Debra Murphy of Christian Book Previews spoke with Ginger Garrett about her new book, Dark Hour.
CBP: Your second novel, Dark Hour, Jezebel's forgotten daughter and her attack on the line of King David. This is one of your series?
Ginger: Right. It's part of the Serpent Moon series, which looks at the most evil women in the Bible, and the God who overcame them all.
CBP: Why a series, and why evil women?
Ginger: I think we did it as a series because once you find a good book, you want to read in a circle with that author for a while. As for evil women, I think we have a lot to learn from them. For years we've heard so much about the women we've admired, the Proverbs 31 woman. But we haven't really listened to the evil women, and they have a lot to tell us and a lot to teach us about ourselves and where we so tempted.
CBP: When you think of roles of women in the Bible, you think of them as being a bit passive, repressed women. What were some of roles of women?
Ginger: We did it all really. We birthed Christ. We welcomed Him first to witness His new life. We advanced the gospel. The story of Dark Hour is more powerful, especially right now, because The Da Vinci Code is telling women everywhere that the church has tried to oppress us. But the truth is, and you can read this in the Bible, a woman tried to destroy the church and another womena saved it. So the Bible, in so many ways, is an epic battle of women.
CBP: Why scriptural fiction for you?
Ginger: I don't know. I honestly felt that God was prompting me to write a story about Esther. It was going to be a non-fiction, we signed the contract as a non-fiction, but it had to become a novel. I feel that the past is so close to where we are today, that we've almost come full circle as women. We have so many freedoms and so many rights, and I don't think we've ever been as enslaved as we are today. I think we have to go back to the beginning of our faith, of who we are as women, and work our way back.
CBP: Writing a scriptural novel is not the easiest thing to do, and you wrote something about your father's suggestion of taking an easier road.
Ginger: He still urges me to write a cookbook, or try something else, because it's hard on me emotionally. It's hard to write.
CBP: What are some of the challenges have you had in your writing career?
Ginger: Probably the most difficult thing, and I don't talk about it a lot, but as Chosen was coming out and I was writing Dark Hour, I got very, very sick. Whether it was spiritual warfare, or just something that went wrong in my body, I began near panic attacks. Almost to the point where I was almost scared to death. I didn't want to live through another one, and Mitch certainly didn't, and they really couldn't find a lot wrong that was causing it. It was a tough road, but I felt that in a way I was living out that battle that we face every day. That battle to push through no matter what, and it was pushing back down.
CBP: Give us an overview of the story.
Ginger: It's really the story of one woman, Jezebel's daughter, and how she was raised in a very pluralistic society where everybody could worship whoever they wanted, however they wanted. But when she came to Judah, they worshipped one God, and they didn't want to have a pluralistic society. She was enraged, and ultimately -- because of the promises God made to David that there would always be a king on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from that line -- she decided to wipe out the line of David. She murdered about 22 children in one night. I think it's so amazing that one woman saved the line of David. The boy that she saved, she snuck into the palace and stole a child during the massacre, and that boy was Joash, who was an infant at the time. And he is in the lineage of Christ. How amazing to think that a woman literally held the surviving heir that Jesus Christ would come from! Risking her life, she must have been terrified.
CBP: This particular story is a dark, bloody story in the Bible. Why do you believe it was included in the Bible?
Ginger: It's interesting, because it is one of the forgotten stories of the Bible. I think that one tendency that we have is that we read the Bible, and we make assumptions about the stories. Just because there's a story of blood in there, or rape, we get enraged with God because we think somehow He's condoning that. But He's a storyteller, and He's leaving that to us to make the judgment. We know what's right and what's wrong when we hear those stories. This particular story, I think we haven't talked about it enough simply because I think it's difficult for us to reconcile the idea a godly, submissive woman if a woman who would sneak in to a palace during a massacre and steal a child. The women of the Bible committed such acts of bravery and defiance. It's hard for us to reconcile that with the idea of who we're supposed to be as Christian women.
