About the Author:
Anna Patricio is a lover of ancient history, with a particular interest in Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. She is also intrigued by the Ancient Near East, though she has not delved too much into it but hopes to one day.
She undertook formal studies in Ancient History at Macquarie University. She focused mostly on Egyptology and Jewish-Christian Studies, alongside a couple of Greco-Roman units, and one on Archaeology. Though she knew there were very limited job openings for ancient history graduates, she pursued her degree anyway as it was
something she had always been passionate about.
Then, about a year after her graduation, the idea to tackle historical fiction appeared in her head, and she began happily pounding away on her laptop. Asenath is her first novel.
Recently, she traveled to Lower Egypt (specifically Cairo and the Sinai), Israel, and Jordan. She plans to return to Egypt soon, and see more of it. In the past, she has also been to Athens and Rome.
Anna is currently working on a second novel, which still takes place in Ancient Egypt, but hundreds of years after Asenath.
MF: You have a degree in Ancient History and I’m sure that has helped with the setting of your novel Asenath. Tell us how you went from studying the ancient world to writing about it.
AP: Well, I took Ancient History because it is something I have always been passionate about. I knew there weren’t many job prospects for history graduates, nevertheless I took it anyway because I wanted to study something I would enjoy.
After graduation, the idea to write about Joseph’s little-known wife came to me. Though actually, I had been toying with the idea since my student ideas, as I am an enthusiast of the Joseph narrative.
Then during a slow day, I got a sudden bout of inspiration. And I got the laptop and started pounding away.
MF: Do you see a cultural value to reading stories set in the ancient world?
AP: I do. Stories make learning about a different culture so much more dynamic and vibrant. Through events, scenes, and nuances, you learn about lifestyles, practices, and traditions.
Stories bring history and cultures to life too, as you get acquainted with characters’ emotions and motivations. It’s totally different from being merely presented with a list of names, places, and dates.
MF: Tell us a little about your novel Asenath. What inspired you to write her story?
AP: As I mentioned earlier, I am an enthusiast of the Joseph narrative. I have always been inspired by the way Joseph lived his life: how he persevered throughout his darkest moments, how he never lost faith, and how he forgave the brothers who sold him.
Eventually, I grew curious about his wife Asenath. The Genesis account mentions her only very briefly. When I looked her up, I found hardly anything on her. This then led me to imagine what she might have been like.
MF: Asenath has received a plethora of good reviews with an average rating of four stars. Has this boosted your confidence or are you fearful your next novel will not meet readers’ expectations?
AP: I guess I’d say the former. It is always nice to know that complete strangers like your books, and even more so when they request you to write another one.
As for the next novel – if anything, I hope to make it better than the first. Looking at my current book, I realise there are some areas which I could improve on. I have also received constructive criticism from readers. So I aim to address those issues in the next novel.
MF: Your novel is printed through Imajin Books, a small publishing company in Canada. Tell us about the submission process and what ultimately made you choose them.
AP: The submission process, as expected, was far from easy. I got lots and lots and lots of rejections.
I submitted both to agents and indie publishers. Before submitting, I looked up an agent/publisher to make sure they were legit. I had been warned beforehand about scams and other dodgy publishers/agents.
Imajin Books was literally the very last one I submitted to. I was initially rejected by them – but then invited to [revise] and resubmit. They wanted the story tighter, more fast-paced. So I made it thus. And then they accepted my manuscript.
MF: Name one person outside of your family that has supported your writing.
AP: My fiance and fellow writer Alfred D. Byrd. He has encouraged me all throughout – and continues to encourage me. He even provides me with historical insights for my stories. He writes science fiction, fantasy, epic poetry, and non-fiction books on Christian theology, by the way.
MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
AP: I try to keep an open mind to everything, although I have a tendency to gravitate towards historical fiction. I just finished reading ‘David Copperfield.’ Currently, I am reading ‘Aztec’ by Gary Jennings, which my fiance recommended to me. It’s very engrossing, although not for the faint of heart.
As for what I love to re-read, they would be the novels I read when I began cultivating my interest in historical fiction: ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden, Wilbur Smith’s Egyptian novels specifically ‘River God’ and ‘Warlock,’ and the ‘Lions of Judah’ series by Gilbert Morris.
The list doesn’t end there though. I have recently discovered more great books, which I know I will want to read again in the future.
MF: Do you have any advice for other writers?
AP: If you are thinking of going the traditional publication route, do look up agents and publishers before you submit to them. Make sure they are legit. Sad to say, there are lots of scams out there. So be careful.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
AP: That’s easy – any one of the Ancient Egyptian novels. Especially the novels by Wilbur Smith, Pauline Gedge, and Eloise Jarvis McGraw. And also Gilbert Morris’ novel on Joseph: ‘Till Shiloh Comes,’ Book 4 in the Lions of Judah series.
If I had to pick one, it would be either ‘River God’ or ‘Mara: Daughter of the Nile’ (McGraw) or ‘Till Shiloh Comes’ (Morris).
Two Destinies…One Journey of Love
In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman’s daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.
When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.
Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace…and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison.
Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?