Exploring Faith Through Fantasy

Posts tagged “speculative fiction

Supernatural Stuff

Why is fantasy so cool? Because there is something within all of us that longs for the supernatural. I’ve SERIOUSLY paraphrased something C. S. Lewis writes about this in The Weight of Glory:

“For a few minutes, just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends or as the landscape loses the celestial light, we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. The promise of glory means that the door on which we have been knocking all our lives–the door to the supernatural–will open at last.”

In Daniel and the Sun Sword, Daniel finds that even when he’s running away from that door, much less knocking, it’s going to open.
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Do Legends Contain Truth?

Last year I wrote a post explaining that Christian Fantasy (Speculative Fiction) begins by presuming the basics of a Christian worldview and then asking “What if?“. One of the central What if’s of Daniel and the Sun Sword (D&SS), and the Sons and Daughters series as a whole, has to do with the origins of worldwide mythologies: What if every culture’s myths grew out of man’s fallen memory of the one true God and his plan for redemption? No doubt many believe as much, but the fun starts when you try to untangle how those legends developed. (more…)


Author Ashlee Willis Gets Grilled…And Survives

I know I just did an author interview earlier this month, but I keep meeting really cool writers. Young Adult author Ashlee Willis is one of them. See?

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Doesn’t she look cool? Well, it just so happens that her first published book is also cool. And she stopped by to tell me just how awesome it is.

Word Changers

Synopsis

Escaping from the turmoil of her home, fifteen-year-old Posy finds herself at her usual haunt … the library. When she chooses an unfamiliar book from the shelf, she does not devour its words as she usually does…

Its words devour her.

Posy is pulled into the pages of a fairy tale in turmoil. Characters whisper of rebellion against their Plot. And Posy must find a lost princess whose role in the story is crucial, before her own role in the book comes to a horrible end.

With the haughty but handsome Prince Kyran as a reluctant companion, Posy ventures past the Borders of the Plot, into the depths of the treacherous Wild Land forest that lies beyond. Secrets are buried there, dangerous and deadly.

Yet the darkest secret of all is the one Posy carries within herself.

Soon it’s clear that finding the lost princess is the least of Posy’s concerns. The Author of the book must be found. His Plot must be put to rights again, his characters reminded of who they were first created to be. Only then will the True Story be written, both for Posy, and for the tale she has now become a part of.

What was the main inspiration for The Word Changers?

It began with a childhood wish to visit the worlds in some of my favorite books, and it grew in my imagination over the years until one day I knew I had a story I had to write!

Who’s your favorite character in your book and why?

I admire Kyran a lot. He has lived a life within the Plot for many years, a Plot which has gotten worse and worse. He has had to watch his beloved sister suffer at the hands of his parents. And yet through his anger and bitterness he manages to open himself to love and forgiveness.

How similar are you to your main character? Or was she fashioned after someone else you know?

Posy is much like I was at her age, although I was possibly even more shy and unsure of myself than she is. She comes from a broken home, like me, and she is, at 15, ready for adventures into danger and forgiveness (which feel very similar sometimes …). Despite our similarities, though, Posy is her own person – she is not me, nor is she anyone else I know. She is bits and pieces of many things, some real, some from my imagination, some from within myself and some from without.

Your bio says that you enjoy hiking. How much of the scenery/landscape in The Word Changers was inspired by places you’ve been and things you’ve seen?

A lot of it, actually! I love walking in the woods and by streams and rivers, and my love of all things outdoors flows over into almost everything I write, including The Word Changers.

What are the most important metaphors in your plot—the ones you hope inspire people to pursue God?

One of the themes of The Word Changers is of forgiveness, and the fulfillment we can find through it, no matter how painful it may be. There were metaphors for God as the author of our lives, and that, though He can, He won’t take control of our stories until we ask Him to. I also explored the silence of God, and how most times such a silence is on our end, not His.

Have you written your entire life?

Yes, just about! I started writing short stories and poems and songs when I was a small child. I wrote a children’s book (a fairy tale called The Moon’s Test) when I was 12, and then my first full-length chapter book when I was 15. Most of my early stuff was pretty horrible – my sister was my partner in crime for much of it, and we still like to get it out sometimes and laugh over it.

How do you balance homeschooling your son, being a wife, and writing?

Most days I don’t really feel like I do balance it, to tell the truth!  I’m constantly wishing I had a “schedule,” but it never seems to happen. This past year when I was homeschooling, we did schoolwork in the morning, and now and then I’d get an hour or two of writing done in the afternoon while my son was playing or at a friend’s. I plan to get strict with myself this coming school year, though (my son will be attending a local Christian school), and hope that I will get much more writing done because of it!

Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done? Or wanted to do?

