Behind the scenes - SARAI

Years ago, I attended an ACFW Conference - a great place for aspiring authors to meet fellow authors, agents, and editors - to grow, to learn, to be encouraged. My first conference experience taught me much, and I continued to attend most of them ever since. In the early days, they gave out these manilla colored canvas bags and people brought colored sharpies and we traded signatures on the bags. I still have a couple of those bags, and on one of them are these encouraging words, "Keep writing biblical fiction." Kristy Dykes

Kristy Dkyes was a beautiful, gracious woman I was privileged to meet at several conferences. (Kristy died of brain cancer on July 21, 2008.) Kristy wrote Christian love stories, and was known to say that she one day hoped to be a "Kristy" that won a "Christy". (She meant the Christy Award, which is one of the premier awards in Christian fiction.)

During one conference lunch, Kristy sat beside me and we talked about biblical fiction. She told me at that time how much she had always admired Sarah and had even toyed with the idea of writing a biblical novel on her life. I was still working on breaking into publishing at the time, and had not even considered the Wives of the Patriarchs. In fact, the Wives of King David was still in the hoped-for stage. Michal and Abigail were written, though Abigail would undergo a complete overhaul. But Sarai had not even crossed my thoughts.

Something Kristy said, though, made me think of her often in the next few years. She said that she had always empathized with Sarai and how hard it must have been for her to be taken into the pharaoh's harem. How abandoned she must have felt by Abram. She imagined the opulence of the palace and how foreign that must have been to Sarai. Honestly, when I read the biblical account, I had never quite thought of that episode as quite so devastating as it likely was. Kristy did. She saw the heartache and loss and felt deeply for Sarai.

I never forgot Kristy's comments (which goes to show that writers can be inspired by many things, and many from unexpected places.) So when the opportunity came for me to propose a new series to Revell, I immediately thought of the patriarchs. Kristy could not write Sarai's story, as her health had deteriorated faster than any of us could have imagined. If she had, I am sure she would have seen the whole thing differently than I did, but I like to think she gave me insight into that portion of Sarai's life that I might have missed otherwise.

We often read Scripture with a cursory glance, much like we glimpse a painting without seeing the brush strokes. We see the whole, but miss the detail. If we but step in to take a closer look, we see so much more! Perhaps we might even see the artist's emotion in the way the paint landed on the canvas, be they short or long, swirled or straight, large or small strokes. Words paint pictures too, and even the list of names in the genealogies can give a writer those significant little details that make the story richer, deeper. But we have to read with vision to see it. Much as Kristy did when she passed her insight along to me.

I would like to think Sarai is better for the inspiration Kristy gave me.

What about you? How do you think it would have felt to be taken captive by a foreign king and have your husband stand by and do nothing to stop it? I'm curious - so please leave a comment.

Next time - Hagar - and the inspiration for who she is in the story.