1/25/2007

The Gateway to Biblical Speculative Fiction

As a writer I find inspiration in a variety of places. Through people, events, places, and even news articles. I have different sources for my ideas, and often those sources might come from other books. Not plagiarism, but ideas that might flow from these sources. Perhaps I find inspiration in the oddest of places, or maybe my train of thought is odd in itself. I’d image that it’s the latter of the two.

Strangely enough, the most useful source for me is a piece that is far from speculative and without a doubt non-fiction. That is the Bible. It’s what I call the “gateway to Biblical speculative fiction.”

I’m sure there might be a handful of you out there that are shaking your heads and saying that I’ve lost it. Well, you might have a point, but at least you can let a crazy man ramble on.

The Bible is full of stories that could father great speculative fiction.

First let’s look at our League of Super Heroes.

1. Jesus-part God part man, able to heal any disease or illness, can cure any physical issue, raise the dead (even himself).
2. Daniel-able to tame wild beasts, and foresee the future.
3. David-able to take down the greatest foe with the smallest weapon, and can cast out demons with his angelic harp.
4. Sampson-strength of a thousand men.
5. Paul-able to endure any situation with great ease, and apparently the same is true with pain (the thorn in his side).
6. Peter-able to walk on water (if only for short periods of time).
7. Noah-able to assemble any group in a reasonable amount of time.
8. Jacob-able to wrestle with the supernatural.
9. Joseph-able to foresee the future, and has a touch of gold.
10. Moses-able to do amazing feats with his staff.
11. Elijah-able to call fire down from the heavens.
12. Solomon-obtained wisdom greater then all of those in Egypt.

I’m sure I have left some out but those twelve should at least get you thinking. Any one of these would be great to form a character for your very own speculative story. But why stop there?

How about a resume of military generals?

1. Gideon-lead 300 men against 135,000 Midianites (that’s about 450 to 1). You might find something similar in a fictional book titled “300” that is about the hit the movie theaters in April, where 300 Spartans face an entire army of Persians in the battle of Thermopylae.
2. Joshua-Lead his troops in a siege. No siege weapons were needed, with the exception of trumpets.
3. Jehoshaphat-defeated three armies at once with no weapons…unless you count song and praise unto God.

There are many more names and stories I could meantion, but I only want to spark an interest in you to search the scripture out yourself.

It would be very easy to take one little part of the Bible and create a speculative story. Daniel I Weaver’s “Seeing Blind” in Light at the Edge of Darkness is a prime example of what could be done. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s one of my favorites.

There is an idea for a novel. Create speculative fiction spin-offs from biblical stories. So, if you’re stuck in your current WIP (work in progress) and just can’t seem to press forward, take a Bible story and create your own speculative spin-off. You could always pit the biblical heroes against their counterparts like Ahab and Jezebel. If that doesn’t work, you’ve lost nothing and gained some quality time with the greatest Book of all time.


C.E. Lavender
Chad Lavender's Blog
Rise Up Alliance: Sermon Blog

1/24/2007

Reviewing Classics - ARENA by Karen Hancock

At present I’m giving myself a crash course on Lost Genre classics. That’s not so easy, because first you have to find them. There are lists, of course, if you know where to look. I found a great pile of information at wherethemapends.com. I had heard of a lot of this stuff before, and read a good amount of it, big names and all, but there are so many new authors who deserve to be right up there with the best of them. After hearing about “Arena” from various sources, I decided I had to check it out. New female author, alternate reality, love story. Right down my alley.

And I found much to delight me. A scenario beginning with a psychological experiment, a peculiar artificial world, well-constructed characters with strengths and weaknesses. Carrie’s journey is filled to bursting with allegorical happenings that may not mean just what they seem at first. Malicious plant life, pitiable mutants and strange technology fill the Arena with unknowns. Yet danger, evil temptations and horrible threats give way again and again to wonderful hope and solidly present love. The intrinsic, undeniable goodness of the mysterious Mr. C underpins much of the latter part and instilled trust in me as I read. It’s an amazing picture of the battle for the mind, ultimate victory for the good guys, and a surprising outcome that’s incredibly satisfying for a scientific mind and a romantic heart, too. I grew to love the characters as the story went on – I suffered with them, cheered them on, watched them grow, and grew perhaps a little myself as I watched. Somehow, they have made my heart bigger. It’s hard to explain.

