Friday, December 16, 2011

Interview with Anna Patricio and 'Asenath' Giveaway!

Anna, welcome to Hardcover Feedback! Would you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you Megan, it's wonderful to be here! Well, I am a debut novelist from Australia. My historical / Biblical fiction ASENATH is about the little-known wife of Joseph of the multicoloured coat. Many people have remarked to me, "Wow, I didn't know Joseph was married!" Truth to be told, neither did I, until I delved deeper into his story.

I love all things Biblical and historical, which I suppose is quite obvious. With the latter, I am specifically inclined to ancient history. I try to keep an interest in all periods of history, of course, but am most drawn to the ancient world, probably because it's the farthest removed from our time and therefore the most enigmatic.

I became interested in ancient history in my teens and took it for my degree at Macquarie University. The course offered Biblical units as well, so it was perfect. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do with my studies - I mean, what sort of job I would get later on. (There was the obvious option of teaching, but I wasn't really interested as I don't have the guts and patience.) But I pursued them anyway since they were a passionate interest of mine. Then sometime after graduation, I began writing 'Asenath.' Just like that. I had actually been entertaining the idea of writing a novel about her for the longest time, but never really got around to it until then.

I recently travelled to Egypt, Israel and Jordan for the first time. That was an out-of-this-world experience. I can never forget when I caught my first glimpse of Egypt from the plane (I continued onto Israel and Jordan by land). There were all these beautiful golden sand dunes rolling as far as the eye could see, plus a body of water in the distance - possibly the Nile? Not sure. Israel and Jordan were fun too, of course. The whole trip was fun. I hope to go back again one day. And the Middle Eastern deserts are beautiful. The formation of the dunes is so perfect, and the sky is a deep, sheer blue.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently playing around with ideas for a second novel set in the time of Moses. I know it seems all planned out - after writing about Joseph, I would write about Moses. But I honestly didn't intend it

that way! The idea just popped up. Like 'Asenath' this will also be a female-oriented novel. So far, it

seems the main character will be Moses' adoptive mother, the Egyptian princess who rescues him from the river. And that could be interesting to explore because while the princess is not as obscure as Asenath,

there isn't much known about her either, except for her moment with the baby in the basket. I actually wrote a rough draft of this novel last year while 'Asenath' was on submission. However, I have not touched it in a while due to publication preparations for 'Asenath.' But hopefully next year. 

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
Hmmm..... I'd have to say Arthur Golden, who wrote 'Memoirs of a Geisha.' Not only did he influence me wanting to write, his novel influenced 'Asenath' as well. I first read 'Memoirs of a Geisha' when

I was still a student, and I was immediately captivated by it. I admired the protagonist's strength and long-suffering love for her hero. It was really touching. I really love those stories of strong women who overcome adversity, and I wondered what if Joseph's wife was such a woman? It would be a nice idea to explore, and it would only be fitting, seeing as Joseph himself endured a lot of hardships. In addition, I love Mr Golden's style of writing. It's so poignant, and beautifully describes complex emotions. I sort of incorporated this in the writing of 'Asenath.'

Aside from that, I also ought to acknowledge the various ancient Egyptian novels I've read, particularly the ones of Wilbur Smith and Pauline Gedge. I loved how these authors brought the ancient world to life, and fleshed out the ancient Egyptians, endearing them to me. I loved exploring this genre so much, hence I thought it would be worth a try to make my own little contribution to it. My book is probably not as stellar as Smith's or Gedge's, but it was still a lot of fun to write.

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?

I guess I don't really plan things, unlike a lot of writers I hear of. Everything with me is totally spontaneous. Even the idea to begin writing my novel appeared just out of the blue, as I mentioned. Plus, I can only work on one novel at a time. I think some writers work on 2, maybe even 3 novels simultaneously. But well, this is what works for me.

I have heard that many authors listen to music while they write. Do you? If so, what do you usually listen to?
No, I need absolute silence. Usually, classical music helps me work faster. But for some reason, I can't write even with classical music. I need total silence and stillness. I guess that is why I work better at night than in the daytime - everything is quieter by then.

Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
Hmmm... from my own novel, it would be Joseph and Asenath, without a doubt. Especially Joseph, because I admire his strength, perseverance, integrity and kindness. It's really no wonder that he serves as an inspiration for a lot of people, because his character is unlike any other. I really admire how he went through so much and remained sweet and kind. He even forgave the brothers who betrayed him.

As for characters from other novels, I guess I would say the protagonist from 'Memoirs of a Geisha,' Chiyo who is later renamed Sayuri. Like Joseph, she too endured a lot of hardship before finding happiness in the end. I guess I relate a *bit* more with her, being a female and all. I also like Jane Eyre as well, who is sort of similar to Sayuri. I was actually encouraged to check out this novel when I heard someone remark that it was very similar to 'Memoirs of a Geisha.' And it is! Strong heroine who endures great sorrows before finding love and happiness in the end. Perhaps, these women could be the female equivalent of Joseph - to an extent.

What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you? 
I would have to say my recent Middle Eastern trip, which was bestowed upon me by my super cool parents. Last year, I had just finished a particularly trying period in my life and my mum, knowing what I really like, said to me, "Would you like to go to Egypt and Israel?" So we did and it was a blast.

