INDIEpendence Day is a pay-it-forward event that spotlights independent authors in order to bring awareness to quality indie books, as well as help people discover new authors. The event runs from July 2 – July 5. I, along with 75+ other authors and bloggers are participating in this awesome event. Check out the Indelibles website for more information!
Today kicks off the INDIEpendence Day celebration, and I will be highlighting a book that I’m currently reading called The Poison of Thorns by Robert Dennis Wilson. This book is the first of The Dragon’s Back Trilogy. I discovered this book from a free summer giveaway which was showcasing fantasy kindle books written by indie authors. The cover of this book was what sparked my curiosity. I love Dragons, and was pleasantly surprised when I started reading that the main characters ended up living on the back of one! The blurb is also interesting. It speaks of a ‘good vs. evil’ theme, something most classic fantasy books tout. It’s refreshing to see more books about spiritual warfare, too. There are tons of allegorical references to Christianity (One was in the form of a song about the Gryphon and the Dragon and how mankind was cast out of paradise), but I think it’s done very well that the book can appeal to both a Christian and secular audience. The author manages to do this nicely without the story becoming too ‘preachy,’ which tends to turn many readers off.
“THE POISON OF THORNS: The Dragon’s Back #1,” by Robert Dennis Wilson, unfolds as an intriguing and action-packed Christian Fantasy with bards, dragons, swords, and mysterious black-robed villains lurking in the shadows.
Ten long years after the mysterious murder of their parents, two brothers have just been freed from incarceration in a prison-like orphanage. Against their wills they are torn apart and launched into separate quests against conflicting and dangerous forces. Independently they struggle to learn the truth and to resolve the unanswered cries for vengeance that have long consumed their lives with the poisoned thorns of unresolved bitterness. Finding themselves pitted against a strange and hostile world, overwhelmed with many questions; it becomes their individual obsessions to find the hidden answers and rescue each other.
Why were they locked away in that out-of-the way orphanage for ten long years, when they had living kin who would gladly have claimed them? Who are the sinister black-robed “Dragonmen” and what is their hidden agenda. And why are these blackrobes so interested in the two teenaged brothers that they would mobilize all of their considerable resources to possess them?
What is the significance of the shape of their isolated continent? Is it true that it appears to be a gigantic Dragon floating above the endless depths? What about the rumors that man-sized, almost invisible dragons are stalking their nights?
And finally, who are the mysterious followers of the mythical Gryphon? Why do they alone, of all the diverse peoples of Dragonsback, have the ability to swim in the dark bottomless waters that surround their land? And most importantly, who and where is that mysterious Swimmer; the man they both witnessed taking part in the drowning deaths of their parents? Is he still available… for retribution?
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT WILSON
RM: “What inspired you to write The Poison of Thorns?”
Robert: “The initial concept – a society living on the back of a dragon – was suggested to me by my oldest son, Joshua. But the inspiration came from a very deep hurt that my family experienced. My family of six were all committed to a home mission project that was going to send five pairs of families to different unchurched areas of the USA. We were nearing the end of an intensive six month training period and getting reading for deployment. Then, a “Christian Leader” who was not part of the project, but very well connected to those funding it, decided that we did not quite measure up to his exact standards of Christian orthodoxy. He had all of the funding pulled from the mission project and within 24 hours our “future” came crashing down around our ears. Six months later and five states away, we were still suffering under the spiritual weight of the bitterness over the way this Christian had destroyed God’s work. A wise lady saw our need and took us individually though Dr Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker, revealing the spiritual warfare dangers of holding onto bitterness. Years later, writing THE POISON OF THORNS: The Dragon’s Back #1 became a fantasized expression of the life lesson that God had taught us, in finding freedom in Christ from Satan’s Thorns of bitterness.”
RM: “Who do you see as your target audience for The Poison of Thorns?”
Robert: “Although my target audience is primarily Christian teens through young adult, in reality the Dragonsback Trilogy is pointed at anyone who has had to personally deal with bitterness. As will be revealed through the “outer story” there is also a focus particularly on those who have experienced abuse; the dark barrier that often prevents these victims from coming to the Savior, can be overcome through true love, prayer, and sometimes a story that shines a speck of light into that darkness.”
RM: “What sort of research went into writing The Poison of Thorns? How long did it take you to write the book?”
Robert: “This fantasy trilogy is the repackaging of a life lesson on Spiritual Warfare that the Lord burned into the lives of each member of my family over many years. After our victory over the tragic setback mentioned above, I spent several years involved in leading group Bible studies with people who were also afflicted. We dealt with cases involving demon possession and oppression and saw God move in mighty ways. After my son brought the concept to me, he and I brain-stormed for several months to build the society and the rules governing the lives of the peoples of Dragonsback. After Josh left for the Air Force, I wrote and rewrote the novel over the next sixteen years. What originally was supposed to be a single volume morphed into a trilogy as the characters came alive in my mind and almost wrote their own story.”
