Guest Author Kathleen Rouser Talks about The Search for the Original Novel (Book Giveaway)

Kathleen Rouser is giving away a copy of her novel, Rumors and Promises, in paperback or Kindle for someone who leaves a comment answering the questions at the end of this post. Drawing will be held next Thursday, July 7th. The winner will be announced in a comment and contacted by email.

Kathy 1Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She desires to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She is a long time member in good standing of ACFW and a former board member of its Great Lakes Chapter. Kathleen has been published in anthologies, including the Amazon bestseller, Christmas Treasures, as well as in both print and online magazines. Her debut full-length novel, Rumors and Promises, was recently published by Heritage Beacon Fiction in April, 2016.

Previously a home-school mom of three, she has more recently been a college student and then a mild-mannered dental assistant for a time. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 34 years, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

You can find Kathleen online:

The Search for the Original Novel

by Kathleen Rouser

What do you think of as an ancient literature? Probably something like The Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia written over 3000 years ago or Homer’s Iliad and  Odyssey from ancient Greece written around the 9th century BC. These were epic tales in their own right, yet they’re considered poetry. But what about novels? And which one was the first novel? And who wrote it?

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a novel as a “an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.”  There is some argument as to which novel is the first one ever written.

Kathy Callirhoe fragment from 2nd or 3rd centurySome might argue that Callirhoe, written by the Greek author Chariton, likely in the first century AD, is the oldest. As a rare surviving manuscript, Callirhoe is the only complete work of romantic prose dated to be from that time. It is a story of the love between Callirhoe, the extremely beautiful daughter of an heroic general, and the man who loves her, Chaereas. The lovers marry, but are separated due to jealousy, and torn apart by other events before they are brought back together in their happily ever after ending. Sounds like the original romance novel, doesn’t it? The problem is the unreliability of the only manuscript copy which dates back to the 14th century AD. Only fragments of the story, written on papryri,  exist that has survived since mid-first century AD.

Kathy Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu from 1600sMany scholars seem to concur upon the importance of The Tale of Genji, written around 1011 AD, and considered the world’s first “psychological” novel. The real name of the author is unknown, but the moniker ascribed to her is Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Shoshi, at the Imperial Japanese court of the Heian period. Her actual identity may have been Fujiwara Takako, but women only had their nicknames recorded at that time, usually with reference to an influential male relative.

At the time Murasaki wrote, Chinese was the official language used in court. However, during that era a more feminine script emerged, often used for conveying feelings and thoughts. This newer Hiragana writing is what Murasaki used to pen her story.

The Tale of Genji, rather than follow a specific plot structure, follows the growth, or arc of the main character’s life and that of two of his descendents. It covers the life events and romances of a handsome emperor’s son, Hikaru Genji. All 54 chapters were written for the entertainment of the ladies of the Japanese court.

Kathleen Kuiper, an Encyclodaedia Brittanica editor, describes The Tale of Genji this way: “At its most basic, Genji is an absorbing introduction to the culture of the aristocracy in early Heian Japan, its forms of entertainment, its manner of dress, its daily life, and its moral code. The era is exquisitely re-created through the story of Genji, the handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, an excellent lover, and a worthy friend.”

The Tale of Genji certainly fulfills the Merriam-Webster definition of a novel as it weaves a tale of one man’s lengthy life journey, with the complexity of 400 characters and their emotions and situations as part of the singularly human experience.

This makes me wonder how many manuscripts have been buried through the ages which gave the writer pleasure in scribing their imaginative stories, but have been lost with the dusts of history. How many great novels haven’t been preserved? We can only wonder who truly wrote the world’s first novel.

As a teen with writing aspirations, I remember being inspired by the book, The Once and Future King, by T. H. White to read Le Morte D’Arthur, published sometime around 1485. It is considered to be one of the first novels written in English and based on the legends of King Arthur, translated from French

What about you? Is there an ancient book that has inspired you to become a better writer? Or follow a certain genre? Leave a comment answering these questions for a chance to win Rumors and Promises by Kathleen Rouser.

Kathy Rumors and Promises CoverRumors and Promises

Sophie Biddle is an heiress on the run. Worse, she has a two-year-old child in tow, an illegitimate daughter she tries to pass off as her little sister. Believing herself abandoned by family and God, Sophie is caught off guard when she meets a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile. Despite her dire straits, Sophie wants only acceptance—not special treatment from the reverend of anyone else.

Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God.

In spite of their attempts to stay romantically untangled, Sophie and Ian find themselves drawn closer through their mutual love of music and their love for the child, Caira. When rumors of her “scandalous” past surface, Ian must decide whether to stand by the lovely Sophie’s side, while Sophie must decide whether to confess the ruse she thought necessary. Will they accept God’s forgiveness and risk forging a future together? Or will they continue to go it alone?

Rumors and Promises is available at: –

Barnes and Noble –

This entry was posted in Guest Authors, Sharpening Our Reading by Tamera Lynn Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Lynn Kraft

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio. Soldier’s Heart and A Christmas Promise are two of her historical novellas that have been published. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.

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