Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the category “Author Interviews”

Half-Blood Blog Tour: Review and GIVEAWAY

The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears–dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood–one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. Yet, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . .

Half Blood Cover

About the Series

Ilyon Chronicles is a six book, non-magical Christian fantasy series geared toward new adults (ages 18-25+). Half-Blood is best read after the first book as backstory for the series’ main character.

Review:

Oh, Half-Blood, Half-Blood, Half-Blood.

I’m not even sure I’ve got a way to start explaining how this book affected me, so I suppose I’ll do it with a quote:

“I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.”

Yes. Yes, I did–yes, it did.

Most of this story is that of pain, of suffering, of what happens when humans believe anything is lower than they are. For a bit of background: when I say I cried at a book, I don’t mean literally. Oh, sure, there’s a tear or two, but they never make it more than a centimeter past my eye. The same was not true for this book.

During that last half of it, I could not keep my face dry for more than ten minutes. I could not stop crying, though it blurred the words in front of me. I read until the book ended at around 12:40 at night—and then, after I had put it away, I simply lay on my bed and cried some more. It would be misleading to say that I exactly loved it, and I could not recommend it to everyone. At the same time, the book was fantastic.

It was hard. So very hard, to see the life that Jace went through. All he remembers is slavery, and through most of this book, this is all that he knows.

The characters were well done. Jace, the various other slaves he meets, the various masters who he served, the different people he met throughout the first seventeen years of his life. I was pleased to see that the characters overlapping through books stayed consistent.

The various characters evoked different emotions in me. Some were evil; some were moderately acceptable. Some I hated… some I just plain couldn’t find it in me to hate. There were so many characters who I pitied in this novel, even the ones who, on first glance, would at first just be cruel and worthy of your hate.

I would have liked to see a little more kindness in Jace’s life… It felt a tiny bit awkward to have no kindness and then extreme kindness. Perhaps some middle ground would have been appreciated.

The character development here was, in keeping with my Southern-ness, “Somethin’ else.” Jace stayed the same person all throughout the novel, but he went through changes as life, cruel as ever, shook him and battered him.

The setting remained consistent with the other books all the way through, though we got to see a… well, a different side. From the manor house to the gladiator fights, then all the way to a little farm where the book ends, the settings are various, not all unfriendly, but few welcoming. Yet even though the other books take place in different locations, the world is bound together so well that there is no doubt that they’re the same place.

The writing was smooth and even. One author once described your words as a window. With that in mind, Jaye’s window was clear, smear-free, and spotless. I noticed only one sentence in the book—the rest of the time, my gaze was firmly on the characters.

The research…ah, now we get to the exciting part. In the past, Jaye had heavily researched gladiators for the previous books in the novel. I could tell by the easy way she incorporated facts into her story that she knew the material well. I didn’t feel uninformed at any point, nor was there any info-dumping or bits of information that seemed unimportant. Though, I feel as though I must mention one sentence; indeed, the only sentence that I noticed while reading.

Strengthened by this determination, Jace spun the sword around and drove the hilt into the side of the gladiator’s head—not hard enough to be lethal, but enough to knock him momentarily senseless.

This is not necessarily a problem, especially since the story is set in a medieval-type era. However, as you may remember from this post, a blow to the head can frequently be (if not severely damaging for the rest of a man’s life) immediately deadly. However, Jace may not know this, so I will accept it as part of the story.

In a way, I loved this book for the honesty of it. It gave us a good idea of what was going on before we first met Jace in Resistance. On the other hand, if this had been the first book of the series that I read, I may not have made it all the way through the novella. It’s hard, it’s dark, it’s almost depressing. If you know you can’t handle that, I cannot recommend it for you.

And yet I can recommend it for you if you’ve read Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, because you know that things will get better. Things get better even at the end of Half-Blood, but I still don’t think the story would be beneficial unless you’ve read at least Resistance first.

Now, at the end of this crazy-long review, I got to interview Jaye L. Knight herself! Furthermore, at the end of that, we’ve got a fancy giveaway that you should be sure to enter.

