Q&A: Jim Ware
Morgan Izaak is fascinated by his father's old book about alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone. When he finds out about the Irish Stone of Destiny and that it might be hidden in his very own town, he and his best friend Eny will stop at nothing to find it. But Morgan and Eny aren't the only ones looking for the stone and the trouble that they are about to unleash may cost them all dearly.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THE STONE OF DESTINY?
Several factors came together. In the first place, I’ve always been a devoted reader of fiction, fantasy-fiction in particular, and I’ve wanted to write a story like this ever since I learned to love fairy tales and books like The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia during childhood and adolescence. Second, the central concept of the book was birthed at a time when I had just finished writing Finding God in the Lord of the Rings (with Kurt Bruner) – in other words, it was a direct result of revisiting Tolkien’s inspiring work. Third, I thought it would be fun to create a tale including elements from Irish mythology, a more recently acquired taste. Fourth and last, I hoped to use the medium of Harry Potter to communicate a distinctly Christian response to J. K. Rowling’s portrayal of magic and the power of enchantment.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As I’ve already indicated, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis stand at the top of my list of favorite authors. To their names I would add those of George MacDonald, the “Grand-daddy” of modern fantasy, Madeleine L’Engle, G.K. Chesterton, and Lord Dunsany. Other writers who have inspired me from a very early age include Charles Dickens, Sir Thomas Malory, Herman Melville, Howard Pyle, and Padraic Colum.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
I suppose that’s for others to judge. I can tell you how I hope it influences it – namely, in the same way that it influenced Tolkien’s fantasies. In our book on The Lord of the Rings, Kurt and I argued that Tolkien’s Christian faith, while it may not be as readily apparent to some readers as is Lewis’s in The Chronicles of Narnia, is nevertheless fundamental to his entire worldview and thus plays a key role in the shaping of his fictional creations. As we explained it at the time, Tolkien’s faith was simply a part of who he was, and as a result it “bubbles up” to the surface of his stories even when he isn’t consciously attempting to construct a “Christian parable.” That’s the kind of writing I’d like to be able to do.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Probably since I first learned to read stories for myself. Maybe even before that – my mom read to me from a very early age, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love good tales like those found in the collection of the Brothers Grimm.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
A couple of things. First, I just want them to enjoy the tale – to get swept up in it and carried away into the imaginary world I’ve tried to create. Second, I want them to come away with the idea that all of us are weak and needy and dependent upon the grace and power of Another – that we can’t rescue ourselves from our demons and fulfill our own deepest longings by manipulating circumstances and making desperate grabs for power.