A Conversation with Patrick W. Carr

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Patrick W. Carr. His novel, The Shattered Vigil (Bethany House) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category. Please join us in welcoming Patrick.

Below, Patrick shares inspiration behind his shortlisted novel including the challenges of writing this story, and whether he’s a PC or Mac kind of guy – plus more!

ABOUT the BOOK

Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they’ve been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms’ ability to defend themselves.

Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it’s too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil’s members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin’s orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.

In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman’s daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent. – Goodreads


Interview Questions

INSPYs: What was the inspiration behind the characters in The Shattered VigilI’d always wanted to write a detective story from the time I was a boy. When my agent and publisher said they’d like a follow-up to “The Staff and the Sword” it seemed like an opportune time to indulge that desire. I’d never written one before so I needed a cast of characters to work with. For the lead character, Willet Dura, I decided to research the greatest detective characters of all time. I’d already read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories so I went to the library and checked out every book by Raymond Chandler I could find. His detective is one of the most famous, Phillip Marlowe. I also watched a lot of the old Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie) episodes on Netflix and read some more recent stories by James Lee Burke (gritty stuff, that). All in all, I think I spent about a year reading and watching everything about detective stories I could find. I felt that to make the story work, I would need to hold on to the trope of the hard-bitten but tender-hearted detective. However, since this was also an epic fantasy, I needed a twist.

This twist came in the form of the supporting characters as well as my protagonist. For some reason, whenever I would write about Willet going into the poor quarter, I would get these flashbacks to the book and the movie “Oliver Twist.” By the time I got to the end of “The Shock of Night,” the prequel to “The Shattered Vigil,” I knew I’d stumbled into creating a wonderful set of supporting characters. Every time I brought the urchins into a scene, they completely stole it, which was kind of funny since they’re all thieves. I’ve become especially fond of Fess and Mark who are modeled after my two youngest sons. That’s probably why their scenes tend to get the most comment from reviewers. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving the urchins their own series, but that’s a book for another day. To be honest, the research I’d need to do for that type of story is more than a little intimidating.

The characters of Bolt and Peret Volsk were actually the easiest to write, since they were based on universal types that you’ll find in any fantasy novel. What I tried to do with Bolt was to give him a more nuanced background so that he wouldn’t seem like a cardboard cutout. Having him spout aphorisms that he tended to make up on the spot was one of the better inspirations I had for the series. It made a pretty forbidding figure more approachable and it allowed me to show his admiration for Willet Dura’s courage without having him break character. I’m working on the third book now, The Wounded Shadow, and a fair portion of the book is given to Bolt confronting his past. For Peret Volsk, who also plays a fairly typical fantasy character, I wanted to make him complex. In the end, he may be one of the most realistic characters I’ve written in that readers don’t really know how to feel about him. He’s simply too complicated to pin down.

As for the rest of the Vigil, the challenge was to communicate the weight of time within their characters and still make them characters the reader could relate to. It’s a common wish, I think for people to desire more time here on earth to accomplish our goals, but do we really want the burden of living centuries? I think the answer varies according to the individual, so I tried to keep the inner monologue of the members of the Vigil in keeping.

What were some of the greatest challenges you found while writing this story? By far the biggest challenge was getting the story to feel right. I remember being about 40,000 words into the novel and realizing I just didn’t like what I’d written. The pacing and sequence of events just didn’t feel right. I ended up tearing everything up and starting over. After I made the decision to do that, I moped around the house for a week. I’d put so much time and effort into the manuscript and now I was going to start from scratch. I remember talking to my sister (she’s my alpha reader) and she told me that if I’d made the decision to start over then the only thing I could do was to sit down and start writing.

In the end, she was right, of course, but throwing away those 40,000 words felt like pulling porcupine quills. I wanted so badly to find a way to make them work so that I wouldn’t be surrendering all that time. However, the final product that became “The Shattered Vigil” was so much stronger than the original.