First, about the author:

Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for
Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that, even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Etsy

  1. Do you remember what book first made you fall in love with stories?

Jaye: I’m not sure what the very first book was, but my all-time favorite books when I was young were the Pony Pal books by Jeanne Betancourt. I adored those books, and the first story I ever finished writing was based off one of them.

  1. What people or events in your life most influence your writing?

Jaye: My mom has been the biggest influence in my writing. I don’t think I ever would have started if not for her, since she’s a writer too. Then, of course, there is J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s because of him that I started writing fantasy. As far as events, I guess a lot of the trials I’ve faced over the last few years have really influenced me, especially in writing Ilyon Chronicles.

  1. What is the necessary environment for your writing and editing?

Jaye: I can usually write anywhere, unless there’s a lot of commotion. I write most often in the living room or outside in the summertime. Writing outside is my favorite. For editing, I’m usually on my computer in my bedroom. I either like it quiet, or with some epic background music. And I almost always have a candle lit. 🙂

The Giveaway

Enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Half-Blood, a blue feather bookmark hand crafted by Jaye, a bronze sword pendant, and a $5 Amazon gift card! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Since WordPress isn’t friendly to Rafflecopter Giveaways, you can just click the picture above and it will take you to Jaye’s blog post. There, you can enter the giveaway, and find a list of other participating blogs!

See the Ilyon Chronicles on Amazon!

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The King’s Scrolls Blog Tour: Author Interview and Review

TKS Blog Tour Banner

About the Book

Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?

Some of you probably remember when I reviewed the novel Resistance by Jaye L. Knight back in July. It was an excellent book, and left me eager to read the second book. Of course, therefore, I am thrilled to be able to participate in the blog tour of book two of the Ilyon Chronicles, The King’s Scrolls. 

Haven’t begun the adventure into Ilyon? From February 17th – 23rd, get Resistance , the award-winning first book of Ilyon Chronicles for your Kindle on sale for only 99 cents! Check it out on Amazon!

Not only did I get to read and review The King’s Scrolls (the review is at the bottom) I had the pleasure of interviewing the author, herself. Folks, please welcome the author of the Ilyon Chronicles, Jaye L. Knight! 

What was the first story you ever wrote?

Jaye L. Knight: My very, very first story I wrote when I was eight years old was about a girl named April. I don’t remember much. Each chapter of it was its only little story of simple things like April getting a cat or playing with one of her friends. The first story I ever finished that was truly a story was called Twilight (definitely not anything like the vampire Twilight :P). It was a horse story and my own retelling of a book from my favorite series at the time, Pony Pals by Jeanne Betancourt. I was about ten or eleven at the time.

Do you have a Bible verse that summarizes your reason for writing?

Jaye L. Knight: Probably Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. God created me with the passion and ability for writing. If I didn’t pursue it, I don’t think I’d be accomplishing the work He has prepared for me to do.

What was one major source of inspiration while you were writing The King’s Scrolls? 

Jaye L. Knight I listened to a lot of music, probably more than I have with other books, especially for the emotional scenes. Hurt by Thomas Bergersen is one song I listened to quite frequently. It’s very sad, but it helped me get in the right mood to tackle some of the more difficult scenes in the book.

What is some little-heard writing advice you would give to novelists?

Jaye L. Knight: I’m not sure how little-heard it is, but some of the best writing advice I can give is not to try to write the perfect novel with your first draft. Unless you’re very unique, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get it right the first time, so don’t beat yourself up trying. One of my favorite quotes is by Shannon Hale that says, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” No matter how unreadable it might be at first, just get the story written. You can always turn it into a masterpiece later.

Have you ever had an interesting experience while researching?

Jaye L. Knight: I didn’t set out trying to research what different feelings of grief were like, but it so happened that at almost the same time I was about to write some of the hardest scenes in The King’s Scrolls, we got news that our dog had cancer. I was absolutely heartbroken because I’m the type that gets super attached to my animals. Those first couple of days were just awful, but I ended up writing down exactly how I felt physically and emotionally so that I could refer to it later. Well, thank God, we ended up finding out that it wasn’t cancer, just an aggressive infection and our wonderful yellow lab is still with us, perfectly recovered. But that experience and the notes I took on it turned out to be very valuable once I returned to writing TKS.

