Blog Tour—T. L. Hines, Day 3


Yesterday I enjoyed touring—visiting the various blogs featuring T.L. Hines and his debut novel, Waking Lazarus (Bethany, 2006).

Waking Lazarus

While I learned a lot about Tony, I was struck with the fact that I had a somewhat different impression of this book from most of the other reviewers.

I think I’ve already made it clear that I loved the book, as did they, so I’m not talking about the Big Response—more the “why” behind the Big Response.

Publisher’s Weekly said readers would find the story “satisfactorily chilling.” According to Brandilyn Collins, Library Journal mentions “some disturbing scenes of children in peril.” One endorsement says it is “a dark and engrossing thriller …” Another states it is “one part Stephen King …” You get the drift.

My guess is, readers whose genre of choice is the thriller will love this book on that level. After all, there’s a serial killer, a kidnapping, child abuse, death—lots of page-turner stuff for a thrill lover to enjoy.

I’d have to say, I loved this book in spite of those things and wondered when I finished why it was classified as a thriller at all.

True, the story engaged me and wouldn’t let me go, but not because of its narrow escapes or surprising twists. The story was bigger than all that.

It was, in my opinion, a spiritual coming of age story, a near-fantasy that I’d categorize as a cross between the movie The Sixth Sense and the Biblical account of the recalcitrant prophet Jonah.

Yes, the writing was wonderful—Hines has a fresh, distinct voice—but that’s not why I loved it.

Yes, the story was a page-turner—with introspection interspersing action to create perfect pacing—but that’s not why I loved it.

Yes, the plot was unpredictable and caught me off guard more than once, but that’s not why I loved it.

I loved Waking Lazarus because of Jude Allman, the protagonist. He grew. He developed in so many ways, not the least of which was spiritually.

To elaborate would be to give spoilers, and I don’t want to do that. This book should be experienced as I was able to experience it—as a fresh story that is more, so much more, than a mere thriller.

Five stars. Highly recommend. A must read. Go out and buy it as soon as it is available. thumb's up

– – –

I wish I knew the answer to the question of the day that arose from Tony’s comment yesterday—I would have gladly run a contest. I’m referring, of course, to what the L in T.L. Hines stands for. 🙂 Alas, I don’t know the answer. Sorry, Mir, your suggestions are all viable, but I can shed no light on how close you’ve come.

If you haven’t already, stop by Tony’s blog as well as the other blogs participating in the tour:

  • Bonnie Calhoun
  • Jezreel Cohen
  • Brandilyn Collins
  • Valerie Comer
  • Linda Gilmore
  • Katie Hart
  • Kevin Holtsberry
  • Jason Joyner
  • Tina Kulesa
  • Kevin Lucia
  • David Meigs
  • Chris Mikesell
  • Dineen Miller
  • Mimi Pearson
  • Kathleen Popa
  • Dee Stewart
  • Chris Well
  • Kell-Ann
  • Published in: on June 30, 2006 at 10:14 am  Comments (5)  

    Blog Tour—T. L. Hines, Day 2


    When it comes to becoming a published author, Christian Fiction Syndicate founder and featured author for the month of June, T. L. Hines, has one of the more magical stories, well worth the read.

      tl hines

    He’s posted it on his blog

    However, his own story pales in comparison to that of the character of his imagination, Jude Allman. That’s assuming, of course, that Hines invented the protagonist in his debut novel, Waking Lazarus rather than patterning him after an existing person, but I think that’s a fairly safe assumption.

    I find it hard to talk about this book without making spoiler statements, but I’ll give it a go tomorrow when I post my review.

    Suffice it to say that this is an intriguing book—not so far from fantasy—and one I highly recommend.

    Take time to get to know more about Tony (that’s what the T stands for) by visiting other blogs in the tour:

  • Bonnie Calhoun
  • Linda Gilmore
  • Katie Hart
  • Kevin Holtsberry
  • Tina Kulesa
  • David Meigs
  • Dineen Miller
  • Mimi Pearson
  • Kathleen Popa
  • Dee Stewart
  • Published in: on June 29, 2006 at 10:17 am  Comments (7)  

    In Response to Jeff Gerke; Blog Tour—T.L. Hines, Day 1


    First, a HUGE thank you to Jeff for taking the time to blog and then to answer our questions. What a treat!

