February 26, 2012

A Stray Drop of Blood, by Roseanna White with Interview

A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna M. White was a solid, thought-provoking book.  Because it takes place at the time of Jesus' life (and death and resurrection), it is considered biblical fiction.  Several people who are in the Bible become part of Abigail's story, yet they remain in the background.


A Stray Drop of Blood is the story of Abigail, a fifteen year old Hebrew slave.  With a Hebrew mistress and Roman master, she has been well cared for, loved, and educated.  She is more like family than a servant until the Visibullis' son returns home from Rome.   Abigail's beauty and humbleness is something that Jason wants for his own, so he does as would be expected by the Romans...he took her to his bed.  Abigail finds herself being treated as a slave for the first time.  She is humiliated, but resigns herself to this new lot in her life.

And that is only the beginning of the book.  Roseanna White taught me much about the culture and times of when Jesus was on this earth through the fictional life of Abigail.  Abigail's story held my thoughts captive long after closing the book.  Within the pages there is much to consider.
Finally, a subject she could hold her own on with him.  "Virtue must be taught, but that does not guarantee that it will be learned.  Without instruction, however, the best of men would still be groping in the dark for the morality they may seek.  Just as even with it, few will choose the path of righteousness.  ~page 94 
A bit of a warning for readers:  Abigail became a slave of the most personal kind.  There were many intimate encounters and situations.

I am purposefully not sharing all that A Stray Drop of Blood is about because I dislike knowing too much before reading a book.  Know that I highly recommend this book.  It is considered biblical fiction and is a romance, and a very good read.  (I must say the endearment of "beloved" within the book was a bit much for me, but I don't read a lot of romance.)  When I completed reading it, I felt very satisfied.  I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it was like completing a fabulous meal.  Satisfying and complete.

Having gotten to know Roseanna White through her blog (and reading another of her books), she was gracious enough to do a little interview with me.  Through the questions and answers, you will get a sense of A Stray Drop of Blood.  My questions are in bold and her answers after in regular font.

If you are interested, you can read the first chapter here.  Also, check out the companion guide, even if it is just for all the cultural information of Jesus' time.  Also, some of you may like that the Kindle edition is just $2.99.  Worth it!

Having gotten to know Roseanna White through her blog (and reading another of her books), she was gracious enough to do a little interview with me.  Through the questions and answers, you will get a better sense of A Stray Drop of Blood (without spoilers)  My questions are in bold and her answers after in regular font.


What was your inspiration for writing Abigail's story?  How long did it take you to write it?
I got the idea for this story on Good Friday when I was 15. I’d reread the Gospel accounts of the day and begun to wonder what it would have been like to be there that day, just a woman in the crowd. And what if the woman had gone to the trial seeking revenge? Revenge on Barabbas? What would she have felt? I sat down that afternoon and wrote a short story called “A Stray Drop of Blood.” Over the next six years, I turned it into a book, most of it written over summer breaks during my college years.

You seem to really get into the head of Abigail.  Was it difficult to do considering her just fifteen years old and a slave?
Given that that’s how old I was when her story came to it, that part was pretty easy. =) I’d always been very mature for my age, and it was easy for me to imagine how much more mature I’d have been if I knew that was how old I’d be when I married. The slave thing . . . er, I just have a good imagination, LOL.

Abigail becomes like a daughter to her mistress and master instead of just a slave.  From the book it seems that the mutual love and respect was unusual.  Because it was not normal of the times, what made you include such a household as Abigail's?
One of the stories that struck me most in the gospels was the one about the centurion whose slave was dying; he traveled days to seek Jesus, and exhibited some of the greatest faith we see, saying He need only speak the word to make his servant well—and He does. I loved the thought of a Roman officer who had such wonderful faith in the manifestation of the Hebrew God. It was by wondering what that man’s household might be like that the Visibullis house was born. A Roman house, but one that followed Hebrew law—and Hebrew law is clear that when other Hebrews are bonded to you, they are to be treated as brothers and sisters who need a hand up, not slaves.

