Shannon here: Brennan S. McPherson shares insight into his characters’ romance from his Biblical Fiction title, BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man. Comment or answer the question to enter Friday’s giveaway. Deadline: Oct 19th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Brennan:
- What time period does the story take place in?
290 years after the worldwide flood talked about in Genesis. Noah is still alive, and the tower of Babel is in the midst of being built.
- Who is the hero love interest?
Aran is the son of an alcoholic slave trader. When he was young, he ran from home to escape his abusive father. With scars on his face from when his father nearly beat him to death, he keeps his words few and his thoughts close. After fleeing, he ended up working as a guard in Noah’s vineyard, where he was so focused on his work that he never gave thought to romance.
- What upsets his life in the vineyard?
Aran and Noah receive news that Aran’s father has been killed, and his mother is in great need. When Noah has a disturbing prophetic dream that links his destiny to Aran’s, they both begin traveling together toward Erech, where Aran’s mother and Noah’s son Shem both live.
- Who is the heroine love interest?
On their journey, they meet Zillah, a beautiful young homeless thief with dark secrets and an enigmatic past that is entwined with their own in ways none of them could have expected.
- What has happened so far in the story?
Zillah convinced Aran and Noah to bring her with them on their journey to a city named Erech, where she hopes to find safety from men who’ve been pursuing her. They’re traveling by camelback through the desert. The following is an excerpt, a moment when Aran begins to open up to her about his deepest pain—something he’s not done with anyone else. It’s a small, subtle moment, but it marks a shift in him that connects his past to hers, because Zillah, too, escaped an abusive upbringing. Their mixed emotions about their parents is a massive part of what draws their fates together so powerfully. But, like real romance, it grows slowly through many small, seemingly subtle interchanges.
Excerpt from BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man by Brennan McPherson:
They rode in silence for many hours. Eventually, as the light dimmed, Zillah fell asleep and slumped in Aran’s arms. He kept having to reposition her head to rest in the crook of his neck so she wouldn’t lean too far.
Luckily, he hardly had to direct his camel at all. He’d given it the name Little Kavel, for he was smaller than the old camel who’d borne him faithfully all the way to Accad.
The desert air was dry, and his tongue began to feel like it was wrapped in camel hair. Night settled, and the air began to cool. As the chill seeped into his bones, he was thankful for the warmth of Zillah’s body against his. Though she slept fitfully, shivering and waking with chattering teeth before settling into him and falling asleep again.
He envied her ability to sleep while sitting up. He’d never learned the talent and was certain he’d never be able to sleep in her arms while traveling the road. Imagining it made him chuckle, and Zillah woke and took a deep breath, rubbing her arms.
“How long until sunrise?” she said, voice croaking in the dry, cool wind.
“Too long,” he said.
She tried to sleep again, but kept repositioning herself. With a sigh, she stretched and sat up. “Do you have any water?”
Zillah groaned and ran her tongue against her teeth.
“I wish I’d paid the wine merchant two gold coins for a skin,” Aran said.
“I’d pay with my own leg.”
Aran looked up at the sky, and the dark clouds they’d seen far off were now blocking half the stars. The wind was picking up and began to blow grit into their faces, even as high as they sat atop their camels.
Zillah pulled her hood low about her face and huddled forward over the saddle. Aran wished he could do the same. He closed his eyes, instead, to guard against the sand and dirt. Opening them only occasionally to make sure they were still within sight of Noah.
The night trudged on to the rhythm of Little Kavel’s feet, until color grew at the edge of the horizon, and the sun rose. But the light only lasted a moment for the dark clouds hung low and soon the sun plunged into them. The light was not strong enough to pierce the billowing squall, and in the distance, Aran spied a sheet of rain falling like a shifting shadow. Aran braced himself as the first droplets struck his face. Then, in the space of four of the camel’s steps, the rain intensified until it soaked his tunic through.