    And being a fantasy writer, I found myself saying, “That’s what I want, too” to many of the things he said yesterday, because his words resonated in my soul.

    Until the end.

    Some of you who have been reading for some time here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction may already know what I’m about to say.

    Before Jeff’s wonderful concluding sentence, he played the current CBA mantra that he had pretty well shot a hole in with his previous comments:

    Let me hasten to say, however, that evangelism and apologetics, or any other agenda, should never be our motive for writing any fiction. Agenda-driven fiction stinks. And readers can smell it a mile away. Story is king. If you can write a story people care about, presenting interesting ideas along the way, you can do it. But the story has to come first.

    If by “agenda-driven” Jeff means poorly crafted theme so that the message is transparent, even, perhaps, bordering on moralistic, then I have to agree—that stinks. But the comment “Story is king” is the mantra to which I referred, and I think it is an under-examined statement. Writers kowtow to it without really understanding the implications.

    What, after all, constitutes “story”? Are we referring to the plot? The premise? The characters in action? What about the setting—does it have a part in creating a story? Isn’t the theme also a part?

    To all of it, I say, Yes. Story is constructed with all those parts: a well crafted plot, characters that engage, a setting that takes readers to another place, ideas that provoke thought. All of it.

    Hence all of it needs to be crafted well. But the current trend among Christian writers seems to be to “let the theme rise naturally from the story.” Which I take to mean, from the plot and characters. So if you craft the plot and the characters well, you don’t need to craft the theme.

    This idea, I believe, explains why much of CBA fiction does not have staying power—the ideas are too underdeveloped.

    When I began A Christian Worldview of Fiction, I posted on this subject at some length. Those posts, starting with March 17, are filed under theme.

    Turning the corner here, I am delighted to say I suspect T. L. Hines is a writer with staying power.

    Today starts Hines’s blog tour, highlighting his first novel, Waking Lazarus.

    I just finished reading the book this morning and will have more to say tomorrow and Friday, but in my opinion, this is a novel that will not only garner some rave reviews, it is one that readers will flock to. It’s a complete story—which means it includes a well-crafted theme.

    Published in: on June 28, 2006 at 11:00 am  Comments (6)  

    Guest Blogger—Jeff Gerke, Part 2


    Yesterday NavPress fiction acquisitions editor Jeff Gerke gave us his personal observations that led him to the conclusion that Christians are reading fantasy. I agree.

    You may have missed the information I passed on in one of the comments yesterday. From a May 1, 2006, report of a three-year study from the Barna Group of Ventura, California:

    Even a large majority of teenagers from groups that have objected most stridently to the stories of wizards and witchcraft have indulged in this fantasy world [of Harry Potter]. Three-quarters of all church-going teens (77%) and born again Christian teenagers (78%) have seen or read Potter.

    My question continues to be, What will those young people read next? Shouldn’t we Christians be grabbing this opportunity to give them what they want, written from a Christian worldview?

    This study, by the way, was based on surveys of teens, 13-18 years old, conducted in 2002, 2004, and 2005. That means the 18 year-olds who said they read Potter in 2002 are already 22, and the 13 year olds are 17. So, no, I don’t think Christian fantasy should just target YA. We need to be writing for adults, too, or they will end up ignoring Christian fiction or leaving fiction altogether because there is nothing for them.

    But you can read my rants on the subject any day. What you really want to read right now is what else Jeff Gerke had to say on the subject of fantasy.

    I do want to go on record as saying, however, that not all opinions expressed are those of the regular blogger. Some of you have read here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction long enough to spot the point with which I disagree. I’ll discuss that a bit more tomorrow along with the beginnings of blog tour posts for T.L. Hines.

    And now, Part 2 of Jeff Gerke’s remarks:

    Now, about whether or not fantasy is appropriate for Christians to read and/or write. I think it definitely is. I mean, what is spiritual warfare fiction (Peretti, etc.) if not fantasy? Monsters of evil vs. paragons of good. Clash of the titans. Wizards who congress with Evil. Paladins who commune with Good. Fantasy is, in a sense, the perfect vehicle for the elements of Christianity. The Bible is filled with dragons and demons and weird monsters, after all.

    It’s also interesting to me that secular fantasy has gotten so spiritual. Almost every new fantasy now has some element of the supernatural. They’re trying to own territory that belongs first to the Christian.

