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Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

Interview: Bryan Davis

[Bryan Davis with his wife Susie] Bryan Davis (shown here with his wife Susie) is the author of Raising Dragons, The Candlestone, Circles of Seven, and the upcoming Tears of a Dragon, as well as non-fiction books. He was born in in Norfolk, VA, and holds degrees in Industrial Engineering (from the University of Florida) and Theology (from International Seminary in Plymouth, Florida.) Bryan took part in the list in May, 2005. Greg Slade asked the questions, and here is an edited version of the question and answer sequence. You can learn more about Bryan and his work from his web page at www.dragonsinourmidst.com.

Where were you born?

Norfolk, VA in 1958 at the Naval base hospital.

Where did you go to school?

I was a "Navy brat", so I went to school in various places growing up. I graduated from Avon Park High School in Avon Park, Florida. I received a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Florida. I received my Masters in Theology from International Seminary in Plymouth, Florida.

What did you take in school, and why?

I found math and science easy, so I majored in Industrial Engineering. I also took quite a few financial courses. Professionally, I was an Industrial Engineer for only a few years before going into the computer field. Then I was a computer jock for about twenty years.

What is your family situation? (Married? Kids? 1.7 dogs?)

I have been married to Susie for 24 years, and we have seven children; four girls and three boys, ages 8 through 22. They're all living at home. We also have two cats and a dog, and a menagerie of gerbils and other small critters.

How did you get started writing?

I began writing about ten years ago when I sought to teach my children how to write. Since we homeschool them, we always try to find good curriculum for each subject, but good writing materials are hard to find. I started a story, and every Friday evening I would share the story with them, pointing out some of my reasons for plotting, character development, etc. The story grew into a novel that never got published, but since the story became a good vehicle for character building in my children, the whole exercise ignited a passion for communicating through story telling.

Three years ago, I sold my shares in the investment company where I was a partner, and I became a full time writer without a book contract. I believed God called me to write, and I thought it would never happen unless I devoted myself to it full time. Within a year I had contracts for six books. Praise God for His faithfulness.

What books have you had published? (not restricting yourself to SF titles)

The Dragons in our Midst series has four books by AMG/Living Ink: Raising Dragons (June 2004), The Candlestone (October 2004), Circles of Seven (April 2005), and Tears of a Dragon (November 2005). I also have two non-fiction books through AMG: The Image of a Father (January 2004), Spit and Polish for Husbands (July 2004).

Of your books, which one is your favorite? (including works in progress)

The third book in the Dragons in our Midst series, Circles of Seven, is my favorite for two reasons. First, the elements of the subplots that I pulled from the earlier books came together in a climax that I found thrilling, and the spiritual parallels and symbolism can, I think, engage deep thinkers who like to quarry for hidden truths. It also takes place in England, and I enjoyed traveling there with one of my daughters to do the research. I was amazed at how the story that I had already planned and written fit so perfectly with what I discovered there. Some of the parallels seemed miraculous, but that's another story.

Who are your influences as a writer, and why?

My family has influenced me greatly. I began my writing life wanting to create character-building stories for my children, so constantly having them in mind has been an overarching influence. Of course, the Lord is an obvious influence. Without Him, I would have nothing to write for and no passion to tell stories that communicate truth.

Other than these, I can't think of any other influencers besides the authors I've mentioned in answers to other questions.

What was the first exposure you can remember having to SF as a genre?

I remember trying to read Asimov when I was young. I just didn't get it. My older brother read everything SF he could get his hands on, and I didn't like the effect the books had on him, so I stayed away from the genre for a long time. I finally picked up Narnia as an adult, and the books thrilled me.

What is your personal all-time favourite SF work, and why?

That's a tough one, but I keep thinking about two in particular: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Perelandra both by C.S. Lewis. I loved the spiritual parallels in Dawn Treader, and the debate between Weston and the woman when he tried to get her to sin in Perelandra fascinated me. I have somewhat similar dialogues in The Candlestone and Circles of Seven.

What is your faith stance, and how does it affect your writing?

I am an evangelical Christian. It's tough to categorize me with any doctrinal labels. The closest category, I suppose, would be Wesleyan/Arminian. Some would say "heretic" fits me, but I can't find a "Heretic" badge to wear. That might be a fun conversation starter.

My faith pervades all my writing, but since I am such a doctrinal loner, my stories are quite different from what is being tossed about now regarding how Christians ought to write. On this point I could talk your ears right off your head, but, briefly, I reject the notion that you have to write sinful acts or tendencies into Christian characters. Sin doesn't make them "real" or "honest." It just makes them sinful ("stupid" I would say), and I find so many characters with tacked-on flaws it seems clichéd. I believe in the overwhelming power God gives us for holy living. My characters struggle in many ways, yet find ways to overcome. I like successful heroes. God gives us victory in Christ, so it makes sense to write that way. And feedback from my readers indicates that they relate to the great struggles my characters go through, and they are inspired by my characters' successes. I believe this portrayal of obedient faith is what is truly real and honest.

I wrote an article on this subject, particularly on how heroism in fantasy is important for young readers: www.daviscrossing.com/fantasy.pdf.

What Christian book(s) (fiction or non-fiction) have had the greatest impact on your thought and writing?

