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December 16, 2022

After covering topics like “women, faith, persecution, and the establishment of religious canon,” per BookLife Reviews, Martin adds another entry, The Bringer of Happiness, to her Women Unveiled series.

The Bringer of Happiness is part of your Women Unveiled series. Can you talk about the concept for the series?

The Women Unveiled series is a collection of stories presented in novel sequence so each book can be read independently. The Bringer of Happiness is the second book in the series. Each book in the Women Unveiled series is united by a distinctive feminine narrative that challenges societal boundaries and incorporates common themes, such as the retelling of well-known Greek myths. The series returns women’s histories, stories, and voices to the public realm.

This book follows the daughter of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Why did you choose to make her your protagonist?

The Bringer of Happiness was inspired by a tour I took to the South of France following Mary Magdalene’s purported footsteps. I had a vision of looking up at her—a slender, towering figure—and the voice of a child came through. Initially, I wrote in the third person and incorporated the points of view of several characters, but the writing never sat well until I embraced the tale through her daughter Sara’s first-person narrative.

What kind of research did you do to ensure historical accuracy?

It is important for me to ensure my research is thorough and extensive, which is why each of my novels takes around four years to research and write. For The Bringer of Happiness, I studied books, articles, and essays from a broad cross section of academics, nonfiction authors, and novelists about the historical Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I researched writings on the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls, explored langue d’òc folklore, and undertook interviews of contemporary lived experiences of Shamanic initiations. My research also included medieval history, texts about the Cathars at Montségur, Gnosticism, analysis of Greek mythology focusing on Persephone and Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries, archeological articles and books on pre-Judaic religious cults, female saints, and medical articles. I also included my own interpretations, drawn from site-specific visits where I like to intuit the landscape as a point of reference. Nevertheless, this is a work of fiction, and I have taken creative license. For example, research suggests that Mary Magdalene had three children, but for the purpose of this story, I have written of only one, based on her daughter Sara Tamar.

What responsibility do you feel authors have when they reimagine or change characters based on real people?

I define my work as creative fiction supported by research. There are many truths in this world, and I believe we do not need to hold too tightly to just one. I approach my characters with integrity in order to explore universal characteristics without the onus of claiming “this is the truth.” Writing about people who are revered and worshipped is daunting, but my characters are historic personalities who have been defined, and perhaps limited, by an entitled male perspective. My responsibility as an author is not to necessarily change this but to offer another perspective.

When can readers expect the next book in the series?

The third book, Delphi, is in development. It is a sequel of sorts to my first novel, Dancing the Labyrinth. I anticipate it will be ready for release in late 2023 or early 2024.