Fictional Character Interview: Helena, Her Encounter with Jesus Terrified Her

Today we will meet Helena, a 1st century biracial character from Regarding Tiberius by Bartholomew Boge.
Novel Pastimes: Thank you for taking time to be with us today, Helena. First off, what language would you prefer we conduct this interview in?
Helena: I am perfectly fluent in Greek, Latin, and Persian and have a basic conversational fluency in Aramaic and Armenian. I know a few basics in a handful of others. Will Greek work for you?
Novel Pastimes: Certainly.  (the rest of the interview is translated from Koine Greek). Let’s begin with your name: Helena Mithridates Kleopatra.
Helena: My first name is, of course, an homage to the great character of Greek legend and history, Helena of Sparta. It is said that she was so beautiful that hers was “the face that launched a thousand ships,” which, of course, refers to the siege of Troy by the forces of Menelaus when Helena was stolen from him. Now I do not claim to have such beauty, as scarred and lean as I am, but I do share Helena’s experience with the arts of war, as it is supposed that she trained with the men as a Spartan warrior in her youth.
Novel Pastimes: And the middle name, “Mithridates”?
Helena: That is my family name. I am from the line of Mithradates VI, the last great Pontic king to defy Roman rule in Asia Minor. After his demise, all of his descendants were to have been executed by Roman law. An exception was made in my case, obviously. In fact, rather than rebel against Roman rule as my ancestors have, I have logged years of service in Rome’s Third Gallic Legion as a translator and transcriptionist of Persian documents, mostly receipts for goods purchased by the legion.
Novel Pastimes: “Kleopatra”?
Helena: That was just a pet name given me by my father, Nikophoros, King of Eupatoria, which means “Glory of Her Father.” I am of Ethiopian and Persian descent, and have no relation to the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra who ruled Egypt.
Novel Pastimes:  So you are of royal descent?  That explains your high level of education.
Helena: Indeed. My parents bore no male heirs, so I was thoroughly trained in law, rhetoric, history, geography, and the arts of war—all critical fields of study for a would-be monarch.
Novel Pastimes: And languages?
Helena: That was more a family tradition than preparation for rule, although being a polyglot holds many advantages for a queen. In fact, my ancestor, Mithradates VI, was said to have been fluent in all 26 languages of his realm.
Novel Pastimes: Where were you born?
Helena: A small principality called Eupatoria, a city-state under Roman jurisdiction in the province of Pontus (editor’s note: modern north central Turkey). The Romans sacked it in 20 AD, smashing every structure to rubble and killing the entire population. Today only ruins remain.
Novel Pastimes: The Romans destroyed your homeland, yet you served in their legions?
Helena: Not by choice, initially. I was the only member of the royal family spared, and one of only a handful of citizens left alive after the slaughter. A centurion, Tiberius, orchestrated my clemency and took me as his slave.
Novel Pastimes: This is the same Tiberius you wrote your account about?
Helena: Yes. We had met once, prior to the sacking of Eupatoria, when I was a princess and heir-apparent to the crown. He took me as a war captive, but generally treated me more like a colleague than a slave. He was a brilliant tactician, Tiberius. He made a way for the governor of Bithynia, Pontus Pilate, to negate my slave status and restore my Roman citizenship.
Novel Pastimes: Wait—THE Pontus Pilate? The one who had Christ crucified?
Helena: The same. Before he became governor of Judaea, he was first given command of a lesser province in Asia Minor, Bithynia, just west of Pontus. I’ve had several run-ins with him over the years.
Novel Pastimes: Did you ever meet Jesus of Nazareth?
Helena: Twice. Once before his crucifixion, once after.
Novel Pastimes: What were your impressions?
Helena: I was never more terrified of another human being in all my life.
Novel Pastimes: Terrified? Why?
Helena: I’m a strategist at heart. Being a woman, I am usually underestimated as such, and I typically benefit from mistakes made by adversaries who don’t take me seriously. Jesus of Nazareth was different: he knew me to the core of my being, even my every thought and feeling. How can one ever hope to best a foe who knows your every whim?
Novel Pastimes: You were adversaries?
Helena: Not in a military sense, but in an emotional and spiritual one. He cut through my every defense and exposed my deepest, darkest longings for vengeance. It was unsettling. I avoided him after our first meeting as best I could, but was confronted by him once again, after his resurrection.
Novel Pastimes: And how did that go?
Helena: Better. (smiles)
Novel Pastimes: You are from a royal family in Asia Minor, yet you have a very dark complexion.
Helena: My family line comes from Ethiopia and Persia. I bear more a resemblance to my African ancestors.
Novel Pastimes: You mentioned scars earlier.  What from?
Helena: Some are from minor hand-to-hand combat wounds, simple scratches. The worst are on my stomach, where I bear disfiguring scars from being mauled by a Caspian tiger in my youth.
Novel Pastimes: You survived a tiger attack?
Helena: I was wearing leather armor at the time, which is the only reason I’m still here to engage in this interview. My private security detail managed to dispatch it before it could finish me off, but I am fortunate to be alive. As are my men—my father was quite displeased that none of them got so much as a scratch while his only daughter was bloody and torn open like a sack of grain!
Novel Pastimes: Well, Helena, thank you very much for your time.  One final question; what would you say is your best quality, aptitude, or gift?
Helena: The ability to think rationally under pressure. That may sound like an incredible gift, to think with perfect logic and clarity under stress, but rest assured that it’s often as much a curse as a blessing. On more than one occasion it has been a horrible quality to possess—particularly when the stakes are life and death.
Thank you, Helena, for this fascinating look at the life of a woman in Biblical times.
image3Originally known for applying his creative vision to the composition of Christian art-rock epics, Bartholomew Boge has found a new niche writing historical fiction. Whether it be through music or literature, Bartholomew challenges his audience to examine the depravity of man and the redeeming grace of God, bought with the shed blood of Christ.

In his debut novel, Regarding Tiberius, Bartholomew explores questions of justice, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness. Set during the time of Christ, this fast-paced story moves through several locations within the Roman Empire, including Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Judea. Confronted with the brutal death of her parents and the destruction of her kingdom, Bartholomew’s female protagonist, Helena Mithridates Kleopatra, undertakes a clandestine mission to avenge the slaughter of her people by assassinating the Roman commander who ordered their pitiless liquidation. Success would mean death for herself, her lover, Tiberius, and her only son, Marcellus. Will she do it? Should she? Which is more righteous–justice or mercy? How can one forgive an unforgivable crime, or receive forgiveness for one? Helena must answer these timeless questions along the way to fulfilling her bloody destiny.

Bartholomew Boge lives with his family in northcentral Wisconsin.


Meet Eleri of The Fury of Dragons by Renee Yancy

smallestNovel Pastimes: Good morning, Eleri. So nice to have you with us. I know it isn’t easy to get time off from working in the Fortress of the Britons.

Eleri: Thank you. God’s greetings to you this morning. May I correct your pronunciation of my name?

Novel Pastimes: Certainly.

Eleri: It’s Ah-LAIR-ee

Novel Pastimes: Very good. So where were you before you came to the fortress of the chieftain Coroticus in Roman Britain?

Eleri: I was a slave in the household of Lorcan, in Eriu, until the day I was abducted by pirates on a slaving raid and taken back to Britannia, where I was born.

Novel Pastimes: And where exactly were you born?

Eleri:  In a small village called Maia, at the far western edge of Hadrian’s Wall.

Novel Pastimes: Who were your parents? If you don’t mind my asking?

Eleri: My father was Rogatos, a Roman British decurion. My mother was Deira, one of the Deer people of the Carvetti tribe, a branch of the Brigantes. I never saw them again after I was abducted and sold into slavery in Eriu.

Novel Pastimes: By Eriu, you are referring to Ireland?

Eleri: Yes.

Novel Pastimes: And how did you end up in Roman Britain?

Eleri: I was abducted by British pirates on a slaving raid, on the same day that Patrick baptized me.

Novel Pastimes: What education have you had? Did you have a favorite subject?

Eleri: My father taught me some simple Latin as a child. I never went to school, until my master Coroticus graciously sent me to Whithorn to receive instruction in Latin at the monastery there, under the supervision of Father Ninian.

