Interview with Bryan Davis (Starlighter, Day 3)

Today, I interview Bryan Davis, author of Starlighter, on the characters, upcoming titles, the strange and fascinating journeys that lead to publication, and the difference between magical powers in fantasy and magical powers in the real world.

Rachel: So let’s start with a really easy question: who’s your favourite character in Starlighter? Why?

Bryan: I get asked about favorite characters many times, and it’s always hard to answer, because I like so many of them. I create characters (the heroes, of course) who are appealing to me. If I had to pick one, I think I would go with Koren. There’s something special about a heroine who suffers greatly but still rises to sacrifice for others. I find her captivating. Koren is vulnerable, yet strong. She is naïve is some ways, yet filled with wisdom in others. She despises the cruelty of slavery, yet is willing to endure it for the sake of others. She is truly heroic.

Rachel: I ask because you did something in this book that’s an essential for me: wrote great side characters. For some reason I never like protagonists as much as I should, so I latch onto side characters, and I like big casts. Jason and Koren take center stage in Starlighter, but I was equally fascinated by Wallace, Randall, Tibber, and especially Elyssa. Will any of these folks be playing a bigger role in the coming books?

Bryan:Elyssa and Wallace will definitely take bigger roles, especially Elyssa. She is a mysterious character who has gifts that go unexplained in Starlighter. I didn’t understand them myself until I wrote the second book. I am working on the third book right now, and her role grows even more.

Rachel: I was intrigued by Starlighter’s mix of classic fantasy with sci-fi elements. What inspired you to mix genres this way, and what are the challenges of doing so?

Bryan: I’m not sure where to draw the line between fantasy and science fiction. I have defined science fiction as fiction that could be true if technology developed far enough, and fantasy is fiction that doesn’t explain the strange elements at all. Usually, a fantasy story can’t happen no matter how far technology advances. I see Starlighter as pure fantasy, because the technology, for the most part, is behind our own, and the strange elements could never happen. I don’t explain how the portal works, how the litmus finger guides Jason, how the river reverses course, etc. I provide no science to explain it, so, to me, Starlighter falls squarely in the fantasy category.

Rachel: Dragons of Starlight is your fourth YA fantasy series—and three involve dragons. How did you fall into this ongoing relationship with our scaly, fire-breathing friends?

Bryan: My Echoes from the Edge series doesn’t involve dragons at all, so Dragons of Starlight is my third dragon-oriented series. Dragons in our Midst began when I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. I told my eldest son about it, and he suggested that I write a story about the dream. He and I brainstormed together and decided that the boy’s father was once a dragon. Eight years later, AMG Publishers took a chance on that story, and it became Raising Dragons, the first Dragons in our Midst book. Oracles of Fire is a sequel series, so it also had dragons. After I wrote Echoes from the Edge for Zondervan, they wanted me to write a dragons series for them, since my other dragons books were so successful for AMG, so that led me to write the Dragons of Starlight series.

Rachel: Do you anticipate moving into non-dragon waters in fiction at any point?

Bryan: Besides the Echoes from the Edge series, I have written I Know Why the Angels Dance, a standalone contemporary novel, published by AMG. I have ideas for other non-dragons stories that I am excited about, so I hope I get the opportunity to write them soon.

Rachel: Speaking of waters, you’ve entered some potentially controversial ones in this book. Several of your characters possess gifts that, in our world, most Christians would condemn as demonic. (Koren essentially “channels” the voice of the dragon prince, and Elyssa’s hyper-awareness of the world around her earns her the title “Diviner” and has her all but condemned as a witch.) Talk to me about the line between fiction and reality and how (and why) to walk that line as a Christian fantasy author.

Bryan: Since the Dragons in our Midst series takes place in our world, I had to draw the line between reality and fantasy very carefully, more so in that series than in Dragons of Starlight. In Dragons in our Midst, I adhered to the realities of our world and added the fantasy elements without violating the truths of the Bible’s revelations of the spiritual world. I have the real God, and I mention the real Jesus, which established my story as one that could not trespass lines drawn by the Bible. So all my heroic characters never use magic or other powers that Christians in our world would consider demonic or as arising from forbidden sources.

