images of her father’s bloated body from her vision. “I know You care.”
She glanced around to make sure no one witnessed this spectacle of a girl talking to a cloud. Hadn’t she already stirred the curiosity of the fighting men waiting outside the camp?
“I am not a son, but I swear I love You more than some who wear a loincloth.” She hiccupped as the tears flowed. “Help me, Lord. I am pushed aside while my family is forgotten.”
Did the sky brighten? A ray of light broke free from the small cloud and illuminated the ground at her feet. Were her eyes playing tricks on her? She blinked.
Another ray of light burst from the cloud.
“God? Is that You?”
Dropping to her knees, she flung her father’s cloak over the rock and lifted her arms toward the blinding light. She closed her eyes and allowed the warmth to heat her flesh.
“O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hear my prayer. I am a woman without husband, or standing, or means. My mother and father are gone.” Her chest heaved, choking her petition. “Who is going to take care of me and my sisters?”
Mahlah’s eyes flew open. Someone had spoken. Had Reuben followed her?
She whipped around, but no man stood anywhere near her.
It couldn’t have been? Could it?
The cloud hovered overhead in an expanse of endless sky. Her soul emptied of sorrow and soared like a skylark breaking free from the white mass and darting toward the heavens.
“What am I to do, Lord? I love my sisters. They can be brash and silly, but I love them with all my heart. We’re a family.” She licked her lips, warmed by the sun’s rays. “God are You truly listening?”
Again. She heard it.
Forehead to dirt, she bowed. Heart racing. “Toda raba, Lord. Give me Your wisdom.”
She stayed low to the ground until her back cooled and her limbs stopped trembling. She glanced at the blue hues above her. The cloud had vanished.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books at http://www.barbarambritton.com/books.html