“Write Joseph’s memoirs.” These three little words dropped in my spirit during a time of quiet devotion on April 6th, 2019, while I was staying at an Airbnb in Los Angeles. I wrote them down in my prayer journal, listing titles of possible entries that Joseph’s hypothetical journals might contain, and thought nothing more of it. It wasn’t until five weeks later when I received an unexpected prophecy about my writing abilities during a TV-show taping of Praise on TBN, that I took action on what I truly believe to be a divine assignment, and started writing my debut novel. I knew absolutely nothing about writing novels then, and I had no idea how long and tumultuous the journey from idea to publication would be. Suffice it to say, one pandemic, two continents, three and three-quarter years, four versions, fourteen residences, and several personal traumas later, A Divine Romance was born.
Surprising to me, is that as I thought about how to write Joseph’s story, I was drawn more to the perspective of the Egyptian woman that became his wife, thanks to Pharaoh’s decree. Thinking about what Asenath’s life must have been like before she was suddenly forced into an arranged marriage to a mystical foreigner, who was not only from a people group despised by hers, but was an ex-prisoner, and a heretic in the eyes of her Egyptian priestly parentage, I sympathized with her. Knowing that she too was someone beloved of God, as scripture tells us God so loved the world—which means everyone—I decided to explore not just their romance as a couple but Asenath’s individual journey with God. Because He is forever the Lord that leaves ninety-nine in the fold to chase after one outside it. That’s why I call Him my Eternal Lover; the One to whom I dedicated A Divine Romance.
The birth of my fiction debut, has inadvertently evidenced my unique writing style: poetic storytelling. Ironically, I never studied literature. A classically-trained vocalist, I earned my B.A. Honors in Music. But poetry has always been my therapy, love language, and favorite form of creative expression—even as a child I would design original birthday cards for family and friends featuring my own rhyming poems. Hence when it came to writing A Divine Romance, having poetry feature in my characters’ expression of emotion was only natural. However, after I completed the manuscript, I felt compelled to study the various short poetry forms, like Haikus, Cinquains, etc., after which I wrote thirty-seven short poems in three days—one to open each chapter of the book. I deliberately scripted them as poetic clues that hint either at that chapter’s happenings or the character’s current feelings. This is because I wanted my novel to bring something unique to the Biblical fiction table, rather than imitate the popular style of opening chapters with direct scriptural quotes. And I love the end result, because it enabled me to remain true to my poetic voice in the new territory of fiction.
Besides the featured poems, additional unique aspects that distinguish my story from other retellings of this beloved biblical tale include:
Interpretive Character Names: The most exciting part of my research was discovering Ancient Egyptian names and their meanings, and I was very deliberate in selecting each character’s name to reflect an aspect of their role, appearance, or circumstance.
A Reader’s Guide: To foster an immersive reading experience, the book opens with an illustrated glimpse at Ancient Egyptian cities, deities, and fashions, as well as a glossary of the interpretive character names.
An Own Voices Perspective: My main characters are an African female raised in a patriarchal society (Asenath), and an immigrant living outside the nation of his birth (Joseph). I am both of those things, so I wrote this story from that shared, personal outlook.
Looking back, I see the Lord had much bigger plans than I ever imagined when I set out to obey His three-word instruction. Not only has A Divine Romance made me a novelist, it has made me a publisher. Long before I became a prize-winning performance poet, I felt called to use my multiple creative talents with one goal: inspiring with words— hence ‘InspiroLogos,’ my performance alias turned publishing imprint. Ultimately, my life’s mission remains ‘to inspire with words’ whether I do so via spoken words, songs, sonnets, or scripture-inspired stories.
HAPPY RELEASE DAY! A Divine Romance is now available wherever you love to buy books, including, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Apple books, Bookbub, Book Depository, IndieBound, etc. I'm excited to share that this debut novel of mine garnered a dozen five-star reviews on Goodreads even before its official release (February 14th). I hope you buy a copy and I hope you enjoy the journey to ancient Egypt therein, well enough to write a review afterwards!
BOOK LAUNCH: I'm specially inviting you to the Instagram Live Book Launch, on February 16 @ 3PM EST / 8PM GMT / 9PM WAT on my instagram page: @inspirologos. The one-hour launch will feature guest appearances from the award-winning authors who endorsed this book, as well as musical and poetry performances, and the chance to win an autographed copy of A Divine Romance! Hope to see you there!
P.S. If you missed it, you can still watch the cinematic book trailer for A Divine Romance.
Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!
~ Ifueko Fex Ogbomo, Prize-winning Poet & Author of A Divine Romance