Though ASDoB is considered biblical fiction, I appreciate that the main characters are not actually found in the Bible though the story takes place at the time of Jesus' crucifixion and is life-changing for Abigail.  Other than Jesus (who is discussed much though he is not an actual character) and Barabbas, the prisoner who Pilate released instead of Jesus,  who are the others within the book that are based on factual history? 
Quite a few, actually! I have Jairus in there, who was the religious leader whose daughter Jesus raises from the dead. In my version of events, he was the first love of Abigail’s mistress. Titus Asinius plays the role of the unnamed centurion who recognizes Jesus as the Christ at the crucifixion. On the Roman end, anyone mentioned by title (consul, etc.) is the historically accurate figure at the time. In fact, Caius Asinius, Titus’s father, is probably the character with the biggest role that I take straight from history—although history only gives him two lines of mention, because nothing actually happened during his term in office, LOL. I have no clue what the real man was like, but developed his character based on documentation of men who would have been his peers.

It is obvious from your writing that you know much about the culture of Rome (and the problems between the Hebrews and the Romans) at the time of Jesus crucifixion.  How have you learned so much?
My freshman and sophomore years of college were spent immersed in all things ancient. We read  Ancient Greek texts (some in Ancient Greek, which we learned in language class!), then the Old Testament, then Roman texts, then the New Testament, then early Christian philosophers. It was those two years of study that made Stray Drop the story it is—I couldn’t have written it so culturally rich at any other time in my life!

Have you read much of Plato and Aristotle and the other great thinkers of that time?   
Yep, I’ve read absolutely every writer and text I reference in Stray Drop. You can find a list of the texts and writers in the companion guide for the book, here: http://www.roseannawhite.com/wordpress/books/a-stray-drop-of-blood/companion-guide

ASDoB is quite long, but I can't imagine it shorter while telling Abigail's story.  Was the length a challenge or a triumph as an author?  
This one makes me chuckle. =) When I wrote it, I had no idea that length could ever be considered a bad thing, LOL. It was originally around 230,000 words. When I went through and revised and rewrote before the paperback release in 2009, I cut it down to 180,000 words. THAT was both a triumph and a task, let me tell you!

I’ve actually written longer books—that will never see the light of day, I’m sure, LOL—and each felt like a badge of honor at the time. Now I work hard to keep all my books in the neighborhood of 100,000 . . . though Jewel of Persia, my second biblical, ended up closer to 150,000. ;-)

Do you write your own discussion questions at the end of your books?
Sure did! And also the Companion Guide that can be found at my website, linked above. That was a labor of love, but I’m so glad I did it, so that my readers have a go-to resource for all their cultural questions that the book brings up. =)


Thank you, Roseanna White, for a great book to read!  And thank you White Fire Publishing for providing a copy for review!

5 comments:

  1. So glad you enjoyed Stray Drop, Annette! And I had a lot of fun with the interview questions. =)

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  2. That is awesome that there is a Companion Guide to go with the book! I love learning about customs and traditions of time periods, so I've got that page bookmarked for when I get to read ASDoB.

    It sounds like an amazing book!! I really enjoyed learning more about it and Roseanna through the interview questions! :)

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  3. Thanks, Bluerose! The Guide took a big chunk of time, but I enjoyed it, and feedback on it has been that it was time well spent. =) Hope you enjoy the guide and the book one of these days!

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  4. Wow. What an incredible resource the companion guide is. I have read only a few pages and I am hooked on this story!

    I will be getting the kindle version of your book soon. My birthday is coming up and ASDoB is on my list. If I don't receive it as a gift, I will purchase it myself.

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  5. Thanks, Susan! I hope you enjoy it after your birthday--and happy birthday soon! =) And the Kindle version is priced to sell at $2.99, so it shouldn't take too much of your b-day cash. ;-) Thanks SO much for stopping by!

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