Q&A: D. Barkley Briggs (The Ravaged Realm)
Fantasy author D. Barkley Briggs answers five questions about The Ravaged Realm (Living Ink): With the Nine Worlds facing a judgment of fire, Karac Tor stands on the brink of civil war and despair. A true prophet must be found, but he’s lost—somewhere in North America.
Q: WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WRITING THE RAVAGED REALM?
A sequential, multi-book series poses unique challenges to a writer, but also affords unique opportunities. Being Book 4 of 5, this is the part of the story that sets the stage, like the curtain call, for the dramatic conclusion coming soon in The War of Swords. So I both wanted and needed to do a few things narratively. Up until now, each book has scaled in a rather direct, linear fashion in terms of drama, conflict and epic feel. Readers sense this grand, final clash coming between good and evil. They're waiting for it. So what do you do? As a writer, when everyone expects you to zig, you have to zag a little. This book is the pause, the gulp of breath, before the storm comes. I felt the need to draw back and get smaller, more intimate, so we focus on a couple of select characters and story lines rather than the whole sweep. I tie up a few loose ends, then open up others. I reveal more of the mystery of interconnected worlds that was first hinted in The Book of Names and Corus the Champion, revisit beloved characters, add a love story, reveal the terrible aftermath from The Song of Unmaking, and struggle to unravel ancient mysteries. By the end of the tale, the net effect is that nothing is smaller. Karac Tor is, in fact, being overcome. The entire struggle will have significantly enlarged.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES FROM THE STORY WHERE YOU DREW ELEMENTS FROM REAL LIFE?
I wrote this series for my four boys, for their own loss and journey to manhood. So the entire series has paralleled our lives, from losing my wife and raising four boys, to names and personalities being expressed in the four Barlow brothers. It's classic High Fantasy—good, evil, adventure, magic, heroism, sacrifice—yet biographically inspired. No less, The Ravaged Realm starts to reveal what's happened in my life since: finding love again, remarrying, and being blessed with four more kids. I drop in all kinds of little details that no one but my family will get. They don't distract from the story, but they add to it for us.
Q: IN YOUR NEW NOVEL, WHO IS THE CHARACTER IN THIS STORY WHO SURPRISED YOU MOST?
Gabe. I didn't' expect what happened to him (you'll see). But his bravery won me over.
Q: WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS GET OUT OF YOUR WORK?
I think, in general, I hope to inspire a larger sense of each individual life. I'm fascinated—as a human being, a storyteller, and a believer in Christ—by the concept of destiny. It plays out on so many levels. Within the sovereignty and omniscience of God, there is a Divine Plan for each human. Somehow, it's guaranteed, but it's not automatic. We have free will. We live in a fallen world. Stuff happens that threatens destiny...or does it? Betwixt and between all these moving parts, God is still in control, and yet He has invited us to create our own story and invested us with real power to influence the outcome. When we understand invisible realities and the interconnections of other people's destiny to our own, and vice-versa, all played out on the grand stage of ultimate good vs. ultimate evil, it infuses every life with extraordinary meaning. I love creating stories that cause readers to pause and ask: "What's my part in this whole thing?"
Q: WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I'm pouring all my energy into completing the current saga with Book 5, The War of Swords, which should release late in 2013.