Josiah and the Theocrats (Author Interview)




Josiah and the Theocrats looks like great historical fiction.  What can you tell us about the story?
           
The story is set in seventh century BCE (or about year 3139 in the Hebrew calendar) Judah, a small southern offshoot country of Israel, much like the Confederacy was a similar (and temporary) offshoot of the United States.  Israel has already been destroyed and Judah is next.  Assyrians, Egyptians, and Babylonians are a deep concern.  Judah is currently a vassal state of Assyria, but King Josiah wants to end that and make a name for himself as he attempts to retake all of the territory he thinks King David, his ancestor, had.  The High Priest Hilkiah is also manipulating King Josiah to try to monopolize Yahwhist worship, demanding that only the Temple of Jerusalem handle religious ceremonies (and tithes).

What can you tell us about Shaphan?
Shaphan starts out as a scribal teacher and is soon hired by King Josiah to become a royal scribe, as Josiah wants desperately to control the narrative as he sets off to kill anyone who refuses his rule.  That sounds bad, so Josiah hopes Shaphan can spin it in his favor.  As luck would have it, Hilkiah shows Shaphan an old document found during the restoration of the Temple that is a book of law by someone named Moses, a supposed Egyptian general who was the muscle behind Aaron the “first” priest of Yahweh.  Shaphan spends much of the story wondering if finding this document will unite Judah or just be used as another political tool for conquest.


Any plans to turn it into a series?

I want to, though my next book won’t be a sequel to this.  I’ve been very interested in the fall of civilizations given everything that’s been happening over the last few years and I want to continue the narrative. It might be a long time jump for the next story.  While this one is about the pending destruction of a country, the beginning of the bible as a text is also a major subplot and it’d be interesting to pick it back up as scribes start to pen the other books of the bible normally ascribed to Moses.

What inspired you when writing Josiah and the Theocrats?   


Originally I wanted to write a story about divine characters from the pre-monotheistic Judaism, with El as the High God, His Wife Asherah, etc.  Taking a cue from the Baal Cycle I read, it would be a story in the modern day as the Gods are violently offended by Yahweh taking all the credit for things.  Alas, I just can’t seem to get a handle on that story.  While working on it, though, I started wondering about King Josiah.  I was one of the only students in a college literature class who knew that the story of King Josiah was essentially the bible admitting a rather late date for its own creation.  I was intrigued about the apparent fact that Hebrew wasn’t even a written language prior to sometime in or maybe slightly before the monarchy period of Israel.  Deuteronomy (or the Devarim as it is in Hebrew per my readings) is dated to around Josiah’s time period and is considered the “found book,” though scholars also say that the bible really only comes along during the Babylonian Exile period which is much later.  Essentially, I found the idea that the entire Hebrew scriptures were political ploys by various secular and religious authorities to be fascinating.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Josiah and the Theocrats?

The bible is very skimpy on dates, so I admit that I just kind of put dates at the start of each chapter.  I knew that I wanted it to end at a certain event in 2 Kings and I had to write what led up to that particular point.  I used a Hebrew calendar online to work out the dates for my story, which only takes place around a year or so.  Trying to stay true to the rather vague and glossed over story in 2 Kings while incorporating scholarly data was difficult.  I worked on the planning for the story for months.

What do you like to do when not writing?

I like playing computer or video games.  I have a day job, so I can’t devote all my time to writing or games or whatever.  I live with depression and anxiety and it helps to explore stories in whatever medium or just write it myself.  My ultimate goal is to help others by making the world a bit more accessible.  I’ve worked in long term care for years and I hate it when people are in facilities just because they are in a wheelchair and can’t get it through the door.  I want to help people be as independent as possible.  I’m nowhere near where I can work on that, though, so I just keep writing.

Where can readers find out more about your work?


I can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KLeyDeFenix/.  I’m also on Twitter as @LeyFenix.  I also have some photos over on dreamstime.com under K Ley De Fenix.  I’d love to improve my photography skills too.

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