And – definitely the most important question – do you have a favorite drink or snack that you keep nearby while writing?

Jaye L. Knight: TEA!! 😀 English Breakfast Tea with plenty of sugar and French Vanilla creamer to be exact. I have a mug pretty much every day. Sometimes two. I used to absolutely love eating cheddar Combos too while I was writing, but then I had to go gluten free and couldn’t have them anymore. 😦 I haven’t yet discovered a good substitute.

About Jaye L. Knight

Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Giveaway!

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed Epic Winter giveaway! Prize pack includes an autographed copy of The King’s Scrolls, a CD by Future World Music (some of Jaye’s favorite writing music), a dragon bookmark, a stone hawk pendant (much like the ones mentioned in the book), and a few packages of Twining’s Winter Spice tea to sip while you read! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Click here to go to the giveaway.

Book Review

Characters

Just as last time, I loved the characters. They were well-developed, endearing (or in the case of some, not-so-endearing) people. Kyrin may be one of my favorite female protagonists of all time.

The characters, as in the last one, were fantastic – especially the recurring characters. I loved getting to know Kyrin’s brothers, despised the villain (not the emperor; a different one) just a little more with every word he said, and excitedly followed along with their adventures simply because I loved them.

One thing that I did dislike here was the sheer amount of characters. The author was excellent in keeping each person a separate, unique character (something very rarely seen in books with many characters!), but frequently we found characters fading into the background. It was hard to remember who was present at all times – while reading at one point, I was startled to remember that Trev had been present the whole time. In the last book, we were able to keep track of all the characters and see who they were; in this one, I feel like there was just a few too many characters to know quite as well as we did last time. However, it didn’t bother me most of the time; the characters we did focus on were worth it. I only wish Trask had more screen time. I missed his snarky manner mixed in with his excellent leadership.

Plot

The plot was a good mix of past-paced action and endearing quiet scenes. The continuity was good throughout the novel, and I eagerly kept reading (I actually ended up carrying the Kindle around while helping my little sisters clean their room. And sniffling the whole time). It was one of the books that you honestly don’t want to put down; so you carry it around as you walk around the house, even if you’re not reading, so you can come back to it as fast as possible.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was right about what a particular character needed, and it happened. It was fantastic (and tragic). The plot kept me rooting for the characters through my teeth when I should have been asleep; if my sisters heard me muttering, “Come on, Marcus!” from beneath my comforter—no, I wasn’t sleep-talking.

I was also pleasantly surprised (in a tragic sort of way) that the grieving shown here was realistic; far better than that of most books.

Setting

As in the last book, the author knew her land well. This one went from a mining town, to a forest, to a capital, and we got glimpses of an entirely different culture through visitors to the country. Each place possessed a distinctive feel, but was still bound tightly in the same world. The world is a well-developed one; the type you could almost expect to find across the ocean, or just around the next bend on an unfamiliar road.

Writing

Can I start by mentioning how deeply in-character the story took us? A character with a fear of heights made me, a girl who has always loved heights, understand perfectly how it must be to feel fear racing through your limbs at the thought of heights. Even though I was prepared for a death in the story, the grief of the characters left me with a tight feeling in my stomach. Jaye L. Knight is a master of going into the heads of the characters with her writing.

The style of the writing was the same as in the last book, and made me think of a quote I recently saw: “The prose is a window, beyond which all these wonderful things are happening.” — Brandon Sanderson

In Summary

The King’s Scrolls is an excellent, uplifting book. The characters are good, upstanding people, but with flaws to make them relatable. The continuity between the two books was great; I saw no typos or grammatical errors.

This book was one that captured my imagination, skillfully told a story from the hand of a master. A beautiful book that brings glory to God, I would definitely recommend this to Christian Fantasy lovers. I am eagerly awaiting the next book. Well done, Jaye L. Knight.

Visit the other stops on the tour!

