I wrote many fantasies before I wrote Bell Mountain and its sequels. None of these got published. I won’t say these books were worthless–if nothing else, they were practice for me as I learned my craft. But they all had one fault in common.
None of the fantasy worlds I was writing about offered the reader any compelling reason to believe in them. They were just… well, just there. They were, none of them, in any sense true.
In Bell Mountain I did something different. I presupposed that the world I was writing about was real: created by the same God who created our world, and who reveals Himself to us in the Bible. Therefore the same laws of righteousness, the same laws of nature, had to apply to the fantasy world as they apply to ours.
At the same time, the fantasy world, because it is a different world, had to follow its own arc of history. For instance, the fantasy world’s Medieval Period comes after its Modern Age, not before. And in the fantasy world, God has done a few things differently. The fantasy world has yet to meet its Savior, although a few of its prophets have hinted at His coming. The Day of Fire, which ended that world’s Modern Age, is analogous to the Great Flood of the Bible. In the historical period in which the action of Bell Mountain takes place, God is shaking the world–not to destroy it, but rather to liberate His Word from its captivity in the spiritually dead Temple of Obann, so that it can spread beyond the borders of Obann into the Heathen nations.
To do this, I have to steep myself in the Bible. The work also requires much prayer and meditation. And I trust the theological brains at the Chalcedon Foundation to set me straight if I run off the rails. Happily, they have not yet had to do this. Finally, I avail myself of input from theologians like R.J. Rushdoony, D. James Kennedy, and others, and non-theologians like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others. Great Christian writers are a source of inspiration to me.
What I receive from all this is a fantasy world which is not just there, but has a reason for being there. Because the story is rooted in the Bible, the story becomes, even though it'[s fictional, true: not in a strict allegorical sense, but in terms of its message.
This, by the way, is why it takes me so long to come up with a new book in the series.
And the lesson is, boys and girls (note I don’t say “purple penguins”), that in order for the fantasy to have power… it must be true.
Truth is bigger than the writer; and if what the writer writes is true, then the writer, as far as the reader is concerned, has disappeared. Because what matters is not the writer, but truth; and the truth is of God, and comes from God.