Magic elements in a magical world? Gnomes? Witches? Curses? For shame!
Hold on a minute. Think about it. Every story a person tells reveals something about them, right? You don’t have to be a creative person—a writer or artist—for this statement to be true. The guy who loves the Red Sox with all his heart will inevitably talk about them a lot. He’ll rehash the latest sports column gossip, discuss the new young rookie, or review endless stats, including that double error in the fourth that cost them last night’s game. These things aren’t random or arbitrary. They tell us something about that man: what inspires him, how he spends his money, and probably what he enjoys doing on the weekends.
So as a committed follower of Jesus and father of eight (seven sons and one daughter), what do my stories reveal about me? I write YA novels guided by a simple question: Is this a story I would want to read, or want my kids to read? Interestingly, I don’t feel the need to write a Christian fantasy in the way some people might understand that term. No, I trust the Holy Spirit to do that part quite naturally. I approach this with a certain fear and trembling. If I set out to impose something artificial, I’m already on poor footing. My “product” has become merely a tool; sort of Christian propaganda. Precisely because I’m committed to the truth of Christ, I have to keep my eye on the ball. Fantasy fiction has a quality to it. It captivates a certain type of reader in a certain way. It uses certain conventions to ignite the imagination. Good fantasy is a gripping read. So if I want to achieve my ultimate end in a way that exposes them to the light of Christ, my goal as a writer can’t be to get them saved, but to tell the truth. I can’t take the cheap way out on this. The “fantasy” genre has more potential for truth than virtually any other. Aesop and the Brothers Grimm chose fables and fairy tales for a reason. The medium conveys classic virtues and moral lessons almost effortlessly.
Ironically, Christian fiction is often the most falsely told, in that it sometimes seeks to artificially impose a Message on every chapter, rather than simply revealing what is Real. For the sake of comparison, consider J.R.R Tolkien’s approach. His epic Lord of the Rings cycle resonated deeply with both believers and unbelievers because it emerged from completeness of perspective rather than narrowness of focus. The question of Jesus as Savior and Lord was not the point of Frodo’s journey. Hardly! Rather, the curse of the One Ring and the threat of Sauron’s dominion was the point. Yet, how many books have been written gleaning Biblical insight from this epic tale? How Christ-like was Frodo’s sacrificial role. His resistance to the temptations of power? How many seeds of the kingdom of God have been planted through millions of books sold and movies watched? The attractiveness and value of a story that is true to itself cannot be overestimated. It does not ring hollow in the reader’s ears. By contrast, prostituting a story doesn’t make people want to read it, it turns them off.
Christian readers should insist on authentic storytelling as ultimately preferable to evangelistic storytelling. I don’t drink milk from a Christian cow, I don’t buy gas from a Christian oil company, I don’t demand that the waitress who serves me at Applebees come to Jesus before she gives me my food. While there is obvious sincerity and good intention behind this approach, it ultimately substitutes creeds for truth, and appearance for authenticity. This is a mistake.
The famous quote by Eric Liddell, Scottish gold medalist in the 1924 Olympics, applies. “God made me fast,” Liddell said. “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” The Gospel has already been told. It is complete. Nothing can be added to the canon, nor should it. So we must look elsewhere. What new stories remain, for the sake of the same truth? I write because God made me creative, adventurous and a lover of heroic tales. When I clatter away at the keyboard, creating far-flung worlds, I find in that simple act a measure of the pleasure of who He made me to be. This is no small act of worship. Whether anyone gets saved reading my books, I have the smile of God on my efforts. I follow the example of my Lord. I tell stories. And every story a person tells reveals something about them.
I dare you to read my books. See what is revealed.
Finally, remember, God didn’t consider it less than “Christian” to portray the raw, unvarnished story of humanity in Scripture. Our most sacred book has murder, adultery, lying, deception, sorcery, betrayal and idolatry. In fact, the Bible is perhaps the most darkly honest book ever written. And precisely for that reason, the splitting brilliance of Christ shines through even clearer and cleaner. Every page of Scripture points to Jesus because every page of Scripture is true, not because every page specifically mentions Him. Ultimately, if a story is to serve Truth, it cannot employ false means.
So…are you looking for a compelling plot, fresh language, interesting characters and bang-up good adventure? Something steeped in myth, mystery, struggle, heroism, disappointment, yes, magic—and faith? Good. Welcome to The Legends of Karac Tor. Check it out at Amazon or my web site HiddenLands.net