Tag Archives: Allegory

Waiting for a Sign? — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

his sign 12 28 2017

Many people know that I’ve spent the last two years not writing much of anything. A few blog posts, some editing work, but the only publications in those two years have been volume 5 of our homeschool curriculum, Conflict of the Ages V: The Ancient World, Student and Teacher Editions and the summary version, Under the Sun: A Traditional View of Ancient History. That’s not much production for two years. I plinked away at some works in progress, but accomplished very little.

In October, however, I received as a gift some great images from a stock image site called Neostock, and got inspired to create an urban fantasy cover, possibly to sell as a premade, since I’m also a designer. Three Neostock images appear on this cover. The more I talked about the idea behind it with author friends, the more inspired I got to write the story myself.

So I began to work on that story, with the working title, His Sign, and by the end of October I had over 10,000 words. I was very excited to be writing again. How many believers are “waiting for a sign” about how to serve God? This is the story, partly allegory, partly urban fantasy, of one man’s journey after getting a sign he couldn’t ignore. You’ll find a pinch of C.S. Lewis, a sprinkling of Frank Peretti, a dash of Pilgrim’s Progress, and a lot of intent to be faithful to the Scriptures rolled into an offering to readers looking for something different in Christian books.

I was encouraged enough to believe the dam of my writer’s block had broken. Here I am, almost at the end of December, and I have over 30,000 words in His Sign after taking a break for NaNoWriMo and getting in over 30,000 words for that, too. I wanted to finish something to publish by year’s end, and I may still do that. In the meantime, here is a snippet. I’d love to know what you think of this, since it’s sort of a departure from what I normally write, but, I hope, a product of God’s grace and for His glory.

At the moment when Drew Goddard disengaged the gun’s clip, the window and a fair portion of the wall exploded inward. It seemed to his sleep-deprived mind that it didn’t so much explode as liquefy, like a melding but inwardly-expanding bubble containing colors and shapes he recognized as bricklike, woodlike, and even wallpaper and glasslike.

Drew fell backwards off the chair as a … thing … hurled itself at him. A bizarre memory of electron microscope images of dust mites or some such creature became reality, but in gigantic size, a translucent bluish entity with clawed limbs, more like something composed of energy than matter.

fractal-2387459

But it never reached him. His apartment door smashed open and he had a vision of black tactical gear and a waterfall of golden brown hair lunging between Drew and the creature. As the woman spun and unstrapped a handgun Drew couldn’t shake the impression that something like four tattered wasp wings sprouted from her back.

A shriek that seemed to span dimensions ripped its way out of the bluish energy beast. The “gun” the woman held spurted golden beams and the creature responded much as Drew’s apartment wall and window had — bubbling and melding and, after a moment, bursting. A blue hazy glowing cloud settled over the room and Drew frantically brushed at himself to get the reside off in case it was — What? Radioactive? Poisonous? Magic charm cursed? He felt justified when the woman seemed to be madly doing the same thing before turning to face Drew.

And the book is now live! Print edition also available!

Amazon worldlink:  myBook.to/His_Sign
All other ebook sites: books2read.com/His-sign1-wait-is-over

 

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Faerie Queene, Installment 5

Una takes Red Cross to the House of Holiness. The low door is Humility, Reverence is the hallway, and Celia is over the house. Fidelia (Faith) dressed in white, carries the New Testament scriptures and a cup of wine with a snake in it, symbolizing regeneration (the snake sheds its skin and becomes “newborn”) and holy communion with God. Speranza (Hope) dresses in blue, carries an anchor and prays constantly. Charissa (Love) dresses in yellow and carries babies to show God’s mother-like love and care. They teach Red Cross lessons that make him want to leave the world behind and stay there forever.

