A few months ago, I was struck with a sort of spiritual dilemma. Way back in 2007, when I started writing my first book, I had one goal in mind: to use writing as a ministry for God. I wrote my book The Djinn, but wasn’t satisfied with it, so shelved it before tackling my second book Primal Thirst. Both books are decidedly ‘Christian’ in nature. But upon pursuing my third book, I felt a need to diverge to some degree. To not be so overt in my Christian themes. After all, I wanted my writing to appeal to a far broader audience. From that moment on, my books varied in just how much “Christian” content was explicitly used (though all of them could be considered ‘family friendly’).
But as I was saying, a few months ago, I had a strong pull back to Christian fiction. A strong desire to return to my roots. To reveal God in my stories. And this draw led me back to reading Christian fiction in general. It used to be a genre that was a staple in my reading palette, but with the exception of one or two authors like Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti, there just wasn’t enough stories out there that sated my need for a riveting yarn. Fortunately, in recent years, that seems to have changed with a veritable cornucopia of amazing authors writing within the wide spectrum of Christian speculative fiction. My reading list, in these months, has grown to ridiculous proportions and at my slow reading pace, I’m pretty much set for the next year in new books to dive into and new authors to explore.
One of those authors that I’ve recently discovered is Morgan Busse. Like Paul Regnier from last week’s blog, I discovered her while perusing Enclave Publishing’s website. You all know how much of a book cover aficionado I am, and just one look at one of her covers told me I needed to start reading her stuff.
Here’s her bio for your consideration: Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, the award-winning Soul Chronicles, and the Ravenwood Saga, a new fantasy series from Bethany House coming 2018. Her debut novel, Daughter of Light, was a Christy and Carol Award finalist. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel.
Well, thankfully, I’ve recently become acquainted with Morgan and just knew I had to introduce her to you guys. She graciously agreed to an interview in which she discusses her books, future projects, and writing in general. Take a look!
1) I’ll admit…the moment I ‘discovered’ you while looking on the Enclave Publishing website and happened upon the cover art for Heir of Hope (Book 3 of Follower of the Word series). That cover floored me. Looked exactly like the kind of book I run headfirst into. So, I ordered Book One (Daughter of Light) and it is now next on my To-Be-Read list. Tell us a little about this series. What is it about? What are some of the inspirations for it? Tell us about some of the characters we’ll meet in the series.
I never dreamed about being a writer, but my husband always thought I would make a great one. So, he encouraged me over and over again to start writing. Then on a trip to Seattle, I had this idea about a woman who—when she touched a person—could see inside his or her soul. The moment we arrived back from our trip, I got on my computer and started typing. Ten years later and lots of rewrites, Daughter of Light was released by Marcher Lord Press.
When I write, I ask the hard questions. So when I wrote the Follower of the Word series, I asked what it would be like to see a person’s soul, the same way God see’s them. Why would God give a gift like that? And what would you do with a gift like that? I also wrote about four very different characters: Rowen, the woman who can see inside people and carries that burden, Lore, the man who has to make hard decisions, Caleb, the assassin who cares only for himself, and Nierne, the scribe who struggles with her faith.
Ultimately, the series is about what it means to follow God. Sometimes I think we as Christians associate following God by what we do—go to church, go to Bible study, live morally good lives. And those are good things, but anyone can do that. But following God is more about who we are, not what we do. We are new creatures in Christ, with a new heart, who aren’t perfect, but still walking the path God has laid out for us. That is what it means to follow God, and that is what I wanted to write about.
2) You also write a steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles (Book 1: Tainted, Book 2: Awakened). Same question as above. Tell us a bit about the series and what readers can expect from it.
I am fascinated by the verse in Ephesians that says we were once dead in our sins. In a science fiction sense, we are zombies. Moving, breathing, but still dead. I wanted to explore the idea of what it would be like if we could feel our souls dying within us. How would we react? How would that change us? What extent would we go to find a cure? That is the story of Kat Bloodmayne. Because of her father’s unorthodox scientific experiments, that is exactly what has happened to her: her soul is dying inside of her. She is becoming a monster from the inside out. I also wanted to explore the budding faith of someone who has never heard of God and grown up surrounded by science. How would they explain the supernatural? What catalyst would make them seek out God? How would they view Him? As you can see, I’m always asking questions and then I write a story as a way to answer them.
3) The first series seems to be straight up fantasy. The other is steampunk. I’m curious, do you have a preferred genre you like to write? What are your favorite things about fantasy and steampunk? Are there any negatives to either genre?
I love both genres. Fantasy allows me to world build like crazy! But sometimes I get tired and want to try something new. So I write steampunk, which I love because I love history and enjoy doing all the research for my steampunk books. But then I’m ready to go back to writing something fantasical, so then I switch to fantasy. Perhaps the only downside to both is all the research. But then again, I love learning about stuff and I do a bunch of research, either for my worldbuilding or to get the history feel for my steampunk accurate.
4) You’ve also recently contracted with Bethany House for a new series. Care to share a little about this new project?
This is a whole new fantasy series that follows a young woman who has the gift to dreamwalk. For centuries, her family (one of the seven Great Houses) has used this ability to enter the mind of the sleeper and extract important information they can sell or to assassinate the person. As Selene trains to become the next dreamkiller, she struggles with the emotional connections she makes with those she dreamwalks with. When she is tasked with killing the one man who is trying to unite all of the Great Houses before war breaks out, she questions if this is really why they were given this gift and are they truly helping their people? The first book is Mark of the Raven and it comes out November 2018.
5) Now you’re an author of what’s called ‘Christian Speculative Fiction’. For those who might not know, could you offer your own definition of this genre? What has drawn you to writing these types of books over, let’s say, something more mainstream?
That is question you’ll receive many answers to. This is what it means to me: there will be a degree of my faith within my books. Does that mean all of my characters are Christians? No. Does that mean my books will be ‘clean’? No. It’s hard to share about the light if there is never any darkness. Does it mean I will or will not have a conversion scene? No. (and for the record, I hate that term. I see the gospel in a much broader sense than a one-time scene in a book. To me, the gospel starts when the person begins to question their life and follows them as they explore who they are and who made them and the change that occurs, transforming them into a new person). What makes my books different than mainstream? I guess the fact that I have a monotheistic deity in my books. Sometimes God is overtly shown, sometimes it’s more covert, like the book of Esther. But since my books are about questions I ask about myself, life, and God, He’s going to be in there somewhere, because I believe all answers lead to God.
6) Who are some of your biggest influences? When you’re just Morgan Busse, the Reader, not writer, who do you like to curl up on the couch and read? What is it about these authors that draw you to them?
I read all sorts of books! Right now I’m into manga that I’m reading with my daughters. I love Masashi Kishimot, creator of Naruto, and Kohei Horikoshi, creator of My Hero Academia. I also love historicals and read all sorts. I also enjoy biographies and finished Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. And of course, I enjoy speculative fiction and am slowly making my way through Enclave’s collection and other authors.
7) If you could offer just one piece of advice to any aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
The one piece of advice I give is the writing will always be there, but your family will not. I see too many authors sacrifice their families to writing/marketing/publishing, then later regret it as their children grow up and leave and their spouse is a stranger.
Instead, invest in the ones who will be there for you. Set boundaries around your writing and deadlines that work with your writing. I write during the day when my kids are in school, but when they come home, I’m mom. This means it takes longer to write a book, but it’s worth it. I also invest into my marriage. Nights after dinner are for my husband.
Because of this, my family understands when I have a tight deadline and need to lock myself in a room for 2 weeks to finish up edits. Or when I have a new release and need to spend a solid week on marketing. But then I go back to my usual routine and I have a family that loves and supports what I do, instead of resenting my writing.
I plan on writing for the rest of my life. But my kids will soon be adults and will be gone, and my husband, if I don’t spend time with him, will be a stranger to me. The writing will always be there, but your family will not. Invest in your family first.
First, I’d like to thank Morgan for taking the time to answer these questions. I truly appreciated.
Second, I’d invite each and everyone of you to check out Morgan’s website by clicking here. And if you’re so inclined, of course, I’d encourage you to pick up one or more of her books. Click here for her Amazon author page.
And tune in next week for another fantastic author interview! You’ll be glad you did. 🙂