Saturday 30 May 2015

Devil's Pathway (DAWN: Warriors of Valor Book 1) by Vicki V. Lucas

"I force myself to live by one rule: Don’t look at the demons. The two times I broke this rule still haunt me. Tonight I made another mistake. As a huge demon leered at us, I couldn’t fight the urge. I looked. And he saw me. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Nothing happened as my aunt sped beyond it in the car. Besides, I only have one year of high school left. I’ll be fine. But I know exactly what could occur. I’ve seen it too many times. Two men lurked with the demon I saw tonight. Evil clung to them, as if they had given their souls in exchange for something else. I shudder when I consider what they could be. But do vampires really exist? With everything I've seen, I wouldn't be too surprised. Where are the good guys? If there’s darkness, shouldn’t there be light? How come the angels don’t battle the demons if that is the case? Or do they? Maybe there’s a war around me that I don’t see. I just want to be left alone, and after tonight, I don’t think that’s going to be a choice."

This young adult fantasy novel weaves angels, demons, and vampires into a thrilling adventure in which angels and humans wage war on demons and vampires. The action doesn’t stop as Nic, the main character, is forced into choosing which side of the fight he is on while both sides are desperately urging him to join their army. Devil’s Pathway is a Christian fantasy novel for teens who are ready to get serious about their faith. If you like Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" or novels by Ted Dekker, you'll like Devil's Pathway.

The Guru's Review: 

When I had read enough of this novel to be introduced to the characters and plot lines and themes, I instantly had a gimmick for this novel: This Present Darkness (Frank Peretti) meets The Last Werewolf Hunter (William Woodall) meets Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) meets the Bible! What do I mean by this? This novel has been influenced by This Present Darkness, where angels and demons fight over the affairs of the humans for good or evil; The Last Werewolf Hunter series involves a teenage boy who is prophesied to be either the destroyer of the werewolf existence or its saviour; the Twilight series where we are shown vampire folklore, hierarchy and way of life; the bible where sin is conquered and those who live in it are dealt with accordingly from a loving but just God. 

Devil's Pathway involves the same spiritual warfare theme as Peretti's, the fight over specific humans, in this case, the main character, Nic, to influence him to choose which side he will fight on, the demon/vampire side or God's. It also about a teenage boy who is prophesied to be a mighty warrior for good or evil and his own quest to find who he is and which side he should be on (similar to Woodall's novels). Then we have the vampires whose folklore and hierachy is similar to the Twilight series (but, I must stress, whose plot is not like the Twilight series in any shape or form).

Despite these similarities to these there books, I am by no means cheapening what Lucas has achieved here.  This novel stands on its own merits and despite having no influence from Woodall and Meyer's world building on Lucas, (my comparison, not Lucas'), she has created a wonderful world of prophecy, supernatural, mystery, intrigue, suspense, horror, spiritual warfare, faith, redemption and fantasy and sets them in a Christian/biblical worldview. It is very successful and not only does it highly entertain, but it educates the reader and its young adult audience (hmm, looks like there is still some young adult left in this middle aged reviewer!) in spiritual warfare, the existence of angels and demons and what their purpose is in relation to humans and God, sin and its eternal consequences, spiritual discernment, resisting temptation, repentance, forgiveness and living for God. 

I have not been able to put this one down and everything about it resonates
with me. Everything is balanced and in perspective. Lucas has not glorified evil, demons, vampires or encouraged the worship of angels. She has been very careful to adhere to biblical doctrine and her poetic license does not cross this line or compromise this at all. Some authors might find this difficult to do, but Lucas does this very successfully. I am very much in awe of this novel and very impressed with Lucas as an author. 

