Here we are again with another fantastic Character Tour guest. This week, it is my pleasure to welcome Carole Towriss, who will introduce us to a character from her Biblical era novel Without further ado..
I’m Bezalel. My author sent me here to tell you about our story. But it’ll have to be quick—things are pretty hectic here in Egypt right now. Ramses and Moses are in a power struggle and it’s wreaking havoc. Actually, Moses says it’s not him, it’s El Shaddai, but Ramses would never admit that and I don’t really care who it is. So far, the water’s been turned to blood, we’ve been inundated by frogs and gnats, there have been snakes…. Who knows what’s next?
If it is El Shaddai, I’m not really sure what He’s trying to do here. His plan to get Ramses to free us isn’t working. His plagues are only making Ramses angrier. He’ll never let us go.
It was bad enough before Moses came. I’m the only Hebrew left in the palace. The older Ramses gets, the more paranoid he becomes about any foreigners. He only keeps me here because I’m his favorite artisan. I make him beautiful gifts for visiting rulers, and pieces of art that decorate the entire palace.
My grandfather says El Shaddai gave me a gift, but all it’s done is ruin my life. I was taken from my family, brought here when I was seven, and I’ve been here for twelve years. I’ll never be able to marry, have a family. My own people think I’m a traitor, and won’t believe I have no choice about staying here. The Egyptians, of course, despise us all. So who is left for me? I’m stuck here all alone. Some gift.
There is this girl, though. Ramses took her as a concubine. He hasn’t taken a concubine in years—he is over eighty years old. I don’t know why he needs a new one now; he always goes back to his beloved Nefertari. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, either. Except she is beautiful … her eyes are just amazing. I’ve only seen her a couple times, but both times she looked so desperately sad, sadder than I am. I want to take her away from here, take her away from all the pain … but I can’t leave myself, so I can’t very well help her.
The only thing that gives me pleasure, that lets me escape for a while, is creating. To hold the raw stones—deep purple amethyst, brilliant blue lapis lazuli, blood red carnelian, green turquoise, misshapen gold nuggets—and see hidden beneath the dirt the beauty that everyone else misses is a powerful feeling. To look into a piece of alabaster or jasper and discover the face concealed inside that only I can find is exhilarating. And when I slowly carve away the unwanted outside of the stone until only the most perfect, precious center remains, when I uncover bit by bit the bust trapped in the stone, then I am free even though I am a slave.
Bio: Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, writes, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her first novel, In the Shadow of Sinai, released November 1. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.
Beatifully written, Carole. I love Biblical fiction, so I’m definitely going to be checking this one out. Carole was nice enough to offer a free book to one lucky person who leaves a comment below–along with their email address. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday! Continental US only.
Friday, I will be welcoming Greg Mitchell to the Character Tour!