Penance, Remorse, and Repentance also teach him. Mercy helps him through the hard, thorny ways. She leads him to where Love runs a house of charity where six hosts perform services: The first shows everyone hospitality, the second feeds the hungry, the third gives clothing, the fourth saves prisoners, the fifth helps the sick and dying, the sixth cares for the dead, and the seventh cares for the children of the dead. (Seven deadly sins inhabit the palace of pride. Seven good men inhabit the house of love, showing the root of all sin is pride and the foundation of holiness is unselfish service.) Contemplation reminds him, as he shows him heaven, that he has to keep his promises to Una and the Faerie Queene and tells him his real name is St. George.

Red Cross and Una journey on to her father’s kingdom, laid waste by the dragon. The people are confined in a brass tower (Brass is used in the Bible as a symbol of judgment). The dragon is enormous. Una prays for the knight as he battles the monster. He first day he is almost defeated but is revived by the living waters from a nearby fountain. The second day the tree of life revives him, and on the third day he kills the dragon. (The Bible speaks of water as symbolic of salvation and cleansing, a reviving and renewing of life. The tree of life gives eternal life. On the third day Christ rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death.)

The king and queen and a procession consisting of Nobles, Soldiers carrying laurels, maidens, children and townspeople come out to meet them. A messenger arrives charging Red Cross with being unfaithful to a lady he promised to marry before. Una unmasks the messenger as Archimago and the lady as Duessa. The deceit is explained and Archimago and Duessa are driven away by Una’s people. The knight desires to wed Una but remembers that he has promised six years of service to the faerie queen.

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Faerie Queene, Installment 4

Una and Sans Foy travel in the woods until forest people, hearing Una’s cries, come to her aid and chase Sans Foy away. They worship Una but she tries to teach them of the true God. In their ignorance they worship her donkey. Another knight arrives (a knight born in the forest), Satyrane (his name means born of a satyr, a half-man, half goat creature from mythology), and leads Una out of the forest when the wood creatures are busy elsewhere. A pilgrim (Archimago in disguise) meets them and tells them he saw a pagan and Christian knight fight and that the Christian was slain. Una believes Red Cross is dead. The pilgrim directs them to a place where he claims the pagan knight is tending his wounds. Satyrane goes alone, with Una and Archimago following secretly (separately) to watch. Satyrane battles Sans Loy but Una is so fearful of the Saracen that she flees. Archimago follows her.

Duessa finds that Red Cross has fled Castle Pride and goes after him, finding him wounded and without armor by a fountain. The fountain causes him to become even weaker. The giant Orgoglio arrives and Red Cross tries to fight him. Orgoglio is about to kill him when Duessa suggests he instead make him prisoner and take Duessa as his queen. (Duessa also represents the Scarlet whore of the book of Revelation, deceiving the nations and riding on a seven-headed beast given to her by Orgoglio). The Dwarf takes Red Cross’ armor and horse and leaves.

The dwarf finds Una. She fears the worst seeing the armor and horse and faints. The dwarf tells her of Red Cross’ captivity and they set out to search for him. They meet Arthur (the legendary English king, who symbolizes the spirit of England and mature virtue) and his squire. Arthur hears their story and agrees to help. Arthur’s squire blows a trumpet and the Giant’s doors burst open. The giant appears. Arthur fights the giant and kills him. Duessa flees but the squire brings her back. They take off her beautiful clothes and leave her in rags, deformed, bald and ugly. She runs away. Red Cross is in the dungeon of despair and remains sick and defeated even after they rescue him from Ignaro (Ignorance), the dungeon keeper who does not know where any of the prisoners are. Arthur leaves them and Una and Red Cross go on their way.

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Faerie Queene Installment 3

Una travels alone in a forest, becomes weary, lies down to sleep. A lion approaches and at first roars but then becomes her guard. She spends the night in the hut of Corceca, an old blind woman, (representing the blindness of false faith) Abessa, her deaf daughter, (representing the error of the Romanist church) and a thief, Kirkrapine. (His name means he steals violently from churches). Together these three represent the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.They are very reluctant to let her stay but fear the lion. The lion kills Kirkrapine and Una flees.