One thing that I found very intriguing about this novel is the inclusion of vampires. Angels and demons, yes, very used to them being essential to a spiritual warfare albeit Peretti-esque type novel  that this is, but vampires? I have only read one Christian novel involving a vampire and that was Blood for Blood by Ben Wolf concerning a vampire who never wanted to be such, and wanted to be free and accepted God's offer of salvation. That was treated well biblically. I also wanted to see how Lucas would treat vampires in this novel. I must say, she has developed this very well. She has successfully built their own world. They have a history (tied to a deserted and dilapidated mining town), they have a hierarchy, they have their own rules. Led by Henry and second in charge Liam, they are a force to be reckoned with. Here Lucas ties them in with the demons in that they allow them to exist but rule/lord it over them. Satan owns their souls. If they had their way, the vampires would be banished to Hell. If the vampires had their way, the demons would be subservient to them. Henceforth, the vampires want to be free of the demons rule and oppression and will seek whatever means to break this bondage. Hence, when Henry finds out about the prophecy regarding Nic, he sees how he could turn Nic into a vampire and with the fulfillment of this prophecy Nic could be the mighty warrior/weapon to assist them in overthrowing the demonic rule. As Henry states, 
We've evolved from human to immortal. We're on the same plane as them! And yet they think they're superior because they're demons.
On a spiritual level one aspect that I found interesting is the hint of salvation/redemption (and I hope is explored more in the next instalment) that one of the vampires seeks when he converses with Eli, the angel guarding Nic. Eli says to him, 
You think you lost your soul, but that's not the truth. The Devil is your Master. He holds your soul. It isn't lost.
I am looking forward to seeing what Lucas says about this theology when I interview here over the next few days. Seeing that there is no known (that I know of) proof that vampires exist, this could be interesting poetic license that she has included here and it really does make the plot interesting and exciting. It seems that this theology is very much alongside the same as that explored in the Blood for Blood novel mentioned previously. In other Christian fantasy, science fiction novels, authors have extended the salvation/redemption doctrine to the species (not human) of that world so in one sense this is not unique to this novel.

As far as the spiritual beings of demons and angels are concerned, these seem to be based on the biblical narrative. Her demons have a hierarchy, they cringe, and are hateful but fearful of anything to do with God, unrepentant. They are also hateful of humans but will use them for their own purposes, they especially hate Christians, and will do anything to derail their relationship with God and win them over to their side. Lucas' angels live up to their name (Hebrew, malach meaning 'Angel' or 'Messenger' Strong's 4397) and their function in the bible, messengers and warriors. They do not act on their own initiative, but only from specific orders from God. Their behaviour and attitude is out of total obedience, submission and love of God, or as they say in this novel, The King. 

Like Peretti, Lucas emphasizes that the strength of the angel's presence and power is in direct proportion to the prayer cover of the saints. The basis of this is that if the saints are praying for a specific cause, then God will respond with instructing His angels to answer this prayer, but that is only one way that He does this. He can and could smite the vampires/demons in this novel or in real life situations as He is Omnipotent but it seems to me, like Peretti and Lucas encourage, that He uses prayer (and His Word) to teach us to be obedient, trust, rely on, submit to Him and accept whatever answer He provides to the situation we are in or our fellow saints are in. 

Lucas is very masterful at portraying youthful characters. You know Nic, Megan, Matthew, and others are youth/teenagers by their dialogue and attitudes/behaviour. I really do appreciate this in an author, to be able to create, real like, characters that you develop a rapport with and whom you empathize. Such is the case with Nic, the main character. He comes across as complex due to the trauma he has experienced and the effects of his post traumatic stress disorder of seeing his mother murdered by his father and the demons that he saw encourage his father to commit this, and then witnessing the shooting of the school bully by his teacher. Coupled with this stress is the darkness the wells up inside him that is connected to him being able to see demons and his connection to the prophecy. I related to his emotions trying to come to terms with his loss of mother and recounting these events in flash back at strategic times placed by Lucas to show the effects of the darkness and his valiant attempts to control this in his own strength. What enhances the portrayal of Nic as this relational character is use of the first person narrative as it directly puts you alongside him so you experience what he does first hand. Makes it all the more credible.

