India Edghill Interview

December 8, 2009 interviews
the author of Delilah

author India EdghillWe had the good fortune of interviewing India Edghill, author of Delilah, on December 8, 2009. Her novel is based on the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah.

Your Samson is much less warlike than the Samson in the Old Testament. What led you to reimagine his personality?

I found the Samson the Bible portrays to be a less than sympathetic character - frankly, I couldn't deal at all with a "hero" who burned 300 foxes to death (you know there HAS to be a more efficient way to burn your enemies' fields). I wanted a hero who was strong and good; a man who followed his heart. Samson was also supposed to be one of the judges in Israel, so he can't have been a bonehead, either. So I went "Looking for a Hero" and found him in Kevin Sorbo's portrayal of Hercules. I studied that characterization closely (SUCH a hardship - NOT!) and tried to create a man who was both strong and gentle, a man who could love and be loved. Strong doesn't have to mean bully; nice doesn't have to mean dull.

How close do you think your portrayal of Delilah comes to the real woman behind this ancient story?

If there really was a Delilah, there's no way for us to know what she was like. I created a character that fit my version of the story: a passionate woman ruled by her heart. Another author could, with equal validity, give us a greedy Delilah, or a patriotic Delilah - one of the wonderful things about Biblical fiction is seeing the many versions of the Bible stories and people created by different writers. My Michal (in Queenmaker) and Jill Eileen Smith's Michal (in Michal) are based on the same person, but are totally different in mind, heart, and spirit. That's one of the reasons I love reading Biblical historical novels; it's like a bunch of Biblical parallel universes.

How did you research your vivid recreation of the Temple of Atargatis?

Thank you so much for the compliment! The truth is that I've read so many history books and so many historical novels over the past fifty years that I sort of rummaged around in my mind and pulled up the facts and images I needed. I also used books, including-but-not-limited-to Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Everyday Life in Ancient Times, The Dictionary of Ancient Deities and The Collapse of the Bronze Age. Of course I used the Internet (it's not surfing, it's researching, honest!). I based some of the Temple organization on the large medieval convents: there's a lot more to convent life than kneeling around praying. Basically, a major Temple would have been almost a small city in itself, and I tried to convey that when writing about the Great Temple of Atargatis.

Review of Delilah by India Edghill

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