She meets Archimago dressed as the Red Cross Knight. He claims the holy man told him of a quest to free imprisoned knights, which he has completed. She forgives him and they go on together. Sans Loy meets them and Una urges the false Red Cross to fight. He is forced to do so but is defeated. Sans Loy unmasks him and Una has time to see Archimago before Sans Loy takes her prisoner. They leave Archimago unconscious. Sans Loy kills the lion and takes Una away.

Red Cross and Duessa approach Lucifera’s castle. The seven deady sins are in procession. Lucifera is pride. Idleness (laziness) rides an ass, Gluttony (overeating) rides a pig, Lechery (evil sexual appetite) rides a goat, Avarice (greed) rides a camel with gold ornaments Envy (jealousy) rides a wolf, Wrath (anger) rides a lion. Satan drives Lucifera’s carriage with a whip. They see all the splendor and evil and Red Cross is challenged by Sans Joy, another brother of the wicked Sans Foy. He sees that the dwarf carries his brother’ shield, calls the knight a murdering Christian and swears to have his blood. Lucifera tells them they may fight the next day. That night Duessa goes to Sans Joy and claims she is true to him. The two knights fight and Red Cross is victorious. He flees when the dwarf reveals to him how many people are imprisoned in Pride Castle and shows him the ruin and decay usnder the finery.

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The Faerie Queene for Christmas — Installment 2

They leave the forest and meet up with the old holy man. Una urges the Red Cross knight to rest and the old man agrees. They are assigned sleeping places, and the old man shows his true form, Archimago, and summons sprites. Red Cross has troubling dreams. A sprite impersonates Una and begs Red Cross to be her lover. He sends her away. Next he sees what appears to be Una with another man but is another of Archimago’s tricks. Red Cross leaves in sorrow and rage, taking the dwarf, horse and armor with him. Una awakes, finds him gone, and leaves with her donkey and lamb to search for him. Archimago dresses himself as the Red Cross Knight and follows at a distance.Completely deceived by Archimago, the knight wonders if perhaps there is no quest, no terrible dragon. He wonders how he can prove himself to the Faerie Queene.

Red Cross rides across a field and meets Sans Foy and Duessa. Sans Foy says that he despises the cross the knight wears, and that he will fight him. The woman, who is a wicked sorceress, tries to warn Sans Foy, that the knight’s armor and shield have been well-tested in battle. Sans Foy sees that the knight is very young and challenges him anyway.Red Cross slays Sans Foy and Duessa flees, but Red Cross catches her and reassures her that he means her no harm. She claims she is Fidessa, that she is an emperor’s daughter and Sans Foy kept her prisoner. Red Cross hears her story and promises to help her. They travel on and rest beneath two trees at a stream. One of the trees (Fradubio) warns him about Duessa, who cursed him and his love and turned them into trees. Red Cross sees that Duessa has fainted and does not realize the tree is warning him about her. He rouses her and they go on.

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Review of Chadash Chronicles Book 1: Fool’s Errand by David G. Johnson

 

fools errand

4 Stars

If you love fantasy RPG games you will love this book. There aren’t so many characters that you get lost, but there is a rich diversity along with familiar types. Rogues and clerics, mages, and paladins dot the landscape, as well as cooks and bards and bad guys. Johnson has done some fine world-building. I appreciated the overall high moral tone along with the realistic enjoyment of a good drink and appreciation for a pretty girl (even if she does have black fur) by ordinary men with extraordinary determination and courage. If you expect a resolution, you apparently had better have book 2 on hand, because it’s still to come at the end of this piece. It does include a satisfactory step toward victory. My one warning is that Christian readers will need to extend a certain degree of grace to accept the presence of God and angels in a new world where the curse is not a factor, but this is a minor issue.

Here’s an interview and  post David made for me some time back on another blog. Good stuff on witing Spec Fiction.

As authors, one of the long-standing bits of guiding wisdom in our business is the old adage “Write what you know”. This is solid advice, tried and true, as the most engaging classic works of fiction have come from authors who have so immersed themselves in research of their period, or who lived and breathed in that period, that their very words come alive with the images, sounds and smells of the world of their novels. J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the great masters of this, but the depth and vividness of his work stemmed from the fact that he first created a people and a language, fully developed and real, and out of that poured naturally the stories of Middle-Earth.