Lucas writes well and has crafted this novel superbly. The pace in the first half is more than enough to keep you interested and wanting more and this escalates to be one really revved up machine by the second half and from here on in, it becomes one fast paced, intense and suspenseful ride with everything set in the first half coming to a head and it is here where this novel really shines and Lucas' skill is at her best. I was left panting at the end and on a cliff hanger as the ending leaves it very much open for an exciting second instalment where I reckon the reader is going to hit the ground running.

I was very impressed with the description of the fight scenes at the end between the demon hoard led by Blaise the demon, Liam the vampire second in charge, and the angels led by Malkiel, the angelic leader, together with Nic and Megan. The outcome of this is what sets the scene for a very memorable ending and setting for scene for the opening of the next instalment. 

I finished reading this novel, not just panting from this action packed second half but also from the total effect of this well crafted novel. Putting all the events together with all their interaction and connections, all I could say is WOW and WOW! 

This is up there with some of the best novels I have read. Vicki Lucas is one author that is in the top list of my favourite authors. I must find the time amoungst my review list and own books waiting to be read to read her other series, The Trap Series

Highly Recommended

Sunday 24 May 2015

Interview with Tiger Hebert, Author of Dragon's Fire (Beating Back the Darkness, Book 1)

I met Tiger Hebert when he requested me to review his debut novel, Dragon's Fire. I liked what I read in the synopsis so it came as no surprise that the reading of this novel was a wonderful experience. As with all new authors, whose books I review, I offer them an interview. So what follows is my interview with Tiger Hebert, author of a well-crafted debut fantasy novel. Tiger gives us an in-depth look at this world of Aurion he has created where Dragon's Fire takes place. Without further ado, let me handle over to Tiger. 

Welcome Tiger, thanks for stopping by to talk about your journey to published author and the world of Aurion. 

How about we start with you telling us a little about yourself?

Hello Peter! Thanks for having me.

Well, I am a thirty-something-year-old husband and father of three little ones. We moved a lot when I was growing up, but the majority of my upbringing was spent in and around the tiny town of Livermore, Maine. I am the oldest of four children, but my mother was only sixteen when she had me. Fortunately, my grandparents took a very active roll in my life from the beginning.

I was anxious to leave small-town life behind and took off right after high school. I tried college and a few jobs before I ended up in the United States Air Force. My time in the military, despite the frustrations and challenges it brought, was the birthplace of much of who I am today. It was in the service that I first began to write and it was also when I first met Jesus. Now eight years removed from my military service, I am just a regular guy with a day job, who spends a lot of late nights crafting fantastic worlds.

What inspired you to become an author?

You know, my story is quite ironic, if not comical. My grandmother tried desperately to share her passion for books and reading with me from a very early age. She was a very bright and articulate woman, and one of her greatest loves was the escapism offered through the many books she read. I, however, refused to read. I loved stories and Reading Rainbow was one of my fluorite shows, but I wanted no part of the actual reading. It didn't matter how many times she read Green Eggs and Ham or Bambi, I only wanted her to read the stories for me.

My family jumped through hoops to make sure they could buy me a Teddy Ruxpin, which was an impossible gift to find, hoping it would encourage me to learn to read. It didn't work. They bought me the fancy Socrates educational computer system. It didn't work. Nothing worked. Reading was very hard for me at an early age, and when I started school, I struggled. I really struggled so much, that I remember being put in the “special” classes. One year my family decided to put me into summer school. I had an amazing teacher who let us read about trolls and ogres and giants, and we did activities to make the books come to life. She made it fun, and it changed everything.

School became easier for me, and I started to excel. School forced me to start reading books for book reports. At an early age, I became a fan of Jack London, R.L. Stine, and Michael Crichton. Oddly enough, despite never actually reading any Tolkien or C.S. Lewis books, I fantasized about penning my own fantasy epic someone day. However, a fear of failure prevented me from ever moving beyond the first page.

