Posted by: Deanna
Kaitlyn and I met Mr. Schiller at a homeschool conference in Plano and he kindly agreed to do a blog interview with us about the series of Christian fantasy books he’s writing. I own and love the first three books in his series (The fourth was recently released) and I have read them all several times.
Some Christians object to all fantasy, because they think that things like talking animals are magical and that any magic is bad. In these books, a talking animal would have to be possessed by a demon or something. One thing I really love about these books is that they really are christian books. They aren’t like Harry Potter where some people like to say that J.K Rowling used “Christian Ideals” and try to say that Harry Potter himself represents Christ. The biggest difference between these two series is that in one, witchcraft is glorified and encouraged, and in the other it is shown to be the vile and disgusting thing that God says it is.
When Kaitlyn and I sent Mr. Schiller this interview, I didn’t expect the deeply thoughtful response we got. So please take the time to read this interview, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
What kind of world view would you say is shown in your books?
I’ve never given much thought to my “World View”. I guess I didn’t even consciously know what a World View was until you asked the question. Writing Christian Fantasy one might think that the World View presented in my books would be different than the World View I hold for the real world. This is not the case. I view the world through a few simple parameters that color all my opinions, beliefs, and ideals.
First, I believe that without God as our guiding force, the world will tear itself to bits. Historically, one can observe that once a country loses its focus on God, that country goes into decline. I try to show this in my books and make it clear that it is not enough for individuals to commit to Christ; communities and Nations must do the same. Without that commitment man will fall by the way of familiar sins and weaknesses with a resultant decline in the community or nation.
Second, I believe that man must stand against evil. This is a common theme in fantasy literature and holds true in my personal views of the world. I have been a United States Marine and a Dallas Police Officer. I was drawn to those professions because of my desire to “stand in the breach” and make a difference by confronting the enemies of our nation and community. The old saying “Freedom isn’t free” is very dear to me. This not only applies to physical liberty, but to spiritual liberty as well. We must be bold in identifying those things that, though accepted by society, stand in opposition to our Faith. Tolerance, the mantra of many who wish to embrace every decadent whim of man, cannot be our defining philosophy. Unless we stand against the darkness, the darkness will overwhelm us.
Finally, I believe that through the efforts of individuals, sweeping changes occur. We can change lives with simple acts of kindness and changing the life of one person changes the world. Standing in the breach doesn’t always entail physical battle and sacrifice. Sometimes the most insignificant things cause the greatest changes, both for good and evil.
Some people might say that all fantasy is alike. How would you say that the fantasy you write differs from series like Harry Potter?
The basic theme of much fantasy centers on a group of good characters drawn together to battle a great evil. This is present in my books as well. But what is missing in most secular fantasy is a greater good, or, more to the point, God. So I have included the requisite good characters, the great evil they must fight, and I have attached the greater good that focuses and defines the efforts of the protagonists. You generally don’t see this in the fantasy genre. Additionally, my references to God and Iosa Christus (the Gaelic/Latin words for Jesus Christ) are literal, not allegorical or implied. I do not get preachy but there is no doubt that the main characters are trying, in their own flawed fashion, to follow God in their daily lives.
The heroes in my books will never use magic of any kind. The antagonists will use anything and everything they believe will give them an advantage, but for those who follow Iosa Christus, magic is not an option. Like the heroes in The Lord of the Rings who choose not to use the ring of power, so my characters choose to depend on the miracles/magic of God to help them in their efforts.
I do not use miracles as a convenient literary device. Miracles abound, but most often, as in the real world, they only appear miraculous to the individual who needed the miracle at the time. The reader is left to determine what is a miracle and what is not, just as the characters themselves decide within the context of the story.
What inspired you to write the Warrior of the Son books?
I have always been a writer. Since I was a young boy I have penned stories. But even when I wrote something that I felt was good in a literary sense, it always lacked a meaning beyond the words of the story. This series of books is my attempt to imbue the fantasy genre with a deeper meaning: the Glory and Love of Jesus Christ.
How do you think readers will benefit from your books?
First of all, the books are fun. They are filled with adventure, desperate battle, romance, fantastic creatures, and all the things that make fantasy books such an enjoyable read. Additionally, the characters are flawed, imperfect people, just like you and me. I present my characters as real people, not as idealized cut-outs. I think this lets the reader identify with the heroes as opposed to presenting an impossible ideal. Additionally, I attempt to make the villains (not the goblins of course!) sympathetic in some ways. I want the reader to at least understand what makes this character tick, even if in the end you don’t like what they do.
What kind of lessons do you try to teach in your stories?
The themes of redemption, mercy, and obedience run through much of my work. These are the anchors to the main characters. I also try to show the reality and consequences of standing against evil. There is always an element of glory in fighting for what is right and just, but there is a cost as well. To show only one side of this issue is a disservice to the reader.
Are any of the characters in your books based on real people? Would you say that your stories have any autobiographical elements?
Some of the things that my characters go through are based on personal experience. This is generally in an abstract way, since I have never fought a goblin or engaged in a real sword fight. However, some of the struggles experienced by the heroes and even the villains, are built up from a mixture of things I have observed, experienced, or shared with real life people.
The struggle for faith in the main character is an example. Much of what Evan MacKeth goes through as he runs from God mirrors my own foolish attempts to escape God’s Grace.
Do you have a favorite character in your Warrior of the Son series?
I suppose that I like the tragic, brooding, Anwend Halfdane the best, though he is by no means the central character. I am also rather fond of Martin Reamon. I have big things planned for both of those characters.
It is interesting to note that many of the characters I originally developed as nothing more than literary mechanisms have become fully fleshed out characters in their own right. Young Martin Reamon was never intended to play such an important role in books two and three and in the fourth book, “Fire from the Earth”, Bronwyn Villich, another intended mechanism, becomes in many ways, the central character in the book.
I like it when characters unexpectedly come to life. I treasure these developments like little jewels that I stumbled across within the words of the story.
Do you have a plan for the rest of the series?
I have an idea of where all this is going. That isn’t to say that it will get there. I have come to realize that often the story goes where it wants to go. I am nominally in charge of the direction, but I am often surprised where I end up.
How long do you think it will take to finish the series?
I plan on ten to twelve books in the series. It is difficult to estimate the time necessary for such an endeavor, but hopefully I will not make my supporters wait too long on the remaining volumes.
And finally, do you have plans or another series after this one?
I am considering a prequel to the current series covering the adventures of Julian Antony Vorenius before he meets Evan MacKeth.
Kaitlyn and I are excited that Mr. Schiller is thinking about writing a series about Julian. He is one of my favorite characters in the books, and it will be fun to find out more about him.