    I write fantasy (see chapters from my epic fantasy at Jefferson Scott – News and Information) because, well, because it’s cool, and also because it gives me the opportunity to show Christianity in a new light. When you can strip away the trappings of something people think they know, leaving only the essence, you can begin to truly communicate. When you take away the architecture and the social structures and the stained glass language—the things that people see and immediately dismiss—you can get to the truth.

    With my fantasy I want to get rid of words like Bible and Christian and salvation and church and replace them with words that once again have power to the unbeliever. I want to show God not as the pansy or judge people see Him as now but in a more raw way. Like C.S. Lewis did with Aslan, a ferocious lion. People hadn’t thought of Christ like that before. It was so powerful. They encountered Him afresh.

    Fantasy is perfect for this purpose because you’re creating a whole new world anyway. People expect newness throughout the story and the world. They welcome it. They embrace it. They’re open to new ideas because they love having their brains engaged with a writer’s vision of another reality. The junk has been pared away and people are willing to try out your visualization of a different world. They’re teachable. Fantasy, therefore, can be the best genre for evangelism and apologetics in our day.

    Let me hasten to say, however, that evangelism and apologetics, or any other agenda, should never be our motive for writing any fiction. Agenda-driven fiction stinks. And readers can smell it a mile away. Story is king. If you can write a story people care about, presenting interesting ideas along the way, you can do it. But the story has to come first.

    Christian fantasy is the wave of the future in Christian publishing.

    – – –

    Edited to add: Be sure to read Jeff’s comprehensive answer, Comment #17, to questions left yesterday.

    Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 9:19 am  Comments (19)  

    Guest Blogger—Jeff Gerke, Part 1


    As promised, today you will hear from Jeff Gerke, but first I wanted to pass on the official news that NavPress has signed Sharon Hinck to publish her fantasy trilogy. The first book is scheduled to release June, 2007, with number two coming out in September and the third, the following January. (Short time between release because the books are completed).

    From Sharon (to the ACFW e-mail loop, quoted with permission):

    Today I signed the contract for a three-book series with NavPress.

      What would happen if an ordinary soccer mom, studying the story of Deborah in Judges and longing to do something heroic for God, is pulled into an alternate world waiting for help–and she bears the signs of the promised Restorer? Susan uses all her skills as a mother—nurturing, negotiating, and building relationships—plus a few new skills she never learned at the PTA (like sword fighting and battling alien mind poison) to engage in epic drama and a very personal spiritual journey.

    THE RESTORER is the book of my heart. I’ve prayed over this series, pitched the books to good-hearted editors who cringed at the word “Fantasy” and hoped for this day.

    My test readers were women who read Kingsbury, Rivers, and many of our ACFW folk…most have never read sci-fi or fantasy. But they strongly identified with Susan and enjoyed the journey because of that.

    God can truly achieve the impossible. This open door was a GIFT from Him, and definitely not caused by any savvy or skill at promoting on my part. He is remarkable and amazing.

    Sharon also wanted to go on record as saying that Jeff Gerke is her hero for going to bat for her with his publisher. Signing Sharon is evidence, in my opinion, that Jeff is serious in what he believes about fantasy. So, with no other preliminary, Part 1 of Jeff Gerke on fantasy.

    – – –

    This year was my first to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. What a blast. I think I made something of an impact there by briefly taking over a fiction editors’ panel I was on. I got to talking about the future of fantasy and other speculative genres in CBA, and when that happens people tend to duck and cover because I get a little passionate.

    Poor Dave Long of Bethany House had had to sit through my little spiel on a previous panel, but he was a good sport and even lent a hand—literally. I’d been drawing a pie chart in the air with my arms, but Dave whipped out a pen and drew the chart right on his palm, which he then displayed for the audience. Then someone pointed to a flip chart on an easel beside us, and things really got going.

    What I drew was a circular pie with a one-quarter-sized piece missing. The three-quarters of the pie that was there represented the kinds of fiction that Christian publishers release: romance, suspense, historical/biblical, etc. These genres are also published by secular houses. The missing piece represented the best-selling genre in secular publishing: speculative fiction, primarily fantasy. This was, I said, a kind of fiction that hundreds of thousands of Christians read, but that Christian publishers do not produce.

    I waved my marker above the missing pie piece and said, “We’ve got Christian authors who write it and Christian readers who devour it, but very few Christian publishers providing it. What gives?” I then went on record with this: “I predict that within two to five years a Christian fantasy is going to go big—hopefully one NavPress publishes—and then every editor on this panel is going to come here and say to you, ‘Never mind about that chick-lit; do you have any speculative fiction for me?’” At which point the room burst into cheers. I took a bow, put my marker away, and sat down.

    Incidentally, the “research” that went into that missing pie piece thing is unscientific and based on a very small sample. But I still like it :-). I went into my local Borders bookstore and just observed. I saw that the front fiction section in the store was Suspense/Thrillers, and it had 5 long shelves full. The next section was Manga, which had 2 shelves. Then the third section was Fantasy/SF, which had 6 shelves. It was the largest fiction section—indeed, the largest section, period—in the store. I asked the clerk what kind of fiction sold best in the store. He said, not surprisingly, “Fantasy, definitely. Followed by suspense and Manga.”

    So then I did some thinking. (Dangerous, I know.) I thought, the people who come to Borders are a cross-section of people in my community. Which means that there is a certain percentage of Christians among that group. And if fantasy is the best-selling genre in the store, then it’s quite likely that that same percentage of people who bought fantasy were Christians. (Does that make sense?) If 25% of the people coming into the store were Christians, then possibly 25% of the people buying fantasy were Christians. If the general public purchased more fantasy than anything else, then it stands that Christians were buying more fantasy than anything else. And that’s when I got excited and started dreaming about pie.

    If fantasy is the best-selling genre among Christians who shop in Borders, why isn’t fantasy the best-selling genre among Christians in general? Why isn’t Christian fantasy the best-selling genre in the CBA?

    When you’ve got people who want it and writers who write it, there’s a need and a solution. All you need is the right product for them to want. And you need to let those Borders-shopping Christians know that Christian fantasy exists. But that’s a topic for another day.

    – – –

    Part 2 tomorrow.

    Published in: on June 26, 2006 at 6:47 am  Comments (28)  

    This Is Not a Post


    Nope, not a post—just play. I wanted to see if Sally Apokedak was right, that I could lift her oh-so-cute little emoticons from her site. And ya know, she was!

    Here’s my favorite: mad Appropriate, doncha think? 😉

    Published in: on June 24, 2006 at 10:38 am  Comments (7)  

    Donita K. Paul’s Blog Tour Wrap-up


    Some business first. As per my earlier announcement, on Monday and Tuesday Jeff Gerke, fiction acquistions editor for NavPress, will be the guest blogger here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. He will be sharing his thoughts about fantasy—something I don’t think you’ll want to miss.

    Why Monday and Tuesday, you may wonder, instead of Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Monday? I’ve decided to switch to “summer hours.” In other words, for the time being, I will post on Monday through Friday rather than Monday through Saturday.

    This change will be difficult for me—I find myself becoming very attached to this here little blog. It’s fun, makes me think, gives me a chance to write even when I have to work on something else, and your comments encourage and stretch me. Regardless, I think this move is for the best for now.

    Hence my decision to feature Jeff Gerke on Monday and Tuesday. BTW, in case you didn’t realize it, Mr. Gerke is also an author—an aspiring fantasy author, who writes as Jefferson Scott. He has posted his prologue, a chapter, and a photo-enhanced map of his epic fantasy work in progress at his Jefferson Scott Novelist news and information site (not a blog—clearly not a blog! 😉 ) You are invited to enjoy his writing—mayhap on Saturday when there will be no new post here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction.

    – – –

    Today I want to wrap up round two of the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog Tour.

    First, a big thank you to Donita for her help promoting the tour in her newsletter, for her cooperation answering questions for interviews, for her comments at many of the participating sites. I know it is time consuming, but it really is an encouragement when the featured writer gets involved in the tour. Thanks, too, to her publicist at WaterBrook for mailing out copies of the book for us to have available for review.

    Second, a huge thank you to each of the bloggers. Some are not SFF authors, but they jumped in and added their voices to the promotion for DragonKnight (WaterBrook, 2006). Others are faithful SFF writers and part of the founders of our growing group. What a wonderful job they did, offering such varied material. A truly fun tour.