Any challenge after that disaster seems pretty small now in retrospect, but one I didn’t count on was the size of the story. The world I’d created was much larger and more complex than the one I used for “The Staff and the Sword.” As I wrote, I would frequently have to go back and read portions of “By Divine Right” and “The Shock of Night” to make sure that events, characters, and world-building were all coherent. With this last book, “The Wounded Shadow,” the challenge has only gotten bigger, but I have a great set of beta-readers to work with, so I’m hopeful everything will come together.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS
  1. What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m currently reading “Book of Spies.” It’s an anthology of excerpts from the best spy novels ever written. Everything I read is research for a future project, but I’m not talking about this one just yet. This summer I’ve decided to read “The Baroque Cycle” by Neil Stephenson, a brilliant writer and really the only writer I’ve ever read who can make writing in present tense look effortless.

    Photo: Netflix

  2. What are you currently watching? Mary and I are watching the Netflix series, “The Crown,” which is wonderfully enjoyable. We’re also waiting with baited breath for the next season of “Stranger Things” to come out this fall.
Faceoff Questions:
  1. PC or Mac? I have a PC desktop unit that I built myself, but I also have an ipad that I use for the iRealPro app. It’s a play along for aspiring jazz musicians. Aspiring describes me to a “T.” I think God wants me to try and learn jazz just to make sure I stay humble. Before this I used to think I was a reasonably bright fellow. 😉
  2. Print or Ebook? Print
  3. Comedy or Action? Both, separately or together, preferably together.

ABOUT the AUTHOR

Patrick W. Carr is author of the acclaimed and award-winning The Staff and the Sword series, as well as The Darkwater Saga. After graduating from Georgia Tech, Carr worked at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and as an engineering consultant. Patrick’s day gig for the last five years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, Tennessee. Patrick is a member of ACFW and MTCW and makes his home in Nashville with his incredible wife and their four awesome sons. Visit him on his official website.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Patrick. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight The Shattered Vigil.

A Conversation with Ronie Kendig

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Ronie Kendig. Her novels, Conspiracy of Silence (Bethany House) and Accelerant (Enclave) are on the 2017 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller and Speculative Fiction categories, respectively. Please join us in welcoming Ronie.

Ronie shares inspiration behind BOTH of her shortlist novels, the difference between Indie and traditional publishing, and her varied TBR – plus more!

ABOUT the BOOKS

Conspiracy of Silence | Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine—he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed at an archaeological dig where three Bronze-era censers are found, Tox is lured back into action. Partnered with an archaeologist and an FBI agent who’s an expert in deception, Tox and his team are pitted against a secret society, a plague dubbed the New Black Death, and a revered codex—which may hold the key to stopping the deadly outbreak. – Goodreads

Accelerant | He’ll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.

The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth’s devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another? – Goodreads


Interview Questions

INSPYs: What inspired this new, ‘Tox Files’ series? ​Inspiration for this series came from many places, but it all started with author Brad Taylor who often posts images of obscure locations or objects in obsucre locations and gives a hint as to the location by referencing some anicent fact. He did this one night and–in my attempt to make good on honing my avoidance skills–I took up the challenge. That led me to a little-known book called the Jerusalem Crown, otherwise known as the Aleppo Codex. Since one of my favorite authors was James Rollins, ​my curiosity piqued. Could I write a series with ancient biblical artifacts and still keep up my Rapid-Fire Fiction brand and pace?

…and your fantasy novel, Accelerant? ​The Abiassa’s Fire series was borne out of a “what if” scenario that came to me while watching the BBC’s Merlin TV show. In it, Morgana Pendragon pretends to be making a great sacrifice for her Arthur, who is like a brother to her, but in the end, she’s been working against them. This episode so annoyed me that I wondered . . . What if a princess really did sacrifice herself to save her brother and their kingdom. What would that look like? And thus, the Abiassa’s Fire series was born.

You recently self-published a novella, Titanis. How has the Indie process been different than traditional publishing? ​The biggest change is that I was not restricted on when to release it, other than not compromising my commitment to my traditional publisher. ​

​Overall, the process is much the same, and I was enormously blessed to have some amazing help. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to move at my own pace and get a title out there that I knew readers wanted, yet didn’t have to assemble a series or deep proposal to get it done.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

Photo: BBC

  1. What are you watching?​I regularly watch Doctor Who episodes and use it as white noise, and I’m also going through the TV series LOST on Family Night with my guys (husband, twin sons, and VVolt). ​
  2. What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? ​Two books at the moment: Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER and David Baldacci’s THE FIX. I also have two nonfiction I’m reading through: Lysa Terkeurst’s UNINVITED and Jennie Allen’s NOTHING TO PROVE. ​
Faceoff Questions:
  1. Call or Text? Text!
  2. Print or Ebook? Print! ​
  3. Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? ​ Milk Chocolate​
  4. Coffee or Tea? Yes! :-)​

ABOUT the AUTHOR

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of over fifteen novels. She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and Rapid-Fire Fiction novels have hit bestseller lists and garnered awards and critical acclaim.

Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig), Instagram (@kendigronie) and GoodReads.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Ronie. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your shortlisted novels.

A Conversation with Rachelle Dekker

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, Rachelle Dekker. Her novel, The Calling (Tyndale) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category. Please join us in welcoming Rachelle.

Rachelle shares “behind the scenes” of her writing journey, a teaser of what’s next, nightstand reading – plus more!

ABOUT the BOOK

Remko Brant had never been so sure of anything as escaping the Authority City with Carrington Hale. But bravado comes easy when you have nothing to lose. Now a husband, father, and the tactical leader of the Seers, Remko has never had so much at risk.

As he and his team execute increasingly dangerous rescue missions inside the city, they face growing peril from a new enemy. Recently appointed Authority President Damien Gold claims to be guiding a city shaken by rebellion into a peaceful, harmonious future. But appearances can be deceiving. In order to achieve his dangerous ambitions, Gold knows he must do more than catch the rebels–he must destroy the hope their message represents . . . from the inside out.

With dissension in his own camp–and the CityWatch soldiers closing in–Remko feels control slipping through his fingers. To protect those he loves, he must conquer his fears and defeat Gold . . . before one of them becomes his undoing. – Goodreads

Interview Questions

INSPYs: What was the inspiration behind your YA trilogy or The Calling specifically? I always say that first and foremost I am writing to discover truth in my own life. When I started the Seer Series identity was a theme I was growing in and trying to understand myself. So I created characters that battled with the same questions I did. In the Calling specifically, I was dealing with fear: fear of not measuring up, fear of letting people down, fear of failure. All major themes throughout The Calling.

Also, I have always been a big fan of world building and YA, so a dystopian setting was the perfect backdrop for me to write against. A little mystery, a little romance, a lot of action. I just thought, what would I like to read, and tried to write that.

What were some of the greatest challenges in creating this world? Making sure it felt authentic. What could the world really look like 100 plus years from now? What would people be like, how would they act, what would they say? Would it be very different of just more of the same? And I had to constantly check myself in order to not slow the pacing of the novel as I described the setting and world. The trick was to let the reader in fast enough to latch on, but serve them more detail as they continued to read. Or at least, that’s what I was trying to do J

What’s next for you? Well the third and final book in the Seer Series, The Returning came out early this year, so now I’m onto the next writing project. I won’t say much about it, but I will say it’s going to be my first stand-alone novel with a departure from dystopian into the realm of psychological thriller. It’s going to be a wild ride that I promise!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

1. What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m in between books so on my reading list is (just to name a few):

The Devil In the White City (Erik Larson)

Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo)

Truly, Madly, Guilty (Liane Moriarty)

Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)

2. What are you currently watching? SO MUCH! I love TV. I get so inspired from the great writing on TV. Okay, so currently I love Last Kingdom (Netflix original), Black Sails (I mean, hello pirates), This is Us (which always has me crying), Rosewood (a hilarious crime drama), and Elementary (because I am trying to get my Sherlock fix since Sherlock is over).

(Editor’s Note: I know the feeling. Although I will admit, I’m hoping for more from BBC Sherlock – even if it’s only a single film!)

Photo: CBS

Faceoff Questions:
  1. Coffee or Tea? All THE COFFEE
  2. Cake or Pie? Umm… Ice cream
  3. Comedy or Action? Neither is done well with out a little bit of the other

ABOUT the AUTHOR

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, Rachelle. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your shortlist novel, The Calling.

A Conversation with James L. Rubart

Today, the INSPY Awards warmly welcomes author, James L. Rubart. His novel, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2017 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category. Please join us in welcoming James.

James shares the inspiration behind his shortlisted novel, read about the TV shows he’s watching, and read what wins his “faceoff” questions – plus more!