Eventually, when I started writing in my early twenties, I told myself that it was only an outlet. I wrote lyrics and poetry simply for the purpose of expressing my anger and bitterness. It was sort of a therapeutic, private matter. However after some people discovered my writing and encouraged me, I began to share it. I was surprised how well received it was. There was a problem though, the writing was dark and bitter. After I surrendered my life to Christ, I realized that I needed to surrender my writing as well. So I made an oath to the Lord that I would not write again until I knew that it would honor Him. I kept my promise. I essentially stopped creative writing, for the next five-plus years. I wanted to write and I felt compelled to write, but I didn't know where to start and I feared that if I started, I would break my vow. The desire never left though.

In the latter part of 2011, the Lord began to burden with the fact that I was not using what He gave me. There were nights where He made me restless until I wrote something. I would respond with a simply psalm or the lyrics to a worship song and then I would go back to not writing.

Then in December of that year, I felt the Lord really challenge me. He basically asked me two questions. Who gave you the ability to write? Do you think I would give you that ability, and not want you to use it? I am sure He said it more eloquently than that, but you get the gist of it. So I told Him that I would try to trust Him, but he would have to guide me all the way because I didn't trust myself. I reaffirmed my desire to honor Him, which looking back was more my attempt to validate myself than to convince Him. Then I began writing chapter one, Fire on the Mountain.

You are a new author. How did you develop Dragon's Fire, by extensively plotting it out (plotter), or as it came to you (pantser, that you write by the seat of your pants) or was it a bit of both?

I started as a pantser. I had no idea what the story would be or where it would go. I wanted to have humans, orcs, dwarves, and of course it had to have at least one dragon, but the storyline was a complete unknown. The only actual plan that I had from the beginning, is that I wanted a lot of short, fast-paced chapters in the beginning so the reader would get thrown into the action right away.

I think I made it through about the first five or six chapters before I had a clue where it was going. Then without any great effort on my part, the Holy Spirit really began to just share an entire outline for the whole book and beyond. I was pretty blown away because I didn't know that Beating Back the Darkness, which was my original title, was actually a series. I thought it was a one and done type of deal, but that was not to be the case. So I furiously took notes creating mind maps of the general outline. Then I got back to writing.

I do really enjoy writing by the seat of my pants. It is fun and liberating, but I have found that sometimes it leads to a painful amount of rework and editing, due to the intricacies that I intend to weave into each story.

What obstacles did you encounter in this endeavour to write your first novel? How did you overcome these?

I think doubt and busyness were the two biggest obstacles. But the truth is, had I had more faith in what the Lord was calling me to write, I would have made writing more of a priority. I often struggled with wondering if I was wasting my time writing a story that no one would read, or that if they did read it, they would think it was rubbish. I tried to really trust that it was God who called me to write and not just my own desires, but it was a battle.

The writing itself was pretty easy, especially with that book, because it was my first one and I didn't know anything. I didn't worry about mechanics or rules, I just wrote. Now that I am learning much more about the craft of writing, I am being burdened by all of the nuances that I am trying to incorporate into my writing.

With Dragon's Fire, the only challenging part was creating the history of Aurion. As you know, Dragon's Fire touches on a multitude of historical events. Aurion's timeline dates back thousands of years, so making sure that the histories were congruent was challenging at times. Needless to say, I rewrote the timeline a multitude of times.

How has writing and being an author impacted your relationship with Jesus Christ?

Great question.

Writing has been a trust exercise in many ways, and I believe it always will be. I have had much bigger tests of faith in life, but there is something about writing that is a different type of trust. Writing like any art is very personal, even intimate. To share that writing means letting the outside world in and leaving yourself vulnerable. That is not an always an easy task, especially when you are writing about the very stone that the builders rejected.

Do you have a favourite genre that you read?

I do like to read self-help books about faith, marriage, and finances, but fantasy is my favorite. I do not get much time to read through so a single book can take me a couple months.

What do you like doing when you're not writing?

I love the outdoors! My children are young, so we don't take many adventures yet, but I look forward to days of camping, hiking, and fishing. I love to read of course. I am also a huge sports fan, especially American football.

What have you learnt about becoming an author?

Being an author is really about being an entrepreneur. You have to build a name for yourself that is unique in the market, and that is just as important as the books themselves. It is also a long-term commitment. While some authors do have success very early in their careers, I understand that the current averages suggest that it isn't until your 5th book is released that you can start to earn a living off it.