    I promised you on Monday that I would give the answers to the non-quiz statements I listed. So, without further ado:

  • Ms. Paul lives in Colorado.
  • Before becoming a full time writer, Ms. Paul taught school.
  • Ms. Paul is a proud grandmother.
  • The DragonKeeper Chronicles are published by WaterBrook.
  • Along with fantasy, Ms. Paul has written romance.
  • Ms. Paul was “inspired” to write fantasy by reading Robert Jordan.
  • After DragonKnight there will be four more fantasies set in Amara. [DragonFire and three others].
  • Ms. Paul’s favorite part of writing is getting the checks. [I bet some of you missed that one 😉 ]
  • Concerning the imaginative elements in her stories, Ms. Paul credits lots and lots of reading.
  • When she writes, Ms. Paul concentrates first on developing the characters. [and if you’ve read any of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, I bet you did NOT miss that one.]
  • OK, meet me back here Monday and Tuesday. You’ll learn what Jeff Gerke thinks is dangerous, what words he does not want in his fantasy, why he thinks fantasy is the perfect fit for Christians.

    Published in: on June 23, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)  

    Blog Tour—Donita K. Paul, Day 3


    DragonKnight

    First, I want to recommend that you stop by the sites of the other bloggers participating in the tour focused on DragonKnight:

    Sally Apokedak
    Valerie Comer
    Johne Cook
    Janey DeMeo
    Mary E. DeMuth
    Beth Goddard
    Rebecca Grabill
    Leathel Grody
    Katie Hart
    Sherrie Hibbs
    Marcia Laycock
    Shannon McNear
    Matt Mikalatos
    Mirtika Schultz
    Stuart Stockton
    Steve Trower

    In particular, check out

  • Stuart Stockton and Sally Apokedak for reviews
  • Shannon McNear and Beth Goddard for stories about Donita
  • Leathel Grody for discussion about fantasy’s place in Christian literature
  • Rebecca Grabill for the myth behind the myth regarding fantasy 😉
  • And now, my review.

    I’m not a proficient reviewer by any means. For the real deal, check out Sally Apokedak’s reviews. Mostly I just know what I like, and I’m enthusiastic about DragonKnight.

    This is the kind of fantasy I eat up—a quest for a noble cause, conflict between good and evil, a personal battle within. On top of that, I thought this was by far Mrs. Paul’s best writing.

    First, I thought the protagonist, the previously prickly squire Bardon, had a believable goal from the outset. The problems and delays that cropped up still felt like a part of the original problem, so I easily transferred my concern to seeing the new foils dispatched. In addition, the characters that waylaid him from his original plans were delightful, interesting, well developed.

    Second, I found Bardon to be a more complex character than Kale, heroine of the previous DragonKeeper books. He was someone I could care about in his internal as well as external struggles.

    I also thought Mrs. Paul improved the battles in DragonKnight. With perhaps only one exception, I could see each scene, track the participants, follow the outcome. Realistically, some people were injured and some villains died.

    Once again Mrs. Paul’s inventiveness is evident. The minneken Jue Seeno threatens to steal the show as did Dar in DragonSpell and Toopka in DragonQuest, yet Mrs. Paul again manages to keep the focus in the right places.

    Bardon’s mental rehearsal of the principles from the tomes, clearly a potential minefield of preachiness that Mrs. Paul avoids, are especially fresh and appropriate.

    As in the first two books, I thought there were occasional slips into transparent Christian equivalency, the most noticeable being prayer before meals (particularly the one where Bardon said, “We thank You for this food and for the hands that prepared it.”). Still, these intermittent lapses did not spoil the story for me.

    The end held some wonderful surprises, all made believable because they had been properly foreshadowed. I must also admit to shedding a tear and may have cried outright if the characters had given in to grief.

    All in all, this book delighted from beginning to end. Using Sally Apokedak’s star rating system, I’ll give this book

      starstarstarstarstar

    – – –

    Tomorrow we’ll have a tour wrap-up, including the answers to Monday’s non-quiz. 😉

    Published in: on June 22, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (16)  

    Blog Tour—Donita K. Paul, Day 2


    Just a quick reminder that the fantasy ride will continue here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, even after the June blog tour ends. On Monday and Tuesday next week, I will post a two-part guest blog by NavPress fiction acquisitions editor Jeff Gerke. You won’t want to miss his comments about Christian fantasy.