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes. – Goodreads

Interview Questions

INSPYs: What was the inspiration behind the characters in The Long Journey to Jake PalmerWhen our boys were young, Darci (my wife) and I took them to the same lake each summer in eastern Washington. One day, we anchored our boat at the end of the lake and I pointed at a wall of cattails and trees and said, “Anyone want to see if we can make it through and find out what’s on the other side?” We swam up to the cattails, pushed through them and the trees and wound up in a lush meadow on the other side. I told the boys we’d entered another realm full of mystery and adventure. Years later, Darci and were brainstorming story ideas and she said, “Do a story on the end of the lake. Make a legendary lost corridor that if you can find it, and get through it, the person will get what they want most in the world.” So yes, the corridor in the book is based on a real place.

Jake, the main character is the one that searches for the corridor and he is someone (like many of us) that never feels like he’s enough. Enough for his parents, friends, his wife … and the idea for him came from a close friend who has struggled all their life with meeting other’s expectations. One of the other characters that has a huge supporting role in the novel is Susan May Warren who has become a dear friend of Darci’s and mine. It was a kick to make her a character in the story.

What were some of the greatest challenges you found in writing this story? I had to write it lightning fast (8 weeks) and I struggled with figuring out where the story was going. Most of the time I have a strong idea of the overall plot, but this time it came together in a bunch of fragmented pieces. I’d write during the day and brainstorm with Darci at night. Plus I brainstormed with five other friends/authors so I had notes and ideas strewn all over the place. Thankfully I have two brilliant editors, Amanda Bostic and Erin Healy who helped it all come together in the end.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Big Magic, Originals, Cain, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, and a stack of novels folks have asked me to read for possible endorsement. Trying to figure out how to read at night when I’m asleep.

What are you currently watching? We’re watching Designated Survivor, The Killing, Survivor and can’t wait for the next season of Stranger Things.

Faceoff Questions:
  1. PC or Mac? PC … but I’m weakening. The pressure, the pressure! (My sons have been trying to convert me for years.) Next laptop will be a Mac.
  2. Print or Ebook? If I have a choice, print all the way. But I read on my Kindle a lot as well.
  3. Comedy or Action?Action, no, comedy. No, action. I like both, but I’ll stop on action because (for me) the comedies of the last 5 – 10 years have rocketed down to the lowest common denominator for laughs, and that just doesn’t work for me.

ABOUT the AUTHOR

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer. He serves on the board of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at www.jameslrubart.com.


Thanks so much for joining us on the INSPYs blog today, James. It was a pleasure to host you and spotlight your shortlisted novel, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer.

A Conversation with Ronie Kendig

INSPYs 2016-Ronie Kendig FeatureThe Advisory Board welcomes Ronie Kendig today to INSPYs.com. Ronie is a Christy award winning author, best known for her “Rapid-Fire” fiction (military suspense novels), this year wandered into Speculative fiction with her recent release, Embers. This year, she’s nominated in two categories. Her novels, Falcon (Shiloh Run Press) is a finalist in the 2016 shortlist in the Mystery/Thriller category and Embers (Enclave) is shortlisted in the Speculative Fiction category.

Today we talk with Ronie about the challenge of switching genres, her TV addictions plus more!


Book - EmbersEMBERS He’s coming for them. And the kingdom.

Haegan and Kaelyria Celahar are royal heirs of the Nine Kingdoms, but Haegan is physically crippled. What chance does he have against Poired Dyrth, the greatest enemy the kingdom has ever faced, who wields fire with a power none can match?

Their only hope is forbidden: Kaelyria must transfer her fire-harnessing abilities to Haegan. When she does it comes with a terrible price: Haegan’s disability is healed, but only by being transferred to Kaelyria. This decision causes their father, King Zireli, to unleash his wrath against Haegan.

Haegan flees the kingdom alone with two impossible tasks: Find a cure for Kaelyria and stop the coming war with the omnipotent Poired Dyrth. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads

FALCON Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years Book - Falconago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence. – Goodreads

Amazon | Goodreads


INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG

INSPYs: What inspired Embers and/or Falcon?

Embers was a classic “what if” inspiration while watching the BBC’s Merlin. There was a character that so aggravated me with her deception and treachery, I thought to myself, “But what if she really was making this sacrifice for her brother and the realm?” And that birthed the opening scenes of Embers.

