1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"
Very simple: Ice cream. Put a half gallon of ice cream in front of me, give me the spoon, and walk away. One scoop is not enough. One bowl is not enough. Give me the spoon, and walk away. Don’t look back. It’s not pretty. :)
2) I have always wondered something about people that write fantasy books. You had to create an entire world in and of itself with its own rules, clothing, furniture, transportation, settings, languages even - how difficult is that? Do you spend years walking around with this other world rolling around in your head? Or did you just sit down one day and say, "I think I'll write a fantasy book about another world..." and it just poured out?
Yep, I admit it. I’m one of those fantasy geeks, or at least I was as a kid. I’m not a Star Trek convention kind of guy. I don’t wear Jedi robes to Star Wars movies. But I adored the way Peter Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings to the big screen. I thought it was truly masterful. So I’ve been immersed in a great variety of fantasy worlds since I was a kid. I voraciously read all the great authors, which gave me a pretty large mental vocabulary for the task of my own story.
In some respects, you could say I’ve had “this other world rolling around in my head” since my childhood, in that I’ve never really quit wishing I could visit Narnia or Middle Earth. To this day, if I’m wandering near a cave on a hike, or passing through some old building like a museum, I’ll wonder if on the other side of some doorway there might not be a secret, trapdoor with a ladder that leads down into another world. Silly, I know, but in my mind, that’s part of a boy’s heart that’s built by God and never meant to leave. It’s only removed with great effort (and probably many painful or practical defeats inflicted by adulthood). The Fairy Tale lives in the girl’s heart. The Heroes Quest lives in the boy’s. And really, they are the same thing, just viewed through a feminine or masculine lens. As for The Book of Names and the world of Karac Tor, the adventures that take place there are current to the last four years of my life. It was born of the experiences of my life, of losing my wife and facing the challenge---together with my four boys---of starting over in strange, new world.
3) I was enthralled by this book and can't wait to read the next one! How many are you planning for the series and when will they come out?
I’m contracted for three with Navpress, but they know I have five planned and we’ve discussed it. If enough readers like them, buy them, tell their friends about them and post great reviews at Amazon (hint, hint!), Navpress may just be persuaded to publish the whole series. The books are currently scheduled at about nine month intervals, so the next one is due, I think, sometime around April, ’09, give or take a few weeks. It’s called Corus the Champion, and it takes the world of Karac Tor to a whole other level. If you think this book is an adventure, get ready! C’mon readers! My fate is in your hands!
4) You have written a very engaging story in The Book Of Names and the importance of being called by your name really rung true with me. I actually teach a class during ministry weekends that our church does. The class is called "What's Your Name" and it deals with how people are labeled their whole lives (loser, stupid, ugly...) and how that can change the course of our lives. It goes into how God wants to bring you back to the name HE gave you and have you start walking in the victory HE has set before you. You brought that our with the Nameless and how their names represented situations or character traits (Greyday, Shy Eyes, Shame Face...) and their actual names were stripped away and that left them so empty and hollow. What other spiritual truths did you want to bring out through this series of books?
The series as a whole is layered with themes. Beyond the magic and thrill of the adventure, it is written as an exploration of virtue. Young and old, we all face a challenge: to live well in this world, no matter what our circumstance. So the first book explores Identity as a theme, and Courage as a virtue. The second book will explore Shame as a theme, and Mercy and Sacrifice as virtues. Underneath all five books lies this deep longing for home...for things missed, but carried forever in our hearts. I believe the ache of those things is meant to awaken and prepare us for eternity, where, like every great story should end, all is finally put right.
5) I looked up your name in the "Name Book" we use at my class and I found it interesting that the spiritual connotation for Dean means - prosperous, and the Bible verse attached to it is "A good man out of good treasure of his heart brings forth good things." Matthew 12:35. It seems very fitting for you because I would consider this book one of the good things out of your heart... What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Prosperous? Interesting. I would love to see The Legends of Karac prosper. I would love to be able to bring all five books to market. I have many more stories to tell. I get to do some of that at my website, www.hiddenlands.net, which has lots of cool extras related to the world of Karac Tor: original pencil sketches, extra short stories and world history. Readers can send e-cards to friends or chat on the Bulletin Board with other fans---fun stuff like that. Plus, I’m doing a giveaway contest with a Free Wii and iPod Nanos as prizes. It’s called RiddleQuest.
Readers can check out the Official Trailer for the book (and a Blooper Reel with my kids) HERE
The Entry Form and Trailer for RiddleQuest is HERE
I have a life outside of fiction, though. Previous to the loss of my wife, I pastored for 11 years. I love the Word, so I have several teaching and inspirational books in me I’d like to develop. I may do some touring with worship leader Dennis Jernigan in ’09. And I’m looking at developing a blog for people who are hurting.
All of this brings me back to the name thing you mentioned, Janna. I think I’ve heard ‘Prosperous’ before, but most of my name references actually tell me Dean means, “Dweller in the Valley”. Certainly for this season of my life at least, that description seems more fitting. I’ve dwelt in the valley of death, losing my beloved of 16 years. The loss of my wife has shaped me quite painfully. And yet...God redeems. I never thought I would be able to say anything good about the last few years. They’ve been the darkest hell I’ve ever known. Yet the experience is only part of the story. The shaping is the other part. You spoke of treasures. There are treasures purchased at great cost in acts of pain. I hope these experiences can be meaningful connecting points with others who have experienced loss, who are hurting. There’s a guy in the Bible we universally associate with suffering: Job. In describing the rare value of wisdom, Job (ch. 28)compares the acquisition of wisdom to the process of mining for gold, sinking a shaft into dark, lonely places deep in the earth. He says wisdom is found in places “forgotten by feet”, not “in the land of the living.” Interesting, huh? Yet we run from pain. In America, especially, we run.
I’ve been in the midst of that descent into the dark places. For a long time, I didn’t care if I ever made it back to the surface. But life is meant to be lived with courage. Grace is there when you need it. And I need a lot. I want to end on an unshakeable truth. God is faithful. Thanks for including me in your blog.