I think God put the desire to write in me. It’s hard for me to explain it any other way. It gives me a happiness and fulfillment in a way that nothing else in my life does. Don’t get me wrong – it’s by no means a better fulfillment than God or family. But writing helps me understand those things, and myself, better. Writing complements the rest of my life – helps me value even more the things that have eternal worth.

What is your work in progress?

I’m working on two books (the first one is finished and the sequel is at the halfway point). They are as yet untitled and until my agent sees them I probably won’t be able to talk about them in much detail. But they are Christian young adult fantasy, as is The Word Changers. I’ve always written standalones before, so this is a new and different challenge for me!

Where did you grow up? How did your hometown (or other places you have lived) inspire your writing?

I grew up in a little town called Moberly, right in the center of Missouri. The library that Posy visits in The Word Changers is, in my mind at least, the very library that I lived less than a block away from in my own hometown. It has changed some over the years – they’ve built on, etc. – but the little poky, dusky library of my childhood is the one I wrote into my book. I also grew up down the street from a children’s writer, Daniel Schantz, who happened to also be a good friend of our family. His writing inspired me, and his friendship and kind critiques of my childish scrawls encouraged me and gave me the faith to keep following my dream through the years.

Best book you’ve read?

Impossible to answer, really! The Chronicles of Narnia are definitely top of my list, though.

Give five random facts about yourself.

  1. I am ambidextrous.

  2. I am notorious in my family for having horrible aim, as well as being quite clumsy (great combination, huh?).

  3. I’m a half-hearted vegetarian.

  4. I hate cooking, but love baking.

  5. I’m a sucker for British comedy.

When not writing, how do you spend your time?

Gardening, walking, reading, photographing, hunting for used books, blogging, spending time with friends, spending time with family, watching period mini-series.

If you had 3 genie wishes, what would they be?

Well, I think I would only really need one wish:  For all the people I care about to know, pursue and love God.  But if I get two freebies, I’ll take them! My second wish would be to live in a cottage in the woods, near the sea. My third would be to, like Posy, fall into a fairy tale and become a part of it for a while … although, unlike Posy, I’d like to be able to choose which one I fall into!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

To keep writing, even (especially!) when it gets tough! That’s when the really good stuff starts happening! Inspiration is great, and all stories start with it – but hard work is what will get you to “the end.”

Thanks, Ashlee, for stopping by.

If anyone reading would like to get to know Ashlee better (or BUY HER BOOK!!!!!), and you’re a weirdo, then schedule a visit to Missouri where she lives with her husband and young son. But don’t expect much attention because she’s pretty busy writing, reading, enjoying tea with friends, hiking, taking pictures, and practicing the piano.

If, on the other hand, you’re a normal person, then just check out her websites below.

Websites

Blog:  http://ashleewillisauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AshleeWillisAuthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7849640.Ashlee_Willis

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BookishAshlee

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Word-Changers-Ashlee-Willis-ebook/dp/B00K5HZ4M2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406065755&sr=8-1&keywords=the+word+changers

Word Changers


Interview with Young Adult Author Just B. Jordan

I’m happy to showcase my interview with YA author, Just B. Jordan. Check out her official bio at the bottom of the post. Until you do, suffice it to say that she’s awesome because she was homeschooled, graduated early, and is only 19-years-old and just got her first book published.  Read on and get to know Just B. Jordan!

 

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Book Summary

Imprisoned, Elwyn endures torture so horrific she drives herself insane to elude true madness. She finally escapes, but at the deadly cost of the only remaining friend she has. Now, unless her broken mind is playing another cruel trick, she discovers she is turning into the monster she despises most of all. Amidst fighters and fairies, demons and dragons, traitors wear the face of friend as she searches for the lost fragments of her mind. Elwyn is the only one mad enough to face the Monster of the Kings, but she is more likely to destroy herself before even finding him.

 

Who’s your favorite character in your book and why?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite. I would say Finnion, because he is one of the only characters who tries to remain genuinely nice. But I also really like Cestmir, for various reasons that might ruin a surprise in the plot.

 

Are any of your characters based on real people?

No, I purposefully avoided that. But when my brothers read the very first draft of the first 50k words (back when the story and characters were very different from what they are now), one of them thought I had written Gwendor and Finnion as them, and Elwyn as myself.

 

What comes first: story or characters?

Story almost always comes first. I see a scene playing out or have an intriguing idea on world-setup or plot, and it grows from there.

 

Do you like to write series?

Yes and no. I doubt I would enjoy writing a series where the MC is always the same, or it always takes place in a similar setting. I would get bored. I have enjoyed creating a series where every book has different characters and settings, but they tie together.

 

Describe your main character in 3 words.

Pitiable, volatile, broken.

 

Use two or fewer sentences about something unique about the book.

As the dragon lore unfolds it becomes pretty intriguing; the physical rot of their flesh, the madness of their minds, the way their life-force is dependent on leaching from other races.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

Anything and everything can make ideas pop into my thoughts. I’ve always had an extremely over-active imagination.