    We had some excellent posts yesterday, featuring the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog Tour Group’s author of the month, Donita K. Paul. If you haven’t had time to check out all the sites yet (understandable), I’d suggest the following:

  • For reviews, starting with DragonSpell Sally Apokedak’s web site
  • For an overview of Donita’s web site and books – Mirtika Schultz’s blog or Beth Goddard’s blog
  • For a discussion of the validity of Christian fantasy – Rebecca Grabill’s blog
  • Well, I could go on and on, but those are some fine sites to start with. I’m looking forward to what else our excellent bloggers have to say today about The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, and specifically about Donita’s new release, DragonKnight.

    ——

    And now, Part II of the interview with Mrs. Paul.

    RLM: Of course, as a fantasy writer myself, I can’t help wondering about a number of the behind-the-scene things you deal with, so I have to ask the writers’ version of the chicken or the egg question: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

    DKP: The characters. I have a tendency to create characters and watch what happens to them. The only thing I truly had planned for the first book was the starting and ending point. It seemed funny to me, and those who have read DragonSpell might pick up on the irony of the first and last scenes.

    RLM: I wish I could say I had picked up on it! Now I have to go back and see what you’re referring to.

    What’s been the hardest thing about writing the Dragon Keeper books and why?

    DKP:

  • Writing on a deadline is stifling to my creative percolator.
  • I have trouble engaging in simple enjoyment of the story when I let myself think about the technical aspects of the writing craft.
  • I must allow my characters to have a rollicking good time or I don’t have a good time either.
  • So, my own desire to turn in the manuscript on time in a professional writing style with a rousing storyline kind of piles up on my head and makes me crazy. Then I remember that God has pulled me through this process before and He isn’t going to desert me now.

    RLM: What about the converse — what’s the most satisfactory part of your writing and why?

    DKP: The readers. Definitely, the readers. I meet them in various ways, and they communicate through the website. The readers are stupendous! They cheer me on, they relate stories of how the books affected them and give me courage to keep writing, and once in a while, a reader will tell me that God acted in his or her life because of what they read in my fantasy. Wow! Is that humbling!

    RLM: What’s your favorite part of the writing process – planning, rough draft writing, rewriting, revising? What makes that particularly enjoyable?

    DKP: I notice you didn’t say anything about receiving the check.

    [RLM: Might that be a clue to the fact that I am yet unpublished? ;-)]

    I suppose that it would not be spiritual to say that receiving the check is the high point. But, you know, there is something very gratifying about that piece of paper that says well done! It is tangible evidence that the hard work didn’t just dig a hole in the ground.

    Writing is one of the few professions where you put in hours of labor, learning your craft, executing your craft, marketing your craft, and then waiting for returns both emotional and physical. I enjoy it when a reader says I love your stories, but I don’t meet many of them face to face. The check is something that says monetarily that people out there are reading the books.

    It also feels good to pay bills.

    RLM: Undoubtedly! 🙂

    I recently read you went to a Donald Maass writing seminar. What’s the most important thing you as a published, experienced writer learned?

    DKP: Two things. First and most importantly writing for God is different than writing for the New York Times Bestseller list. All the tricks of the trade are meaningless if you hit the “big time,” but make no difference in your readers’ Christian lives.

    The second thing was a mantra Donald Maass teaches. “Tension on every page.” Even the descriptions need a tension that keeps a reader awake and reading.

    After all, how can you achieve touching people’s lives if you put them to sleep with boring fiction?

    RLM: That sure makes a lot of sense. What a good rationale for continuing to work on craft. You really are setting a great example for the rest of us writers.

    What are you working on next?

    DKP: DragonFire, due out in 2007. It is the last of this series, but not the last of Wulder, Paladin, and Amara. I have a contract for three more fantasy books with WaterBrook.

    RLM: I know there are a lot of us who will be waiting with excitement for DragonFire. And what great news about the contract for three more! Keeping the fantasy coming, I say!

    And thank you for your time, Donita, for sharing your thoughts, your wisdom, your work.

    Tomorrow, my review of DragonKnight.

    For more posts, visit the other Christian SF/Fantasy tour bloggers:

    Sally Apokedak
    Valerie Comer
    Johne Cook
    Janey DeMeo
    Mary E. DeMuth
    Beth Goddard
    Rebecca Grabill
    Leathel Grody
    Katie Hart
    Sherrie Hibbs
    Marcia Laycock
    Shannon McNear
    Matt Mikalatos
    Mirtika Schultz
    Stuart Stockton
    Steve Trower

    Published in: on June 21, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (7)  

    Blog Tour—Donita K. Paul, Day 1


    Round two of the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog Tour officially begins today. Here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction we will enjoy a two-day interview with featured author Donita K. Paul, then wrap up the tour on Thursday with a review of her latest novel.

