Monday, July 5, 2021

Q & A with Connilyn Cossette on Between the Wild Branches

Between the Wild Branches is the second in the Covenant House series and is set to release July 6th! It is the continuation of the story of Lukio, and Shoshanna, his childhood friend, as we find them in perilous circumstances in the city of Ashdod, the Philistine city where Lukio was born. In honor of her book release, I thought I would share some Q & A with the author, Connilyn Cossette, about her upcoming book!

This series is a duology, what made you decide to only write two books this time?

I was really intrigued with telling the story of two siblings and how their journeys intertwined to form one whole story that was satisfying both to myself and to my readers. Of course I usually fall in love with secondary characters along the way and wish I could tell their stories too, and the Covenant House was no exception. There is one character in particular in Between the Wild Branches that my beta readers wanted to know more about. So who knows, maybe in the future I’ll have the chance to expand that storyline a bit! The great thing is that my next series is a spin-off and readers will get to meet my next four heroes in BTWB, so keep your eyes peeled as you read, especially near the end!

What drew you to this period in history to place a series?

When I had the opportunity to go to Israel a few years ago we traveled right through the Beth Shemesh valley, where the ruins of that town are just off the highway. And when our tour guide mentioned that this area was near where Samson lived and was also the exact place where the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant after they stole it in 1 Samuel. That day, I had a distinct vision of that ark bumping along on the road with two curious children following after it and decided that I needed to tell their story. Fortunately for me, at the same time I was plotting/researching the Covenant House series, scientists were proving from DNA evidence gathered in a Philistine graveyard that these enigmatic people actually came from Crete just like the Bible says they did. This new information gave me lots of fodder for book material and made my imagination spin like mad about the culture of the Philistines, which most likely was rooted in the Minoan and/or Mycenean people during the Bronze Age. They were certainly not simple shepherds and farmers like the Hebrew people were at that time and likely worshipped the precursors to the Greek gods we all know, so I had lots of fun contrasting the two opposing cultures and religious systems. There are still a lot of unknowns with the Philistines and we don’t have a handle on their language or writing system yet but I suspect more will come to light in the future that will continue to prove the Bible historically accurate.

This series has underlying themes of adoption, why is this a special topic for you?

Well, for starters, I am an adoptee myself. I was adopted at birth and grew up knowing that my adoption was a special thing and what a loving choice my young birthmother made to place me in a stable, two-parent home. When I was twenty-two I actually got to meet my birth mom, after stumbling across a web posting way back in the early days of the internet, and have since gotten to know both her and my half-siblings. My brother, too, was adopted from Korea when he was four and I am also the mother of two adopted-at-birth children myself. So adoption is such a precious theme in my own life that it just naturally spills into my stories. And our adoption into the family of God through the sacrifice of Jesus is, of course, the most beautiful story there is, so there are shades of that built into Eliora and Lukio’s union with the Hebrew family that take them in and introduce them to covenant life. Of course, adoption is a precious thing and full of beauty but it is also rooted in loss, so I do not shy away from some of the challenges and questions that adoptees face, such as: Who am I? Where do I belong? How do I define my past and how does it affect my future? Or what if I’d never been separated from my family of origin? Eliora and Lukio struggle through these questions in different ways and I found great satisfaction in working through their healing and self-acceptance, since their journeys at times mirror my own, my brother’s, and those of my children.

Between Eliora and Lukio, which sibling did you relate to the most and why?

Hm. That is kind of tough. I’m actually quite different from Eliora, who spends a lot of time trying to “earn her place at the table” but I also have a tendency to try and blend in with the background because I hate spotlights. And I am certainly not an aggressive bare-knuckle fighter like Lukio, but I have struggled with some of the same identity issues he has and tend toward walling myself off in difficult relationships and compartmentalizing things to the point of isolation. So I am not like either of them, but yet I am. There are probably pieces of me in all the characters I write. Even the villains ;)

What makes the characters in Between the Wild Branches different from any others you’ve written before?

I had lots of fun writing a more hero-centric story this time and Lukio is hands down my favorite male character to have written. First of all, he is a no-holds-barred bare-knuckled fighter (which is rooted in the ancient and brutal sport of Pankration) so I got to channel my inner MMA fighter and have some fun getting out some imaginary aggression. But he is also a hurting little boy on the inside, one who feels deeply and is wounded from what he perceived to be devastating betrayals. His journey to healing was so satisfying for me and no matter how many times I edited it all, I cried every time I read the final scenes. Also, since there was a childhood friendship/romance between Lukio and Shoshana, there was lots of intriguing history between them which added a different dimension to their reunion. Since ten years have passed since they’ve seen each other and a lot of life, and in Shoshana’s case pain, has occurred in that gap, they are in some ways completely different people by the time the book opens. It was an interesting challenge to think about how they relate to the “newness” of each other, while at the same time holding on to the sweet, secret friendship they enjoyed in the past. I love how they complement each other and how their relationship develops over the course of the story, despite all the obstacles between them.

What part of BTWB did you have the hardest time writing?

Honestly, this story poured out of me in a way that none of my books have before. I wrote the entire manuscript by hand and was so in love with the characters that there was not any part that was a major challenge. This is why the next series is a spin-off, because I just couldn’t let go of my friends!

Thank you Connilyn for answering these questions, and for continuing to write these stories of healing and redemption!

To learn more about the author, please visit her website at

To learn more about the first book in the series, To Dwell Among Cedars, please click on the book title, or go here to read my review.

Note: This post contains affiliate links from This means if you purchase one of these books after clicking on the link, I will generate a commission from that purchase. This does not influence my recommendation of the books.

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