CBP: So is the message here that we need to step out?
Ginger: Right. And would you be willing to do that same thing today.
CBP: There's also the message of a secret -- tell us about it.
Ginger: I think it's interesting that Jewish Rabbis have gone in circles, and I don't say that disrespectfully, but they've had a lengthy debate about when it's appropriate to keep a secret. As Christians, we've really been influenced by the Recovery Movement, that we believe we have to say everything. But the message of this story is that one woman, her strength is that she kept her secret for seven years! And that's a secret that saved the world, essentially. I think we have to think about the power of keeping a secret, and how important that can be sometimes.
CBP: How do you prepare mentally through prayer when you write?
Ginger: I pray that He will bless the time that I have, and that He would speak through me. I just have a passion for my readers, and a passion to connect. To make these biblical stories come alive and be relevant. That's so important. I pray about my readers, I pray about the work, I pray about what it is that I'm supposed to be learning. Authors aren't any different. The biggest surprise to me as a writer, is how much God needed to teach me, to be humbled and to grow. In the secular world, I think writing is an ego trip. But when you believe you are writing for God, it's really humbling.
CBP: That's good for other writers to know. How do you know when you're being led?
Ginger: It's a God moment. Writing is about 90% hard work with nobody watching, it's kind of lonely, and it takes discipline. And maybe, every once in a while, it is a God moment, and I really live for that. I look at the world in my mind as a battlefield. And I think, where do I want to be? There are some days I think I'm on the front line swinging a sword with the rest of us. Most days, I just want to be on the back lines taking care of the losers.
CBP: What did writing this book do for your spiritual life?
Ginger: It woke me up. I had been lured into suburban Christian life of complacency and compliance. This book is about battles, everyone has battles. A lot of people do die, and it woke me up to how serious the world is right now, and how difficult it can be to be a Christian. How difficult and terrible it can be to be called by God. Not terrible in a bad sense but in a terrifying sense. He can call you out to do things that you know you can't do.
CBP: I think He is calling us to step out of line.
CBP: How did you prepare for this book?
Ginger: For one thing, I wanted to find the world's expert in this period in history. I was working with a lot of Jewish sources, which are very different. We have very different ideas about what the same Scriptures mean. I was working with a lot of archeological information, and historical sources. But I wanted to find a man, who was also a Christian, who was an expert in that period of history. His name is Dr. John Walden at Wheaton College, and he read the manuscript and made a lot of suggestions about where I was coming in with an American mindset. That was the most important step in preparation.
And the next story coming up is Jezebel's story, Midnight Throne, and what will surprise people I think, is that we all understand that she was a difficult wife. But there is so much backstory. So many people believe that she pioneered the abortion culture, that she pioneered mass child sacrifice. There's a doctor at Harvard that I've exchanged an email with, and he is a big proponent and has a lot of archeological evidence. Most archeologists agree with him, that yes, Jezebel was a pioneer of that culture that we're battling today. That was a big shock to me, because I thought God was angry with her because she was a disrespectful wife, but there's a lot more to that story.
CBP: I couldn't believe how much I learned from your book about ancient times. One of them that changed my life forever was how birth control was done.
Ginger: Oh, no!
CBP: This is an incredible way of learning about the past without taking a class. So the one after Midnight Throne is Temptress Nights?
Ginger: Yes. There were three women involved in the plot to take Samson out. Look at the lives of those women -- what did they have to gain by getting rid of the greatest of the judges?
CBP: There's so much that is between the lines of the stories in the Bible!
Ginger: This passage is difficult because everyone has the same names. There are two Jehorams, a Jehu and a Jehosaphat, and it gets so confusing.
CBP: I'm glad you said that, because I thought everyone else had it figured out but me.
Ginger: I had to make a flowchart, and it's as tall as I am, trying to keep everybody straight.
CBP: I want to thank you, you're such an encouragement and such a delight!