Some elements of Falcon were inspired by a true story of a professional athlete who recruited his best friend into the same field. Then one tragic night, the athlete was driving drunk and killed the friend he’d recruited. And I could not escape thinking about the intense grief and trauma that athlete would live with for the rest of his life, and that birthed the backstory for Falcon.

INSPYs: What are some of the benefits/challenges of switching genres?

In all honesty, it’s not really a switch in that I’m writing both genres, but the hardest aspect of writing in two genres is that in the speculative genre, I’m starting all over in terms of audience and market. With suspense, my market and name are established. Not so within the speculative market, so that’s the biggest challenge. However, it’s also a benefit, because my loyal readers are willing to brave a new genre, simply because I wrote it. That’s a level of trust I don’t take lightly.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

+ What are you listening to? Capital Kings’ newest album, II.

Photo: NBC

Photo: NBC

+ What are you watching?  On most any day, I’m watching an episode or two (or ten) of Doctor Who… or Blindspot.

+ What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m a mood reader, so I generally have a handful of books at various stages of being read. Right now, that includes: Billy Coffey’s There Will Be Stars, Steve Berry’s The 14th Colony, and Marissa Meyers’ Stars Above.


Ronie KendigThanks so much for joining us today, Ronie! It was a pleasure to talk with you, and learn more about the challenges of a genre change and learn about your TV addictions. (Editors note: Blindspot is seriously, amazing if you like mystery shows.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married her own hunky hero, who’s an Army veteran. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her husband have a full life with four children and two dogs. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of raw, broken characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, finaled in numerous contests and reader awards, including ACFW Carol Awards, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award, The Christian Manifesto Lime Awards, and FamilyFiction’s Readers’ Choice Choice Awards. Ronie loves people and helping other writers through speaking, workshops, and/or mentoring.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Rick Barry

INSPYs 2016-Rick Barry

Happy Wednesday, readers. Today, we have a chance to welcome and converse with author, Rick Barry. Author of the novel Gunner’s Run, Rick’s latest novel, The Methuselah Project (Kregel) is nominated in the 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

Below we talk with Rick about the inspiration behind this novel, and he shares a sneak peek into what’s next from him.


Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended. Book - The Mesthulah Project

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed–until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success–but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America–just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015–and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller–crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle–offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee? – Goodreads | Amazon


INTERVIEW WITH RICK BARRY

INSPYs: What inspired The Methuselah Project?

Rick Barry's dad Tom

Wow, that’s a big question. First, family history provided partial inspiration. Dad learned to fly as a teenager in the 1940s, and my upbringing was filled with airplanes, airports, and airshows. (Over the years Dad cracked up a couple airplanes, but those are separate stories.) So, the idea of featuring a pilot as the hero of my story came naturally.

Next inspiration: I’m a big WW II buff. I’ve read tons of true accounts from the war years, which I find fascinating. I even own a collection of genuine WW II memorabilia, which I used as decorations to transform a guest room into what my family dubbed our “War Room.” The 1940s practically begged me to use that time period for my setting.

Rick's WWII memorabilia

Rick’s WWII memorabilia

However, I grew up with two older brothers, and we often tuned into Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and other science fiction shows. Quite a few times in fiction, a person from one time period ends up in another time period. The whole concept of a “chronologically dislocated” character appealed to my imagination, although I disliked some of the cheesy mechanics various stories used to transport a person from one time to another. My challenge became to pluck up a WW II pilot and deliver him to our own time while keeping looking young–and make it believable! What a tall order. Of course, I’m thankful to all those Amazon reviewers who claim The Methuselah Project sounds like it’s based on real life. 

INSPYs: can you give us a peek into what’s coming next? The Methuselah Project was created as a stand-alone novel. Neither the publisher nor I touted it as Book #1 of a series. Yet, so many enthusiastic fans have expressed hopes for a sequel that I’ve taken up the challenge. Progress has been hampered by a move to another state and the need to care for my aging father, but the story is progressing. My working title? Methuselah Flies Again.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

Rick's writing space

Rick’s writing space

What are you listening to? My listening choices are fairly eclectic. When I’m feeling “historical,” you’ll most likely catch me listening to Big Band music and songs from the 1940s. (The style of Glenn Miller and his orchestra really appeals to me when I’m “In the Mood.”) Other times, nostalgia might lead me to oldies from the 1950s and 1960s.  I enjoy Irish music from Celtic Woman, and as a Christian I listen to a lot of Christian music, ranging from classic hymns to the songs of Keith and Kristyn Getty. Most recently, I stopped at a yard sale and bought a CD of Disney’s Newsies, which I sing along with while driving.

