Today, Into the Book is happy to announce a new feature that we hope will be appearing regularly on our website: author interviews. Our first interview is with Bryan Davis, author of the Dragons in our Midst and Oracles of Fire series’. Read on past the break for this exclusive interview.
Into the Book: What was your motivation for writing the books in Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire, your most popular series’?
Bryan Davis: I wrote these stories because of a passion I have for motivating young people to become all that God wants them to be. I hope to instill faith, courage, loyalty, hope, and, of course, love. I think too many books accept moral mediocrity in characters, which likely reflects their view on the ability people have to walk in the light, which might well reinforce a low-level view of God’s power in readers. I hope to raise the spiritual bar and invite readers to step up and believe in what God can do in their lives.
ITB: At the beginning of the first book in Dragons in Our Midst, Raising Dragons, you mention a dream in the acknowledgement to James. How much of the book series came from that dream?
BD: About 15 years ago, I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. At the time, I was dabbling in writing, so when I told my eldest son about the dream, he said that I should write a story about that boy. So we brainstormed together about how a body could breathe fire, and we came up with the foundation for Dragons in our Midst. The rest of the story world developed as I wrote it.
ITB: In Oracles of Fire, you have a lot of dimensions and angels and spiritual beings – stuff that’s not talked about in the Bible. How do you feel your books relate to the Bible? Do you think anything you have written contradicts the Bible?
BD: I certainly embellish Bible stories. For example, the Bible says nothing about what happened to the tower of Babel, so I invented the idea that dragons destroyed it. I don’t think I have written anything that contradicts the Bible, though I have definitely written story points and ideas that contradict some people’s interpretations, but that’s not the same thing.
Many people have asked me about parts of the story they believed were contradicting Scripture, but after my explanations they almost always agree that I had not made such a contradiction. I spent a great deal of time studying the Bible to make sure I stayed in line.
ITB: Let’s take a specific example. Many people take issue with your portrayal of death and judgement, and how by using the multiple dimensions people such as Semiramis (in Oracles of Fire), who are in fact dead, can escape judgement for a while longer. This sounds a lot like Purgatory – how do you connect things like this with the Bible, which says nothing about intermediate places?
BD: I have to disagree with part of your premise. The Bible says quite a bit about intermediate places. For example:
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-15)
This indicates that souls were in Hades before the judgment, and then people were thrown into the lake of fire afterward. So Hades and the lake of fire judgment are not the same. From Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus, there seems to be a holding place where the righteous and unrighteous can see each other and communicate. Surely the final judgment hasn’t taken place yet. We also see Elijah and Moses talking to Jesus at his transfiguration, and in the Old Testament we see the spirit of Samuel talking to King Saul. Where were these souls? Apparently not in their final place.
So since the Bible allows quite a bit of leeway regarding the placement and travel of souls after death and before the final judgment, I simply went along with the teaching and added other people the Bible doesn’t mention. I don’t think this contradicts the Bible at all. Yet, I understand how some could take issue with my interpretation. I hope this explanation is helpful.
ITB: Your books have been a big inspiration to a lot of us here at Into the Book – which books inspired you as you began writing your book series’. When did you really begin to get in to writing?
BD: My favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the portrayal of Atticus Finch, a truly noble, upright man who struggled against the ignorance of the people of his time and place. This inspired me to write similar characters who were noble and upright. Sure, they don’t always know the best thing to do, and they might have doubts and fears, but they will always step up and do what they believe to be right.
Also, the Chronicles of Narnia series was a great inspiration regarding blending fantasy and faith. C. S. Lewis did a masterful job with that.
I began writing about sixteen years ago, working on a story for my homeschooled children and hoping to teach them how to write. After several weeks of expanding this story, it became a full-length book. This process ignited a passion for writing novels.
ITB: Do you have any tips for beginning Christian fantasy writers?
BD: The main tip I can give here is to learn the craft of writing. Check out books from the library on how to write better. Get people who know writing to read your writing and give you pointers. Practice all you can. Study writing that you enjoy and figure out what makes it so good. Also, have patience with your writing. Don’t try to hurry it. Take your time to build scenes and characters.
What I have found is that many young writers have great imaginations, but they are in a hurry to get their stories written. They are unable to see how much improvement their writing needs. There are many subtle nuances to writing they need to learn, and they are blind to that fact until they study the craft.
Also, don’t try to write Lord of the Rings version 3.5 or Narnia rebooted. Think outside of what you have read and go for something unique. Of course, there is the basic formula that nearly all fantasy stories follow (the hero’s journey), but that is a big enough formula to encompass new ideas.
ITB: We’ve heard rumors about the third series to complete Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire, and we’ve all read the prologue sneak preview – how many series’ do you plan on writing? Will the third series conclude the story?
BD: The third series is called Children of the Bard, four books beginning with Song of the Ovulum. Although I left an opening at the end of Oracles of Fire for a sequel series, I told myself I wouldn’t write it unless I came up with an idea that I loved. Well, that idea came to me through brainstorming with a friend, and I am very pleased with the result.
This time, however, I have no plans to leave an opening for another series. I think this series will bring this story world to a conclusion.
Thanks so much, Bryan, for taking the time to answer these questions for us; we really appreciate it. You can find out more about Bryan at his official website: Davis Crossing To our readers: hopefully in the future these author interviews will become a regular part of our blog and we hope to bring a few more to you soon. Be sure to leave a comment to let us know what you think.
Published on 28 March, 2011. Last updated on