CBP: Can you tell us your Christian testimony?
Bryan>: I was raised in a home that would be considered nominally Christian, my parents let me go to Sunday School. They didnít go themselves, but were glad to drop me off. So I was raised knowing the Bible, learning all the stories, and pretty much thought I was a Christian. After going to college and getting married, trying to follow the Lord, I found out it really was more of a legalistic thing -- I was trying to obey. When I was 25 years old, I was reading in Romans 6 about dying to self and being baptized into Christ Jesus, and read, ďWhat shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin that grace might increase? May it never be!Ē So that was my life, a constant struggle. So I gave myself completely over to God and I remember that very day. Iíve had a life that is completely changed, just from reading the scriptures. I think the foundation I had through the years helped me to get there. God just never let me go.
CBP: I too, was raised in a Christian home, so I know what you mean.
Bryan>: Thatís something that I write about in one of my books: Children raised in Christian homes are often inoculated to the gospel. They get just enough so that they think theyíre Christians, but donít make their own surrender and instead have a second-hand faith. There has to come a time when they hit that crisis. I had to make my own decision for the Lord, and for some kids itís more difficult to do because they have to confess they never really had that personal, one-on-one faith. While a kid not raised in a Christian home knows that right away.
CBP: You used to be in the technology field?
Bryan>: I was a computer programmer for 20 years; my degree is in industrial engineering and went into computers. My fullest fun was being left-brained all day long and go home and write and be right-brained. I was a nice balance.
CBP: How did you transition to a full-time writer?
Bryan>: It was a difficult decision. I was writing, trying to get published for 8 years and never had much success. I had been writing articles, but I wanted to get some books done. I had an opportunity to sell my partnership in a business, and it was a good time to move. So I did that, and was living off those revenues in hopes of making the books go.
CBP: How long has the idea for Dragons in Our Midst been rolling around in your head?
Bryan>: A long time. My oldest son is 21 years old, and it was when he was 14 that I had a dream about a boy who breathed fire. Thatís all it was. I told my son James about it, who is a fantasy lover, and he said it was a great story. So we brainstormed the story, which has changed since then, but he wrote the original first chapter. He got bored with it, so I took over and revamped the story.
CBP: This story is the opposite of what you would expect, with the good guys being the dragonsÖ
Bryan>: There are some bad dragons, too. The dragon slayers are trying to destroy what they believe are demons, because dragons are the symbol of the devil in the Bible. So they have good reason, I donít want to make my villains unreasonable. In the book, the fact that there are bad dragons who do bad things, it is reasonable for people to think all dragons are bad. Thatís why in the book, Merlin wanted to transform the good dragons to save them. Through a miracle, I make it very clear that itís a miracle, they are transformed into humans. The dragon slayers get wind of it, and they chase them through the centuries. These two children that are born, are a little more obvious, and donít blend in as well because of their dragon traits.
CBP: You start the first book with the boy not knowing heís part dragonÖ
Bryan>: The boy didnít know because his parents wanted to protect him, that the dragon slayers never found him. But his breath got hotter and hotter and it became obvious, that his parents had to do something about it. He does find out, but in a difficult way that causes a lot of angst in his life. Later on, he loses his father and itís very painful; he has to resolve that.
CBP: Why did you decide to release this through CBA and not ABA>? Fantasy is so popular, even with Christian overtones it would do really well.
Bryan>: For a couple of reasons. The most practical is that I know CBA, know the people. My first non-fiction books were through AMG, so I had an in. The head editor at AMG came to my house visiting, and asked what else I was working on. I told him about this project, and he wondered why I hadnít mentioned it before. I said, ďYou donít do fiction.Ē He wanted to see it anyway, and he took it with him and gave it to an editor. That editor gave it to his son, and they wanted this book. They called me and told me they wanted it, and launched their fiction line (Living Ink) with this book. The second reason is that thereís so much fantasy in the secular market, I just donít think it would stand out. It would get lost, and the CBA needs this. Kids thrive on learning spiritual truths through stories. Millions of kids have loved the Chronicles of Narnia, and they teach wonderful lessons. So why doesnít anyone do it anymore?
CBP: I noticed youíre doing something really fun with this, and have started a club for readers?
Bryan>: Yes, itís called Dragons Club. I have a message board, and the ability to email me personally to ask questions. Thereís also a special patch to give out to Dragons Club members, and offers of new book releases. I want kids to know that if they donít understand something about the story, Iíll be there to help them understand it. Thereís some deep stuff in there.
CBP: What are some of the themes of the series?
Bryan>: Well, redemption is huge. The relationship between the father and the son is very damaged because of the revelation, and how he loses his father. In fact, when he finally finds out his dad is a dragon, he calls him ďthe dragon.Ē They start with a very loving relationship, and then you see how strained it is the rest of the way. The redemption is there because the father becoming a dragon again is being redeemed. Thatís what he was, and what he wanted to be. Being a human, to him, was a trapped condition.
Thereís also a tremendous theme on friendship. Billy and Bonnie are very close friends, but there is a prophesy that says someday they will be married, and they have to deal with that. Bonnie is a Christian throughout, and she knows she could never marry him because heís not. (Bryan> told me more about upcoming events in the book, but I wonít spoil it for youÖ)
Another theme is light, it is throughout bringing truth, exposing darkness, especially in the second book. Truth is what resolves the story. Obviously faith is another theme.
CBP: Do you have all four books written?
Bryan>: Iím on number three right now, but I have all the stories in my head. Book 2 will be released in October. Book 3 will be April 2005. If these are popular, then weíll do more with the same characters. I think theyíre very engaging.
CBP: What is the age group youíre targeting?
Bryan>: I found that well-read 10-year-olds are enjoying them. Normal readers would be 12 and up. I think anyone who enjoys Harry Potter will enjoy Dragons in Our Midst.
CBP: Whose writing do you like to read?
Bryan>: C.S. Lewis. Not just the fantasy, even the less-Christian stuff, Till We Have Faces is the best book Iíve ever read. Plus his science fiction Perelandra is great. Other people I enjoy are Harper Leeís To Kill a Mockingbird and Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. Did you know that Mark Twain wrote a book on Joan of Arc? Itís in my top 5 books of all time. On the back of his book he wrote it was his best work, and I agree. The reason I like that is that he portrays Joan of Arc in such a powerful way, and I like strong characters. Especially strong female characters, which is why I made Bonnie that way. Those are my primary influencers.
CBP: What do you have in the works?
Bryan>: Oh, I have lots of books ready to go whenever publishers are ready. Maybe AMG will pick some more up, weíll see.