Fantasy Friday – Introducing Chuck Black

Speculative authors come in all shapes and sizes and from any number of backgrounds, but apparently flying planes stimulates the imagination. Along with former astronaut candidate Austin Boyd, fantasy writer Chuck Black joins the ranks of military men who love Jesus Christ and choose to influence others through story.

Born and raised in North Dakota, Chuck grew up wanting to fly planes. He studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering, receiving a degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo. Soon after, he entered the US Air Force and eventually became a fighter pilot.

After nine years in the service, he returned to North Dakota where he now works as a product design engineer and partner in a plastics company. More importantly, Chuck is husband to his wife Andrea and father of their six children who range in age from 14 to 24.

Because of his role as father, Chuck became a writer. He’d never envisioned doing more than crafting a story for his children, but after he completed his first Kingdom series book, Andrea encouraged him to look into publishing. With additional encouragement from a group of objective readers (Chuck used a pen name), he agreed to pursue publication. Because he didn’t want the long wait associated with traditional publishing, he chose to self-publish.

During the next five years he completed three additional books in the series, and apparently sold enough copies to catch the interest of Multnomah Publishing which reproduced all four titles and contracted two more. Since then, Chuck has added six additional books in the Knights of Arrethtrae series.

He is now working on an ultra secret new fiction series while at the same time penning a non-fiction book of advice and encouragement for dads.

Several things set Chuck apart from other writers of fantasy. For one thing, he is not a big fantasy reader. As far as influence is concerned, he mentions science fiction by John Christopher and Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. He also seems to purposefully steer away from traditional fantasy elements such as magic and wizards.

In addition, he is not shy about the fact that his work is intentionally allegorical and that he wants to communicate truth through story. During adolescence and into his early adulthood, Chuck struggled with doubts and questions about his faith. God rescued him, he says, through prayer, study of God’s Word, and wise counsel. In turn, he wants his writing to point young people to truth.

I wrote Kingdom’s Edge, the third book in the series but the first book written, for one reason only — to inspire my children to study the Scriptures and to create a zeal for God’s Word … The Kingdom Series provides an action/adventure story for our youth that teaches Biblical character without the use of magic, witchcraft, or wizardry. The romantic medieval time period provided an excellent setting to write an allegory that children from ages eight to adult simply love. Each scene and character are directly symbolic to Bible stories. (from an interview with Shelley Noonan of Second Harvest)

While some might think allegory is a kind of second rate type of writing, I disagree. I think it’s hard to do well, but in my review of Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione, I found the truths to be “well-woven into the lives and actions of the characters.” In other words, the allegory did not feel in your face so that it detracted from the story. That may seem surprising in light of what Chuck hopes his readers will take away from his books:

I earnestly want to inspire and excite young people in their faith in Jesus Christ. I hope to impart to them a keen sense of the spiritual warfare that is being waged around them. I hope to help them understand that they have an important role as a child of the King to take up the armor of God and go to battle tearing down spiritual wickedness in high places. I hope these books help them realize that they can have a deep personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. And finally I hope that they grasp that there is a greater purpose in life than to grow up, get a job, work, and die…we are all eternal kingdom builders…Knights of the Prince! (from “Interview & Giveaway – Chuck Black”)

It requires skill to write a good story that simultaneously conveys rich spiritual truths, but that’s what Chuck does. Good for him! It’s time more readers discovered his books.

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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