      Donita K. Paul

    Choosing to focus on Donita K. Paul in June was an easy decision for the Christian SF/Fantasy Blog Tour Group since the third book in her Dragon Keeper Chronicles, DragonKnight, is scheduled to release today.

    Interestingly, we are not the first to blog about this wonderful book. We’ve been scooped—and by a novice to SF/Fantasy literature! 🙂 But that latter fact makes the comments Jamie Driggers posted last week all the more credible. I encourage you to take time to read her observations.

    On to Part I of our interview with Ms. Paul.

    RLM: Donita, thanks so much for joining us this week. It’s a real privilege to be a part of the kick-off of DragonKnight. But I have to wonder, when you first started the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, what made you decide to write fantasy?

    DKP: I had an infection in my leg and had to keep it elevated above my heart for six weeks. My son brought me something to keep me entertained, Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. I wasn’t much of a fantasy reader, but I was stuck in that chair! So I read the eight volumes that were out at that time. These books are huge, each one over five hundred pages, some close to a thousand. I finished reading them about the same time I was allowed out of the chair. I remember thinking, “that was nice,” but I wasn’t taken with the genre. Nine months later my mother challenged me to write something different, bigger. To me, fantasy looked bigger and definitely different.
    I didn’t set out to write allegory that would make Christian readers sit up and take notice. I merely jumped into playing with a new way, for me, of thinking.

    RLM: You have wonderful, imaginative creatures in your stories and some intriguing scenery, from blue-domed buildings to castles rising out of a lake. To what do you attribute your imagination?

    DKP: Lots of reading. Lots and lots of reading from an early age. My treat for the week was when my father took me on Friday evenings to the local discount store. He took a lot of pictures during the week in his work, and we would go drop off the new roll of film and pick up last week’s. AND!! I got to pick a book to bring home. I remember they were $1.25 each, and I felt so fortunate that my dad would spend that much on me every single week.

    RLM: Your wizards have taken a more and more prominent role in the series. Have you experienced any “wizard backlash” from people who think wizards don’t belong in a Christian book, and how do you explain your decision to incorporate magic into your stories?

    DKP: Yikes! This question makes me scratch my head. And yes, I have experienced wizard backlash. But I love this term you have used, and it is the first time I have heard it. It makes me chuckle, and humor is a good leveler, helping restore perspective.

    First, I don’t think of my books as delving into the magical arts. The word wizard comes from wizened, and in its original use, way back in the days people spoke Anglo-Saxon, it was a respectful term for an older person who had great knowledge gained by experience and study.

    My wizards command the elements of nature that God has created. They do without equipment what a scientist would do with lasers and electromagnetic generators, or even what a housewife might do with a washing machine or a microwave. The reason they are wizards is that they understand, down to the molecular structure, God’s creation.

    Secondly, this is fiction, and I don’t expect people to take my fiction literally. Talking bears, such as Paddington and Pooh, don’t bring down scathing rebukes of magic. If a parent is concerned about the child’s perception of what is real and what is not, then that parent ought to seize the opportunity to teach. Parents, read books with your child and discuss the points on which your child needs clarification.

    RLM: What would you say to a reader who doesn’t typically read fantasy in order to hook him into picking up the Dragon Keeper books?

    DKP: Interest is high now in fantasy as literature. Some people find Tolkien too literary, and some people find the Christianity in the Narnia books by Lewis to be too blatant. The Dragon Keeper Chronicles offer a great tale of adventure with the time-honored battle between good and evil playing out in a way that gives adults meat to chew on and children sips of nourishing milk.

    Part II tomorrow.

    Be sure to check out the other fine bloggers in the tour:

    Sally Apokedak
    Valerie Comer
    Johne Cook
    Janey DeMeo
    Mary E. DeMuth
    Beth Goddard
    Rebecca Grabill
    Leathel Grody
    Katie Hart
    Sherrie Hibbs
    Marcia Laycock
    Shannon McNear
    Matt Mikalatos
    Mirtika Schultz
    Stuart Stockton
    Steve Trower

    Published in: on June 20, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (19)  
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