Author Interview: Bryan Davis
Ladies and Gentlemen, Authors and Authoresses. Lend me your ear (or in this case your eye) for today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Bryan Davis, author of Speculative Fiction books that have collected recognition in the world of Christian Fantasy. In 2007, Eye of the Oracle was number one on the Young Adult CBA best-seller list, and The Bones of Makaidos won the 2010 Clive Staples Award. I have been a fan of his books (particularly the Echoes from the Edge, Dragons in Our Midst, and Oracles of Fire series’) for many years, and it is a great honor to have him on my blog today.
Hello, Bryan Davis! Welcome to Red Lettering. Could you introduce yourself to my readers?
Bryan Davis: Hello, everyone. I am the author of seven fiction series, 23 novels so far, nearly all of them involving some sort of speculative fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, etc. I have been married to Susie for 33 years, and we have seven offspring, ranging from 16 to 31 years old. I live in western Tennessee with my wife and two of those offspring, as well as one dog, four cats, and about 40 chickens.
What first made you start writing?
Bryan Davis: I began writing as a way of trying to get my kids interested in writing. We wrote a story together, and when I saw how the storytelling motivated my kids toward courage, sacrifice, and other virtues we put into the story, the process created a passion in me to write. I hoped that I could do the same for other readers and make an impact on the world. The journey was longer and harder than I expected. It took ten years to get published, and I received more than 200 rejections along the way. Now I am glad of those rejections, because they motivated me to learn the craft and get much better at writing.
Do you ever get “writer’s block”? How do you deal with it if you do? If you don’t, how do you think people might avoid it?
Bryan Davis: I don’t get the common form of writer’s block, that is, a lack of ideas. I get too many ideas and sometimes have trouble choosing one. I have found that going back and editing a previous scene helps a lot. Also, if you stop writing for the day in the middle of a scene, it is much easier to pick it up again. Emotive music is another good way to get the creative juices flowing.
What is the worst piece of writing advice that you’ve ever heard?
Bryan Davis: Just about any advice that includes “always” or “never.” Always use “said” as a speaker tag. Never use adverbs. Always use show, don’t tell. Never use “was.” Such absolutes are misleading. There is a time and place for just about anything in writing … except for missing motivations. That’s my only “always” rule. Your point-of-view character must always have a perceivable motivation for any action that he or she does. Otherwise, you reader will lose intimacy with the character.
Since random questions are always fun, have you ever stood on your hands while doing jumping jacks and eating peanut butter? If the answer is no (which I suspect it will be), which do you prefer, coffee, or tea? (If the answer is yes… What on earth were you thinking?)
Bryan Davis: No, I haven’t done that, but I do eat a lot of peanut butter, so I am an expert in that activity. I don’t drink coffee, and I rarely drink tea, so I suppose I have to choose tea. Can I add Pepsi Throwback to the options?
Outside of your books, which fictional work is your favorite?
Bryan Davis: To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel. Harper Lee’s ability to see through a young girl’s eyes and still present complex themes was extraordinary. Her writing was superb, and her portrayal of a widowed father as a heroic figure who stood against the prevailing opinions of the culture moved me deeply.
Which of your books was the hardest for you to write?
Bryan Davis: Eye of the Oracle was the most difficult. I told a story that spanned 5000 years, and I wanted to tie it together with a thread that provided a feeling of a continuum. It took six months to write, which is a long time for me, since I am a full-time author. Also, the emotions in the story stretched me in a dozen ways. When I finished, I felt like a wrung-out dishcloth.
I’ve heard that you’ve done some interesting research for your novels in the past. What would you consider the most exciting bit of research you’ve ever done?
Bryan Davis: I went to England to do research for Circles of Seven. Before I left, I purchased a book about Glastonbury and the secrets of Avalon—a look at the legends of King Arthur and some connections with the mysticism in Glastonbury. When I visited one of the tourist sites in Glastonbury, I entered the site’s bookstore and saw the author’s sequel to the book I had bought. I mentioned this coincidence to the shopkeeper, and she asked if I wanted to meet the author. She directed me to his house around the corner, and the author was there. He gave me many more insights than were in the book, and I was able to include some of the cool stuff in the story.
Do you have a verse, or a group of verses, that you would consider your writing anthem?
Bryan Davis: And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5) God makes all things new. God also makes us new creatures, freed from bondage to sin and resurrected to new life. This transformation a major theme in my stories. Since God says to write about these things, I try to faithfully obey that command.
You’re in the park, and you meet a character from the novel you’re currently working on. Who is it, and what would you say to him or her?
Bryan Davis: I meet Phoenix from Reapers and tell him to trust Singapore. No matter how treacherous she might appear to be, she has a good reason for her actions. She just can’t tell you yet. You can and should trust her.
What is an important piece of writing advice that you don’t hear often?
Bryan Davis: Your entire story should be tied together in a series of motivation/reaction units. The action of the point-of-view (POV) character in a paragraph should have an apparent motivation that can be found in a previous paragraph, preferably in the one immediately previous. Even the actions of the non-POV characters should have apparent motivations in nearly all instances. Some motivations for non-POV characters can be hidden at times, but you should have good reason to withhold that information.
What novel are you currently working on? Give us a reason to want to read it.
Bryan Davis: I just finished and published Reapers. It is a dystopian tale with a supernatural twist. Taking place in a futuristic, urban setting, this first book in a planned trilogy will appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and similar fast-paced stories for young adults. Along with a blend of real life and imagination, it delivers action, danger, and suspense through the adventures of three teenagers—Phoenix, Singapore, and Shanghai—Reapers who collect the souls of the dying or already dead and transport them to the Gateway where they will travel to their final destination … or so they are told. Here is a link to the first chapter – http://www.daviscrossing.com/Reapers-chapter-one.pdf
Thank you so much for being here, Mr. Davis. I am looking forward to being able to read Reapers with more than a little bit of anxiousness. I know that your books have touched the hearts of many, and led people to Christ, and I am honored that you would take the time to allow yourself to be interviewed on my blog.
Bryan Davis is the author of the following young adult fantasy series: Dragons in our Midst, Oracles of Fire, Echoes from the Edge, and Dragons of Starlight. He also wrote I Know Why the Angels dance, a contemporary novel for adults. After laboring as a computer geek for 20 years, Bryan followed a dream to become an author. He began by writing a story to motivate his seven children to gain some excitement about writing, and that story grew into a novel. After spending the next eight years learning the craft and enduring more than 200 rejections from publishers and agents, he broke through with his best-selling series Dragons in our Midst. He is now a full-time author and lives with his wife, Susie, and their children in western Tennessee. Bryan’s novels have been readily accepted in schools worldwide, whether public, Christian (Protestant or Catholic), Jewish, or otherwise. Such is their wide appeal. For more information, see his website – http://www.daviscrossing.com