Example after example could be laid out along these lines, but in truth if we as speculative fiction authors, and in particular Christian speculative fiction authors, our ability to “write what we know” at some point hits a wall between reality and fantasy. So when our stories take place in the world of science-fiction or fantasy, how can we do all that is possible to fulfill the requirements of the old adage while writing in a speculative fiction genre?

After much time in thought and consideration of this question, here are my thoughts and suggestions.
Know your Bible. If we are truly going to write with the tag of “Christian” author, we owe it to ourselves, our readers, and most importantly to God to first and foremost be diligent students of His word. If we want to make sure that what we write glorifies Him, then we need to know Him. If we do not want our work to become the subject of rejection and criticism by our fellow Christians, we need to understand where God’s Word weighs in on the ideas and concepts we present in our fiction. If we don’t know the Bible first and foremost as the foundation of what we write, we cannot truly present ourselves as “Christian” speculative fiction authors.

Know your world. I cannot overstress the importance of worldbuilding in creating a tangible, believable and consistent speculative fiction setting. The degree of worldbuilding required largely depends on the specific sub-genre of your fiction. For stories set on Earth but in an alternate history, alternate future, etc, much of the foundational worldbuilding is already done. Geography, races, nations, history, religion, food production, waste removal, international politics, etc. are all elements present in the real world and don’t need to be invented. This, however, does not make the burden less on the authors who choose this setting. If anything, the speculative elements require even more detailing because they will significantly alter how certain aspects of the world do work, and these are elements which will have to be strong enough to draw your readers out of their comfortable understanding of reality set in this world and into your world with all the implications thereof. Skimping on thinking through how the speculative changes you introduce to our known reality would impact that reality is a recipe for a cheesy, shallow world which will not engage and immerse your readers into your world but will leave them feeling cheated, like watching a shadow-puppet show when a live performance was what was billed.

Fantasy and science-fiction authors have a different but equally demanding task. If your setting takes the readers to a whole new world, then all of the things we take for granted on our world have to be taught to your readers so they understand this new world. First off, however, you have to know your new world. If you have not thought through things like politics, food production, waste removal, indigenous flora and fauna, mankind’s interaction with nature, different cultures, languages, history, etc. of your world, you will not be able to deal with them vividly and consistently, and your readers will feel like they have been led into a shaky house of cards instead of a beautiful, vibrant, living world. Unless you are writing a world so alien as to be nearly unrelatable to your audience, there will be some elements which will duplicate or approximate things in our own world. That point leads to the third area.

Know your reality. Go. Get out of the house. Travel. See sights. Dig ditches. Ride horses. Climb mountains. Fly in airplanes. Play with animals. Smell flowers. Touch trees. Go to a concert. Visit a bar. Walk the streets of a strange city at night (with safety in mind always of course). EXPERIENCE LIFE! There are going to be aspects of reality that cross over into your fantasy setting. How can you accurately set a scene in a bar if you have never been to a bar? How can you describe a riveting horseback ride cross country if you have never been on a horse? How can you describe the strange feeling of being surrounded by people who don’t speak your language and whose language you don’t speak unless you travel? Imagination only goes so far, and authors who try to write about real-life things that they haven’t personally experienced, will NOT pass the “sniff-test” of discerning readers who have had those experiences. If you do not make chances to get out of your writing studio or home or wherever you have settled and experience life, then you will not be able to realistically write about the world. Again, however, with us possibly writing about things we either economically can’t afford to experience or physically have no chance to experience, how do we do that? On to the next point.

