In an earlier post I mentioned that I was reading the books 'The Begotten' and 'The Betrayed'. I love historical fiction, and these two books were really hard to put down! They are set in Italy in the 1300's, and the story revolves around several characters who discover they have been given special gifts by God. The heroine, Daria, is a healer, and she meets up with several others who have gifts of faith, prophecy, discernment, and wisdom.
In those days, the Church was much more of a political organization than a religious one, and they would stop at nothing to eliminate those who went against their philosophies. In addition, there was a powerful organization of evil seeking to silent "The Gifted" in any way possible. The story quickly becomes an exciting chase through Italy as the Gifted find each other and discover God's will for their lives. Check these books out – they are amazing!
I had the chance to interview the author, Lisa Tawn Bergren and the information I learned is printed below. I'd highly recommend these books to anyone who wants to be transported to another time in the midst of an exciting and dangerous controversy!
1. How did you get the inspiration for this series?
I read Da Vinci Code and stayed up all night reading it. In the end, I was grieved and angered at the heresy presented there. I set out to find a true biblical mystery, and two scholarly friends told me about the "lost letter(s) of Saint Paul," written to the Corinthians. At the same time, was profoundly influenced in watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film. So when Publishers Weekly referenced both Da Vinci Code and LOTR, and compared my book, The Begotten, favorably, I was thrilled!
2. What do you admire most about Daria?
Man, this girl has gone through misery, and look at her! She was handfasted to her longtime love, Marco, then abandoned because she couldn't get pregnant (vital for nobles in need of heirs, thus the Church-sanctioned "handfastings"--basically a try-out of marriage!), finds out she's a healer of amazing proportions, that her coming has been prophesied to come for centuries, and oh...forces of evil are likely on the hunt for her and hers. She's strong, she's faithful, she battles darkness. I want to BE her.
3. Which character was the most difficult to create and why?
I don't want to spoil the story--so suffice it to say a character who is hovering between the righteous life and the evil life. We see this character move and breathe, understand his pain, and catch a glimpse of why he might be tempted by the dark. But watching it unfold is painful. And real. It happens every day. I don't want to be THIS character.
4. What are some of the unusual things you discovered in your research?
Handfastings, mentioned above; that there were no gondolas in my era in Venice; that each region in Italy at that time spoke a different language/dialect; that Venice had the most envied maritime force in the world.
5. What is the most challenging part of writing a historical novel?
Getting it right. I'm always afraid that some history professor will come in, read my book, and send me UnFan Mail. I work hard at trying to get the big--and small--stuff right. And the thing that is really tough is getting your head into the characters, how they might see the world at that time, in that place, rather than simply applying my 21st Century American persona in a different body. That's true perspective, true Point of View, which is undoubtedly the most daunting of tasks.
6. How have these stories changed the way you look at the world?
I'm much more aware of light versus dark, that there is an unseen battle taking place that we largely ignore, when we are in fact called to don our armor and enter the fray. We can make a difference, hold evil at bay with God's help, but we have to recognize it first. I autograph my books to "One of God's gifted..." because we all are given spiritual gifts that God hopes we will make use of on his behalf. Our lives count!
7. What projects are you working on now? When can we expect your next book?
I'm working on book #3 in the Gifted, The Blessed. It's due in a couple of weeks! It will come out Fall, 2008. Then I'm on to concepting my next series and beginning the research. I'm considering another epic trilogy, set in the 18th century, and a Colorado 19th century series.
8. How did parts of the story change based on what you discovered in research? For example, did you add or delete any scenes that resulted in a major impact on the story line?
The Gifted are on a quest journey, covering some major territory. The biggest thing I discovered was that the papacy had been moved to Avignon, France, during my time period (rather than Rome). Since the Church is essentially a main character in my books, that caused a big, screeching halt, reorganization and rewriting. It could've been an excruciating post-pub "whoops." I'm shivering, thinking about it.
9. What question would you like to answer that I haven't asked?
"Lisa, did you get to go to Italy to research?"
Yes, yes, yes! (I got to go three times--once with my husband, once with my eldest daughter, and once with my folks and children--the whole gang.) And I can't wait to return. It's every bit as cool as everyone says. I would very much like to see the Amalfi Coast next...hmmm...maybe that could be the locale my next book!
Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother and wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to www.LisaTawnBergren.com and join her newsletter list.
Make sure to check out her website, there is a longer bio and more about her other books.