Tuesday, February 17

Wednesday, February 18

 

Thursday, February 19

 

Friday, February 20

Saturday, February 21

Sunday, February 22

 

Monday, February 23

Tuesday, February 24

 

Wednesday, February 25

Author Interview: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

I bid a happy Saturday to you all, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers and authors, friends and enemies. Today I have the honor of presenting to you Anne Elisabeth Stengl, a Young Adult Writer of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Her first novel won the Christy Award for best debut, her second, Veiled Rose, winning as a Visionary Novel. Book four of the same series won the Clive Staples award in 2013. But, formalities and awards aside, she’s my favorite author, and her works have inspired many people. Most of her novels are among my favorites list, and it’s a great privilege to be able to have her here to be interviewed.

 

Hello, Anne Elisabeth Stengl! Welcome to Red Lettering. It’s an honor to have you here. Could you introduce yourself to my readers?

Hullo, all! I am (as you see above) Anne Elisabeth Stengl, author of the ongoing Tales of Goldstone Wood series, a many-novel saga about the Near BannerforSeriesSmallerWorld, the Far World, and the Wood that stands Between. The series is currently up to six novels with a little extra novella on the side, and book 7 is going to release later this year! And there will be many more novels to come, so if you like what you see, you’ll be set for reading material for a while.

I have been working as a professional novelist for five years now (my first book released four years ago, but the work begins well before that!), and I absolutely love what I do. Except for those moments when I hate what I do. Even then I love it. (Does this make any sense? If you’re a writer, you’ll know what I mean!)

I am married to the handsome, the brilliant, the charming, the wonderful Rohan de Silva, who apparently likes girls who threaten him with swords. (We met at fencing class. He’s a better fencer than I, so I tried smack-talking him to even the odds a little. Apparently he likes smack-talk too.) We live with our six cats (What? I like cats!) and our one long-suffering dog in a little house on a hill, surrounded by a forest of bamboo.

     What is the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?

The worst? “Never, never, never, never use the omniscient narrative.” I have heard this advice far too often, and it’s nonsense. The omniscient narrative (which is what I write) is a difficult narrative form to use well, but that doesn’t mean we should never use it. To this day other writers sometimes criticize my use of this narrative voice, but the readers enjoy it. It allows me far greater flexibility, enabling me to pack a lot of story into not terribly long volumes. It’s also the narrative voice used by all of my favorite modern novelists.

So, yeah. That’s terrible advice. If you’re a writer, give the omniscient narrative a try! It might not suit your writing voice, and that’s cool. But it also might be a perfect fit, and that’s cool too.

     Do you have a Bible verse, or group of verses, that you would consider your writing anthem?

I always turn back to Ecclesiastes 3: 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Success in writing, in drafting every novel, is entirely based on God’s timing and God’s perspective. Which is not always the same as mine. We measure success by such small, mortal standards, but these are not the same standards used by God, whose perspective is limitless and unfathomable.

This verse is timely and important for so many aspects of our lives. But when I think about an encouraging word I turn to for writing-related crises, this is always the one.

   What is your favorite fictional work, other than your own novels?

Hmmmm, well, I’ll pick the one that springs to mind in this moment, but I reserve the right to change my mind at any given moment!

Sir Terry Pratchett’s Nation is one of my favorites. It is a brilliantly written novel full of heartbreak and humor, set on an alternate-universe/colonial Britain/Polynesian island. Never seen that done before! Fantastic cast of characters, high-stakes plotting, wonderful payoff, bittersweet ending . . . this story has it all!

What impresses me most about Sir Terry Pratchett, however, is the way he can write about themes and philosophies that go against my own. Religiously speaking, he is a deist. And he presents his deistic ideas in Nation. I don’t agree with him; but I admire the way in which he incorporates his message into his story without turning it into a sermon. He makes his readers think in ways they maybe haven’t bothered to think before.

This is what I want to do with my own work. I want to write for readers who don’t necessarily believe the way I do. And I want to encourage them to think. I don’t want to preach. I don’t want to beat anyone over the head. But I want to make them think . . . to think that possibly there is more to this life than mere survival. More to this life than the god of “Me.” More to this life than disgrace, or self-aggrandizement, or power, or despair, or any of the things on which we tend to fixate.

I want to encourage my readers to consider the possibility of grace undeserved. And I want them to think about it.

So that’s why Nation is one of my favorite novels.

     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 do you prefer, coffee, tea, or Pepsi throwback? (If the answer is yes… what on Earth were you thinking?)

Well, I have never done that, but if there’s peanut butter involved, I’m willing to try!

I am a tea person. Particularly black Ceylon tea with a little cream and sugar. My husband was born and raised in Sri Lanka, so he knows all about good Ceylon teas, which he introduced to me when we started dating. I had thought I was a tea person before—but O! how wrong I was! He brews the perfect cup, and it is very inspiring.

But, if Ceylon tea is unavailable, I’m always happy to fall back on classic PG Tips or English Breakfast.

 What is a piece of writing advice you don’t often hear?

I don’t often see young writers encouraged to write authentically. There are a lot of rules on writing out there—how to create a dynamic character, how to craft a blockbuster plot, etc. etc. But I don’t see as much emphasis on authenticity, particularly not in the Christian publishing market, where writers are expected to fill in the Evangelical dots.

I always try to challenge my own writing students to think in terms of reality, not in terms of what they believe they should think about reality. To dive down to the gut issues that drive all of us, those universals that we don’t always like to acknowledge.

However, I could write whole essays and writing curriculums on this topic, so I’ll leave this answer alone for now. Still, think about it, writers. “Authenticity.” What does it mean to you?

   If you were walking into the vet’s office, and you met a character from the novel you’re currently working on, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

Well, if it was a vet’s office, it’s probably Eanrin, who is a cat (though he sometimes looks like a man).  And if Eanrin is at the vet’s office, the End of the World is probably Nigh. Or Imraldera has him shoved into whatever the Goldstone Wood equivalent of a carrier is, and he is swearing, “Dragon’s teeth!” loudly enough to blister the ears. In which case, I probably wouldn’t have the guts to approach, much less say anything to him. (Best to let Imraldera handle him in such instances, you know?)

 What novel are you working on at present? If you can, could you tell us a bit about it?

Book six, Golden Daughter

I am putting together notes and ideas for Book 8 in the Goldstone Wood series. This one is going to be a challenge for me since it boasts a mostly new cast (though a few familiar faces definitely make appearances as well). It is also set a good 500 years after Book 7 (coming in November!) and in a completely different part of the world. So much invention must take place before the book itself can properly begin.

Thus I am researching and note-taking and brewing on that project. Hoping to start properly writing it in another few months, but we’ll see. I expect this book to take me a little longer to write than some of the previous Goldstone Wood novels have, which means at least a year between Book 7 and Book 8.

But I have a fun novella, Draven’s Light, coming out in spring 2015. I am currently gearing up to begin revisions on the rough draft of that one. TitleBannerThankfully, the rough draft is itself pretty strong, so revisions won’t take too long. It’s shorter than my regular novels, but at 50,000 words is twice as long as Goddess Tithe, my first novella. So it’s a nice chunk of reading for fans.

 

Thank you for having me on your blog today. It was lovely to ramble out these answers to your fun questions. Best wishes as you continue the plunge into blogging!

Readers, I would love to connect with you. Do please follow my blog, my Twitter, and like me on Facebook! You can also sign up for my newsletter. All great ways to keep track of the various Goldstone Wood doings.

Thank you so much for being here, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I am eagerly awaiting the time when Golden Daughter and Draven’s Light come out. Thank you so much for writing such epic books, and for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to come be here. 

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Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Woods series, an ever-growing world of knights and dragons, mystical forests and hidden demesnes, unspeakable evil and boundless grace.
Her first novel, Heartless, won the Christy award for best debut in 2011, followed by an unprecedented consecutive win the next year for Veiled Rose, in its own category, and Starflower was most recently honored with the Clive Staples Award for 2013.

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 EdgeDragons 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

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