by Diana Wallis Taylor
My recent book, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate, came out to good reviews and that of course is encouraging. It also posed some questions, mostly, “How can you take a person who appears in one paragraph in one Gospel and write a whole book about her?”
For those of us that write historical fiction, or Biblical fiction, it’s the research that never ceases to amaze. We delve into every book on the subject we can get our hands on, spend hours perusing the internet, and find ourselves deep in a world of long ago. So who was Claudia?
There is a great deal of controversy over Claudia. There were differences of opinion on who her parents were. She was also called Procula. Claudia’s mother was Julia, daughter of the emperor, Caesar Augustus. Of course we are familiar with him, for due to his census, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to be registered and we know about the birth of Jesus there.
Julia, as were most young Roman women, was married at the age of 14, and widowed at the ripe old age of 16. Her father then married her to Agrippa, who was 41. Five children later she was widowed again and hardly getting used to her widow’s garments when her father, who was grooming Tiberius to be his successor, had an idea. Marry his daughter to Tiberius! One small obstacle. Tiberius was happily married to Vipsana who was expecting their first child. To refuse the emperor would have endangered his health so Tiberius reluctantly divorced his wife to marry Julia. They hated each other. To say that Julia became tired of being passed around and became promiscuous is an understatement for what she was doing. In shame, Tiberius took off for Rhodes and let the emperor serve his daughter with divorce papers. To save her life she was banished to an island for five years and then given a reprieve to a villa in Reggio at the tip of the Italian boot. Claudia was born there, her father a nebulous figure. Anyway, that was the beginning. As I delved deeper into the Roman Empire, the story began to write itself and I became mainly the teller of the tale. Of course a writer has a certain amount of poetic license to add characters, conversations and instances that might have happened in that day.
I used to wonder how people spent all that time in research and thought it must be a tedious job. How wrong I was! It is the heart and soul of my writing and I can’t wait to find out little known details about my character. It makes them come to life, not only for me, but for my readers.
Diana Wallis Taylor, an award winning author, has completed her fifth book of Biblical Fiction. She has written three other books of fiction and a book of poetry. Along with her books, her writing has appeared in various compilation books and magazines. Diana recently completed an Easter cantata, “Glorious”, with her fellow collaborator, Carolyn Prentice, who did the music. Diana lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California. where she serves on the Board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild. She enjoys speaking and sharing her heart with women of all ages.