22 September 2013

Guest Blog: Ellen Brazer

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Ellen Brazer whose latest novel, AND SO IT WAS WRITTEN, is set during the Roman governorship of Judea. Leave your comment with an email address for a free copy of And So It Was Written. Here's the blurb:
Meticulously researched and controversial in scope and imagination, And So It Was Written travels to a time when a Third Temple is built and the Ark of the Covenant holding the Ten Commandments is found. The year is 132 CE, and the proclaimed Jewish Messiah, Bar Kokhba, has defeated the Roman army and rules Judea. As the Romans prepare to reclaim Israel, the book follows two sets of brothers–one Roman and one Jewish–whose friendships, hatreds, and lives intertwine. 

For characters you will dream about, And So It Was Written is the ultimate treat. You will smell the spices in the markets, see the blood on the battlefields, rage with the injustice of brother against brother. From triumph to defeat, this is a saga of courage, conquest, familial loyalty, honor and love–showing man at his best and his worst. 

**Q&A with Ellen Brazer**

After writing Clouds Across the Sun, a book that is Holocaust related and moves into the 1970’s what made you want to write a story that takes place in the 2nd century?

I was reading the book Bar Kokhba by the famous Israeli archeologist, Yale Yadin. As I read the account and looked at the photographs taken in the cave he discovered in the Negev Desert it was as if some unseen hand was drawing me into the distant past. The photographs were somehow so familiar.

What did he discover?

There was a child’s linen shirt, a woman’s hand mirror, vials of perfume, a cache of coins engraved with the symbols of Judaism: a menorah, grapes, a harp. Some of the coins had a depiction of a Temple, a depiction that looked nothing like the First or Second Temple. They also found letters, a stack of 10 Papyri signed by Bar Kokhba, the man declared the Messiah of the Jewish people. These letters had been left undisturbed for 2,000 years! Bar Kokhba was the man who led a Jewish army against Rome and defeated the Empire. Under his leadership, the Jews ruled Israel for three years.

What was your motivation to take the enormous challenge of creating a fictional story based on such obscure information?

Bar Kokhba is a folk hero in Israel yet most American Jews have never even heard his name mentioned. That was my motivation. To tell the story of my people. To break the image that we were not warriors but a people who had been led like sheep to their death in the Concentration Camps. Two thousand years ago we were warriors just as we are today! I want to take my reader into the story and to fold them into the past as easily as they turn a page.

What is your favorite part of writing historical fiction? Who are some of your characters?

I love giving a voice and personality to real historical people. In my research, I surmised that Bar Kokhba must have been a charismatic leader for tens of thousands of men to come to fight beside him. In my book, I have Julius Galen, the father of medicine. I give him a brilliant and beautiful daughter who is headstrong and determined to become a surgeon. The men in my novel fall in love with her!

Where does the story take place and who are the main characters?

The story takes place in Rome and in Israel. It is the story of two sets of brothers. The brothers in Israel are the sons of a beloved rabbi. One brother is so brilliant he has memorized the Five books of Moses by time he is thirteen. The other brother wants only to join Bar Kokhba’s army. The brilliant brother is taken as a slave to Rome to become the tutor for half-brothers, sons of a Roman Senator. Half-brothers who hate each other. 

Ellen Brazer is the author of And So It Was Written and Clouds Across the Sun 
Available on Amazon.com at: http://goo.gl/TGLPW