Know your contacts. Do not be afraid to find and seek out the experts to get realistic answers to your questions. I cannot stress enough how poorly “winging it” is going to come off in your writing to readers who do know the reality of what you do not. If you are writing an alternate history where things diverged in WWII, talk to veterans. Talk to folks who lived through that time. Retirement homes are filled with people who have all the time in the world to talk to you and who would love nothing better than to tell you their stories. Most people don’t realize the wealth of information our elders have that we just don’t normally take the time to tap into. I have such a vivid picture in my mind of what WWII was like because when I was younger I used to cut lawns for several WWII veterans, and after the work was done they almost always would invite me to pull up a lawn chair, grab a glass of lemonade and just talk. I have a vivid notion of life on a battleship during Korea from my father. My own stories often involved horses, so while I have ridden horses before, I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of care and feeding of horses, but my brother and sister-in-law own a horse farm, so they are my “equine consultants” when I come up with horse-related questions outside my knowledge. While I have a perfunctory knowledge of Hebrew, I use Hebrew as a basis for one of the languages of my fantasy races, so my friend and fellow writer Zerubbabel Emunah, an expert in Hebrew language and culture, has been an invaluable resource for my research.

Remember, writing a book is more than just sitting down to a keyboard and pouring out your imagination on paper. Writing realistically requires reading (a lot!) and researching and tapping into resources and networking and worldbuilding. Producing quality fiction takes effort, but for the authors willing to put in the time and energy to do all that is possible to “know what you write”, it will be very clear to your readers that you are an author they can rest assured will “write what you know”.
Blessings,
Rev. David G. Johnson

David G. Johnson is an author and teacher with a BA in Asian Studies and a MDiv in Bibilcal Languages who currently resides overseas with his family serving as teachers and living witnesses of their faith. David has been an avid Fantasy and Science Fiction fan for over thirty years and has now turned his cross-cultural experience to the task of blending Fantasy fiction with a biblical worldview in this his speculative fiction series entitled Chadash Chronicles, which mixes the Fantasy storytelling elements of Chronicles of Narnia with the personal spiritual journey elements of Pilgrim’s Progress.

Many people say that authors can’t or don’t do well with more than one genre. You say you are working on fantasy adventure, science fiction, noir detective stories and even have the plans for a steampunk book at some point. What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write these different types of books?

Well the old adage for writers is to “write what you know”. I think what makes someone a better writer is first being an avid and voracious reader. I grew up on fantasy and sci-fi, so in a way I feel those genres are in my blood. Also growing up my parents loved to watch the old black and white movies and films like Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man all were part of my early exposure. I also love to read the noir masters like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, so I am hoping to break into an homage to that genre with a series I am planning called the Nick O’Brien Case Files. As for the steampunk I have a degree in Asian Studies so while I don’t know much about Victorian England other than their interactions with China, I have quite an extensive knowledge of Chinese history during that time period. I hope to bridge that gap and write a steampunk genre novel set in Qing Dynasty China. That is still a good ways off, though, as other projects are ahead of this one.

Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

Well, my family and I currently serve overseas in a closed country in Asia as missionaries. A “closed country” is one where missionaries are not officially allowed. As such, we have a normal platform which allows us to stay in country. I teach English at a small school working as a speaking and listening coach. In exchange for a few work hours per week we get visas to legally be in the country. What we do on our own time then is up to us, and we simply choose to spend our spare time in Bible study. I definitely feel living in another culture has helped me be much more poignantly aware of things which might otherwise go unnoticed. As such, when my characters cross cultures this helps me tremendously to paint a realistic picture, pointing out details that readers may not even have thought about being different in another culture.

Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.

Not to sound too cliché, but writing is what I enjoy. When all the work is caught up, my wife and daughter are out for a ladies day out, and I have several uninterrupted hours just to sit behind the keyboard and write, it is like a mini-vacation. I travel to other worlds, to other times and get to be a part of creating amazing adventures. What could possibly be more fun than that?

Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

Well my debut novels, the first two, are going through a traditional publisher, so there is a cover team working on those. I do use Beta readers. One struggle for me was finding a way to balance my love of teaching God’s truth as a minister and writing the fiction that I so enjoy. God gave me an idea for the first series, so I am running with that, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t, in my zeal to create a great story, lose sight of biblical truth or write something blatantly contrary to Scripture. To that end, I asked a group of fellow ministers and missionaries to be my beta readers. They read along, chapter by chapter as I write, and point out to me not only grammatical or plot issues but also if there are any places where they feel I may have gotten a little far from Scripture with something I have presented. They have given me a great peace of mind, freeing me to let go and just write.

Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

I used to, many years ago, belong to an online group of poets. That was a challenging time in my life, but it was great to push myself and become expressive in verse rather than prose. I have a good number of poems I wrote during those times. In fact, one of the poems I wrote way back then was the main inspiration for my debut fantasy series and is featured at the beginning of the first book.

Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool’s Errand and Book Two: Mystic’s Mayhem will be available by the end of 2013 from Tate Publishing. These books combine the fantasy elements of Chronicles of Narnia with the personal spiritual journey elements of Pilgrim’s Progress. That may sound boastful, and I am not at all comparing myself to these authors, merely that I tried in this series to capture these elements from these two great works. C.S. Lewis was a great writer and we all love Narnia, but I feel he didn’t go far enough espousing the Christian themes, and there is really no sense of any spiritual journey in the stories. Pilgrim’s Progress certainly has an amazingly clear spiritual journey, but the thickness of the allegory can put some readers off. By emphasizing the importance of the spiritual journey elements, and wrapping them in an exciting and engaging fantasy adventure, my hope is that these novels create a blend of these elements which is both edifying spiritually as well as entertaining intellectually.

What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

My target audience, truth be told, are readers of sci-fi and fantasy who are unbelievers. I came to Christ late in life, and I grew up with the stereotypes usually laid upon youth who love these genres. Sadly these stereotypes are often propagated by “Christians” who would sooner write off these youth as satanic or deranged because they love to read stories about wizards and dragons. I want to write an engaging story but also to put within that story characters who epitomize what true Christians should be like in their interactions with unbelievers. As a secondary effect, I hope that Christian readers will use these books like a mirror to put themselves into the Christian point of view characters and ask, “Is that how I would have handled that situation?” I hope to model through these characters that Christians are not perfect, but if we are truly walking in love, this is what it might look like.

Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.
I would say the person I have been most impressed by meeting would have to be Reverend Justin Peters. Justin has an itinerate speaking ministry where he travels around giving talks and conferences on biblical discernment. Justin suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is almost completely confined to a wheelchair now, yet he does not let this stop him from traveling and teaching the word of God, especially as it pertains to biblical discernment. Not only have I learned a great deal from hearing Justin speak, but I have been personally inspired by his commitment to continue teaching the word of God despite a condition which many people would use as an excuse to retire from society. I pray as age takes over and parts of me stop working like they used to, that I will continue my commitment to my calling just as Justin has.

Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.

I would love to go to England/Scotland/Ireland on a castle tour. I write about castles and knights and while I take my research seriously, I am so much a visual person. I have visited the fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland, and have walked on the Great Wall in China and those were great fun and very instructive. I think, however, the ability to walk through, to touch and see and fully experience real medieval European castles, not just their construction but the design of the keeps, walls, towers, towns, etc would be an invaluable aid to my fantasy writing.

Share something that makes you laugh, with just plain humor, or happiness, or because it’s so stupid.

I’m an odd bird with an odd sense of humor. To me a good pun is worth its weight in gold.

Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.

I don’t know if “angry” is the right word, but something that I think is the most disappointing or discouraging thing we have faced working in ministry is encountering Christians in crisis who are seeking for answers. In response, as a good minister, you sit down patiently with them and go through all the Bible has to say about their current dilemma. They fully acknowledge understanding God’s direction or instruction about the situation. The politely thank you and then go out and do the exact opposite of what God has instructed. I really have a lot of trouble knowing what to feel at that point. Pity? Disappointment? Discouragement? Self-doubt at my own shepherding ability? It is definitely one of the hardest things we have faced in ministry.

What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?

