Today, I’ve invited Kandi J Wyatt to share her heart for Biblical Fiction with special emphasis on her medieval retelling of Hagar’s story, The One Who Sees Me.
Without further ado… here’s Kandi’s post on her transition into biblical retellings:
I grew up in a Christian home and was in church at least three times a week if not more up until after I graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. That may explain my love of Biblical fiction. Since I heard the Bible stories from the time I was too little to remember and still hear them today, almost forty-nine years later, I needed a fresh perspective on old favorites.
About sixteen or seventeen years ago, I gained an interest in bringing the Bible to life for believers who, like me, had heard the same stories over and over again. My husband and I collaborated to create two plays for church. One was mostly his doing and the other was more my doing. For Easter, we created a passion dinner play that rocked my view of the crucifixion for several years, since my husband played the part of Jesus. I’ll never forget the feeling when I heard the pounding of the nails and then looked up from my spot on the floor in front of the cross to see Eric there.
The following Christmas, we blended scenes from the passion play into a Christmas program that focused on Jesus coming to the manger with a view for the cross. He Made a Way Through a Manger can be found on my website.
That intro gave me a heart for making Bible stories alive and interesting. Most of the time I kept my stories in the time period they were told and just tried to give a fresh perspective, until November, 2014, when National Novel Writing Month came around.
Our Sunday school class had been studying the life of Abraham. I saw his marital relationships much like a modern-day blended family. However, I knew I couldn’t write a modern Abraham story, but I loved the medieval and fantasy settings. So, I set out to write a Biblical retelling in a fictional medieval realm, never expecting to have historical fiction tagged to my name.
Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.
On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?
Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.
The One Who Sees Me gained its title from the name that Hagar gave the Lord when she ran away from Sarah. I love that aspect of the Lord. He’s the One who sees me no matter what I’ve done, or what I’ve gone through. It wasn’t until after I wrote the novel that I realized how important that title was to me personally. You see, as a fifth grader I experienced abuse but hid the memories until I was in my late twenties. I drew comfort from the idea that even though it was a horrible happening, Jesus was there with me walking through it with me and saw all the pain and hurt.
Since I moved the story’s location, I changed names of characters. Hagar became Faru, a servant girl in a castle. We meet her as King Cyning has a conversation with a stranger while Faru’s on her mid-afternoon break.
Chapter two begins with her hard at work:
FARU HAD RETURNED to her duties in the kitchen. Each day she oversaw the plating and delivery of the queen’s evening meal. It was with a jolt of surprise that she heard her mistress’s voice call out her name.
“Thank the gods, Faru,” the tall, fair queen exclaimed. “I’ve found you.”
“Milady?” Faru drug the word out a bit with apprehension. In all her life in the castle, she had never seen the queen concern herself with dinner preparations; she doubted today was any different.
Even in the surroundings of the hot, sweaty kitchen, the queen seemed to preside with the dignity of her position. She moved with a lithe grace that Faru had always admired. Yet, underneath that poise, Faru saw an uneasiness that was unusual.
“Faru, come with me,” the queen commanded, in a voice that was not to be questioned.
The prep cook just shrugged and called to another servant to take Faru’s place. Faru turned and followed her mistress, a fear beginning to settle in her stomach. She knew better than to ask any questions.
The queen’s steps tapped a staccato on the stone floor. Her skirts swished as they brushed past servants, potted plants, and other decorations in the hallways. From past experience, Faru knew that her mistress’s anger was much like a volcano. It could erupt at any moment, and it didn’t matter who was at the receiving end of her wrath.
As they rounded a corner, a drapery swished past the queen. With precise movements, she ripped it down. Dreading what she was about to do, Faru opened her mouth.
With a frustrated sigh, the queen turned around, her blonde hair swinging behind her.
“Faru.” Her voice came out soft compared to her movements. “It is nothing that you did.”
Faru raised a delicate eyebrow, her dark eyes pleading for more information.
“No, young one. It was my lord.”
Faru nodded understanding. The royals were known for their spats.
The queen pulled Faru into an alcove where they were out of the way of castle life. She laid a shaky hand on her servant. Faru’s initial reaction was to move away, but the tenderness in her mistress’s touch surprised her.
As I researched into Hagar’s life, I knew we’d want to know more about her background. The Bible tells us she was Egyptian, and she shows up after Abraham lies about his relationship with Sarah to Pharaoh. So, I decided to show that aspect of Hagar, a girl who has no say over what happens to her, as she’s traded off in exchange for a bride for the king.
There are so many darker scenes in Hagar’s story. I tried to treat each with the respect and honor they deserved while still being true to the written account. There were several characters that popped up unexpected, but that was okay since the story is framed in a fictional account. Since my first books were middle grade to young adult, I was concerned that my Biblical retellings were for an older audience. I’ve framed these with the young adult to adult category.
Writing The One Who Sees Me seemed to have broken my inability to write Biblical retellings. Since then I’ve written a steampunkish retelling of Esther, and am working on an Ancient Egyptian view of the plagues and exodus of the Jews. I don’t even have a name for that trilogy yet. Whereas my Bible 2 Life writings in plays and stories on my website were focused more toward believers, my Biblical retellings have a broader scope. Yes, I want to draw in believers who’ve heard the stories ad-nauseum, but I also would like to bait in non-believers who’ve never read the Bible or maybe don’t even realize the Bible’s important. For them, my goal is that they read the story and think, “Wow! I never knew this was in the Bible,” and then they’d go read the original story.
As my Biblical retellings have morphed over time, I see a possible adjustment yet in the future. I really enjoyed taking spiritual truths and masking them into a fantasy world in book three of my Myth Coast Adventures trilogy. Last Christmas, my husband spun the idea of a world that has slowly been taking shape in my head. It’s the perfect place for more of those stories with spiritual truth to come to fruition. Who knows? Maybe my Biblical retellings will take place in that fantasy/sci-fi world.
In the meantime, I still have a desire to share God’s truth with the world to edify both believers and seekers with His guiding, timeless principles. The means of achieving this is through the written story. As the Lord burns these tales into my heart, I will write them—no matter the format that they take.
About the Author:
Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.
Where to find me:
Fellowship of Fantasy: http://www.fellowshipoffantasy.com/directory.html?filterP=Kandi%20J.%20Wyatt
Clean Indie Reads: http://cleanindiereads.com/dragon-courage/
Langlois, Oregon website: http://worldfamouslanglois.com/content/dragons-langlois-local-author-kandi-wyatt
Dragon’s Future: https://www.books2read.com/u/bzpDq9
Dragon’s Heir: https://www.books2read.com/u/47YQE3
Dragon’s Revenge: https://www.books2read.com/u/b5qvGb
Dragon’s Cure: https://www.books2read.com/u/47kxJa
Dragon’s Posterity: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DA8og
Dragon’s Heritage: https://www.books2read.com/u/3neVN6
An Unexpected Adventure: https://www.books2read.com/u/3yDLX6
An Unexpected Escapade: https://www.books2read.com/mythcoastadventures2
Journey from Skioria: https://www.books2read.com/u/4AwJee
The One Who Sees Me: https://www.books2read.com/u/mdrRlb
To Save a Race: https://www.books2read.com/u/49PG5k