RM: “Some people may classify The Poison of Thorns as “Christian Fantasy” due to the numerous allegories presented, while others might disagree. What genre do you feel your book stands?”
Robert: “Although it is my desire to appeal to a mixed audience, I would have to agree that it is definitely a “Christian Fantasy”; I am dealing with Spiritual Warfare themes, so the battle between Good and evil is never buried too far beneath the surface. Yet I have striven to place those truths into a story that is both entertaining and engaging. The most amazing and rewarding thing about writing allegory is that you can poke tongue-in-cheek fun at almost anything, and then it’s up to the reader to find and unlock those hidden treasures within its layers of meaning. One of the most “Christian” aspects of the Trilogy are the bardic songs incorporated into the story; many of these are supporting passages of Scripture converted into poetic form, using the idiom of that land, as might be done by a missionary musicologist in a foreign culture. And, yes, I have written music for some of them!”
RM: “Was it your intention to write a book like The Poison of Thorns to appeal to both a Christian and secular audience? If so, what was your greatest challenge about doing that?”
Robert: “My goal in writing the Dragonsback novels was to help hurting people in a gentle way that would bring them to the spiritual healing found only in Christ. As such I was pointing at a need, not a label. People who have faced abuse or hurts at the hands of others, have found themselves burdened down by “the poison of thorns” – I needed them to see the toxic danger they faced by handling those weapons intended for their abusers. The challenge was to write to that need obliquely via allegory, but not to make the important truths so obscure that they would be overlooked.”
RM: “Do your other books follow a spiritual warfare theme like The Poison of Thorns?”
Robert: “Definitely! The Poison of Thorns is the first book of the Dragonsback Trilogy. Volume 2, My Brother’s Keeper was released in December of 2011. I am currently working on the final book in the set, Shoshanna’s Song.
I also have published the first novel in a four-book Science Fiction series: THE PLAYERS: Earth – The Arena #1. This story is apocalyptic in focus but also deals with strong Good VS Evil themes; the only problem is that at times it becomes very hard to tell which side is which. Science opened a crack into another dimension and a wise and powerful creature slips though to promise aid and to warn of a common enemy. This novel, although listed as “Christian Sci-Fi”, would find a much more favorable response in the secular market.
RM: “How difficult was it to publish The Poison of Thorns?”
Robert: “I attended Writers’ Conferences and sent letters with samples continuously until I had all but lost hope. I even had awards for my unpublished Sci-Fi novel and an agent for a while. If B&N and Amazon had not opened up free self-publishing, I probably would have turned away from ever writing novels again.
But there is another difficulty that few would take into account. FYI: to those who would attempt to write novels that expose the tactics of the enemy of our souls, do not expect it to be an easy task without spiritual, mental, and even physical opposition. The spiritual cock roaches [Satan is call the “Lord of the Flies”] don’t always flee when the light is pointed at them, sometimes they fight back.”
RM: “Are you planning to remain as an indie author, or are you looking to become traditionally published?”
Robert: “My plans are to remain an Indie Author, however I might succumb to the temptation of a major contract if one was ever offered.”
RM: “Any new projects in the works?”
Robert: “I am currently working on the final book in The Dragon’s Back Trilogy, Shoshanna’s Song. I also have three move novels to do in my Earth – The Arena Sci-Fi series, that are partially written.”
RM: “Do you have any writing, publishing and/or marketing advice to share for your fellow indie authors?”
Robert: “a) Attend Writers’ Conferences: they provide education, encouragement, networking with other authors, and a chance to meet with agents [and even publishers – though that never helped me!].
b) Get involved in a local critique group, if at all possible.
c) Read, Read, then Read some more. Critique what you read. What makes a novel good or bad in your opinion? How are plot and character development handled?
d) The next is just like the last – Write, Write, and Write some more! The way you perfect your writing skill is by writing. Sorry, there is NO shortcut. That is also the way you find your own unique “voice”.
e) Set up a Pinterest board with things that remind you of what you are writing about, so you can actually see what they look like! Find “their house”, clothes, faces, environment, tools, transportation, etc. Please visit http://pinterest.com/robtdwilson/looks-like-dragonsback-fiction-trilogy/ for an example, where I have reconstructed my entire Dragonsback fantasy realm with captured photos.
f) Do NOT try to imitate other authors. Find your own voice or style. Let who YOU are be reflected in your writing.
g) Always know the purpose or message behind the work you are doing. Understanding the message of a book not only gives you focus, but, if it is something you truly believe in, then it can also be a great motivator. If your goal is simply to produce a certain number of words, then your writing will soon stall under the weight of that burden; if, however, your goal is to convey a needed message, then that NEED will become your engine, the Message your fuel, and your Focus the tool that shapes and streamlines the vehicle of your design.”
RM: “How can readers connect with you?”
Robert: “Probably the best way would be via a private message on FB:
FB Author page: www.facebook.com/Novels.By.RobertDennisWilson
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/RDW-amzn
Web Site: www.robtdwilson.com