pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: Guest Post: John Stacy Worth and His Novel and Series, Moonshine Mage, (Southern Sorcery, No 1)

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Guest Post: John Stacy Worth and His Novel and Series, Moonshine Mage, (Southern Sorcery, No 1)

Today, I welcome back a previous author, John Stacy Worth, to talk about his new novel and series, Moonshine Mage (Southern Sorcery, No 1). I will be reading and review this during the week. 

If you like Christian fantasy, young adult, or coming of age themes in a novel, then this series is for you. 

So sit back and let John take you into the background of this new fantasy world of Souther Sorcery. 

Thanks for stopping by, John. Over to you!

First, thanks to Peter Younghusband for his fantastic blog and for, once again, giving me the opportunity to guest post. Peter was kind enough to introduce me to his audience on the first day of this year after the release of my trilogy 'The Grace Finder Saga', (to see that post, click here), and now that I've started a new project he's invited me back for a post on that. I'll start with a short re-introduction of myself and then move onto my new project.

My name is John Stacy Worth, and as I stated in my previous post here, "I'm a beloved son of God and a grace embracing artist, author, husband, father, friend, and family man. As for the type of books I write, I describe it with the tagline “This ain’t your mama’s Christian Fiction.” Which means the subject matter leans more toward speculative fiction (a fancy term for science fiction, fantasy, and any assortment of weird mashups). I don’t write or make art exclusively for the Christian market, but neither do I exclude my brothers and sisters."

But enough with the overt self-reference. 

As a reader, I've always loved the fantasy genre. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, medieval fantasy, YA fantasy, you name it. I also love living in the southern United States. And while urban fantasy really speaks to me, I haven’t found much that takes place in settings with which I’m personally familiar. (And of course, the setting is a big part of the appeal for that genre.) To bring magic into a modern setting and have elves, fairies, and dragons interact with modern day characters is just so awesome! I love those kinds of stories. 

But I wanted to see a fantasy with at least some of its setting in the south. And in the country, since I don’t live in a big city. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to visit large cities. New York rocks and I had a blast in San Francisco earlier this year. But what I know and love are the small towns of Georgia.

I’ve spent a lot of my life in the Georgia backwoods, on its rivers, and even deep in the swamp. I grew up swimming and fishing in creeks, doing farm work every summer, and rode to town in the bed of a pickup truck back when kids still could. It was a great place to grow up, is still a beautiful country, and is where my wife and I are raising our children today.

So, with that as my personal experience, I decided to write the urban fantasy series that I was looking for. Only it isn’t quite urban fantasy is it? So what should I call it? Rural fantasy? There is a sub-genre of fantasy called gas lamp (aka gaslight fantasy), but that's not quite right either. Backwoods fantasy? Rustic fantasy? No matter, I decided. I would hit the tropes of YA urban fantasy but do so with a certain southern flavor.

To genre-blur things further, as always my worldview has a heavy influence on my fiction. It's something I refuse to excise from my writing. I talked about it in my previous guest post here. I also put it in my author notes of my new series this way:
"... the inclusion of God in my fiction. I know there are many who find the Christian faith offensive. I also think they probably have very good reasons. But here’s the thing: I believe the way Christianity is viewed would be much better than it has traditionally been if more attention were given to folks who are true followers of Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus...)"
I mean, if my grandma (all us grandkids called her Mema) could’ve been given the same sort of media coverage as the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church (you know, the hate group in Kansas), then the world would’ve seen that God loves everyone. She lived a simple, beautiful life. I don't recall hearing a cruel word come from her mouth about anyone. She spoke only kindness and love. The next time I see her, I expect she’ll shine brighter than the sun, clothed in outer glory to reflect what she carried inside while still on Earth.

My own ideas about God rarely align with the ones I see in movies or in books. “The Shack” by Wm Paul Young came close, but not much else has. I think of God as Daddy. I have for years, and often call him that when we talk. I also know he relates to people as a Mama. “How I longed to gather you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks…” (My paraphrase of scripture).

All that to say, I don’t depict my characters as faithless. Lots of folks believe in God and so naturally that should show up in fiction. Personally, I can’t separate my faith from my fiction. It colors my worldview considerably. ...The story actually explores deep questions of faith. But my main goal has always been to just tell a great story."

And there I go quoting myself again. Oh, the humility!

But Christian or not, any artist's worldview will show up in their art. It's inescapable. I'm also keenly aware that the primary goal of a fiction author is to entertain. To keep readers turning the page. So I write to entertain, but also to edify. To express myself and exalt Truth.

With my new series, I knew my books would be an expression of the ultimate struggle of good versus evil. Many books in the Christian Fantasy genre do this via allegory, and I'm sure there are allegorical elements in my current series that can be inferred by the reader. But my desire was that the characters not be stand-ins for Yeshua or the events to directly correlate to Biblical ones. What I wanted was characters that were aware of Christianity, and therefore Christ. Some would know Him personally, while others would be agnostic, unbelievers, or outright hostile toward Him. 

My main dilemma, since I'd be dealing with elves and other elements of folklore, was how to answer such questions as,
  • Would elves and fairies know about God? 
  • Would a Wizard acknowledge Jesus as Savior? 
  • If Jesus died for the sins of mankind, what effect (if any) would His sacrifice have for someone born in another realm? (To see how I dealt with these questions, I invite you to read the books, as the answers are too complex to delve into here.) 
But back to the topic of the series itself. Since I was planning multiple books, I also needed a title with which to link them. Once I realized my main character would be an elf/country boy and would wield an ancient, flaming sword (yes, THAT sword), it hit me: 

This wasn’t quite Sword and Sorcery I was preparing to write. It was Southern Sorcery! And thus was born the series title: Southern Sorcery

Once I had that loosely in place, I decided on a title for the first three books: Moonshine Mage, Outlaw Oracle, and Sword Slinger (with more to follow). I'm planning to release them closely together, but right now it's book one that's out there. Here's the cover:

And the link to the Amazon page: Moonshine Mage (Southern Sorcery Book 1)

That cover, by the way, is by an artist who lives in the Philippines. The young man's name is Christian Bentulan, and he does excellent work at a very reasonable price. He also happens to be a follower of Christ and uses some proceeds from his art to support the education of students that are victims/abused by their parents, and orphans. (You can see his work at

Although there are a few controversial things inherent in these books, there are some things I took great care to steer away from. First, though I’m southern and proud of it, I don’t want the rebel flag on the cover of my books. I won’t go into all the reasons, but I will say that I have folks I dearly love who take offence at what that flag means to them and how it’s been used in the past.

That said, I don’t want everything associated with the Confederacy removed from American society. Nor do I remove it all from my books. The Civil War is a part of United States history and is mentioned in my series. My hometown is in Jeff Davis County, Georgia. I was born and lived the first 18 years of my life there. It was named after the first and only President of the CSA. You just don’t get much more southern than that. 

But I hate stereotypes. The dumb hick depiction of southerners in American mainstream media prevailed for years. Some of it was in jest and good-natured fun. Other times there was a tangible negative bias and it showed. If you’re from the south you can often tell the difference. But even then, you can’t always tell. So I try to give the benefit of the doubt when I can. I also try to keep it from creeping into my own fiction.

But I’m sure I fail at some point. Some could argue that Cletus (the Wizard in my series) is a stereotype. In some ways, maybe. But take care not to judge him prematurely, because he is intentional in much of what he does and how he acts, even if it doesn’t seem that way. The old swamper ain’t stupid. Just a little out of step with the times. 

Another thing that's somewhat controversial (at least here in what we call 'The Bible Belt'), is the mention of alcohol in the very title and the fact that the main character is "a 7th generation moonshiner". This is repellent to some Christians, and to folks who struggle with alcoholism, which I understand and am sympathetic to. 

But again, it's a part of the sub-culture I wanted to write about. My aforementioned grandmother, for instance, lived on Hatton Still road. The dirt road (which I believe is finally paved now) was named for the fact that there was a moonshine still located down that winding path, which was owned and used by a man with the name 'Hatton'. It's also where I drew inspiration for the last name of a few of my main characters.

And should you decide to read Moonshine Mage, you'll discover this isn't ordinary alcohol we're dealing with. The distillate in my series is also called "Uisce Beatha", loosely pronounced Wishgebah, which is where the word "Whiskey" comes from. It is also Gaelic for "Living Water". Once I discovered this, I was set on that title, as I saw it as a confirmation from God. I mean, Living Water! This would be a healing elixir. Powerful in the right hands, but deadly in the wrong ones. 

And here’s the second controversial thing (Yes, I'm sure there's more that I'm oblivious to, but oh well): There are times in my books that some of my main characters actually use profanity. Gasp! This is going to offend some of my Christian readers. But I’m okay with that. 

Now does it seem strange that I try not to offend one group (by keeping the rebel flag off my covers) while using words that will offend others inside the pages? 

I look at it this way. My books aren't for everyone. But if I have truly co-labored with Christ, as I've prayed and always intend to do, it will find the audience it is written for: people who love fantasy set in modern times, which is populated with characters who either do or do not have a knowledge of God, and who use the words of our language to appropriately express their feelings or intentions. More to the point: people who need to hear what this story has to say.

Mind you, I don’t pepper the pages with salty speech. The profanity is sparse, but it is there. A Green Beret about to engage an enemy is not going to say, “Let’s go kick his buttocks!” But I think I’ve made my point.

If not, oh well, you can’t please everybody. But that’s okay. In fact, it's unavoidable. Still, as the apostle, Paul said, 
" When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can." 1Corinthians 8:22, Contemporary English Version.
Maybe this is a fine line I'm trying to walk. But I'm willing to try. At any rate, I believe many readers will be highly entertained by what I’ve written. And I pray there are those who will find life within my words. 

My Southern Sorcery series has been released exclusively on Amazon. The books in my Grace Finder trilogy can be found at various online retailers (book one of my Grace Finder Saga, Remnant, is permanently free; I also promote my fiction at Fiction Worth Reading and offer book two of my trilogy, Reprobate, for free when folks join my reader's group.

Here are a few excerpts from book one of my new series. The first is from the POV of an elderly tutor named Shekinah, her view of the main character:
"Sometimes the boy could be so... stoic, and somehow far-away. Something of a daydreamer she supposed, but there was a sadness in him too. Not exactly loneliness. But an aloneness. As if he were the only one of his kind in the entire world."
Talk about writing what you know. Sheesh! As I read that again, I realize how much of the coming-of-age aspects of this story reflect my own teenage years. (Thank you Yeshua, for meeting me during those hard times!)

Here's another of my favorite passages: 

It's part of a conversation between Elijah Hatton, the main character, and his adoptive father, Joe Hatton. They are in a graveyard, about to dig something up. Joe is speaking:
"Well there's crazy and there's downright morbid. We ain't here to disturb the dead. Pay respects and get what we came for, that's all we're doing."
I'm not sure what it is about those few lines that I love. Maybe it's because they encompass the no-nonsense approach of Joseph Hatton. Anyway, there's my spiel on the new series. Here's the blurb as it appears on Amazon:

Can a Moonshiner save the Multiverse?

A scoundrel with a heart of gold, Elijah Hatton wants revenge. Armed with a 12 gauge, an unpredictable flaming sword, and moonshine steeped in magic, he sets out to reclaim a kingdom. 

But will it be enough?

For 15 years, the Southern backwoods were home. Until a midnight confession of truth—Eli’s an elven prince from another dimension, where a Warlock killed his parents and enslaved his people. 

The Warlock’s one mistake: he didn’t kill Eli.

Rescued by a Green Beret, Elijah has raised a 7th generation moonshiner. Taught to hunt, fish, and live off the grid, his life is straight out of a country song. 

But the Warlock Xal is keenly aware of the Prophecies, and senses the return of ancient magic, which marks the dawning of a long-awaited age:

The Time of Reckoning — when the doorways to other worlds are reopened. And all that’s needed to enslave every realm is a certain elixir, a holy relic, and the blood of an orphaned Prince.

Thus the showdown begins: They’re tracking down Eli, while he’s gunning for them. With the fate of the multiverse caught in the crossfire.

Elijah Hatton: Elven Prince by birth, Southern by the grace of God!

In all, I currently have five books out, with two more set to release soon. My one stand-alone book is a short story collection. It was released as "Transdimensional Detours", but that title has changed to "Weird Winds". 

The price for that collection has also dropped to $0.99. I plan to keep it there for as long as I can. There are 8 stories averaging 5000 words each. As I often pitch that book, "Picture this: a cool Fall morning (or evening) curling up with eight intriguing tales and a warm cup of coffee. Inside these pages, you encounter aliens and endangered species, moonlit swamps with sacred dragons, a time travelling physician, a drug-dealing artist haunted by visions of his past and possible futures, an island filled with historic ruins and ancient magic, a vampire beguiled by an ageing herpetologist, and much, much more.

If you've bought 'Transdimensional Detours' before, then give this a pass, as it is indeed the same book (which I clearly state on Amazon). Otherwise, you can purchase Weird Winds on Amazon here

Thanks again to Peter affording me the opportunity and honor to promote my work here. I appreciate it tremendously. He truly is wonderful and awesome! Thanks for being a supporter and much-needed advocate for Christian authors and an invaluable resource for readers. May your tribe ever increase! (And, as I said before, Peter, if you’re ever in the States, look me up. I definitely do live in the middle of nowhere, but I can show you some astounding swamps. No crocs as large as you have in Australia, but more alligators than you can shake a stick at. You've got us beat on venomous snakes too, but my neck of the woods contains representative species of all four natively venomous snakes found in the U.S. But maybe everyone doesn't love reptiles like I do.)

Peace everyone. I’ll leave you with a few more links where I can be found:


John Stacy Worth 2018

John, having now delved into the background of this series, I am looking forward to reading this now! Thanks for whetting our appetites for this series. 

John, I will definitely take you up on your offer if I do visit America! Thanks for the kind invitation! You are always welcome to post on this blog of your upcoming novels. 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian inspirational, fantasy, young adult, coming of age, to consider reading Moonshine Mage and the other two books in the series, when released, and submit a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (or any other social media you subscribe to).

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