This book has become one of my personal favourites, and one to recommend to anyone at all, even if they’re not even remotely interested in Biblical speculative fiction (but especially if they are!). It just doesn’t fit the mold of the genre – it’s not just outside the box, it has destroyed the box along with the boxroom, too! But I that’s definitely one of the aims of this branch of literature – breaking the pattern and opening the way to formerly unthinkable places. I applaud Karen for a fantastic first novel, and I will be returning often to immerse myself in its pages. The only thing that saddened me is that there’s no sequel. I guess I’ll be moving on to her other writings next, but I don’t know if anything can ever beat this.

Sorry for ranting on like this, but if you haven’t read this book, it seems to me that you have missed a very significant piece of the Lost Genre tapestry. Consider it compulsory reading, if you will. If my own writing is ever a fraction so good as this, I’ll be very, very happy. :)

Grace Bridges.com (check out the new video on my site today!)
...the future is what you make it...

1/22/2007

Interview with author Adam Graham


What is your motivation for writing?

I write because it’s what I’m truly the best at. One reason that a lot of people don’t end up writing that novel they dream of is that writing’s really not their calling, it’s really not their thing. Thus, writing the novel goes on the list of things they’d like to do, like being a fireman. For me, it’s a passion and something that I believe I was born to do.

The first time I remember writing anything, I was just past my 9th birthday, and was jotting down an idea for a Superman-Batman crossover.

For me, going to Community College was key and my instructor in English Composition helped me to realize where my talent lie and encouraged me in my writing.

Why do you write Biblical speculative fiction?

I’ve always had an interest in this type of thing. There’s just not been a name for it before. Really, speculative fiction, but whatever name you call it, gives you an opportunity to tell the most amazing stories. I grew up in a household where Sci-Fi was big. I saw Star Trek, Star Wars, the Last Star Fighter, and a list of movies so long it boggles the mind. I’ve been a big fan of superheroes all my life as well. I also loved the twist and turns of the old Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes.

So, of course these would be the type of stories I’d love to tell.


The Christian community has varying opinions on the appropriateness of speculative fiction. Can you explain your take on the compatibility between speculative fiction and your Christian worldview?

I think it’s absolutely compatible and is really a Mars Hill issue for Christian, where you’re speaking to culture in a language that they understand. I see no inherent conflict between the two. The conflict comes with us. As writers, we’ve got a responsibility. People, both secular and religious, sit down and read novels and things of that sort, not to be informed, but to let their guards down and enjoy a diversion. There’s an incredible power with that. I believe that every story out there has the ability to either guide people away from truth, or lead them to it. I don’t believe every piece we write has to be explicitly Christian, but it should not lead people the wrong way. I believe every story people read will either draw them closer to God and Truth, or lead them further away from it. Which a story does is a question each writer has to answer for themselves and give an account to God on.


What length of fiction do you prefer to write?

I’ve got to say that I enjoy the Short Story. I’ve written drafts of 5 novels (one of which thankfully will never see the light of day) and it’s absolutely grueling. When I have a short story idea, in a few sittings I can finish a first draft, some in just one. I’m in idea person, not a process person.


What writing techniques work best for you?

My best writing technique is that I avoid sharing “What’s next?” with my wife or anyone else whose reading a novel or longer short story. It seems to dampen my own enthusiasm when I let too much out of the bag. I remain in full control of the information until I put it on the page. I’m great at drafting a story. I know what I want to write in simple terms and have been known to pound a decent short story out in three hours. Then I work through the numerous problems with the first draft afterwards (and Andrea takes care of what I miss). Unless it’s a real obvious issue, I don’t get bogged down in editing until the manuscript’s done. My greatest secret is having a wife who graciously makes up for my deficiencies.


Have you had any life experiences that have influenced your writing?

Different events from my life inspired many of the stories and novels I’ve written. A few examples:

I grew up around people who were on the fringe of the Pentecostal movement and then as I grew up, I heard from people who had been more mainstream in that movement and the stories they told inspired me to write, “Two Sides of the Hill:” a novel about an old dying Pentecostal minister.

What I learned of the Financial Sector in my current job helped inspire a couple elements of my novel, “Super Hero.” My writing is more influenced by things I see rather than things that happened to me.


Any advice for new writers in general? Christian writers?

Listen to advice from writers who do it for a living.


When do you write? How often? In any particular environments?