Wow, this is a painful question. I am experiencing it right now. I am no more than a few chapters from finishing the third book in the Chadash Chronicles series, but these other ideas for the next couple of projects down the line are eating me alive. I keep finding myself sitting down at the computer intending to wrap up the next chapter when whamo I am on a research site looking up things for the next book. Distraction and desire to see all the projects I talked about above come to fruition is probably the biggest struggle with settling down and finishing one thing before moving on to the next.

What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!

Well as I said I am finishing book three of the Chadash Chronicles. We will see how things go with the first two books and I will let that decide whether book three comes out from the same publisher, or if I shop it maybe to one of the bigger names in fantasy fiction, or if I take the road of self-publishing. Once that one is complete, though, the project I am so excited about starting is going to be a science fiction/superheroes series. I am planning to write it as pretty hard-science sci-fi as much as possible, i.e. at this point only humans in the known galaxy, first extrasolar colony ship, no three-headed aliens or light-speed drives but incorporating the real scientific challenges to manned missions outside our solar system. Well something goes wrong in flight and some small percentage of the terraforming colonists wind up with enhanced abilities. The story will have multiple levels. One will be how the colony deals suddenly with people who are very different, even “better” in some way than themselves, and the human-natured prejudice and fear which will ensue there. Second will be Earth’s reaction and how to deal with an outlying colony that in some part isn’t fully, or more accurately isn’t merely, human anymore. Third will be the faith aspect as characters of faith struggle to deal with their own questions as well as counsel others through this challenging adaptation to life. And of course, there will be super-villains and super-powered battles too, can’t leave that out, right?

Let me just say in parting I appreciate you asking to interview me and giving me the chance to let folks know about the projects I have coming out. Thank you so much for this excellent opportunity and I pray the Lord continues to bless you in all your work.

Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool’s Errand and Book Two: Mystic’s Mayhem are now available.

You can find David’s missionary blog at: http://2th31.blogspot.com

and his author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DavidGlennJohnson

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My Christmas Gift to You — An Illustrated Summary of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene Part 1 — First Installment

Edmund Spenser planned a series of twelve great poetic books. He created a new form of poetic stanza with a complicated rhyme and rhythm scheme, which became known as the Spenserian stanza, just for this work. Each book was dedicated to a different aspect of Christian character or virtue. This is the first,  the Faerie Queen, Part One. It was written in the late 1500s and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. This story is an allegory. Like the parables the Lord Jesus Christ told in His days on earth, it tells of earthly things to make a point about spiritual things. The fairy queen, Glorianna, is a good and pure ruler who represents the glory of God, for whom Queen Elizabeth I is the inspiration.

The Red Cross Knight is a young man untried in battle but equipped with wonderful armor and a shield bearing the emblem of the cross. He represents Holiness, or the process by which a young Christian matures in God’s service by “putting on the whole armor of God.”  Una is the fair maid who represents Truth. The dragon that holds her parents captive, of course, represents the power of evil. The magic performed in this play is presented as evil. There is violence because we are in a spiritual battle against sin and wickedness. The palace of pride is presented as rich and beautiful on the outside but filthy and falling apart underneath. Wicked people sometimes deceive Christians and believers sometimes fall in with the wrong people.

They come to harm themselves, and cause harm to others whom they are supposed to be protecting. Archimago means “great magician.” Duessa, whose name means “two-faced,” pretends to be Fidessa, which means “faithful.” Sans Foy, Sans Loy, and Sans Joy, evil knights who are brothers, have names meaning “Without Faith,” “Without Law” and “Without Joy.” Spencer did not explain how the Red Cross Knight got sent on his quest in the Faerie Queene Book One. It begins In Media Res, in the middle of things, like many great epic works. He intended to explain to background for the quest of the Red Cross Knight in a later book, which he never finished, but he did explain it in a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh.

