Sheba. But, as always, it's what she does in her story world with her characters that amazes me.
Everyone who went to Sunday school knows the basic story of Solomon and the Ethiopian queen of Sheba, but that's all we know: the basics. Tosca takes her research into the culture and history of the time and creates a feasible back story for the queen, for her rule over Sheba, and her long-distance relationship with an Israeli king that ultimately ends in marriage.
All the political-social-economic elements come into play: the clash of rulers, the threat of usurpation, the insecurities and loneliness of the monarchs, which is what attracts Solomon to her. She isn't a princess traded in marriage for political gain. She is an equal in wealth, power, and responsibility, therefore she understands the loneliness and distrust.
By the way, if you ever get a chance to study under her, either at an ACFW conference or at Realm Makers, jump at it. You won't be sorry. In the course I took of hers, she illustrated how to draw on your own emotions for your writing to create realistic characters---a technique similar to that of Donald Maass. The reason the both teach it is because it works. It can be uncomfortable, enlightening, upsetting to dredge up memories and to re-experience the pain involved---or the happiness, whatever you're going for---and even that experience itself can be used. The point is that, while the story can be fabricated, true emotion can not.
Tosca knows this, teaches it, and employs it in her novels. The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen is no different.
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