“Whenever I can” answers questions one and two, and it’s several times a day. I don’t get as much time to work on my fiction, which is frustrating at times, but there are only so many hours in a day.


Do you do any research for your writing?

Generally, I research stories in the middle of the story. Before I draft a scene, I want to make sure that it’s fairly accurate. On Two Sides of the Hill, I came to a point where the main character is a POW in a Japanese POW camp, so I’d better know a thing or two about them. I wanted him to escape, but I found out that the Japanese Army grouped the POWs into groups of ten. If one man escaped, the other nine would die. So, the hero has to escape the camp with nine other men. This gave me the idea of making several of the men weak from their imprisonment so that some need to be carried around by the healthy soldiers.


Adam, you mentioned you enjoy writing satire. For people like myself who thoroughly enjoy good satire, please tell us a bit about your book, The Screwtape Reports?

Those who know me well, know that I’m politically conservative. The idea for the Screwtape Reports came in 2003 during some great frustration with my fellow conservatives. I thought principle was going to be betrayed and that there would be a huge price paid for it. I thought that if liberals and secularists themselves were writing our playbook, we couldn’t possibly do worse, but no one would listen to my warnings.

It was then that the idea of writing from the perspective of a liberal strategist in the style of CS Lewis’ Screwtape occurred to me. The reaction was amazing. I posted it on Internet forums and those who missed the satire warning attacked me vigorously (and thus I found out who didn’t read to the bottom of the article.) Screwtape is writing to fellow liberals, so he’s patently honest. His writing tweaks both conservatives and liberals. My point in the series was to get Conservatives to think, while also still having a character that liberals with a sense of humor could enjoy as well.

After 2004, I took Screwtape’s 22 Reports and wrote 10 new articles including letters to incoming and outgoing members of Congress, a speech to the College of College Professors, and a 7-part Screwtape Seminar and put them together in a self-published book which has sold a couple dozen copies.

In many ways, Screwtape came not only to represent the worst of liberalism, but the worst of both parties. He says the top priorities of members of Congress is “To get re-elected and to raise money to get re-elected” and is absolutely right. He also isn’t all bad as he far exceeds most political leaders in honesty.

I haven’t written much Screwtape in recent years. It is a mental gymnastics exercise to try and communicate backwards what you want say forwards and to praise what you want to condemn in order to show it for what it is, all while keeping that subtle element of humor. Still, I’ve found an occasion or two to use Screwtape. Last year, I wrote a piece on those people who always quote only one or two scriptures and take them out of context. Plus there was eerily accurate prediction of last November’s election Screwtape made in 2005.

The Screwtape Reports
The Screwtape Reports
By Adam Graham


Screwtape: The Liberal King James Version

Dave Screwtape Presents the Republican


Do your stories/ novels have any common themes or threads? Do you try to provide a message for your readers?

I wouldn’t say there’s any common theme in my stories. I always have a message behind the story, but it’s never the same. “Benoni” was written in the wake of 9/11 and reminded people that God is still there and cares about us. “The Storm” is a story about the value of children and parental love. “Understanding” deals with not only the abortion issue, but the danger of college students being caught up in thinking all wisdom comes from college. There’s not a point in my writing where there isn’t a message, but the message never comes at the price of the plot and other elements.


What can you tell us about “Your Average Ordinary Alien” and “The Agent”, included in Light at the Edge of Darkness?

“Your Average Ordinary Alien” was inspired by reading about how religiously some people take the alien/sci-fi thing. Many truly believe that aliens will come down and solve all of our problems and bring us the secrets of universe. I decided to play with this concept by having our hero encounter an alien that’s all too ordinary.

The idea for the story also came from the fact that I expected a very serious compilation and “Your Average Ordinary Alien” is certainly a break from that.

“The Agent” is an idea I’ve had for quite some time. I’ve noted that some books with questionable (or anti-Christian) content become best-sellers that aren’t even good reading. I wondered how they get published and had the idea for “The Agent” : one man who could get your book published, no matter how poorly it was written (for a price.)


So far the focus has been on your fiction writing, but you are better known for your political pieces: where are these articles found, is there a common theme, who is your audience?

RenewAmerica.us is probably the best place to read my full weekly articles. Even though I’m not paid there, Stephen Stone does an excellent job of making the site look professional. My blog (www.adamsweb.us/blog) has more of my daily thoughts and comments on the news as it happens.

