My favorite series (aka how I started loving elves):
Well, now that I have some reviews on here, I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t also post my favorite series of all time.
I suppose this should be a hard question to answer because I enjoy so many books, but it actually isn’t. I DO have a favorite series, a fantasy series written by Tracey Hickman and Margret Weis called Death Gate. I was a teenager when I first read it. I had actually just finished their Dragonlance series and requested them for my birthday. My well-meaning mother had no idea which of their many books I meant (and even I had no idea they were so prolific) so she gave me the first book of this series, Dragon Wing.
But I was perfectly willing to be flexible and dive into this new series!
It seemed a bit harder read than their Dragonlance series, but I was quickly hooked. The characters were familiar (elves and dwarves, princes, and assassins), but richly developed and presented differently than any I had seen. The dwarves were kicked around. The elves were flying space ships. The world was broken and floating around as lumps of rock. It was SO cool. And then, when I got to the ending of the series, I felt something—something I was used to feeling in church when someone bears a testimony or sings a heart-filled song. Yes, there are Christian themes in Death Gate, in a fantasy, and it made it something I never wanted to forget.
Like many new writers, once finding my favorite series, I wanted to do something “just like that.” I didn’t start loving elves because of Tolkien (though he certainly has some cool elves), I started loving them and the idea that I could put my own twist on the traditional after reading Death Gate and that is when I started writing my first book. But as Amazon got to be more popular I looked up my favorite series and found a review that was mostly positive, but it said it had to “forgive” Death Gate for its Christian themes that became so clear at the end of the series.
The part of the series that made it stick with me all those years had to be “forgiven” to be
considered a masterpiece of fantasy.
I rejected the idea then, but I guess that message stuck with me because when I got my first review pointing out some of the Christian themes in my book, I panicked a little. And it wasn’t even a bad review! It was a review written by my loving aunt saying she LIKED the Christian themes. I had even posted on my blog a quote in Mere Christianity as part of my book’s inspiration, so it’s not like I didn’t know those Christian themes were there! I put those themes there, and now someone was just pointing them out, so why was I panicking?
I guess there is an assumption even inside me that if something is Christian, it is lazy or not as polished. That it rests on the fact that just because Christianity is good, everything written with that intent is also good. Or its writers are so focused on the “message” that they twist plots and characters in unnatural ways, using “God” or the “spirit” as an overly convenient plot devise. Or they just show a rosy-colored look on the world that feels disingenuous. These things might be true in a lot of Christian novels.
Was it true in mine?
I have no idea. I hope not. Because the fact is, I have written six books and all of them, almost in spite of myself, ended up with a clear message/theme and it seems to be the only thing that inspires me—to keep writing even when it is hard. I sometimes envy my friends who can write books that steers clear of sensitive issues, keeping things fun and able to fit with most world views. I love a lot of books like that, but it just doesn’t seem to be me.
I can apologize for poor writing and try to improve, but I hope I never apologize for being a Christian writer who has Christian-themed books. I certainly wouldn’t expect an Atheist to apologize for writing about their own life experience. That is what all authors do. And readers learn to read what they like and pass on what they don’t.
As part of my discovery of what it means to market well, I felt the message loud and clear. If I really wanted to sell my books, I also have to sell myself to a certain extent. I can’t hide any part of me if I want my books not only to entertain, but to really resonate and speak to someone else. I have to share myself and this is who I am.
I am a nurse, I am an author, and I am a Christian. And by admitting that, I feel I can fully embrace those that stick around after. It won’t remove all the fear, but it will remove some of it. So, yes, there are Christian themes in Stone Bearers and there may very well be Christian themes in all the books I write. They are all listed in my WIP tap, and now I even added Winter Falls, the book I wrote at the same time as Stone Bearers, battling with depression and channeling all my own struggles with faith. I often called Stone Bearers my Hobbit, and its companion series my Lord of the Rings, so I suppose this is my The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, my Narina.
And it will have its Cover Reveal in two weeks. :)