Today I welcome my first guest to the brand new website! It is an honor to interview the award winning author of the Out of Time Series, Nadine Brandes. Her debut novel, A Time to Die, won the 2015 Carol award for Speculative Fiction and was nominated for several other awards. She is quite busy right now, as she prepares for the release of book two in the series, A Time to Speak, on October 16th. I'm excited to be a part of her launch team and I hope you all love A Time to Speak as much as I do!
Could you tell us about the genre you write in? And what drew you to it?
I write in the dystopian genre for readers 15-and-up. I was drawn to this genre because I wanted to show that hope can be found in Christ in even the darkest situations. Dystopian stories tend to be darker, oppressive, but I know that even Christ’s light can shine.I’m also passionate about writing characters that are relatable to both teens and adults, encouraging readers (and myself) to pursue life with more passion. :D
Speculative Fiction contains many elements that are outside of many Christians' beliefs. Specifically, magic, aliens, time travel, etc. What makes your genre Christian while it still contains these elements?
Well, this is a tricky question because my answer will be very subjective. I think a genre or a book is “made Christian” simply by the Christian worldview of the author. Our shared worldview has permanent threads of theology — like redemption, forgiveness, hope, grace — that will make its way into the stories no matter what type of world they might be set in. Speculative fiction is expanding the imagination. Creating worlds and things that might not exist. So the elements “outside many Christians’ beliefs” can often fall into that category. I don’t necessarily believe that aliens exist, but I’m willing to speculate in the novels I read and write about what life would be like (and how God might work in that life) if they did exist.
You're a self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd. Keeping with the last question, and being that you are a Christian writer, what is your take on the critical views of this series?
I think that books affect everyone differently. The struggle with books on “magic” come down to the core struggles that Christians tackle on different levels — like tattoos, or drinking, or…idol meat. :D Like in 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about how eating idol meat might make one brother stumble, even if it’s not a stumbling block for the one eating it.
That’s how I feel with Harry Potter. I understand that many Christians might struggle with the idea of fiction based around magic. I’m not going to push Harry Potter on them. But I don’t struggle with it. I personally do not think that the story is a slash on God’s Word. Just like with Peter, God said, “Rise Peter, kill and eat,” when referring to all the animals that were formerly unclean. We are under a new covenant with Christ, and I believe that many topics that were formerly “unclean” can still be used in fiction to glorify Him.
Reading Harry Potter inspired me to write speculative fiction and God used the stories in powerful ways to move my life in the right direction.
It’s not the case for many other readers. That’s okay. :-)
Maybe someday I’ll have the time to go really deep about this topic. [grin]
Parvin Blackwater, the main character in your Out of Time series, is a fictional character. How can a reader get real-life application from her story?
She struggles with a lot of questions I think we’ve all asked at one point in our lives: What is the point of life? What does it mean to have a relationship with God (and why would I want one)? How can we find purpose in our lives? Etc.
She works through these questions on her journey, and I think all readers can apply her struggles and questions to their own lives. My hope is also that, during her journey, the reader will find himself/herself questioning how they are living their lives. What would they do if they knew they had one year left?
It will change your life once you really dwell on that question.
It changed mine.
Who was your biggest influence as a writer?
There were three:
J. K. Rowling’s books influenced me to write speculative fiction.
Francine Rivers’ books inspired me to really pour purpose into my stories.
And then my mentor and friend, Jeff Gerke, helped me learn the craft of writing so I could channel the prior two influences into a book.
You've been locked away in a tower, waiting for your knight in shining armor (named Daylen) to rescue you. You can have only three books to help pass the time, and they have to be fantasy. What are they?
They have to be fantasy?! Now you’ve done it. Well…since I pretty much have Harry Potter memorized, I’d go with Lord of the Rings, the Blood of Kings Trilogy (by Jill Williamson) and….oh, all right….Harry Potter. :P
Same question, but now the books have to be sci-fi.
YAY! Okay, Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline), The Dark Trench Saga by Kerry Nietz, and The Martian. Only because I haven’t read The Martian yet and I want to. :D
Book two, A Time to Speak, releases on October 16th. Then we'll all be left waiting for Book Three. What can we look forward to after that?
Do you want me to share all my secrets? :P Well, I have a post-apocalyptic dual-universe book planned after the Out of Time Series. And then I’ll probably be diving into fantasy. :D
Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.