Oh, I also have to say that another gift I considered one of the best gifts I received were my dogs! I view my pets as equals to me though, not as merely possessions. But they came to me as gifts, again from my parents. They were all surprises as well, so that was really cool.

What are three things (not people) that you wouldn't want to live without?
Music (especially classical), rain, and my nice house to come home to.

What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
See more of Egypt! The recent trip, you see, was focused mostly on Israel, with only 2 days for Egypt (it was for 2 weeks, the first 2 days were in Egypt, and the last 3 were in Jordan). As you can imagine, 2 days for Egypt is far too short! So I'm planning to return, maybe in a couple of years or so. Anyway, it's good to always have something to look forward to. Still, Israel was heaps of fun, and also a place I've been dying to
see as well. Not to mention it's where Jesus walked, and where Joseph was originally from. So it was good I already got to travel extensively around Israel.

All the music in the world is being destroyed and you can only save one album, what would you save and why?
Probably either one of the classical music albums or any Loreena McKennitt album. I find the music very beautiful, soothing and soulful. 

What is your all-time favorite book? What is your favorite book you have read this year? 
My all-time faves would be the abovementioned 'Memoirs of a Geisha,'as well as the Egyptian novels of Wilbur Smith and Pauline Gedge, and also this little-known novel 'Joseph and Asenath' by Alex G Chappell.
'Joseph and Asenath', I have to say, is an underappreciated treasure. I came across it while looking up novels on Asenath, to make sure I wasn't unintentionally writing something that had already been published. Anyway, I was very intrigued by the premise of 'Joseph and Asenath,' and when I later got to read it, I was not disappointed. I really loved the way the author built up the chemistry between the two main characters, and the ending was so suspenseful it literally had me on the edge of my seat! Few novels nowadays can achieve that. But yes, I really loved Chappell's novel.

As for the favourite books read this year: at the beginning of the year, I finished Pauline Gedge's 'The Twelfth Transforming.' It was a good book even though her portrayal of Akhenaton was a bit, um, weird. I also recently finished reading another Egyptian novel 'The Sekhmet Bed' by Lavender Ironside, which was also very good and well-written.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read - which probably comes as no surprise, seeing how reading and writing go hand in hand, listen to music, watch TV and movies. I also used to do a bit of photography before, though I haven't done any in ages.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Night owl, definitely, as mentioned above. I'm always really lethargic in the morning. Not sure why.

If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?

1. Joseph
2. Asenath (surprise, surprise)
3. Mother Teresa
4. Queen Esther (I admire her bravery)
5. One of my talkative, outgoing friends who could "break the ice" at the beginning of the party

You are given a ticket that will bring you anywhere that you want to go, at anytime in history. Where would you want to go and why?
Hands down, Ancient Egypt! That should be pretty self-explanatory....

Where can people connect with you online? 
I have a blog at and it has links to my facebook, twitter etc.

Thanks you so much Anna for being on Hardcover Feedback!

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? 


Egypt 1554 B.C.

The Nile had just flooded, leaving the ground moist, rich and black. The children of our riverside village, I among them, frolicked about in the cool, gooey earth. In the distance, the ancient river circled the land, glittering
with a thousand tiny dancing lights from the sun-god's Boat of a Million Years. A breeze blew, rustling the branches of the palm trees that surrounded our home.
No sooner had I looked than a mud ball pelted me hard across the stomach. "I'll get you for that, Menah." I bent down to gather mud in my hands when another ball landed on my back. He was a quick one, my best friend. I had just formed a mud ball and was about to raise my arm when Menah suddenly charged forward and pounced on me.
"Now you'll get the tickle torture," he said in a mock evil voice.
"No, Menah. Please, no." But I was overcome by uncontrollable laughter.
"Menah! Kiya!" voices called out, interrupting our playful wrestling.
Our mothers approached.
"Come out now," my mother called. "It is time to prepare for the Feast of Hapi."
Covered in mud from head to toe, Menah and I scrambled toward them. 

Mama shook her head, smiling. "You're such a mess." She led me back to our hut.
"What is going to happen tonight, Mama?" I asked. "I mean, after we pray to Hapi? Will there be games?"
Mama's blue eyes twinkled against her brown skin. "I see no reason why there shouldn't be."
"And lots of food?" 
"All the food you could ever want."
"May I wear my lotus necklace today?"
Years ago, when I was very young, Mama had given me a beautiful carved lapis lazuli lotus pendant strung on a simple piece of coarse rope. She told me it had been in her family for many generations and that her grandmother had received it from Hapi himself.
She ruffled my hair. "Of course. Today is, after all, a special day."
As we entered our mud hut, which had been my home since birth, I saw my father mending one of his fisherman's nets. When he saw me, he pretended to cower in fear.
"A mud monster has entered our house."
I laughed. "It's just me, Papa."
He leaned forward and squinted, as if trying to get a good look, though the gesture was comically exaggerated. "Is it? Let me see. Ah yes, it's my little Kiya."
He leapt to his feet, picked me up and swung me around, ignoring the mud that soiled his hands. I squealed with delight.
"Nakhti," Mama said. "I have to get her ready."
"Yes." Papa set me down. He gave me a gentle slap across the back, motioning for me to return to Mama.
"I get to wear the lotus today, Papa."
He smiled. "I am sure you will look very pretty."

Later that afternoon, four priests from a nearby town passed by our village. They shouldered on poles our patron god's idol, which nestled upon a bed of water lilies. A ray of sunlight bounced off the golden image and it flashed with brilliance. Behind the god was a small train of dancing priestesses. 

They rattled sistrums and twirled around, their white dresses billowing out like clouds. My fellow villagers and I  were assembled outside our village, awaiting the god's arrival. When he appeared, we fell to our knees and touched our foreheads to the sandy ground.
"Glorious Hapi," my father intoned. "We thank you for once again allowing your water to flow and give life. We thank you for nourishing our land and our people. We pray your sacred pitchers never cease to flow. We thank you, great god of the Nile."
My heart swelled with pride. Papa was the most renowned fisherman in our village. Though he was quite an old man—many years older than my mother—he possessed skills and strength that surpassed even those of the younger generations. Everyone thus hailed him as the favoured of the river god.
"Praise be to you, Hapi," I echoed along with the rest of my fellow villagers.
As the idol trailed away, we rose to our feet and gathered up the amulets and flowers, which we would be tossing into the Nile as offerings. It was sunset now and sheer red-orange skies cast a fiery glow upon the river's
rippling surface. From a distance, we heard the warbling of river fowl and the screeching of monkeys.
We approached the riverbank. It was still soft and muddy from the inundation. We tossed our offerings in. All the while, Papa chanted hymns of praise. Afterward, we returned to the village for what we children had been
anticipating the most—the games.
A kind, respectable widow named Mekten, whom everyone called "Village Mother", held a game called the "statue dance." She played a reed flute while we danced and would stop at random moments without warning. We had to freeze as soon as the music stopped. Those who were still dancing were out of the game.
My friends and I loved it so much that Mekten held several rounds of it. Unfortunately, I always lost, as I always got so caught up in the liveliness of the game. However, she awarded me a small spinning top as a prize for being the best dancer.

I danced so much that I could barely keep my eyes open as we later sat down to the feast. Papa picked me up and carried me back to our hut. I was too tired to protest. As soon as he lay me down, I fell into a deep sleep.
That night, I dreamt I was on a great winged barque sailing along the Nile. It was a bright day, with the white-golden Egyptian sun shining gloriously and flocks of ibises and herons gleaming against the clear blue sky. A group of friendly monkeys, like those who usually wandered near my family's hut, kept me company on the deck, entertaining me with their hilarious antics. 

Suddenly, the skies darkened and the water began to thrash against the barque. The monkeys leapt up and down, screeching frantically. I grabbed onto the rail. Thunder rumbled. Fierce white waves threatened to haul us overboard. The barque tipped to a dangerous level and I began to scream.

Waking, I placed my hand over my heart, which was pounding fiercely. I was about to heave a sigh of relief when I heard the rumbling from my dream. I sat up, my chest constricting in fear once more. The noise sounded like it was coming from outside our hut.
The rumbling stopped. I heard a strange voice shouting in a language I could not understand. My father appeared beside me. In the dim light, I could see the outline of his bony profile as he knelt by my side.
"What's that noise, Papa?"
He put his arms around me and before he could answer, a chilling scream sliced through the air. Other screams followed. Soon, the air was filled with a frightening cacophony—screams, cries and more shouts in that strange language. Papa's grip on me tightened. "Come, Kiya. We must hide you."
The door of our hut flew open. Two enormous, fearsome-looking warriors towered like the tallest trees.
Their faces were thickly painted in bright, garish colours. They wore loincloths made of animal skin and peculiar pointed headdresses that emphasised their unusual height. In their hands were spears that glinted threateningly.
Mama screamed.
One of the warriors shouted something, while waving toward us. Another dashed forward and snatched me out of Papa's protective hold. 

The monster hauled me outside. I kicked and flailed. "Papa!"
"Kiya!" Papa hurried after me.
Alas, though he was strong and agile, he was no match for these giants. They ran with such enormous strides that in no time he was out of sight.
"Papa?" I writhed about in the warrior's iron grip. "Papa!"
I felt a blow to the back of my head and the world turned black.


To be entered to win a copy of Asenath, follow this blog in at least one way and then fill in all the applicable entries on the Rafflecopter form. There will be ONE winner and he/she will have the choice of either an e-book or a printed book. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

Blogaholic Designs”=


  1. I love all things biblical and historical, too! This is why I signed up to join this giveaway, hoping to win a copy of Asenath. A few weeks ago, I finished reading a story on Esther (A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf) and I really admire her courage. I hope to find the same courage in Asenath. Thank you for having this giveaway!

  2. I am a huge history fan. I in fact used to read really only historical non fiction particularly Ancient Egypt but within the last year or so I've become really interested in the fictional books also so I would love to read this one! Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. I have not heard of Asenath. So, it would be neat to read about her.