What are you watching? My favorite TV program is CBS’s Survivor. I’m a huge fan. I’ve actually applied 30 times, and I would hurl myself into that challenge even without the cameras, the fame, or prize money. The sheer adventure appeals to me. But there’s a lot of competition just to get on the show. So far, CBS hasn’t realized how perfect I would be!

Of course, since I worked one day as an extra on the set of Captain America: Civil War, I just had to go see that movie.

What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? Last week it was A G-Man’s Life, the biography of Mark Felt, the FBI agent who helped the press uncover the truth about Watergate. At the moment, I’m reading the classic non-fiction book, We Would See Jesus, by Roy and Revel Hession. For a slim volume, it brims with spiritual truths any believer will find uplifting. Next up will be The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber. It’s Christian science fiction, and I’m curious to see how Faber weds faith with sci-fi.


Thanks so much for joining us, Rick. We’re thrilled to chat with you about the inspiration behind The Mesthuselah Project and learn about some of the music, TV shows and reading currently on your favorites list.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR RickBarry

Rick Barry is the author of The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s Run, Kiriath’s Quest, plus over 200 published articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times in connection with Christian ministries. He holds a degree in foreign languages and speaks Russian.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

A Conversation with Morgan L. Busse

INSPYs 2016-Morgan BusseOur shortlist INSPY interviews continue with Christy and Carol award finalist, Morgan L. Busse. Her novel, Heir of Hope (Enclave Publishing) made the final of our 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

We chat with Morgan about what inspired Heir of Hope, her latest box office movie (Editor’s Note: I totally understand the Marvel fangirl feels), plus she gives us a sneek peek into what’s next!


The great city of Thyra has fallen and shadows spread across the land. Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, is taken before the Shadonae. But the Shadonae are not who she thought they were, Book - Heir of Hopeand now they want to claim her as their own. Caleb Tala, former assassin and prince, is now a Guardian of mankind. Exiled from his country, Caleb wanders the desert in search of his mother’s past and clues to who he is. These are the last days of the Eldaran race. Rowen and Caleb must find their way along the dark path set before them by their ancestors: to heal what was wounded and love where hatred grows. But the road is narrow and the darkness beckons. If either of them fails, all will be lost… And the human race will be no more. Book three of the Follower of the Word series. – Goodreads | Amazon


INSPYs: What inspired Heir of Hope?

The Follower of the Word series is an epic fantasy series that follows Rowen, a young woman who has the ability when she touches someone to see inside their soul. In other words, she can see what God sees inside of us. Not only that, but she reflects back what she sees to the person she is touching. Learning why she has this ability and that she needs God’s help to use it is ultimately what this series is about. That without God, her power would overwhelm her.

When I first began writing Daughter of Light, the first book, I knew the story would eventually go to a dark place where everything Rowen believed in would be tested beyond her abilities, and that the only way she would survive was by completely trusting in the Word. Those final dark moments came in Heir of Hope.

Why did I write Heir of Hope as a dark story? Because I’ve experienced some very dark times in my own life. Following God does not mean life will be all daisies and rainbows. Sometimes it means walking through valleys filled with shadows of death. Sometimes it means wondering where God is in the midst of pain and tears.

When I wrote Heir of Hope, I drew upon my own experiences: two cancer scares, almost losing my son, when my husband lost his job, when we lost our house, when we couldn’t pay the bills, and when we were betrayed by people we loved. It was during those dark, painful times that I found God was right there beside me. I was never alone.

That was what I wanted to convey in Heir of Hope. There is hope in the midst of suffering. There is light in the darkest times. God is always there with us, even when we can’t see Him.

I’ve been asked what is my favorite novel I’ve written. My answer is Heir of Hope. It was the hardest yet most satisfying book I’ve written. When I wrote the conclusion to the Follower of the Word series, I wrote my heart and soul into that story.

(If you want to check out the Follower of the Word series, Daughter of Light is currently free on kindle.)

INSPYs: Can you give us a peek into what’s coming next?

I am now working on a Victorian steampunk series that is a loose retelling of Frankenstein. Steampunk is a sub-genre that usually takes place in either the Wild West or Victorian era, but with a fantasy/science fiction twist and advance technology run by steam.

Tainted (the first book in my series) follows Kat Bloodmayne, one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. However, she has a secret: when she loses control of her emotions, she unleashes the power to control matter. But every time she does this, it destroys a part of her soul. So she is searching for a cure before her soul dies and she becomes something else entirely.

Tainted is now available in paperback and ebook.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

  • What are you listening to? Typically when I am writing, I listen to soundtracks or gentle background music such as The Piano Guys. Currently I am listening to the soundtrack for Morrowind, a fantasy game. It helps set the mood for the story I’m writing.
  • What are you watching? I just saw the new Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. Excellent story telling, excellent character development. Half of me was watching as a super heroes fan and the other half as a writer and both sides absolutely loved Marvel’s latest movie! Lots of feels!

Nightstand Picture Morgan Busse

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? When I have a moment between writing, family, and church, I am making my way through Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings (as you can see on my iPad on my nightstand). Currently I am on The Fairest Beauty. It’s taken me a while to get through it since I only have snatches of reading time here and there, but I’m really enjoying it when I get to read. I love Melanie’s stories and recommend it for anyone who enjoys fairytales!

    Thank you so much for joining our author interview series, Morgan. It was a pleasure to chat with you, and learn about what’s next.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORmorgan-busse

I am a wife, mother, and author. I write Christian fantasy and steampunk for the adult market. My work is published with Enclave Publishing, the premier publishing company for Christian fantasy and science fiction.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Conversation with Billy Coffey

INSPYs 2016-Billy Coffey

Hello. Today, the Advisory Board welcomes author, Billy Coffey. Billy is the author of novels, The Devil Walks in Mattingly and the upcoming novel There Will Be Stars. His novel, The Curse of Crow Hollow (Thomas Nelson) is on the 2016 shortlist in the Speculative Fiction category.

Join us in welcoming Billy as we chat with him about what inspired The Curse of Crow Hollow, discuss the challenges and benefits of writing speculative fiction, plus he shares what he’s currently binge-watching.


Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Book - The Curse of Crow HollowAlvaretta swore at her husband s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves. – Goodreads | Amazon


INSPYs: What inspired you to write The Curse of Crow Hollow?

I grew up with stories about people along the Blue Ridge who, for myriad reasons, had all but left society. They lived alone and cut off in the mountains. Often these stories turned to legend, to the point where an old woman living alone in a hollow could be twisted by rumor and gossip to become a witch up to no good. Those old tales told to me served as the basis of a story about how fear of some generic Other can lead good people to do horrible things.

INSPYs: What are the challenges/benefits of wiring inspirational speculative fiction?

For me the challenge is to keep an air of realism in an unrealistic situation, or at least a highly unlikely one. The great majority of my stories all involve supernatural elements, but I try to keep those things in the background and the real focus on the characters. I’m not so interested in the speculative bit of my books as I am the ordinary people who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

The greatest benefit, I think, is linked to those ordinary people. Allowing characters to grow and change leaves open the opportunity for redemption. I’ve always thought a good novel is like a mirror we can hold to ourselves, revealing something we’ve never considered.

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS

  • What are you listening to?

American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.

  • What are you watching?

I’ve just recently begun re-watching all six seasons of Lost.

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand?

Nightstand Billy Coffey

I’m currently reading Charles Martin’s next novel for endorsement, which is as excellent a story as you would expect. I’m a huge fan of Borges. He’s so impossible to describe and his breadth of knowledge seems almost inhuman. And I never go to bed without reading something by Flannery O’Connor.


Thanks so much for joining us today, Billy. It was great to learn more about The Curse of Crow Hollow and read more about the behind-the-scene happenings in the pursuit of a story.Billy-porch-pic-1024x741

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Billy and his wife, Joanne, live with their two children in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A product of his small-town locale, Billy counts as assets his rural authenticity, unwavering sense of purpose, and insatiable curiosity–all of which tend to make his front porch a comfortably crowded place.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter