Ms. Larson, what inspired you to write Prophet?
Believe it or not, I was inspired by a snatch of a dream hit me just before I woke up one morning. A dark-curled young woman in a dim room, facing a glowing bit of a branch (vinewood). She was in trouble, and I couldn’t forget the image, no matter how hard I tried, and I did try. Ela’s story interrupted another book I was writing—a historical set in 1890’s Colorado, which I loved—and still love, though it’s still stuck in chapter eight!!!
I simply couldn’t believe I should write a fantasy novel, but Ela and the Infinite insisted.
When I read your book, I definitely got a feel of the Old Testament Prophets. Did they influence you in any way?
They did! Ela’s story drew me toward Jeremiah in particular, along with Ezekiel and Elijah. As I wrote, I prayed and studied the Prophets, trying to understand what they suffered—the risks they took—for obeying their Creator. Like Jeremiah, Ela questions her Creator, and complains to Him, which He tolerated. Evidently, prophets are permitted to complain or express frustration with their lives and situations, as long as they obey God. In all true and good relationships, there’s constant and healthy discussion, with plenty of love-secured freedom to express opinions. As believers, it’s good for us to see Ela’s Jeremiah-style give and take with the Infinite.
Also, when I studied the scriptures, I realized that the Prophet Elijah had a sense of humor—with a touch of sarcasm. Both useful traits that I tried to show through Ela. The humor and irony offset her bad temper.
Your description of the Infinite (who is a reflection of God) was moving. I remember reading Prophet on my kindle while exercising and stopping (reading, not exercising lol) to think about how often I don’t trust God the way I should. Did you have any personal experiences that influenced your development of the Infinite
First and foremost, from a very young age, I have always felt the Lord’s presence. No matter where I am or what I am doing, He is there. It’s both comforting and worrisome, that Presence. Yet I know I’ve had the freedom to make my own choices in life in every situation. Like any believer, I had to decide to follow Him. To listen to Him. To—for pity’s sake!—obey Him, contrary to my own stubborn, foolish wishes.
I’m not perfect.
Yet He loves me. He loves us! He is there. And He is faithful. Like many people, my family has felt the financial bite of recent hard times—with the fear and uncertainty of unemployment and wondering how we’d earn enough money to pay bills. Again and again, for two years, He provided in unexpected ways, silently saying, “Trust Me!”
We trusted and He provided. It wasn’t always easy, but it was truly faith-building! The tough times deepened my love for Him, and I think this love shows in Ela’s story.
When writing a fantasy-like novel, what are some roadblocks that you come up against? If any?
I’d never expected to write fantasy. I couldn’t believe it when Ela appeared and it became clear that the Lord intended to have me (me?) write her story. That particular mental roadblock took me w-e-e-k-s to shovel past. Once I settled my brain with the realization that I had to write a fantasy Biblical novel, I fretted over names, landscapes, cities, and customs. How could I possibly research an entire planet?
The answer was simple: I love reading and history, and I’m interested in many subjects, as well as Biblical customs and lore from Earth’s ancient civilizations. My reasoning was, and is, that the Earth’s elements—with a few variants—would be much the same on another planet. Also, people are people no matter where their “hometown” happens to be, and their struggles against natural disasters, wild creatures, and each other would reflect the struggles and fears we all face in our own lives. Therefore, I wrote from decades-worth of previous research, and from my knowledge of human nature, as well as ancient lore and the Scriptures.
When you designed the layout of this other world, is it all in your mind? Do you draw it out? How do you keep the details together?
I’m a visual learner and kept a map of this imaginary, unnamed continent in my head as I worked. However, a few months ago, my Bethany House editors and I decided I should create an actual map reflecting the lands in our series. The map, hand-drawn by brilliant eighteen-year-old artist Katharin Fiscaletti, is now on my website, with Katharin’s image of the…scaln! The map takes a few seconds to upload; we hope you enjoy it. J
When you created Ela, was there anyone or anything that inspired her personality?
Us. You and me. I see Ela as an average young woman beset with the usual mortal fears, faced with the challenge of a lifetime. It is Ela’s willingness to follow her Creator’s leading and to learn from Him that ultimately sculpts her character and gives her the strength to confront her enemies and her own failings.
We could each step into Ela’s sandals as she says, “…I’m not going to be of any use to You at all!”
Our Creator’s reply to us would be the same: You will. If you accept.
So one of my favorite people in Prophet was Kien. He had a great sense of humor and really compliments Ela. What or who (if any) was your inspiration for him?
I love Kien! The first time we see Kien, he’s approving of himself in a mirror. That’s our initial Kien in a nutshell. Nice guy. Charming and fun, but afflicted with a bit of mortal vanity and self-importance. From my authorly point-of-view, those traits inspired Kien’s character and the starting point for his own journey. I wanted him to be nice, charming, and fun, but in need of soul-polishing—and some serious shaking up, which causes him to rethink his world-view.
I’m really glad that book two comes out this year. Is there anything you would like to share about Judge?
Speaking of Kien…. Judge is Kien’s journey. Kien is sent away on a spiritual and physical adventure that will test every fiber of his being as he strives to follow the Infinite. Like the men in Judges 17:6, Kien must learn to seek his Creator’s will above his own in order to survive his adventure.
Naturally, I’ve thrown in a few Biblical-twist surprises, and I posted some visual hints on my Pinterest page:
Is book two the last book in the series or will there be more?
Book three is in the works! King should appear in stores and online next spring. I posted visual hints for King on my Pinterest page as well, but here are the first few sentences:
A salt-tinged ocean breeze lifted Akabe of Siphra’s gold-edged mantle as he paced along the edge of the royal terrace. His terrace—much against his will.
His people were insane. As for his Creator…. Well, mortals must revere the Infinite even as they wondered at His reasoning.
Why had the Infinite, not to mention Siphra’s people, made him a king?
And what in the name of peacetime boredom did kings do?
BLESSINGS, Embassie, and thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog!