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The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?
Can you tell us about your newest release? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone?
Shelter of the Most High, which released on October 2nd, is the second book in the Cities of Refuge Series. The series is based on the Levitical Cities of Refuge which are referenced in Joshua 20. These six cities were set aside as places of safety for those who had been convicted of accidental manslaughter, which I discovered to be a beautiful picture of the salvation offered by our Messiah. Shelter of the Most High is the story of Sofea, a young Sicani woman (from ancient Sicily) who was forcibly taken from her home and Eitan, a young man who has been imprisoned inside the walls of Kedesh for eleven years due to tragic events in his childhood. This story, which takes place nearly twenty years after the Hebrews entered Canaan has it all: betrayal, murder plots, unbreakable vows, romance, and even pirates! Yes, I said pirates! Bronze Age ones of course… no Johnny Depp, sorry.
Is anything or anyone in this book based on real-life experiences?
Can’t say that I’ve been involved in any murders, taken a nazirite vow, or met any ancient pirates, so I’d have to say no—this one is purely from my crazy imagination.
Who was your favorite character in this story, and why?
For sure Eitan was my favorite character. He was a little boy in the first book of the series, A Light on the Hill, and I fell in love with him then, but writing him as a man still struggling with and learning to overcome the painful events of his childhood made him truly come alive for me. From the very start I “heard” his voice distinctly in my mind and his scenes tended to flow very easy. Also, he is a slinger and a metal-smith so I had lots of fun researching his passions. Anyone needs a bronze dagger, I’m your girl.
Compared to your other books, was this one easy to complete or challenging? Any idea why?
I would say this book was fairly middle-of-the-road, challenge-wise, compared to others I’ve written. I didn’t have too many struggles with completing it, although once I did I found a few major plot holes (murder plots are tough y’all! Kudos to the mystery writers out there) so those details took some finagling to smooth out. One thing that was much easier than any other book I’ve written was the first chapter. Usually, I write and rewrite and stew and second-guess my first chapters forever but this one flowed with ease and other than a few tweaks what I wrote is what ended up in the book.
What was the hardest scene in this book to write? What made it difficult?
I can’t pinpoint any one scene, but as I wrote above, the murder plot was definitely a challenge since there are so many tiny details that must work together for believability. There was a lot of rewriting that went into those scenes and lots of staring at walls during the process trying to figure out how all the moving parts would intertwine to fit the timeline. There are a couple of plot twists in this one too so I had to make sure the puzzle came together without any gaps and without giving away surprises too early. Hopefully, I was successful!
What did you (or your editors) edit out of this book?
Gosh, it was so many months ago that I finished those edits that I honestly don’t remember! I don’t think anything major was cut, I likely ended adding more than I took away, although I did end up shifting a couple of chapters because I realized I had people reacting to situations that hadn’t actually happened yet…. And I did have to change some character names very last minute due to some conflicts as I was writing the next book, Until the Mountains Fall. I realized I had a character named Lev who lived in a Levitical city and was involved in a levirate marriage—so very confusing!! So Lev is now Gidal.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing from the point of view of the opposite sex?
I used to dread writing a male POV but over time it’s become kind of a fun challenge that I look forward to. I tend to write flowery with lots of minute sensory details and do wax poetic at times so streamlining my words to fit a more concise male thought/speech pattern is always where I need to be the most ruthless. Luckily my writing partner Tammy L. Gray is fantastic at male POV’s and she is the best at catching when my guys sound or act too “girly.”
Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of over twenty years and a son and daughter who fill her days with joy, laughter, and inspiration.