I am so happy to talk to Connilyn Cossette today, author of Until the Mountains Fall and our July Book of the Month winner!
When Connilyn is not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace there that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Her books have been found on ECPA and CBA Bestseller Lists and finaled in both the Carol and Christy Awards. You can connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com
Today Connilyn is going to be discussing her latest book and giving away one print copy (US ONLY) and one ebook everywhere else.
Welcome to Interviews & Reviews, Conni!
What appeals to you the most about writing Biblical Fiction?
I remember even as a young girl sitting in Sunday School wondering about the lives of the people that lived on the pages of the Bible and wanting to know more. When I began researching the history and culture of Ancient Egypt and Israel I became fascinated with trying to understand the world in which those people lived. Biblical fiction gives me the excuse to delve deeply into research and imagine scenarios in which ordinary people interact with the stories we know so well and perhaps give some new insight into why things might have happened, or at least to put some flesh on the people that lived them out and witnessed such world-changing events. My question is always, if I was alive then, what would I think about people or events while they were occurring, especially without the benefit of hindsight of the written Word of God in my hands. I think understanding the Hebrew culture especially gives us a greater insight into the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob so I delight in learning more.
I couldn't agree more! When you start a story like Until the Mountains Fall, what kind of research do you have to do?
I always start with the Bible as the framework for whatever I write because I want to do my best to keep the Word as the foundation of my books, regardless of the many contradictions and disagreements between scholars and archeologists. Then I spend a lot of time trying to understand the world in which my characters would have lived so I devour any books or articles on the culture and settings that I can find. There is so much information out there on the internet and so many new finds that are coming out of Israel that I do tend to get lost on rabbit trails, but you never know what I’ll use in future books! I am a member of a couple of archeological and academic sites so I sift through those to help flesh out my understanding of the material culture as I begin to plot the stories. Then as the book develops I am always looking for interesting details to weave into specific scenes. I’ve used YouTube to help me learn how to make bronze weapons, bows and arrows, and prepare food and cloth in ancient ways. I’ve scoured the internet for recipes using ingredients that likely were available in that region in that time period. I’ve searched out weather patterns, harvest cycles, and historical changes in Israel’s climate and deforestation. Google Earth is an invaluable tool for exploring terrain but I was also really blessed to travel to Israel in 2017, while I was editing the first book, so I was able to see some of the settings with my own eyes and to experience the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the Land itself. Research is something I never tire of since I’m a history nerd at heart, but my methods and resources are always evolving. The longer I study the ancient past the more I have come to realize that we have only begun to scratch the surface of true understanding of the people that came before us.
What inspired you to write the Cities of Refuge series?
Out from Egypt, my first series, spanned the entirety of Exodus—from the beginning of the plagues through the fall of Jericho. When I considered what might have come next for the Hebrews after the Conquest and before the time of the Judges, I took a deeper look into the end of Joshua and became fascinated with the idea of the cities of refuge and wondered how exactly these sanctuaries might have worked. Although there is not a whole lot of information on how the cities were run, other than a few intriguing rabbinical sources and there are even questions about whether some of the designated Levitical cities were even inhabited, the laws pertaining to them are such a beautiful foreshadowing of Jesus as our High Priest and perfect sacrifice that I knew I had to explore them. The people of Israel were not united as a true nation during this period but were more like a confederation of tribes that sometimes got along and sometimes did not, but what kept them connected was the Covenant of Abraham and worship of the One True God at Shiloh. So although the four books in the series take place in various cities all over the Land of Israel, at its heart is Shiloh where the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant were situated for hundreds of years before the Temple was built in Jerusalem.
Who was your favorite character to write about in this series, and why?
I have so many favorite friends within this series, but I can safely say that writing Moryiah first as a young girl in Wings of the Wind in the Out from Egypt series and then watching her grow from a hurting, self-conscious young woman into a bold and generous matriarch with many children and grandchildren has been a really cool experience. No matter how many characters I write, I think Moriyah will always have a very special place in my heart and I’m always delighted when I get emails and messages about how much her story of courage and surrender has inspired readers.
When is your next book out and can you tell us a little bit about it?
My next book releases on March 3, 2020. Like Flames in the Night, Book 4 in the Cities of Refuge series, will be a continuation of the story of Moriyah and Darek’s family with Tirzah, their youngest, as the heroine. Readers will meet Tirzah as a child in Until the Mountains Fall and will also get a glimpse of her as a spirited and adventurous teen. Like Flames in the Night takes place during the end of the eight year period in which Israel was subjugated under the Arameans and Tirzah will have a part to play in the liberation of her people and the Land promised to Abraham’s descendants. Liyam, the hero of the story, has a connection to Tirzah’s family (although I’m not disclosing what that connection might be…) which will put him in a place of choosing between exacting vengeance on the man who killed his daughter and rescuing a woman who refuses to leave her spy mission until it is complete. I’m hoping that readers will find LFITN to be an exciting and satisfying conclusion to the series. I certainly have had a fun time writing it, but also shed a few bittersweet tears as the final chapter ended!
I can't wait to read it! Thank you for sharing with us today. I know quite a few readers will be anxiously waiting for Like Flames in the Night!
And now, Dear Readers, if you would like to win a copy of Until the Mountains Fall, just fill out the form below. If you are in the U.S. you can win a print copy. For those outside the U.S. eBooks are available to you. This giveaway ends Sept. 18, 2019.
And the winner is...Lisa Redecop. Congratulations!