The time has come! As announced last week, I’m wrapping up my series on Christian fiction with an interview with a handful of other Christian authors! I had the privilege of hearing from Miranda Marie, Mattie May, and Brian McBride (Angela Watts was unfortunately unable to make it), and I’m super excited to share the interview with you today! I hope it’s an encouragement and maybe teaches you a little bit more about different perspectives on Christian fiction and the experience of writing and publishing fiction as a Christian. Enjoy! :)
There are certain authors that I look up to and seek to emulate as I write, as I’m sure there are for every writer out there. The list for each writer is unique and even when they overlap their reasons for looking up to an author can be entirely different. I’ve always found it interesting to learn who friends of mine look up to in their writing, and now it’s my turn to write a post on it. I’ve never really been the best at answering questions like “who is your role model” or “what author do you think your writing style most emulates,” so we’ll see how this goes.
A few authors I look up to are Wayne Thomas Batson, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis (a couple of classic answers, I know), Andrew Peterson, Livia Blackburne, Terry Brooks, and Marissa Meyer, and I’ll go into why I admire each of them in the rest of this post.
Wayne Thomas Batson
Wayne Thomas Batson (or, as I like to call him, Batman) is not an author that many people have heard of, but he’s who I always tell people is my favorite author. One my favorite things about him is his ability to craft interesting characters that you can really connect with and get attached to. I know with his The Door Within and Dreamtreaders trilogies the characters felt like family on the first read-through, and then rereading the books was like going to a family reunion. Except that family reunions tend to have a sense of awkwardness about them because there are those family members you only see at these family reunions and you don’t know them very well, while Batson’s characters aren’t like that. They’re like those dear aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents that you see all the time and are super close with. It’s really, really cool, and that connection is something I’d really love to be able to give my readers with my own characters.
And aside from his writing, he’s just a cool guy. He’s a Christian middle school teacher, and he’s really open to talking with fans, as far as I can tell. He opened a forum for his fans to chat with him, though he’s not been on it in a while, and when I messaged him asking for writing advice once he was really laid back and friendly in his reply. That’s how I’d like to act if/when I have fans of my own. :)
I know this is probably what everyone says when they mention Tolkien on their list of writing role models, among other things, but I admire Tolkien’s worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is something that I find fascinating, even though I’m not always the best at it. His world is rich and incredibly well thought out, and has an entire written history behind it. Another thing is his ability to write noble characters. Aragorn, Samwise, Faramir, Eowyn, they’re all noble, deep, rich characters. They have numerous layers (particularly Eowyn and Aragorn, among these examples), and they’re really interesting to read about. A lot of my characters are more morally grey, and while I like these characters as well, it’s often nice to have at least one or two of these truly noble, good characters because they’re just such good characters.
Believe it or not, Lewis almost didn’t make it onto my list. However, there is one aspect of his writing that really means a lot to me, and that is the childlike wonder of his books. That childlike wonder is something that my early books had a lot and that as I’ve grown up I seem to have grown out of, and it’s something that I’m constantly trying to regain in at least a few of my books. For some of my stories, for instance those set on Themar, I like the more mature (in style, not content), almost harshness of what I tend to write now, but for others I wish I could recapture that wonder and it’s something I really struggle with. So I seek to write “childish,” wonderful stories like C.S. Lewis did.
Andrew Peterson is author of The Wingfeather Saga, among others, and I really like that series because of all of the humor. It constantly has a layer of humor and that same childlike wonder that I mentioned before, and yet it also manages to be serious under all that when it needs to be. It’s a really interesting mixture that is really enjoyable to read. I’m really bad at writing humor into my stories, so that’s something else I’d like to work on.
Livia Blackburne is extremely good at worldbuilding. I read her book The Midnight Thief and within seven chapters I was fully immersed in the world. She did a very good job of subtly working in that worldbuilding so that it wasn’t overwhelming or huge chunks of description, but enough when it was needed to make the world seem real and important.
Terry Brooks’ Shannara series is probably one of my all-time favorites because it goes on and on and on and I never get tired of it. The world is such that I could spend years and years in it and probably never know all there is to know about it, and the characters are nearly always likeable. The excitement to go back in and learn something else about the world or read about someone else saving the Four Lands again and the long Shannara family tree is something that I’d like my readers to feel as well with my stories (although of course not with The Four Lands and the Shannaras.)
Have you seen that pin on Pinterest that says “You know a writer is good when they can build a villain’s backstory sad enough that you feel bad for them no matter how horrible they are”? Well this is exactly what Marissa Meyer did in her book Heartless. I highly recommend you read that book because it is so. Good. She creates lovable characters that you can really get attached to and root for. And when she writes witty characters… *insert heart-eye emoji here* Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles and Jest from Heartless are high on my favorite characters list, because they’re witty and flirtatious and I love witty, flirtatious characters because they’re so much fun to read. Her writing is just excellent, and I love her books.
Now, these are the professional, fairly well-known authors that I look up to and admire, but they’re not the only ones. I have writing friends that I look up to as well, some of them published and some not. Probably the two who I most look up to in my writing groups are Melody Jackson and Miranda Marie, who are both published authors.
Melody is another excellent writer, she has published three books – The Dragon Within, Dragon’s Bane, and Dragon’s Might – and I’ve actually only gotten around to reading The Dragon Within, but I really liked it. The characters were enjoyable, the worldbuilding was good, DRAGONS!, and a half-human half-dragon character is totally awesome. In addition to writing great books, she has also encouraged me in my own writing and helped me get through rough patches in my writing and she’s just a really good friend and supporter and stuff like that, so a big thanks to her. :)
Miranda is probably one of my biggest role models. Her book Echoes, which is slated to come out in mid-October, is a favorite of mine even though I’ve only been able to read half of it. The imagery and poetic writing style she uses in this one is captivating, and the characters… Ahhhhhh. I need to know what happens next! I’m so eager to read it when it comes out! But in addition to being an excellent writer, she’s also a strong Christian and her amount of faith is something I don’t feel like I’ll ever measure up to, but it’s something I’d like to grow in and that I really admire her for.