 

Have you written your entire life:

No. I always told myself stories to keep myself entertained, but I didn’t start writing until I was 16½.

 

Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done? Or wanted to do?

I write because it fleshes out my stories in a way they never would be if they remained in my thoughts only. I always thought it would be fun to write a book “someday”, but didn’t expect that I would actually buckle down and do it.

 

What is your writing process?

Once I have an idea that I know I want to work with, I tell myself the story, adding to it and shaping it until I have something substantial and workable. Then I sit down and start to write. Typically I have no idea where I’m going when I begin. I’m horrible with taking notes, though I am getting better at it. After I write the first 20-50k words, I go back and rewrite everything before continuing. It sounds counteractive, but that’s what works best for me. As I write I’m constantly going back and adding things in, cutting bits, and changing dialogue to work with the later chapters.

 

What is your work in progress?

To Ashes We Run. It takes place in the same world as Never To Live, but centuries in the past. I have loved writing this book. There are a few characters that are so awesome they almost steal the show from the MC, and the setting is vastly different from Never To Live’s. The under-achieving, self-absorbed MC, Adisa, is very refreshing to write after spending so much time in the mind of the tormented Elwyn.

 

How often do you go back and re-write a plot?

Before I start writing it is constantly being erased and re-drawn. It changes so much that it isn’t recognizable when compared with the original idea. Once I’ve started writing I still go back and make tweaks and changes as I flesh out the story, but once I know where I want it to go the overall arc doesn’t get changed much.

 

Currently reading?

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. Up until this year I hadn’t read much sci-fi, but it is definitely growing on me. Card is one of my favorite authors now.

 

When not writing, how do you spend your time?

I read. I walk the fields, woods, and roads near my house. I goof around with my siblings when they are in town. I also enjoy making things with my hands, like costumes and steampunk jewelry.

 

Thanks to Jordan for giving us some inside info on Never to Live, and a sneak peak into her mindMake sure you check out her website, and don’t forget to buy her book!

 

Justbjordan

Just B. Jordan was born and raised in Oregon and lives in the foothills of a small town near Eugene. Homeschooled along with her three siblings, she graduated high school a year early and received her first publishing contract at the age of 18. She enjoys her life as a country girl with many pets, and works for a small dog centered business. One of her hobbies is to create Steampunk jewelry and costumes.

Websites:  www.JustBJordan.com


Guest Blog with Mikelyn Bolden

Today, I am the featured blogger on Mikelyn Bolden’s website. For those of you who don’t know, Mikelyn is a fellow Dothan writer, and is the author of The Waiz Chronicles. I’ve posted my article below, but click on her photo to head on over to her website.

WHAT IF?

The stories we tell come from our hearts, or, are at least derived from our own grid of thinking. My fellow author and friend, Nathan Lumbatis, recently signed with Ellechor Publishing and will be releasing his first novel in the summer of 2015. He chose a more specific genre to tell his tale. See his reasoning and get a sneak peak of his book below:

Christian fantasy is interested in the “What if?” It presumes a Christian worldview, but then lets the imagination run wild.

What if you and your siblings discover that a musty wardrobe will transport you to a magical world where animals talk, magicians are fallen stars, and a Wild Lion is willing to sacrifice himself for your brother?

What if you find yourself stumbling through the tombs of Anak, desperately trying to solve the mystery behind a sinister family and the treasure it’s hoarding?

What if the Ancient One gave you gifts of prophecy and wisdom to lead a nation to greatness through your protege Arthur Pendragon?

Many of you may recognize these story lines from The Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis), The Tombs of Anak (Peretti), and Merlin (Lawhead). They all have Christian themes, but if we’re honest, it’s the way those themes are interwoven with the mythological and supernatural that give them such strong appeal.

In my novel, Daniel and the Sun Sword (Summer 2015), the main character is thrust into a world where Christianity and mythology intersect. The plot presumes that the myths of the world were born from mankind’s fleeting glimpses into the battle between God and Satan. In this, the first book of the Sons and Daughters series, Daniel and his two friends are transported to Machu Picchu, Peru, where they find that the gods and monsters of Incan legend are alive and kicking. . . or so it seems. An ancient deity known simply as the Father adopts him as his son, and sets him on a quest to unite the shards of a magical sword. But when that quest pits him against the “god” of the underworld, Daniel discovers he isn’t simply battling for a sword of legend. He’s partaking in an ancient battle between Life and Death and the supernatural forces behind them. There may be more to his Heavenly Father than he first realized.

With the success of series like Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Kane Chronicles, mythology is in the forefront of teen literature. The “What if?” of Daniel and the Sun Sword takes that interest and focuses it on the Gospel.

What is your favorite “What if”? If you’re a writer, what “What ifs?” could you weave into your next story?

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