Q&A: Bryan Litfin
Hundreds of years in the future, war and disease have destroyed civilization as we know it. Much technology has been discarded and history is largely forgotten. Slowly, the few survivors have begun to build new communities, and kingdoms now prosper in a kind of feudal order. But the Word of God has been lost for centuries.
This is the world in which we find ourselves in Bryan Litfin's The Gift.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THE GIFT: A NOVEL?
The simple answer is, to find out what happens after The Sword. It's a trilogy, and the first one leaves you wanting more, so the story begged to be continued. More broadly, I had a strong desire to write a different kind of story than what is normally found on Christian bookstore shelves. This is a book with lots of action and adventure. It's not really a true fantasy. People see the swords and assume it's fantasy, but it doesn't have magic rings and spells and dwarves, etc. It's set in our real world. I'd say it's more like an old fashioned swashbuckler--but with a theological twist. I thought that was a new and unique approach, and people might like it.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I'm a Tolkien fan, although my novels are quite different from his work. I don't claim to be "in the tradition of Tolkien" except in the most general sense. I like Stephen Lawhead and Ted Dekker. But honestly, I didn't try to imitate any certain author or draw inspiration from other books. I just wrote the story that was in my head. Having said that, there are two books I view as having aspects similar to The Chiveis Trilogy: The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, and A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My faith definitely does not influence my writing. Rather, my faith is the very ground and source of everything I write. It's not standing outside my books exerting an influence on them. The books well up from my fundamental beliefs about God and his Word. More specifically, the three books in The Chiveis Trilogy are patterned on the Trinity: the first is about the one Creator God, then Christ, then the Holy Spirit. I'm a theologian by day, and I believe deep theological truths are woven into the narratives of The Chiveis Trilogy. I sincerely want to draw people to a new awareness of God's holy nature and the power of the Bible to change lives.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
That's an easy question for a professor, because as soon as you enter doctoral studies you have to start aspiring to be an author or you'll never land a teaching job. I started at the University of Virginia fourteen years ago and that pretty much committed me to becoming an author of scholarly works someday. I wrote a non-fiction book and several academic articles before I got into fiction. That desire came more lately. I made a conscious decision a few years ago to give it a try, and I've had so much fun with it. But I still want to publish in academia too.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I will have failed if I don't entertain you. I did not write high literature. I wrote a story that makes your heart beat fast and keeps you up past your bedtime. People are going to entertain themselves somehow, and the narratives that come out of Hollywood or secular publishing are not often glorifying to God. I truly hope and believe that the Lord is exalted in The Chiveis Trilogy. So what I am saying is, I hope readers find a great source of entertainment whose value system is in accord with biblical truth instead of running counter to it. That does not mean I don't present sin in my stories. But I always show it for what it is, and do not glorify it. If you want to be swept away on an epic adventure with a courageous hero and a noble heroine finding their way toward God, The Chiveis Trilogy is for you.