Imagination and the creative process are really quite interesting and mysterious, at least with respect to my writing. When I write, I typically start with an image or a series of images. This is very like the process C.S. Lewis describes that led to the writing of The Chronicles of Narnia.

For Bethany’s Tale, very early on I had an image of one of the scenes near the end of the story. So all I had to do was figure out what happened up to that point – easy right? Even there, though, as I worked through the story, various characters occasionally showed up in the story, uninvited. One of them was Mutari. It turns out, he is particularly important in the third book in the Emradon series, Kateri’s Tale. I’m not sure why he showed up in Bethany’s Tale, but so it goes.

What I often do when writing is sit back and think about what will (or what I think should) happen next. Sometimes it goes along the lines I expect, but other times, the characters seem to decide to go off on their own. Inspiration, in these cases, really does seem to come from outside. This is why the ancient Greeks believed that the Muses (goddesses and daughters of Zeus) inspired them in the arts and sciences.

Possibly the most interesting part of this is, when I am imagining what comes next, there may be one or more possibilities, but they typically sort themselves out until one just seems right. I occasionally go down a wrong path and have to back up, but that happens less often than you might expect.

Imagination – mysterious, but fun.


Bird Confession

If there seem to be a lot of birds in Bethany’s Tale, I have at least one good reason. I am an avid birder. For many years, I have enjoyed finding and seeing birds of every sort. The nice thing about birding is that it has a level of intensity for everyone, from casual birder to fanatic. I will freely admit that I tended toward the fanatic for many of my earlier years, but now I have settled down to just-shy-of-fanatic.

It was not uncommon for my wife and me to travel all night to get to some place where a rare bird had been reported – in a few cases, a true wild goose chase. But, there is nothing like going to that sort of trouble and then actually finding the bird. In one case, we were able to see a bird that had never been seen in the United States before. And, as a bonus, there are few better ways to get to know someone than traveling many miles together in a smallish car.

Perhaps the best part of birding is that it never gets old. There are constant opportunities to get better looks at birds only glimpsed on previous occasions. Many birds are stunning in breeding plumage and even the dullest birds often have fascinating behaviors. It is a great hobby, and one that I plan to continue to pursue.

Why I wrote Bethany’s Tale

From time to time over the past many years, I have had a fair number of ideas for stories.  In each case, they started out as an image or a series images of events.  Sometimes I would amuse myself by thinking about how some of the rest of a story might go.  But I never really worked at “birthing” the stories.

Over those same years, because I have some wonderful friends, I was privileged to be asked to be Godfather to five lovely young ladies. I have a sixth “bonus” Goddaughter, as my wife is Godmother to her (and we live in a community property state). All of them have grown up much faster than I could ever have imagined.

Twenty one years ago I had the brilliant idea that I would write each of them a story. I got the idea from C.S. Lewis’ dedication in the first of the Chronicles of Narnia – the real first one – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. At the same time, I also wondered what would happen if a series of stories took an imagined “next step” from the world of Narnia.

So twenty one years ago, I started Bethany’s Tale. I wrote fast and furiously and probably 70% of the current story is substantially what I wrote then. However, life intervened and I stopped writing. Then about a year ago, the Spirit prompted me to pick up Bethany’s Tale and really finish it. The result is Bethany’s Tale as it exists today. There are five more of The Tales of Emradon to come.

Please understand, I have the utmost respect for C.S. Lewis. I think he is one of the best writers and certainly one of the clearest thinkers of our age. I believe his Chronicles of Narnia will be around and popular long after we are all gone.  His more scholarly works will be studied by great thinkers from this time on.

It is important to say that, Lewis’s work was an inspiration to me (just like George MacDonald’s works were an inspiration to him). But, Bethany’s Tale does not, nor will any of the following Tales of Emradon, have any characters from, or connection with Narnia.

I don’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine that my story is in the same category with anything C.S. Lewis wrote.  But, I do love a good story, especially a fantasy, and if it affords anyone pleasure in the reading, then I will consider it a success.  It was certainly fun to write.