Zillah muttered curses as they clutched each other in the wet chill. The sun hadn’t been up long enough to warm the rain, so it felt as though the clouds had diverted a frozen river onto their shoulders.
Soon, the road started to run with little creeks rushing fast enough to dig ditches. Twice the camels nearly rolled their ankles, until Noah pulled his camel to a set of large boulders and slid off.
Aran and Zillah got off as well after Noah yelled above the tempest, “We’ll take shelter here until the storm passes!”
They pulled the camels into the alcove as much as they could, and huddled together behind them. Still, though it protected them from some of the bitter wind and stinging rain, they couldn’t change that they were soaked.
Aran wished more than ever he had remembered to purchase new rain tunics at the market before leaving. Even more that he’d never let those thieves get away with all their supplies. He hoped they were drowning in the storm too.
Noah cupped his hands and, each time they filled with water, he sucked the liquid down. Aran and Zillah did the same. “At least we don’t have to be thirsty anymore,” he said.
Zillah laughed, but Aran didn’t find it funny.
They waited and watched for quite some time. Just when Aran thought the storm couldn’t get any worse, it did. Now they couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of them. And it just kept falling.
Zillah held herself and shivered. Aran wrapped his arms around her as Noah put his back to theirs. Zillah looked up at Aran, their noses hardly a finger’s width from each other.
Water ran down her face, matting her black hair to her cheeks and chin. She pushed a lock of hair from her eyes and smiled.
Aran smiled back and shook his head. “I wouldn’t have guessed a day after you tackled me we’d be sitting here.”
“Not what I expected, either,” she said.
She looked away, squinting at their surroundings. The camels sat on bent knees, heads lifted high in the rain. Eyes guarded by double lashes and extra lids.
Noah rose slowly, and he groaned as his joints ground together. He hobbled out and stared at the road, lines etched as deeply into his face as the ruts across the road.
“So,” she said. “Why are you journeying to Erech?”
Aran looked at his feet, dug partially through the mud. “My father died.”
She slid her feet forward, mirroring his. “I’m sorry.”
“He deserved to die,” he said.
She looked up at him, questions in her eyes but not on her tongue.
“I ran away from home when I was young. To escape him.” He pointed at the scars across his face.
Her eyes widened. She ground her teeth together and said nothing.
“I’m going back to help my mother.”
“Noah knew them?”
“Noah wants to visit his sons, who live in that region. He’s been having dreams.”
They looked at the old man, standing like a sycamore in the rain.
“I saw the beginning of the end of the world,” Noah said, eyes bright as stars in the storm glow. “My goal is to visit Shem, who lives in the oasis city of Erech, then Japheth, who lives downriver, in another city.”
Zillah hugged herself tighter.
Aran did the same, until the rain waned.
Then, as quickly as it had come, it stopped.
About Brennan: BRENNAN S. MCPHERSON writes epic, imaginative biblical fiction with heart-pounding plots and lyrical prose, for readers who like to think biblically and feel deeply. He lives in the frigid beauty of Wisconsin with his wife and young daughter. He’s been featured on The 700 Club, and garnered endorsements from NYT Bestselling authors such as Tosca Lee and Charles Martin. Find out more and pick up BABEL at his website, https://brennanmcpherson.com/.
About the book – BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man: A sweeping, epic retelling of the story of the Tower of Babel. . .
More than a century after the worldwide flood, Noah, now the forefather of the living world, works peacefully in his vineyard until tragedy tears apart his relationship with his son, Ham.
Years later, dark prophetic dreams inextricably link him with a young man carrying scars from a painful past, and a young woman who longs for acceptance yet harbors secrets darker than either of them imagine.
Will Noah face the role he played in the slow unraveling of his family? Or will everything collapse when they meet the evil attempting to swallow the world at. . . the Tower of Babel?
Question for Readers: Other than Jesus, who is your favorite person in the Bible?
Come back Oct 11th for Linda Shenton Matchett!