How long did it take you to write this novel?

That is a tough question to answer because I started writing it in the closing days of 2011 and did not finish until the early summer of 2014, but there were massive gaps throughout. Had I developed more writing discipline, I could have finished the manuscript in less than a year.

You write well. Have you always found this to be an easy feat? Some authors such as Tom Pawlik engaged in a writing course with popular and prolific Christian author Jerry B Jenkins before they wrote their first novel. What have done, anything? Would you encourage other budding authors to do so?

I have always found it easy to write. People have often said that I had a way with words, and to an extent, that has proven to be true. I do wish I had studied writing though. I have a degree in communications, but I would have been better served by actually getting some form of an English degree. So I am really trying to learn the mechanics of writing, especially grammar.

Now let's talk specifically about Dragon's Fire.

This is a fantasy novel and no surprise here seeing you have stated that you like reading fantasy and wanted to create your own when you were at school. In this genre and in that of science fiction, there is the need for world building, where an infrastructure is developed to enable the world of the novel to be realistic, believable and credible for the reader. You have created this very convincingly with those criteria present.

You have: 

· various species and their history,

· ancient prophecy,

· spirituality based on the bible and the gospel

· demonic oppression and possession

· supernatural intervention of spiritual beings

· The Chronicles of Aurion, a series of short stories that serve as a prequel to the Beating Back the Darkness series.

· basic ancient language, carvings and symbolism that ties in with the history and spirituality of the races of Aurion

Tell us how you achieved this and/or what influenced this creation. I bet you had fun in the process of this too!

It was a blast! Initially, I just started telling a story that about a place that I would love to experience. I wanted a world that was more than just a bunch of people that didn't like each other, I wanted a world that was rich history, language, faith, and conflict. So I just tried to carve out a little piece of the world one chapter at a time. The only challenge was finding a way to accomplish it in such a fast-paced story.

Some of my main influences aside from God were Lewis and Tolkien's works, the Dragonlance Chronicles, and the Warhammer, Diablo, and Warcraft universes respectively. I didn't necessarily want Aurion to look like any of them, but I studied some of the things that I felt made them distinctly their own.

When you wrote of the ramblings and musings of Jonus Quillbearer VII in the account of Here There Be Dragons, I was transported to another world as you were very successful in composing that in a totally different writing style to the rest of the novel to reflect it being written by the character of Jonus. I really wanted that book to continue. It also provided a unique way of providing the background of the dragons instead of including that as part of the narrative somewhere else in the story. As a new author, did you find it hard writing in another writing style?

I am so glad you liked it! I was equal parts proud and nervous about that chapter for that very reason. I actually wrote that chapter near the end of the book. I felt that there was an opportunity to give a little more backstory to the nature of dragons as they exist in Aurion and it gave me an opportunity to place Mr Quillbearer on center stage.

Once I decided to write the backstory, I knew that it really needed to come much earlier in the story, the problem was that our quirky friend Jonus had not been introduced. Fortunately, he is our resident historian, so the historical text made it a perfect fit. Writing it with a different style was easy because Jonus had such a unique and fun personality. The only tricky part was deciding how much to include and where to put it. Ultimately it felt that the most appropriate way was to allow the readers to experience Slayvin first, then offer some backstory later.

My favorite characters were Duncan, Dominar, and Mistress Kiriana. Can you shed any light on those characters? Perhaps their background, what you think of them, and why you depicted them as you did.

These were fun characters to create! Duncan, this wonderful learned sage, who has spent his entire life studying the various prophecies. I didn't want him to come across as Gandalf or Elrond, so I made him small and a bit silly in appearance, rather than grand an awe-inspiring. He's just a little old dude who happens to have a pretty tremendous amount of knowledge. I love that he knows these great things of God, but at the same time, he is so human that he can't help but be perpetually annoyed with Jonus's innocent exuberance.

Dominar is probably one of my favorite characters. I had a friend ask me if I Dominar was supposed to be a representation of me. Honestly, I was flattered, even though the answer was no. When I originally set out to write the story, I did not have any (conscious) intentions of having my characters representing myself or anyone that I knew, aside from the Frelsarine. Initially, my thought for Dominar was a dwarf that went against the common conventions. I did not want another Thorin Oakenshield or even a Gimli. I wanted someone unique. I wanted him to not only be fatherly, but even grandfatherly. I wanted Dominar to be a man of integrity. I wanted him to be loyal, kind, patient, and wise. But I wanted him to be able to have fun and to be able to laugh at himself sometimes. In short, he wasn't the man I am today, but the man I aspire to be someday.

Mistress Kiriana was one of the most exciting characters to write, especially early on in Dragon's Fire. She was actually the first character that I really saw. She is an amazing young woman, but as they say, it's complicated. One moment she is a fearless Master Slayer saving lives and serving up death like nobody's business, then the next minute she is quiet, timid, and unsure of herself. She is complex, for reasons that we only begin to understand in Dragon's Fire. I think she is a character that not only women, but men too, will be able to relate to because she is amazing, but more importantly, she is broken. What I hope people will be able to see with her (especially going forward), is that even though she is broken, she is still awesome. I think people need to see that, because it's real. We are broken.

I also found Kiriana to become one of the most intriguing characters in the story for an odd reason too. Once I started getting reader feedback, I noticed that most people were slightly disappointed with her role in the final battle. I won't spoil anything, but readers were hungry for even more of her.

Some authors who have portrayed the character of Jesus in their novels have found this to be a humbling experience while others refuse to include Jesus as a character as they feel they would not do His character justice. You have chosen the former. How did you feel developing His character, how He would act, what He would say? Do you feel the same way as those who have characterised Jesus mentioned previously? I must say that I was very emotional at your depiction of Jesus (Aneri'On) when I read this.

I think that is who Jesus really is, a person that stirs our hearts. I am honored that God would allow me to portray Him at all, and I am thankful that He helped me do it in a way that resonated with you, and hopefully many more.

I don't know that the word “humbling” was ever in my mind when I was trying to create Aneri'On, the Frelsarine, but it was exactly that. Perhaps for a different reason though. I knew that the Holy Spirit would not lead me astray, but I struggled with something else. The fact that the story is really centered around so many other characters, felt weird. It seemed like He should have been front and center from start to finish, and He wasn't. It felt like I was doing Jesus and injustice because we don't actually meet Him until so late in the story. I never felt the Holy Spirit leading me in a different direction though.

This debut and first volume in this series really does transport the reader into the world of Aurion with its rising tide of violence that is spreading across Darnisi, threatening to cast all of Aurion into war and chaos. You have created a richness and depth to the plot and characterisation. If this is our first taste of this series, you have set a high standard. What have you planned for the next instalment?

One of my brothers told me that I had set the bar too high for the first book in the series and he was worried that it would be hard to follow up. I must admit that I had the same concern at one point in time as well for one simple reason: Aneri'On.

The current plans for Beating Back the Darkness series spans a minimum of four books. The next instalment, The Halls of the Fallen King, picks up a few short months after the events of Dragon's Fire. No spoilers, but as our small group of heroes head underground into the Halls of the Fallen King, they discover a new world. A dark and tragic world of mystery and magic. While our heroes think that they are reaching the end of their quest, they discover that their journey is really just beginning.

In a few instances, you have a few of the characters speak in either a foreign language or an ancient language of their species. Are these languages entirely a creation of your imagination or are they based on existing languages?

The languages themselves were my own creations. I would love to actually build out those languages further, but I am not sure if or when that would happen. I just wanted to make sure that each language had its own sound or feel.

In a similar vein, are any of the character names created in this way?

The Frelsarine title was derived from the Swedish and Icelandic translations of Savior. The Swedish spelling is Frälsare, the Icelandic being Frelsarinn. Interestingly both languages have a different translation if you do not use savior instead of the proper noun Savior.

