Please welcome Amanda Bradburn, author of The Keepers of Elenath!
NA: What drew you to write Christian fantasy?
AB: I wanted to write fantasy for the creative side of it. With fantasy, there are no real facts to follow, no dates or names to keep straight. I love the freedom that comes with sitting down and thinking: "Okay! Today, we make a world come alive." And that is exactly what fantasy does best. Not only do I get to introduce my readers to characters they've never met, but I also get to take them to a world that only I have envisioned . . . until you open the book. :)
NA: What is unique in The Keepers of Elenath compared to other Christian fantasy?
AB: The Keepers of Elenath is different because . . . I wrote it! No, seriously, I wanted it to be a book that every Christian Fantasy fan could read. Some books are simply unfit for reading, even if they're written by so-called Christians. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it and not worry about what 'might' be there.
NA: Were there any books that you read that became inspiration or interest
in the genre?
AB: (laughs) My writing rises and falls on other good fantasy books. If I get the infamous syndrome known as 'writer's block', I set down my pen and go and find a cozy spot to read (ideally, at least). My admiration of fantasy began when I was about nine, when my mother insisted that I read C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. In 2001, when Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring came out in theaters, I was completely hooked on fantasy. :) Also, Bryan Davis and his dragon books are a constant encouragement to me.
NA: Where did the story idea come from?
AB: Wow, this is a tough question! Let me think. Originally, it was a story of a girl who was a spy and ended up having to lead her brother's army after his capture. I'm one of those writers who doesn't craft an outline. I try to plan, to one degree or another, and I find that it just wastes my time when my characters decide to drag me somewhere other than what I had intended. :) I'd rather do it this way, though. I enjoy it infinitely more when I allow my book to write itself.
NA: Were there any smaller influences that came into the book?
AB: This isn't a smaller influence, but even as a little girl, I would watch kids my age on TV or in movies and cry. Why? I wanted to make a difference like them. I wanted to know that my voice was heard. I would beg God to give me just one chance to make a difference for Him. I knew that if He wanted me to be a published author, He'd get me there, but you know what, I never dreamed that He really would. I was nothing, a nobody. God has so many others in his arsenal that can do so much a better job than I. But He chose me, for whatever reason, to eke out my writings as best I can. And for that, I am truly, deeply blessed.
NA: Was the idea of an “etel” your own?
AB: Essentially, yes. I was always captivated by the dryads of C.S. Lewis's works. I wanted a more human version, one that I could talk to, one that could fight for my world, and suddenly, they were there. Galien, Cayrn, and Killian just appeared. We'll have to see where they plan on taking themselves next. This writer sure doesn't know. :)
NA: Did you make up all of your characters’ names, and if any, which was your favorite?
AB: I made all of them up except for one: Gwaeron, and that one I originally thought that I'd made up. I only realized that it wasn't completely original until I was reading a Tolkien dictionary and it popped out at me.
My favorite name . . . that's a hard one. It's so difficult to choose. . . can I pick more than one? :) Gnaash fits my evil character well, I like the ring to Theloq (thay-lock), and the melodiousness of Aen (aigh-yen).
NA: Which character was the hardest to write?
AB: Each character presented his (or her) own challenges. Abweneth was (and still is) difficult. This is probably not a good thing to admit to, but she annoys me. (I can't help it, I'm sorry!) Abweneth is constantly doing things to defy me. I probably sound crazy, but she does. I try to mash her back into her box, but she won't go. She does and says things that she wants to do, and I am left hopelessly stumbling after her, shouting, "Get back here!" and "What do you think you are doing?!" (sigh) I know . . . I sound crazy. :)
NA: Which character was the easiest to write?
AB: Strangely enough, Aen. He's my personal favorite character. His emotions are so chaotic and angry, that most of the time they spill out in everything that he does and says. I'm not entirely sure why he was easy, but he was. Figuring out his history was a lot harder, but writing him as a person was simple. Most of the time.
NA: If you could be any character in your books, who would it be?
AB: Gwaeron. It is said that a writer puts some of themselves into each character they write. I'm not sure if this is true, but I definitely showed up in Gwaeron. That's not to say that I'm exactly like her. I'd love to be like her. She's incredibly brave.
NA: If your books were made into a movie, would you have any preferred
actor, director, composer, etc?
AB: :) I've been collecting pictures of actors that look like or show some characteristic of my characters. Am I allowed to list them? I would love for Eliza Hope Bennett to be Gwaeron, (though I have been told by a fan that Emma Watson would also fit), Jared Winchester as Galien, Viggo Mortensen as Theloq, Bridget Regan as Draeyn, Ben Barnes as Aen, and Mark Harmon for Captain Sarr. (I do not, however, approve of all of the movies/shows they play in)
I would love for Peter Jackson to direct it, and as for a composer . . . I'd go with either Howard Shore or Harry Gregson-Williams. (I know, typical!)
NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?
AB: Sure! 1) I am a full-time college student, which means I don't have time to write very often during the fall/winter. This also means, since I am taking a Biblical Studies Major, that I am learning Greek (which I love). 2) I was born in Nevada. 3) And . . . let's see . . . I used to dress up in an 'elvish' costume and re-enact the Lord of the Rings (and my interpretations of it). I almost wish that I still could!!
NA: Do you have a title, cover, or plot idea for the next book you can share
AB: The second book is called The Phantom Assassin, and here's a rough synopsis:
Gwaeron, Aen, Theloq and all of Maran Ithael are plagued by a strange man-- one they cannot find, but one who continually haunts their steps. He is after blood, revenge. He wants to kill. And he's coming after Gwaeron.
Not only that, but one by one, people in Maran Ithael begin to disappear. Familiar names fade and flee the pages of the book, and only their bodies are left behind.
Mysterious men from the north slip into Elenath. Mercenaries. What is their purpose?
And in the midst of it all, the darkness grows.
Be there to read the second chapter in Elenath's history.
Stay tuned to my website: www.thekeepersofelenath.weebly.com for irregular updates on how book two is coming. :).
NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas after your current series?
AB: Of course! :) I actually have rough ideas for seventeen more books :). Six of them will be in the KoE series, and I'm currently co-authoring another series called Shards of Glass. :)
NA: Wow! I look forward to those!
Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write Christian fantasy?
AB: I could give pages of advice. :) (if you would like those pages, find me on Facebook and I'll do my best). Mainly, I would say never give up. People will tell you that you'll never make it, that writing is a waste of your time. Remember that success isn't about being published or being famous, it's about how much we do for God with our talent. You're going to get discouraged and want to give up, but don't! That shouldn't be an option you consider. If your WIP (work in progress) isn't turning out like it should, it's a sign that something's wrong with it. You can fix it! Lastly: write because you enjoy it, because God has given you that desire and that gift. It might not be what you're going to do with the rest of your life, but you can always bring glory to God with your talents, no matter what they are.
Thanks, Noah! And to everyone reading this, May the magic of good storytelling be yours!
NA: Thank YOU Amanda! It was great to have you! May God bless your writing!
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