I would say that my main points in writing and blogging are:

1) Hope: Many people don’t see what they can do to make a difference. The political process is viewed as entirely irredeemable. As long as people think nothing will change, nothing will.

2) Issues: Though much focus is made on candidates and political news, you’d be surprised how little commentary on the Internet is dedicated to the actual issues. Though, I’ve at times gotten away from it during election season, or some other time in my life, I like talking about ideas and agendas, and ways to be a better country.

3) The Candidate being attacked: The last few years I’ve found October and November to be exhilarating and often frustrating months as I fight for candidates who have no other defenders. In 2005, it was Brandi Swindell, a Boise City Council Candidate who was savaged by the local paper. For the vast majority of the campaign in 2006, I found myself the sole online defender of Congressional Candidate Bill Sali against a far greater number of bloggers. Sometimes, I think God has created me for the tough campaigns when no one else will stand up to help the good people who run and are being attacked mercilessly for it. Sometimes, the result is victory, sometimes defeat, but in the end I’m always confident that I’ve done the right thing.


You have a “podcast?” What is a podcast and what is your’s about?

Great question. When I say I have a podcast, most people pretend to know what I’m talking about, but don’t. In brief, podcasts are audio recordings that are available to be downloaded onto I-pods or other mobile devices as well as your PC. With a Podcast tool such as the (free I-Podder) you can put in a feed address for a favorite podcast and whenever a new episode is ready it will download on your computer.

My podcast has become about much the same thing as my writing, particularly in regards to hope. My show is practical and focuses on the question, “What can you do?” I encourage people to think about issues and figure out how they can help fix the problem, rather than constantly complaining about it. (That’s the part most of us are good at.)

I do four live podcasts most weeks over on the Talkshoe network (with my Truth and Hope Report at 9 PM ET Monday-Wednesday and a special late night show Sunday Morning at 1 am ET.) I also do a recorded five minute podcast every weekday morning. If you want to listen to the recording, you can go to http://www.adamsweb.blogspot.com/.

1/21/2007

Interview with author Andrea Graham


What is your motivation for writing?

I like to joke I started writing because I was too old to play with dolls. Seriously, as a teenager, I had a weird game I liked to play called “Author.” I was actually a daydreamer with an overactive imagination. Thankfully, the Lord ran into my fantasy worlds after me, and turned a bad habit into a productive work for His kingdom. By the way, my teenage game of “Author” lasted until my first year of college and resulted in around six full length manuscripts out of that game, maybe half of which had enough literary merit to allow for turning them into serious works. The first draft of Heaven’s Mark, a speculative novel currently under consideration for publication, was the last manuscript I produced from this period, and the first manuscript I turned into a serious effort.

I was a creative writing/religion double major in school. I learned I could have probably aced the final exam of the four gospels class on my first day (I may exaggerate slightly) and the sort of thing cemetery— er, seminary— professors think can replace the holy spirit. Useful, sure, but the head knowledge my professors had often doesn't correlate with the heart-knowledge/ relationship actually vital to our faith. As the bible says, “Knowledge puffs up.” And, “pride cometh before a fall.”

My formal education covered the basics of the craft, but I learned far more in critique groups—for free—than I did in college. I was mentored by a fine lady from my first critique group, Kingdom Writers, Chris Egbert. The principles she taught me have been invaluable to my growth as a writer.


Why do you write Biblical speculative fiction?

Because I’m always asking, “What if?” Serious, it’s just the way my brain is wired, it’s natural for me to look forward and try to anticipate what’s around the corner. I’ve written non-speculative stories, but most of the ideas the Lord gives me tend to be speculative in nature. By the way, I don’t mean to profess any exclusive source of inspiration by invoking the Lord. I simply don’t believe in minor Greek gods like the muses, and the bible states all good things come from above, meaning from God, and that usually includes inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, He uses various prompts, but in my view, all good ideas ultimately come from God. I’ll take credit for all the mistakes and all the bad ideas. I could blame the devil for the bad ideas, but I was the one who listened to the wrong voice.

To get back to the question at hand, it helps that my dad introduced a love for sci-fi at a young age. It’s one of our few common interests. So he should get some credit here, and my mom gets credit for making sure her daughter looked up from her word processor long enough to eat. Now I have the hungry husband coming home from work to feed, who is thankfully a writer and somewhat understanding of the occasional writing frenzy.


The Christian community has varying opinions on the appropriateness of speculative fiction. Can you explain your take on the compatability between speculative fiction and your Christian worldview?

I answered this question in an article I wrote for the guild’s blog, "Beyond What If," which you can read on my authorsden.com page. In brief, there is a lot of ungodly speculative fiction out there. That’s why more Christians need to be salt and light in this genre. This is the genre dealing with much of the medical ethics issues of today. We are in great need of speculative fiction that reflects a biblical view of the kinds of things this genre grapples with.

A major reason you don’t have more speculative fiction of this kind, other than end times treatises in a thin disguise, is because most evangelicals are too busy watching the sky and praying, “Lord, come quickly.” Hoping tomorrow all time will cease to exist for us doesn’t usually lend folks to speculate about what could happen if they’re wrong. Christian authors that love speculative fiction tend to float towards complete fantasy or supernatural tales set today, often with hints of the day of the lord coming soon. In my observance, some of us at the Lost Genre Guild are getting bored with the same old same old and mean to shake things up. And the God I know loves to shake things up Himself.


What length of fiction do you prefer to write?

I'm a big fan of the scene. Sometimes, at the end, the scenes will be short-story length. More often than not, they're novel length. We have a bunch of short stories from the world of Heaven's Mark, most of them back story, and we're experimenting with braiding them together as a prequel. This includes "Frozen Generation" and "Chosen of God."


What writing techniques work best for you?

In my school days, I was a bit of a method actress, and I use such techniques to get inside my POV character’s heads. Some like the old omniscient, but I couldn’t write that way, I tried once in school as part of an exercise. It came out, looking back, more a third limited multi. I think I even included scene breaks. Call me a creature of my generation if you will. You get such an intimate relationship with your main character(s) with POV, to me omniscient is cold and distant, and even confusing at times.

My husband, he’s an action/ plot oriented. I’m character centered. I start with a main character (Okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes half a dozen or so), give them a world to live in, and let them loose. If I don’t like the direction they’re heading, I’ll introduce another character, setting element, or circumstance that’ll produce a decision from the character that moves them in the direction I want them to go in. Most of the time, when I have a set-in-stone plot in mind, I’m borrowing from the bible (I sometimes disguise bible stories in futuristic or modern settings.)

The kind of preparation/ development I do depends on the story. Traditionally, I played with different story elements in my head, including dialogue and setting, for a period of time. After I’ve captured a pretty firm grasp in my mind, sometimes the entire book even, then I’d set words to paper (or computer screen nowadays.) To a certain extent, I still do this. I have a couple story ideas bouncing around/ filed away in my head. If a story is relatively straight forward, I still don’t feel the need to write my mental notes down. However, some stories are so complex, to ensure continuity, I’ll write the important story elements down. The most interesting file I have like this is named, “Revolution Notes,” for the third book that follows up to Heaven’s Mark.

I haven’t needed a place names list—yet—but I did do a character’s list for the second book in the trilogy, which included some I didn’t use, and I’ve jotted down possible character names before, for an idea I have for a story set on another planet, as well as for the Heaven’s Trilogy, because people that don’t take names from the bible often name their kids weird stuff in their time and I wanted to reflect that. Names related to the sky or the second coming are especially popular with Christians of their day. I even used the name Raptura once, for a minor character that doesn’t appear on stage.


Have you had any life experiences that have influenced your writing?

Of course. I use my past hurts to relate better to the hurts my characters feel, and I’ve even transferred my pain into their situations. For instance, my dad’s an alcoholic, and I used that pain to relate to Gabrielle’s, who suffers from sexual abuse. That may not make much sense to you if you don’t have an alcoholic parent, I know, but for many writers, this kind of emotional transference is an effective way to bring emotional authenticity to a story without exposing our actual raw wounds for public consumption.

My experiences also can inform the issues I deal with. I’ve written about what many term, “reverse discrimination” because I fell victim to it as a child. Namely, at a school 80-90% minorities, no one wanted anything to do with the little red-haired girl with freckles. I attended grammar school during the AIDs scare, back when nobody knew exactly what the symptoms were or how you caught it, and I ended up on the 80’s version of a black list. The school’s futile attempts to handle this only seemed to further entrench in the other kids minds' freckles were some horrible contagious disease they could catch. I still have a hard time believing my husband when he says he likes my freckles.

But, as Michael Card wrote in one of his songs, “Our wounds are part of who we are, and there is nothing left to chance” (from “Underneath the Door”) God indeed works all things for good.


Any advice for new writers in general? Christian writers?

Participate in critique groups, stay close to the Lord, and place your gifts on His alter as an offering. He’s a deep well of inspiration. If you work hard, learn the craft with all diligence, and truly commit yourself to writing for Him and His glory, He’ll take you places you’ve only dreamed of.


When do you write?

At my upstairs computer typically, whenever the inspiration hits at a workable time. I haven’t done much drafting lately. I’ve been mainly co-authoring with my husband and he drafts much faster than I do. I have a few ideas, so I’m hoping to change that and get something new down this year, Lord willing. Other than the projects I co-authored with Adam, I’ve been focused on polishing my craft, so it’s been a while since I soloed on a novel length work.


Who do you think would most likely enjoy your fiction?

I believe what you mean is who is my audience. That’s a tough question, because I write first and foremost for my King. Or I try. I’ve found it’s easy to get distracted and lose my focus. Just as judgment begins in the house of God, my second audience is the Church. The unbeliever is rarely a concern I take into consideration, at least for my fiction. While I’ll present the gospel if that’s where the story naturally leads, but in general I aim to write the story given me to the best of my ability, offer it back up to the Lord, and let Him worry about using it to draw people to Himself.

Practically, as I’ve said before, the point of view character (s) largely control the content and spiritual depth or subtlety. A story or scene from the point of view of a backslidden Catholic man with a weakness for revenge will have a different emphasis than the same story or scene would have, if written from the point of a Protestant young lady who had nothing better to do than memorize the bible from cover to cover and is not afraid to quote it. Same story, different appeal. I don’t intend to get stuck in a rut in this department, and the Lord has a way of shaking me out of it when I do.


Do your stories/ novels have any common themes or threads? Do you try to provide a message for your readers?

Other than twins?

Seriously, I’m coming out of a stage where twins showed up in every manuscript if I let them. My human antagonists also have a bad habit of reforming, and sometimes even become the protagonist in spin offs. I favor redheads because I feel there aren’t enough of us in fiction, and have a fondness for names starting with A and J. Lefty’s have made appearances at times, and I’ve noticed a female protagonist—male romantic interest—brother figure (or actual relative) pattern in my early novel manuscripts, and at times it deteriorated into a variation on the classic love triangle.

With much prayer, I’ve since realized in this meme, one of the two symbolized the Lord, and the other was my then-future (and unmet) spouse, and it arose from a fear realizing my desire for the later would draw me away from my ‘first love.’ I don’t expect to have any published works that fit smoothly into this old form, though.

What you’ll see most often in my work is the in breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven. It fascinates me, and takes various forms, some more subtle than others. But God’s presence comes down in almost every situation. I’m not talking about a deus ex machina. God is simply an unseen character in the story with a very real presence, in general, He’s so quiet, you might miss Him if you’re not looking for Him, but every now and again, His wonder is displayed, usually borrowed straight from the pages of the bible.

I doubt you’ll get many yeses to the last question, the word try makes the message sound forced, and most minds will fly to the popular maxim, “don’t preach.” I’ll leave the preaching to the preachers, but neither will I stifle and hence grieve the holy ghost to obey the dictates of man.

In general, I don’t sit down to write with a series of answers I want to spoon feed to my readers. I tend to start with questions, that’s one reason my work tends to lean speculative. It never feels tacked on, because my narrator is always in a place and situation where she or he has to grapple with the question. The question can be anything almost. A topic that fascinates me or arouses my curiosity, an issue dear to my heart, or even a question I’m struggling with myself and searching for an answer to by writing a novel. I’ve found the later is actually a form of prayer for me, and the Lord usually honors that and meets me there. To speak plainly, I tend to arrive at an answer, but the honest searching in the meanwhile makes it work.

I’ve found writing from a spirit of questions, rather than answers, softens the tone of even stories dealing with hot button issues, such as my short story “Frozen Generation,” which is included in Light at the Edge of Darkness.


Speaking of “Frozen Generation,” I understand it’s part of a much larger world. Can you tell us a little more about that project?

Considering I wrote part of this question myself? Sure!

“Frozen Generation” and the short story I coauthored with my husband Adam Graham, “Chosen of God” are origin stories for A. L Snyder, a character Adam introduced in the second book of a three part series that begins with my novel Heaven’s Mark. I’m sharing my by line on Heaven’s Mark with Adam because he appears with me on the cover of the other two (due to fact he actually wrote the first drafts of those two), plus I wouldn’t have an end for story if it weren’t for him, and books don’t sell too well that don’t have an ending.

The initial concept for the storyline of Heaven’s Mark came from my personal bible study at the tail end of my teenage novel writing frenzy as I transitioned from my senior year of high school to college, and I was likely seventeen, almost eighteen. In that phase, I favored first person and my narrators tended to be similar in age to me. The narrator of Heaven’s Mark, Gabrielle, goes through a major trial at that age, which the plot turns on.

The Revelation had long been a mystery to me, and I was struggling with the interpretation I’d been taught at church and had the desire deal with it like I had other major issues I grappled with, so I prayerfully read the actual scriptures. A passage leapt out at me, that had not been already done to death. The image of the woman, the child who was to rule all nations, and the red dragon first sparked the story of Heaven’s Mark.

Incidentally, that old triangle pops up: The narrator is a young female, Gabrielle, who falls in love with her foster brother after running away from a public harem upon learning she’s been sold as an Imperial Concubine, under a future regime many connect to the old prophesies due to Emperor Herald’s insane declaration of godhood, worldwide tolitarian rule, and requirement of a microchip in the right wrist in order to participate in the only legal system of commerce (an underground economy flourishes). The triangle is completed when Gabrielle’s past catches up to her and she finds herself in the Imperial harem anyway, and in a battle of wills with the Donovan the Steward, whom she assumes to be a glorified butler, who seduces her, determined to win her heart—and in the process could destroy her soul.

The major themes of Heaven’s Mark encompass God’s promise that all things work for good, grace, and redemption.

Donovan and Gabrielle have to be my all time favorite characters, their struggle takes three novels to resolve fully. Adam’s favorite—Snyder—comes in at a distant third for me. In “Frozen Generation”, we actually spend our time mainly with his Mama Borden—the African American woman who carried him—in her mission to save Black babies from slavery by smuggling embryos out of breeders, facilities that in their day process the “products of conception” harvested from terminated pregnancies. Her internal conflict comes from God confronting her, in ways most of us can relate to, with the fact He wants her to care about children of all races just as He does.


The market is flooded with apocalyptic stories and some people are getting sick of them. Why Heaven’s Mark? What makes your stories different?

So glad you asked, self.

My stories aren’t disguises for treatises laying out end times tables (with all respect due to the giants of the genre.) Because of that tendency, and my firm belief, by “no man knowth the day or the hour,” the Lord doesn’t want us trying to figure out the year, either, I’ve long avoided revealing what year the story events are actually occurring in, and have never known for certain myself, though I recently worked out a tentative time line based on tentative dates in order to keep things straight in my own mind.

Also, Heaven’s Mark and her kin are centered around the characters and their personal struggles in wicked times. They’re written so they can be enjoyed no matter what your views on the end times are. Other than a couple givens I’ve already mentioned, I shunned the clich├ęs that crop up so often in end times fiction. That’s simply not the goal or the point of the story. If the series has any message concerning the end times, it’s occupy ‘til He comes and be humble in interpreting prophecy. The Pharisees thought they had the first coming all figured out. Time proved they had the prophesies about the messiah so figured out, when He arrived, they crucified Him for blasphemy.

To conclude, Heaven’s Mark itself is more of an allegory or a parable than an actual end times story. Discerning that level of meaning, however, is left between the reader and God. I wouldn’t be surprised if He used my little offering to speak different things into different lives. That’s just the kind of God we serve. I hope, though, that it will offer a glimmer of real hope for readers in these troubled times and stir people to obey the command to occupy ‘til he comes rather than letting evil reign while we sit around watching the sky. The second coming ought to inspire us to keep fighting against the darkness no matter what happens, not toss our hands up in despair and do nothing.


Andrea on the web:

Ask Andrea —Blog featuring an advice column and book reviews.

http://authorsden.com/andreagraham Information on Andrea as an author

http://lostgenreguild.com/andreagraham Andrea's official bio

adamsweb.us Andrea and Adam Graham’s official home on the web. Read more on how this novel duo got together and more. I’m planning major changes here this year.