I mentioned a couple of books in an earlier question, so I jumped the gun a bit. The works of Francis Schaeffer had an impact on me. The God Who is There and He is There, and He is not Silent are two that come to mind. I enjoy careful, analytical thought, and Schaeffer was a master in that field. I try to carry that kind of thinking into my stories, and those who read my fantasy series will find that they are far more than children's fairy tales. It's fun to hear from my readers as they mine the details and find hidden gems. Some still feel the joy of new discovery after reading them several times. And that brings me a lot of joy too.

When you write, have you ever come across theological "puzzles" you had to sort through to your own satisfaction before you could continue with the story?

There are so many! For example, if a dragon gets transformed into a human, does it automatically receive the curse of Adam? Does the new human have sinful tendencies at all? In the third book, my main character enters the underworld (Hades) searching for prisoners who have been trapped there by an evil force. What should he find there? What influence did the coming of Christ have on that place?

Some of my characters are the offspring of two kinds of humans – humans who were once dragons and regular humans. Is such a combination the result of a sinful union, i.e. man and beast? I struggled with that one for a long time.

Since mine is a contemporary/fantasy blend, I have to deal with issues that many fantasies do not. Since it's a real world with a real Christ, I have to be careful to sharply define where the fantasy part ends and where the reality of faith begins. This has been quite a task.

What led you to write in a "contemporary/fantasy blend", rather than straight fantasy? Do you have a thematic statement to make through this method, or are you taking the opportunity to put POV characters from the "real world" into your fantasy setting?

Actually, my story brings fantasy elements into a real world setting. I think doing this helps young readers more easily identify with the characters. The reader sees the characters act as normal humans in settings he's familiar with, and the fantasy elements create excitement and wonder.

How did you become a Christian?

I made a profession of faith at the age of 17, but I didn't really completely surrender my life to God until I was about 25. Reading Romans chapter six about dying with Christ and rising to new life made the difference. I finally realized that faith in Christ meant so much more than mere belief. I needed to die to self, and surrender all.

C.S. Lewis wrote about how literature led him back to God. Was literature (Christian or not) a part of your spiritual journey?

I think I'm still on a journey, and since I write full time, my own writing is certainly part of the journey. I learn a lot through writing and how God is working through the book series. The e-mails I get from readers just blow me away, and the experiences I have while promoting the books make it clear that God is intimately involved with what's going on. So, I guess the answer is that other people's literature has not been significantly involved in any life-changing points in my journey, though I have gleaned a great deal of knowledge and wisdom from other books.

How did you choose the church you attend?

I called around to quite a number of churches and interviewed the pastor of each. When I found one that seemed to hold to similar doctrines, I visited it a couple of times until I was satisfied that my family would feel at home there.

Is there a web site (either run by you or fans) devoted to your work?

Yes, it's www.dragonsinourmidst.com. I run the website with some moderating help from my older children and a couple of adult volunteers.

Do you have plans for any more books after you finish your dragon series?

Yes, I have another series that I'm working on, something that has some fantasy elements, but it will be more contemporary adventure/mystery. I plan on three books for that series.

How did you come to choose AMG as your publisher?

I met Dan Penwell of AMG at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. He was interested in a proposal I showed him for a book on fathering. He gave me a contract and later asked me what else I was working on. I told him about the dragons series, and he said he wanted to look at it. I was surprised, because AMG had never done fiction before. They loved it so much, they launched their fiction line with the series. Since I had been trying to get it published for seven years, I didn't really see it as a choice. But AMG has been awesome as a publisher. I am very pleased.

When I think of AMG, I tend to think of things like Bible commentaries. I wasn't aware that they had a fiction line. How long has that been going on?

I answered the question above before I saw this one. Yes, this series is unique for them, and they still have no other novels in their line.

Do you have any book signings or appearances at conventions scheduled?

Yes. A few. I had a lot of appearances the last two months, but I'm going to gear down for a while. I have to finish book four in the dragons series. My appearance schedule is at www.dragonsinourmidst.com/schedule.html.

I will be at CBA in Denver. That's not on my online schedule yet.

[Home][Creativity][Genres][Resources][About Us]

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[David R. Beaucage][Kathy Tyers][James BeauSeigneur][Jefferson Scott][Walker Chandler][Alton Gansky][Ray Hansen]

[Emily Snyder][Randall Ingermanson][Theodore Beale][Steve Laube][Laura Lond][Frank Wu][Donita K. Paul][Brenda W. Clough][Bryan Davis][John Granger]

[Karen Hancock][Miles Owens][Robert Liparulo][Bryan Davis, part 2][Chris Walley][Kathryn Mackel][Gene Wolfe][Sharon Hinck][Wayne Thomas Batson][Lars Walker][Christopher Hopper][Jeffrey Overstreet]

Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

[Home] [Creativity] [Genres] [Resources] [About Us]

[Audio] [Biographies] [Books] [Events] [Film] [Interviews] [Links] [Mailing List] [Publications]

[David R. Beaucage] [Kathy Tyers] [James BeauSeigneur] [Jefferson Scott] [Walker Chandler] [Alton Gansky] [Ray Hansen] [Emily Snyder] [Randall Ingermanson] [Theodore Beale] [Steve Laube] [Laura Lond] [Frank Wu] [Donita K. Paul] [Brenda W. Clough] [Bryan Davis] [John Granger] [Karen Hancock] [Miles Owens] [Robert Liparulo] [Bryan Davis, part 2] [Chris Walley] [Kathryn Mackel] [Gene Wolfe] [Sharon Hinck] [Wayne Thomas Batson] [Lars Walker] [Christopher Hopper] [Jeffrey Overstreet][Rich Christiano][Jeff Gerke]