To keep with the Nordic theme, I wanted to give Aneri'On a name the seemed Viking-esque, but I couldn't find any names that I loved, so I created one. While I do like names with apostrophes, there is an added significance here because Aneri'On capitalizes the A and the O, to represent the Alpha and the Omega.

Most authors struggle with fight scenes and battle strategy/warfare. This, I presume, is the first time you have written these type of scenes. Have you had any instruction, advice or practice prior to writing Dragon's Fire? I ask because your fight scenes/battle strategies are convincing and add credibility.

Nope, none of the above. I have always been a fan of movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, Troy, and the more recent version of King Arthur in addition to the epic fantasy movies like LotR and The Hobbit. I also played a lot of these types of action games when I was younger, so I always had a pretty good visualization of various forms of combat, so this felt pretty natural to me.

In terms of the strategy, I am probably quite strange, but I often pondered how I would have built, defended, and sieged cities in ancient times. I understand that sieges were often wars of attrition more than brute force, but I always found that creative tactics and devices to be far more interesting, so I wanted to focus on those, while still making it believable.

As an unknown author, I realize that many people will be wary of taking a chance on my writing. I also understand that successful authors will repeatedly tell you that the best form of promotion is to write the next book. It didn't take long to realize that one (not all) of the reasons for this is that when authors release a new book, they generally start to give away one of their older books. This allows readers to take them for a test drive before committing cash. I am certain there is also a psychology behind readers trusting an author who has written five books versus someone with a single title under their belt.

I knew that The Halls of the Fallen King was going to take a while, so I decided to take a short break, and instead focus on a prequel of sorts, enter The Chronicles of Aurion. TCoA is a free series of short stories that will allow the readers to get a very small taste of the world of Aurion, or at least what it used to look like. The first story takes us to the old world continent of Antirri a little over 300 years before the events of Dragon's Fire. The series takes the reader through a series of key stops in history. It will not be readily apparent to the reader at first, but by the time the series has been completed, the reader will be given bits of backstory that actually helps set the stage for both books one and two.

From reading Christian fiction extensively, I believe that a Christian author’s writing should be a way of sharing his faith/relationship with God. I wrote in my review of Dragon’s Fire,

“If there is a glue that binds everything together in this novel, it is the spiritual aspects. Hebert does not hide his love of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is where his love of Jesus shines through and reflects his personal relationship with Jesus.”

I have a suspicion that this is why you made it very obvious and prominent the biblical themes/doctrines (e.g. forgiveness, salvation, repentance, God's agape/unconditional love, spiritual warfare, to name most of them) in the plot. Your thoughts on this? In stating the above, I am not implying that other authors who have not made these themes this obvious that this has any reflection on their relationship with God. There are many variables that would govern this in any Christian novel.

First off, thank you. I take that as a compliment of the highest regard. My first intention was to create a wild and exciting story that would honor God. I wanted it to be a story that Christians would feel comfortable reading, without feeling that they are compromising their faith. It was also really important that a person of a different faith, or no faith at all, could pick up the book and enjoy it. With that being said, I really wanted to write a thought-provoking story that would edify and encourage all people. I wanted to write such a story that prompted an internal dialogue for the reader. I would love for people to have a God encounter while reading this novel. With that being said, if it simply challenged them to re-examine life and things like salvation, forgiveness, and true love, then I have succeeded.

I mentioned in a previous question The Chronicles of Aurion. Tell us more about this and why you wrote them.

As an unknown author, I realize that many people will be wary of taking a chance on my writing. I also understand that successful authors will repeatedly tell you that the best form of promotion is to write the next book. It didn't take long to realize that one (not all) of the reasons for this is that when authors release a new book, they generally start to give away one of their older books. This allows readers to take them for a test drive before committing cash. I am certain there is also a psychology behind readers trusting an author who has written five books versus someone with a single title under their belt.

