Tag Archives: Christian Fantasy

Why I Write Christian Speculative Fiction

I never set out to write Christian fantasy. In fact, I wasn’t sure what place that kind of book had in this world. Sure, there was Lewis’ Narnia series and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But with all the controversy over Harry Potter years ago, I didn’t know what to think. I read Star Wars, Terry Brooks, and such, but Christian fantasy? I don’t think so.

It was actually the Harry Potter controversy that made me start thinking about Christian fantasy. Could fantasy and Christianity mix? Could a good book be written where the faith element or the fantasy element was not compromised? Like I said, I never set out to do that, but in the end that is what I wrote.

Daughter of Light began as a story in my head. It was a place to play with some cool fantasy ideas. A fantasy book with a hint of faith. But as the years went by and I found myself traveling down dark roads and facing one crisis of faith after another in real life, Daughter of Light began to morph into an exploration of what it ultimately meant to follow God.

Through speculative fiction, I am able to explore what would a Christian look like if the externals generally associated with Christianity were taken away like church attendance, bible studies, or Sunday school. Now I’m not saying those are bad things (not at all), but sometimes our Christianity is defined by where we go or what we do, not by who we are.

I am also able to paint word pictures with fantasy that I could not do if I wrote about this world. For example: sin. In our world, sin is a hidden part of our nature. We see the results of sin, but not sin itself. But in a fantasy world, I can show what we look like with sin: naked, broken, with blood on our hands. Unable to heals ourselves. Helpless and bound to darkness.

Of course, there is a fun aspect to writing fantasy. I get to write outside the box, ask “what if” questions. What if we could see people the way God sees people, would we still love them? What if we could heal, but it meant taking on the hurt and pain, would we? What if you found out you’re really from another dimension (that’s a fun question 🙂). What if you discovered you’re not human?

I love writing Christian speculative fiction. It combines my weirdness, my creativity, and my faith. Here is a quote by C.S. Lewis that best sums up why I write Christian fantasy:

“I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices; almost as if it were something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.”

How Did I Become a Writer?

How did I become a writer? Most authors I know begin their story with something about when they were six they knew they wanted to be a writer. Not so with me. When I was six I wanted to be a pegasus unicorn 🙂 (probably explains why I write fantasy now).

I never dreamed of being a writer. In high school, I loved science and math, not English and certainly not writing. So how did I start? It began when I walked into a Christian bookstore and asked if they carried any Christian fantasy. The woman gave me a strange look and pointed to a lone Frank Peretti book at the end of the book aisle.

I went home stunned. That’s it? Just Frank Peretti? (by the way, I like his stuff, but I wanted more). After talking to Dan, he suggested maybe I should write. Yeah right. But the thought stuck with me. Then on a long car trip to Seattle, I had my idea for a book. I went home and wrote. I was naïve back then. I thought a writer sat down, wrote a book, found someone to publish it and that was that. Eight years later, I now know there is a whole lot more to the writing process.

I wrote for two years, just writing out the story in my head. Then I discovered there was a writing group in Oregon and that they were having a one-day conference in a couple weeks. I signed up. That one-day conference changed my writing life.

I met Randy Ingermanson (who was the guest speaker that day). For anyone who is thinking about writing fiction, you need to check out his website here. I went home and immediately signed up for his ezine and began to follow his blog. A couple months later, I followed Randy’s advice and signed up for the Mt Hermon Writing Conference.

Mt Hermon was another pivotal point in my writing life. For five days I met with hundreds of other Christian writers, learning how to write better, how to seek publication, met some great agents and publishers and came home ready to take my writing from a hobby to an earnest pursuit.

I spent the following year just writing. Next week I will share how I write a book (from idea to final draft), but let me just say now, it takes a loooong time (at least for me). By the end of that year, I had a finished, polished manuscript.

In 2010 I was able to attend Mt Hermon again and this time had a manuscript to share with publishers and editors. At this second conference, I ran into Rebecca Luella Miller, another pivotal person in my writing life. It was Becky who told me I should blog. Once again my thoughts were yeah right. How? When? And what would I write about? But with her gentle encouragement, I jumped into the blogging world.

It is now 2011 and I am still on my writing journey. Writing is a long, patient process. It requires self discipline, a willingness to learn the craft, and lots and lots of time. I’ll admit if I had known eight years ago what it took to be a writer, I would have been overwhelmed. But here I am and I love it :). I thank God for this medium by which I can share my life, my creative ideas, and His truth.

Next week I will share the ins and out of how I write a book (and no, its not just sit down and write, at least not for me lol). So don’t forget to stop by!

CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 3

Before I dive into the spiritual elements found in Dragons of the Valley, I want to revisit what I mean by that. There is a lot of debate out there (for writers and authors) about how much of our faith we should put into our books. Is there too much gospel? Not enough? Should there be an altar call? Or should there just be a moral theme for our readers to take away?

After thinking about this debate (and reading what others have to say), I think I will say yes. Yes to it all. Because we need all kinds of books. We need books that lay out the gospel. We need books that show what it means to follow Christ. We need books that slowly introduce Christ to people who would never otherwise darken the doorway of a church.

We need all kinds of books that will bring the reader into a deeper understanding of God (more specifically, an accurate understanding of God; there are books out there that are not theologically sound).

So for those of us who write out there, we should write the stories God has impressed upon our hearts. For some of us (like me) there will be strong Christian elements. For others (like a friend of mine), God will not even be mentioned in the first book. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

Okay, jumping off my soapbox now :).

Wulder is the name given to the personification of God in Dragons of the Valley. He created the world, is an intimate part of the lives of the races he created, and loves unconditionally. One of the spiritual themes in Dragons of the Valley is the people of Chiril had forgotten Wulder. Their ancestors failed to pass down the writings and knowledge of Wulder, which resulted in this generation knowing nothing of him. It isn’t until the artist Verrin Schope returns from Amara with the wizard Fenworth and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit that the people of Chiril are reintroduced to Wulder.

This is an important point. Later in the book, the race of Kimens realize it only took two generations for them to completely forget Wulder. He was still there, in their songs and dances. But the moment their ancestors stopped talking about Wulder, they forgot.

We as humans can easily forget too. How many of us forget birthdays or anniversarys! I think that is why God admonishes us to teach our children about Him, to read His word, and why there is communion (In Remembrance of Him…). We do this so we do not forget Him. We pass on what we know so the next generations know what God has done for them.

I highly recommend Dragons of the Valley for anyone looking for a light Christian fantasy full of good spiritual truth 🙂

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 2

Today I want to cover the Writing Factor of Dragons of the Valley. In the Writing Factor, I take a look at how well the writer built their world, conveyed their plot, and how engaging was the story. But before I begin, I need to point out something: I was under the impression that this book was for young adults. A kind friend showed me that this book is actually advertised for all ages. My goof 🙂

Dragons of the Valley is set in a fantasy world filled with rich history and races. Donita has done a wonderful job of creating all these different races (fourteen total!) each with their own particular uniqueness. The Kimens (imagine light pixies) are small, wear light for clothing and love to be merry. The Tumanhofers enjoy nice clothing (they kind of remind me of hobbits). But I think my favorite race is the Emerlindians. They are described as tall and slender (like elves in my opinion). But what made this race fascinating to me is they are born pale (hair, eyes, skin), but as they age, they darken (darker eyes, darker hair, darker skin). I thought that was cool!

A+ on world building!

Plot: Donita keeps it light and simple. Yes, there is a war going on, but she does not go into the more violent details (remember, she writes for all ages). Her characters go on a quest, which keeps the plot moving. The humor is great and keeps the story light. Here is one of my favorite quotes: “I do wish one’s figure did not reflect the love of good food. It’s so annoying to butter your bread and find rolls around your middle.” (Lady Peg Schope, pg. 236-237). Yes Lady Peg, I absolutely agree!

The only thing I found annoying is there were so many races and characters that I could not keep them all straight at first. I absolutely hate having to go to the back of the book and look at the appendix. It takes me out of the story. But after a couple chapters, I was able to remember what a Tumanhofer was or what a Bisonbeck was and no longer needed the appendix. But that’s just me personally 🙂

Tomorrow I will take a look at the Spiritual Factor of Dragons of the Valley.

 

 

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour- Dragons of the Valley, Day 1

Hey everyone! I’m back with the CSFF Blog Tour and this month we are reviewing Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul (you can also find her blog here). Donita K. Paul is one of the forefront writers of Christian fantasy for young adults. I first saw her book (Dragonspell) in a Christian bookstore about five years ago and couldn’t believe what I saw: a cover with a dragon on it… in a Christian bookstore no less! I bought the book and read it.

I’ll admit I did not realize it was for young adults (it had been placed in the adult fiction section), so when I read it, I was disappointed. It wasn’t the quality of the book but my expectations for something more along the lines of Terry Brooks or Terry Goodkind. This time around, I readjusted my expectations. I approached the book as my younger, twelve year old self. And loved it!

Cool Factor: There is cool stuff all over in Dragons of the Valley! From tall O’Rants, to beautiful Emerlindians who begin life with pale skin and hair, but as they age, they grow darker, and Kimens (I like to think of them as pixies of light). And of course, you can’t forget dragons! I think my favorite are the minor dragons (tiny dragons about the size of a house cat who serve multiple purposes such as healing, singing, and organizing).

Tomorrow I will take a look at the Writing Factor. Until then, click on the links below to see what other CSFF Bloggers are saying about Dragons of the Valley:

 

Gillian Adams

Noah Arsenault

Amy Bissell

Red Bissell

Justin Boyer

Keanan Brand

Grace Bridges

Beckie Burnham

CSFF Blog Tour

Amy Cruson

D.G.D. Davidson

April Erwin

Amber French

Andrea Graham

Katie Hart

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Becky Jesse

Cris Jesse

Jason Joyner

Julie

Carol Keen

Dawn King

Emily LaVigne

Shannon McDermott

Matt Mikalatos

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Joan Nienhuis

John W. Otte

Donita K. Paul

Sarah Sawyer

Chawna Schroeder

Tammy Shelnut

Kathleen Smith

James Somers

Fred Warren

Phyllis Wheeler

Dave Wilson

 

 

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

 

Book Review: Hero, Second Class

Let me start off by saying this isn’t my usual category of book. I’m usually a more dark, gritty, intense, character driven kind of reader. So when I was given Hero, Second Class to review, I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. After the first few chapters, I was blown away (or maybe laughed away). I loved it!

Hero, Second Class is about a young man named Cyrus Solburg who is apprenticed to Crimson Slash. Between P.L.O.T. Devices, narrating Heroes, and Villain Monologues, Cyrus has a lot to learn before he can become a proper Hero and join the Heroes Guild.

Quick wit and puns run rampant in this book. Imagine Monty Python and the Holy Grail, only clean. If you love to laugh, but tired of the same old trashy humor out there, Hero, Second Class is the book for you.

For more information on Hero, Second Class, click

http://www.marcherlordpress.com/books/hero_second_class.html

 

* I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to review.