Novel Pastimes: Are you married, or dating anyone?

Eleri: What is dating? I am not married. Slaves generally do not marry.

Novel Pastimes: Who do you most admire?

Eleri: Patrick, who led me to salvation in Christ, Viventius and Mavorius, my teachers at Whithorn. And Father Ninian, my mentor.

Novel Pastimes: Is there anything about your life you would change if you could?

Eleri: It depends on what period of my life you are speaking about. In the beginning, I would have given almost anything to return to Ireland and my mistress, Ciara. She was with child when I was abducted, and I have no way of knowing if all is well with her.

Novel Pastimes: That sounds difficult.

Eleri: It was, until Viventius pointed out to me that I will see her in the next life, when all Christians are reunited in heaven with Jesus.

Novel Pastimes: What are your duties in the fortress of the Britons?

Eleri: Maid, cook, and I read letters for Coroticus.

Novel Pastimes: Do you have any enemies?

Eleri: Coroticus was my enemy in the beginning. No longer.

Novel Pastimes: What can you tell us about Coroticus?

Eleri: He has an imposing, formidable appearance, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Novel Pastimes: He sounds a bit scary.

Eleri: He certainly can be.

Novel Pastimes: If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get that scar on your wrist?

Eleri: It’s a brand on the underside of my wrist with the Latin letters CQ, for my master Coroticus Quintillius. It marks me as his property.

Novel Pastimes: Wow! That must have hurt.

Eleri. It did. I swooned from the pain. But there are worse brands. There is a slave in the fortress with FVG branded across his forehead, for ‘Fugitivus,’ to mark him as a runaway slave.

Novel Pastimes: What would you say is your strongest and weakest character trait?

Eleri: I work hard to please my master. Sometimes, however…I have trouble controlling my tongue. It’s gotten me into trouble several times lately.

Novel Pastimes: What is your greatest fear?

Eleri: I fear being sold again.

Novel Pastimes: Let’s talk about something a little more fun. What collections or hobbies do you have?

Eleri: I don’t know what you mean by hobbies. Slaves don’t collect anything. But I do possess a wax tablet and stylus, a gift from Ninian. And a parchment with a verse he wrote for me.

Novel Pastimes: Favorite food?

Eleri: The honey and poppy seed pastries Tarian the cook makes are my favorite things to eat. And wild boar stuffed with dormice is quite nice, if there’s any left over after the master’s feasts.

Novel Pastimes: Books?

Eleri: I do not own any books. That would be unlikely for a slave. But since I have learned to read Latin, occasionally I can read one of my master’s scrolls.

Novel Pastimes: Favorite color?

Eleri: The tunic of purple silk that Primus bought me in the market at Luguvalium has a very pleasing color.

Novel Pastimes: Best way to spend a weekend?

Eleri: Slaves never have a day off.

Novel Pastimes: Most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

Eleri:  I can think of several humiliating moments in my life. Standing naked on the auction block and being whipped in front of the household of Coroticus.

Novel Pastimes: What is your relationship with God?

Eleri: My relationship with God has been the saving grace of my life.

Novel Pastimes: What is your overall outlook on life?

Eleri: In all things I try to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing.

Novel Pastimes: What do you hope your readers will learn from your story?

Eleri: That I am a weak and vulnerable girl who chose to walk out her faith in difficult circumstances, trusting that the Lord would work out all things for good in my life.

Thanks for joining us today, Eleri!

renee-posedRenee Yancy is a history and archaeology buff who works as an RN when she isn’t writing historical novels. She traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and England to research the sites in her first ancient historical. She loves most periods of history but has a special love for the ancient civilizations of the Irish, the Egyptians and Roman Britain.

Meet Tyrell and Emma Jaine from With Music in Their Hearts by Carole Brown


Book Cover Front -Centered (2)

I understand you two are the main protagonists in With Music in Their Hearts. Could you describe each other for readers please?


1940s mens outfits2 freeTyrell Walker:  The first thing that struck me about Emma Jaine Rayner was her hair and color-changing eyes. That red hair certainly goes along with her personality! Spunky, as well as caring, smart and a hard worker, she’s been called bossy by her sisters. The fact is she has a good reason to be. When the sisters’ mother died, Emma Jaine stepped in to care for them and her father. Starting a boarding home was a good idea too. It keeps her busy and provides needed housing for those needing it during WWII. It’s too bad I suspected her—reluctantly—as a spy.


Emma Jaine Rayner:

Tyrell is definitely a tease. At first, he was very annoying with his 1940s outfits 2 freeself-assurance, but as I got to know him better, and once I got over what I thought of as a love affair with a budding actress in my boarding house, I realized his worth. He was gentlemanly, fun to be with, a good cook—smile—and a wonderful preacher and Christian. I’m so glad he showed up in my life.




Tyrell, why didn’t you enlist for service during WWII?

Tyrell: That’s still a sore topic for me. But even though I was rejected for service, I was asked to serve as a civilian spy and specifically in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sometimes it seemed as though it was harder than enduring the hardships of fighting the enemy overseas because I couldn’t let anyone know what was going on. I had to keep my spying secret, and I knew others wondered at my non-service.

Emma Jaine, why did you open a boarding house in your family’s home? Didn’t that make for an awkward situation at times? 

Emma Jaine: I longed to do more for my country, and with our big house, it seemed appropriate to provide housing for those needing it during this time period. I insisted on it being a homey place, with music—my sisters and I all love music—books and arts and as little conflict as possible. For the most part it worked fine. 

Emma Jaine, what did you think of Bette Williams?

Emma Jaine: Oh, dear, must I answer this one? All right. She wasn’t a very likeable person, but I tried to do what Tyrell urged me to do: pray about her, which didn’t seem to do much good. I do understand she was a girl all alone in a big city and not very successful in getting her acting career going, so I could forgive her for some of her actions.

And, Tyrell, what about you? How did it make you feel when you saw Hamilton Blake courting Emma Jaine?

Tyrell:  Grrr. He was such a loser, so built up with his own personal worth, I found it hard to like, let alone get along with him, well, I would hardly call us best friends. Still, I suppose women found him attractive enough.

Now, a fun question for you both: who was/is your favorite boarding house guest?

Emma Jaine (laughing): That’s easy. I love Gertie Hanover. Outspoken and seemingly rich—we’ll probably never know the truth about that!—she’s a fun person. She brooks no stupidity and dislikes petty people, but she has a good heart and is faithful to church even if she does like to sit in front and wear large hats that prevent the view for those behind her.

Tyrell:  And my favorites are the Rayner sisters, Josie and Claire. I had no siblings, so taking an interest in Emma Jaine’s family is a special favor to me. They’re both so interesting and vocal, in their own ways, about their special talents and others’ opinions. I find them quite entertaining.

Could you give us a brief excerpt from your book?

Both:  Love to!

And one last thing. Would you two share the blurb for your book and a link to buy the book?

Both chorus together:  Sure.

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

 While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

 Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

Buy the book here:

carole-brown.jpg About Carol Brown

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:

Personal blog:







Amazon Author Page:

I also am part of several other blogs:

Stitches in Time:

Word Sharpeners:

Thank you for joining us today!

Welcome to the New Novel PASTimes!

What’s New?

We will be posting lots of character interviews from some of your favorite historical novels. This behind-the-scenes look will give readers more insight into the characters and should be lots of fun!

In addition, you will find some historical tidbits, book reviews, and articles on historical topics. We know you’re here because you love the genre, and so do we! Much of what we blog about will be inspirational and from a Christian worldview. Therefore we will not feature novels that go against that worldview. It’s simply the readership that we are appealing to. If you want to know more about that, go to our “Disclaimer” page.

Who Are We?

We are historical novelists but also readers. We love history and if we’re not reading or writing about it, you’ll probably find us at bookstores, museums, lectures, or perhaps antique shops. All time periods, all countries, all sub-genres (romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy…) have a home here at Novel PASTimes. You can learn more about the contributors by clicking on our photos to the right under “Contributors.” Questions? Go to our contact page.

Follow Us!

Either follow this blog or go to our Facebook page for updates!