I knew that The Halls of the Fallen King was going to take a while, so I decided to take a short break, and instead focus on a prequel of sorts, enter The Chronicles of Aurion. TCoA is a free series of short stories that will allow the readers to get a very small taste of the world of Aurion, or at least what it used to look like. The first story takes us to the old world continent of Antirri a little over 300 years before the events of Dragon's Fire. The series takes the reader through a series of key stops in history. It will not be readily apparent to the reader at first, but by the time the series has been completed, the reader will be given bits of backstory that actually helps set the stage for both books one and two.

What take-home message do you want readers of Dragon's Fire or The Chronicles of Aurion to embrace?

The easy answer is that Jesus of Nazareth was and is still the Christ, our risen Lord. He is the God that loves his children so much, that He chose to taste the bitterness of persecution, betrayal, and death, simply to be with us. And that because of His unrelenting, undying love for us, that we are free to do just that. Some people will walk away from the book with that, perhaps it only reinforces what they already know.

For the people that are un-churched or just uncomfortable with “religion”, I hope that they walk away from this book with a new idea of what a hero is. I hope they see champions like the mighty Theros Hammerfist and fiery, kick-butt women like Kiriana and Sharka, but at the end of the day, they realize that Aneri'On is the real deal. He loved, he forgave, and he sacrificed everything for those who hated Him. That is what a hero looks like.

Anything else you would like to say about Dragon's Fire, The Chronicles of Aurion or the Beating Back the Darkness series?

The Halls of the Fallen King is a very exciting story, and I can't wait to have it perfected so I can share it with my eager fans. It will look and feel a bit different from the sprawling epic that is Dragon's Fire because the scope is narrowed in on a handful of heroes as they descend into the dwarven ruins of Duroc's Refuge. The great thing about the scope change though, is that it will allow us to get more intimate with our heroes. It also would appear at first glance, that book two should be small in nature because of the setting and premise, but I assure you that grand things are on the horizon, far beyond The Halls of the Fallen King.

When will Halls of the Fallen King, (Beating Back the Darkness, Book Two) be released?

I wish I had an answer. I hope to finish up TCoA in the next month. Once that is finished, I can return to writing The Halls of the Fallen King. The detour has been a bit challenging, simply because I can't wait to write it, but a lot of key historical elements got worked out during the writing of TCoA, so it was actually a very valuable detour. If I were to hazard a guess I would think that I could have the manuscript written in a years time, but the revisions and publishing decisions that follow can be rather time-consuming.

Apart from the Beating Back the Darkness series, what other storylines or genres are you developing?

The Beating Back the Darkness series is the only project that I am actively working on right now. I have a concept and brief story arc outline for a second series that would also take place in the world of Aurion. I have some conceptual fragments for a third series that could exist potentially exist in the same universe. Those are both fantasy stories. There is also a dystopian/fantasy concept that I am pretty excited about, but it could be a while before I get to it though.

I also have two short stories available on One is titled “The Thief's Vow” and the second is “The Assassin's Crowning Achievement”.

Where can readers find you?




Coming Soon!


Twitter (Dragon's Fire sample & TCoA)

Where can readers buy Dragon's Fire? 

Dragon's Fire will be released on June 25,2015, through:

Tate Publishing in printed and e-book versions: Tate Publishing/Dragon's Fire

and my online store: TigerHebert/Online Store

It will also soon be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

I am also trying to make it available on Books-a-Million, Kobo, and Google Play, etc., but I haven't gotten the word from the publisher on any of those yet.

Tiger, what a great interview! Thank you so much for introducing us to the world of Aurion, Darnisi and insights into your world as author. I am sure once readers read this interview they will want to investigate Dragon's Fire and look forward to the subsequent novels in the Beating Back the Darkness series and those in The Chronicles of Aurion. I have loved every minute of reading/reviewing your book and now interviewing you. You are one new author to follow and support.

Any closing comments?

Thank you. Thank you, Peter, for all your time and enthusiasm, and a big thank you to all the readers out there. Without you, we are just telling ourselves stories we already know. Also, I believe that enthusiasm is contagious. So for those that have enjoyed Dragon's Fire, please reach out to me. I love hearing what people have to say about the story, the world, that characters.