The court of Glorianna, queen of Faerieland, is the site of an annual feast where anyone may come and beg a favor of the queen. People in trouble could find knights begging for a quest to prove their worthiness, both of them petitioning the queen at this festival of the twelve days. The Red Cross knight received his quest on the first day of the festival.The queen’s palace is radiant in its beauty. The walls are decorated with white and gold hangings and rich ornaments. Tables with long white cloths and platters filled with food are set up in front of Glorianna’s throne in the center, for it is a great feast. Music fills the air. Rich and poor feast together. The queen enters with her ladies in waiting and chief advisors and takes her seat. Glorianna the Faerie Queen welcomes everyone to her annual Feast of Twelve Days.

It is her wish that none should be sad or want for anything. During this time the queen can refuse no request. A ragged young man enters the court. He has come from far away and is clumsy and simple but not afraid to approach the queen. Queen Glorianna realizes that he is good and virtuous, and that he shows courage and strength. He asks that if any adventure presents itself during the feast that she would give it to him to perform. Glorianna promises to grant the young man’s favor. She urges him to stay in the meantime and share the feast, to eat, drink and rest himself. The young man replies that he is not worthy to sit in the beauty of the court of the great queen.

Soon a lovely princess slowly enters the court, veiled and weeping, leading a lamb (symbolizing her purity and innocence), accompanied by her dwarf servant (who represents human reason) and a donkey (representing the church) carrying knight’s armor, shield and sword (This is the armor described in Ephesians 6). She is dressed in mourning black over a radiant white gown. Queen Glorianna notices the young woman and calls to her to come near. She explains that this is a time of happiness and joy, and asks why she wears a dress of sorrow. The young woman says her name is Una. She asks for a champion to slay a dragon that has taken over her country and imprisoned her father and mother. She shows the fine armor, shield seasoned in battle, decorated with a blood-red cross, and great sword she has brought for her knight.

The young man runs and falls at Una’s feet. He reminds the great queen of her promise and claims the adventure as his own. Una scornfully asks the queen if this is her greatest champion. Queen Glorianna warns the young man that this is no adventure, but a fight to the death. She observes that he is young and has never seen battle. The young man asks if the glorious queen of fairyland will go back on her word. Glorianna admits that she cannot do that. She orders the sweet maiden to accept her champion. Una begs the great queen to give her a real champion. She tells the queen that the journey  back to her country is long and hard, filled with dangers and troubles. Glorianna chides her, asking if she should break a promise made during the Feast of Twelve Days. She says that the young man shows modesty, strength and courage and tells her not to judge too quickly. She tells Una to rest, eat and drink. The dwarf and donkey depart with the young man to get him dressed in the armor.

“See, now,” says Queen Glorianna when he returns, “how wondrously fair your knight looks, dressed in the splendid armor you brought.” Una looks in amazement and admits that he is a true knight, and that God has sent him in her need. Glorianna commands him to kneel, takes his sword, and names him knight of the Red Cross. She commands him to serve his lady faithfully and perform the task he has promised to do, as God gives him strength. The knight replies to the great queen that he will. He urges Una to go with him at once and not to tarry, since her need is so great.

The Lady Una, her knight, and her faithful dwarf cross a meadow beside a dark forest. They see a storm coming. The knight urges his lady to make haste and take shelter in the wood. Una suggests that they wait there until the storm passes. The knight is impatient to go on and argues that no one knows how long it will last. He points out a path into the woods that seems to go just the way they were heading. After a time they notice that the path twists and turns more than they had thought. Una thinks that they are lost. Then the knight sees that the path grows wider, and that many feet have come that way. (Matthew 7:13,14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Una cries out that she knows where they are now. It is the wood of Error. It is true that many people have gone down that path, but in a cave nearby lives a terrible monster who devours men. She says they mus flee. Error appears at the entrance of the cave, snarling and hissing, a hideous half-woman, half serpent with a scorpion tail. The knight exclaims that he is not afraid of Error. He vows to destroy her. In the battle with Error she casts her nets about him (symbolizing the power of what we see and read to drag us away from godly thoughts and actions) and seems likely to defeat him.Narrator: The knight fought bravely, but Error seemed likely to defeat him. Una cried out to him to have courage, and to let the Lord give him strength!

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