What inspired you to write Dead & Godless?
Books of Christian theology and larger-than-life adventure novels are among my favorite reads, so why not combine them? I’d read novels with a Christian message, but they seldom tackled more than one or two arguments. Crafting a comprehensive apologetics resource that’s also a suspenseful journey was a challenge that I just had to take a shot at.
What other stories influenced your own?
Readers of Dead & Godless will spot references to everything from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and The Matrix, but if I were to name one (not so mainstream) influence, it would be C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. Though less popular than Narnia, the Space Trilogy is a wonderful, more grown-up adventure with some real gems of theological insight.
What was the greatest obstacle you faced in writing this book?
My biggest challenge with Dead & Godless was finding the right balance between the existential debate and the action. When writing philosophical arguments, it’s all too easy to let them get drawn out. I like short, fast-paced chapters with a good measure of mystery and suspense, and that wasn’t going to be achievable unless I kept my arguments concise. Doing so while getting the getting the key points across (and keeping the dialogue natural) was no easy task.
On the Writing Process
What are your favorite types of scenes to write?
I love writing action sequences. As a martial arts instructor and a longtime fan of action films and novels, writing fast, hard-hitting exchanges comes naturally. There’s a fine balance between describing the details of the action and keeping the plot rolling, and I’ve found a pace that I hope is as exciting to read as it is for me to write.
What type of writing do you struggle with?
Writing good dialogue takes effort. It doesn’t come as easily to me as action scenes tend to. And there’s a whole lot of dialogue in Dead & Godless. Trying to capture philosophical debates in language that is both witty and natural was a big challenge, and a rewarding one to overcome.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
I’m not the shy or timid type. If my work is terrible, I want to know about it, though it certainly helps when the criticism is constructive. As such, I really enjoy sharing my work. Every week I attend a write night, in which several friends and myself meet up to share some of our recent material. It’s great to get honest feedback from people you can trust to tell you both the strengths and weaknesses of your story.
Why do you write?
I’ve always been drawn to creative pursuits, whether its creating digital art (I attended art school for a time), building websites or launching businesses. I’m not happy unless I’m creating something. I love writing in particular because it’s such a pure art. In many creative fields – such as films or video games – it takes hundreds of people to produce a final product. That product’s vision often feels “designed by committee” as a result. But with novels, a single artist can express his or her vision without compromise. That’s incredibly appealing to me.
What’s your greatest personal strength?
It’s much easier to list my faults, but if I must single out a strength, it would probably be my imagination. Dreaming up worlds in elaborate detail is something that I have trouble *not* doing. I’m not always sure that it’s a strength at all. There are times when I’ve wished that I could shut off my imagination and be happy working a regular job, but the creative monster inside is quick to remind me that I won’t be satisfied unless I feed it.
What’s your biggest personal weakness?
I can be impatient and occasionally a bit of a pessimist. If I don’t have some project to work on, I tend to get restless, and I’m prone to stressing out when something is simply out of my hands. “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26) – I don’t always have an easy time remembering that.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite writers of Christian theology and philosophy include classic thinkers such as Aquinas and Pascal, along with some fantastic modern writers such as Peter Kreeft and Scott Hahn. For fiction, I lean towards sci-fi and fantasy, with J.R.R. Tolkien and Gene Wolfe among my favorites. The wonderful work of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton crosses into both genres.
What books did you love growing up?
I devoured troves of fantasy novels in my youth. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit), The Belgariad, The Dark Elf Trilogy, Dragonlance . . . Some of it was Christian, but there was also plenty of standard Dungeons & Dragons fare. I enjoyed sci-fi novels as well (such as The Time Machine), but fantasy was my go-to genre.
When outspoken atheist Corwin Holiday dies an untimely but heroic death, he’s assigned a chain-smoking, alcoholic angel as his defense attorney in the trial to decide the fate of his soul.
Today many cast Christianity aside, not in favor of another faith, but in favor of no faith. We go off to school or out into the world, and we learn that reality is godless and that free thinking means secular thinking. But must faith entail an end to asking questions? Should not the Author of Reason be able to answer the challenge of reason?
Dead & Godless is a smart and suspenseful afterlife adventure that explores the roots of truth, justice and courage. In these pages awaits a quest that spans universes, where the stakes are higher than life and death, and where Christianity’s sharp edges aren’t shied away from, because we’re not called to be nice. We’re called to be heroes.
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Genre - Christian Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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