Starlighter, however, takes place in another world. The characters have inherent abilities that would be considered demonic in our world, but in this world, they are endowed by the Creator. Just as the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to humans in our world, God does the same in the Starlighter world, but some of the gifts don’t match those in our world. Koren can spiritually speak to the unborn dragon and make her stories come alive. These abilities are inherent in a Starlighter, and they are provided by the Creator. The same is true for Elyssa. Her Diviner gifts come from the Creator. Again, it’s a different world, so humans can have abilities that we don’t have here.

I realized when I wrote the story that some people would challenge these abilities as demonic. That’s why I created the persecutors who chase Elyssa and characterize them as dark-ages style inquisitors who are blind to the possibility that God is able to endow people with gifts they don’t understand.

In our world, people who seek power from sources other than God are rightly criticized if, indeed, the source of power is from darkness. A problem arises when someone has a gift from God that people simply don’t understand, and ignorance gives rise to fear, and fear gives rise to attack. This happened when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan.

Starlighter presents a similar situation in which we have a character who is able to do things the religious elite don’t understand, and they accuse her of having demonic influence. They refuse to consider the possibility that God provides some humans with these gifts. I cast these persecutors as the Pharisees of the Starlighter cosmos, people blinded by their own religiosity.

So, in essence, if people accuse me of promoting the powers of darkness in this story, they are really in that category as well, since they are unable to comprehend that this is a different world with different rules. They are blinded by their religiosity.

Rachel: Starlighter’s dedication credits Amanda (your daughter?) with giving you the idea for this story. Can you share how that came about?

Bryan: Amanda is my 19-year-old daughter. I mentioned before that Zondervan asked for a dragons story, so I asked my children if they had any ideas. Amanda suggested a story about a world populated by dragons that enslaves humans kidnapped from a world of humans. She also came up with the idea that two teenaged humans would go to the dragon world to try to bring the slaves home. I told Zondervan about the idea, and they loved it. I made up the details as I wrote the story, included the Starlighter and Diviner characters, but Amanda invented the basic storyline.

Rachel: You’ve left us with something of a cliffhanger at the end of Starlight. Can you whet our appetites for the next book?

Bryan: Telling about the next book is challenging for two reasons. One is that the next book is not part of the Dragons of Starlight series. Two is that I don’t even know the title for the next Dragons of Starlight book.

Originally, Zondervan was going to publish two series, one for young adults and one for adults, so I wrote Starlighter with that fact in mind, creating two adults in Starlighter, Adrian and Marcelle, who had minor roles. I planned to make them the main characters in the adult series. After I wrote the first adult story and submitted it, Zondervan canceled the adult series because of the departure of the editor who acquired it. AMG Publishers picked it up, but they are not allowed to use the “Dragons of Starlight” name, so they are calling the two-book adult series, “Tales of Starlight.”

Therefore, the next book will be Masters & Slayers, book one in the Tales of Starlight series. It will debut in September. After that, sometime in January, the second book in Dragons of Starlight will come out. In that story, Jason and Koren continue their journey toward the Northlands to find the ally that Arxad said would be there, but when the black egg hatches, the new prince will use his influence on Koren to try to bring her back. In the meantime, Elyssa and Wallace begin their search for Jason, and they make an amazing discovery in a secret room in the Zodiac’s lower level. What did they find? I’ll just say that it is something that Arxad and Magnar have kept secret for many years, and if the prince from the black egg obtains it, all will be lost.

Rachel: Bryan, thanks for a great interview!

Tomorrow, a few of my own thoughts on the reality/fantasy division and how fantasy can act as an all-too-revealing mirror on the real world.







4 responses to “Interview with Bryan Davis (Starlighter, Day 3)”

  1. Tori Avatar

    Great interview, looking forward to reading the upcoming books!

  2. […] ? John W. Otte ? ? Donita K. Paul Crista Richey SarahFlan ? ? Chawna Schroeder ? ? Rachel Starr Thomson ? ? Steve Trower ? Jason Waguespac ? ? ? Fred Warren ? ? […]

  3. Rachel Starr Thomson Avatar

    I saw that on your Facebook! That’s exciting. Thanks again for DOING the interview, and for all you’ve done to make this tour a success :).

  4. Bryan Davis Avatar

    Thank you for the interview. By the way, I learned today that the second book in the Dragons of Starlight series will be called “Warrior.” It should come out in January.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *