KD Holmberg, Our Honored Guest
KD Holmberg is an award-winning historical fiction author and retired flight attendant who turned an empty nest into creating stories around remarkable women. She and her husband have five adult kids, live in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, and love to travel and golf. They also run a girl gang of seven granddaughters, and have one male grandchild that the author can safely declare as her favorite grandson.
KD Holmberg in Her Own Words
Years ago, my mother-in-law said to me, “These are the best days of your life.”
Dirty dishes and laundry surrounded me, produced by five children, while my daughters quarreled upstairs. I peered at her as though she were mad but held my tongue.
Fast forward a few decades, and the truth she spoke settled hard on my heart. The school bus rolled down the street one morning and stopped at the corner. I turned, looking for lunches and backpacks, reflexively ready to yell, “the bus is here.” A silent house reminded me I was utterly alone. My baby just left for college, and the rest of my children had drifted into their own lives. That sweet season of being a full-time mom had ended. It happened so fast I barely noticed until the bus rolled away without one of them on board. I stepped out, sat on my porch, and sobbed.
My permanent loss came to roost on my empty nest.
Not long after, during a Bible study, the name Hagar came up. For some reason, she stuck in my mind. I began to research her earnestly by studying old manuscripts and the Hebrew and Arab tradition of who she was. They teach that she was a princess of Egypt before becoming a maidservant to Sarah.
How did that happen?
I had to find out.
The Midrash, an ancient commentary on the Hebrew scriptures, took me beyond the text and provided a clear picture of what may have transpired. Genesis Rabbah says, “When Sarah was in Pharaoh’s harem that he gave her his daughter Hagar as a maidservant, saying, ‘It is better that my daughter should be a servant in the house of such a woman than mistress in another house.'”
Two things baffled me.
- Ancient Egyptians never traveled out of Egypt because if they died out of the country and were not buried properly, they forfeited the afterlife. These people spent most of their time living, preparing for death.
- Amenhotep II declared, “From time immemorial, no daughter of the king of Egypt is given to anyone.”
Yet, Princess Hagar was given to Sarah and sent out of Egypt. I knew I had to dig more and tell her story.
I started by studying the craft of writing and researching ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Approximately four thousand years ago, a young Egyptian woman named Hagar found herself embroiled in a fateful, contentious love triangle that changed history. The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar produced two sons—Ishmael and Isaac. Two nations—the Hebrews and the Arabs. And three major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even the roots of the modern Arab-Israeli conflict are bound up in this event.
The Bible introduces Hagar in Genesis 16 as the Egyptian handmaid Sarah used as a surrogate to produce an heir for Abraham. Hebrew and Islamic traditions take her story deeper and claim she was the daughter of the king of Egypt, making her a princess before she became a servant.
Abraham moved his tribe from Canaan to Egypt to escape a great drought. Sarah, being the most beautiful woman since Eve, was a perfect prize for Pharaoh. She soon ended up in his harem, which resulted in a web of intrigue and conspiracies. This is where she probably met Hagar and when their relationship’s twist-and-turn-filled story may have begun.
A princess in ancient Egypt
Life for a princess in ancient Egypt saw little change through the dynasties. Royal children—boys and girls— received equal educations that included mathematics, reading, writing, the arts, and even politics. As the daughter of a king, the handmaid in Genesis 16 would have grown up in an opulent court, full of privilege and power, becoming an accomplished, refined, and cultured woman.
I intended to build the world Hagar and Sarah lived in and imagine them together in Pharaoh’s harem. Diving deeper into what life looked like for a princess in ancient Egypt, I found that Hagar was likely educated and sophisticated. Now, an even different picture of her presented itself.
After completing The Egyptian Princess, A Story of Hagar, the first agent I queried signed me as a client.
She called one afternoon to tell me she found a publisher interested in my work, Mountain Brook Ink. At that moment, I stood cleaning out a bin filled with old school work of my children. As I sorted, I stumbled across something that belonged to me—a rewrite of Mary’s conversation with Gabriel beginning in Luke 1:29.
Before I heard the name Hagar, I attended a women’s event at my church. The speaker asked us to use our names instead of Mary’s, rewrite the prayer, and make it personal. These are the words I held in my hands when my agent called:
KD Holmberg: Chills enveloped my entire body, and I fell to my knees.
My idea became reclaiming Hagar’s story, and my purpose was to write a book about her. In those words, I saw God’s promise to me that I would do exactly that.
Hagar was the first person in the Bible to name God. She called him El Roi, The God Who Sees, because he saw her when she was in her most desperate state. I relate to her because four thousand years later, El Roi also saw me and gave me a promise and purpose just as he gave her.
On March 15, 2021, Mountain Brook Ink published The Egyptian Princess, A Story of Hagar. Next year, More Than a Handmaid will be released as book two in The Women of Valor series. In it, Hagar’s journey continues as she joins the tribe of Abraham. It provides a scenario where Hagar and her son, Ishmael, sent into the desert by Sarah to die, survive and thrive.
Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things
which were told her from the Lord.
Luke 1:45 NIV
Blessings, KD Holmberg
The Egyptian Princess by KD Holmberg
In the opulent court of Egypt’s tenth dynasty, Princess Hagar has always known her destiny. One day, she will marry Crown Prince Merikare and become the Great Royal Wife, the most powerful woman in Egypt. But dark dreams afflict Hagar when she hears of the latest addition to Pharaoh’s harem: the stunning, iridescent Sumerian, Sarai. Princess Hagar feels a powerful presence around the Sumerian woman. She suspects Sarai has brought black magic into the palace—but what can she do to convince Pharaoh?
The intrigue of Pharaoh’s court pales compared to that swirling in the Royal House of Women among the wives, children, and concubines of the king. Sarai’s arrival upsets the already precarious balance. Loyalties divide, and betrayal, jealousy, and tragedy plague the once peaceful household. When a series of disasters befall Egypt, Hagar must make a bold decision, and the stakes could not be higher. She could lose everything—her position, her power, her family, and even her life.
Torn between the silent gods of Egypt and the powerful presence that surrounds Sarai, Hagar’s world falls apart around her. She must acknowledge the terrible price of truth and decide for herself whom she will serve.
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Dear Lord, please bless each word KD writes for you.
~ For Jesus’ sake