Diamond Mine followers, Julie B Cosgrove here as your host today. Please welcome Kenyon Henry. He writes Christian YA, but if you are like me, that means I want to read it as well! The Chronicles of Stephen are fantasy, but Biblically based. You'll see what he means...
Tell us, Kenyon, what spurred you to write The Chronicles of Stephen?
It began as a short story, out of curiosity more than anything else. I had wondered what it would be like to read a person’s mind. It went further than that, really. I was interested in what it might be like to truly understand a person, to see the deepest parts of someone and know things about that person that even he or she might not know. As ideas began pouring out, it wasn’t long before I began wondering, could I write this story as a novel?
I studied—reading books, blogs, talking with authors and editors, and joined a writers guild. When life put the book on hold, it was always in the back of my mind. Eventually, Book 1 was out and ideas for Book 2 were already on paper to continue Stephen’s story. Now, Book 2 has barely been out a month and Book 3 is nearly ready for the editor.
Tell us briefly about each one, including the latest.
Stephen developed abilities at the age of eighteen in a way that frightened him and made him feel like a monster. In response, he decided to leave home to do good, hoping this would make him feel normal again.
Book 2, Trials of the Mighty, continues Stephen’s journey as he learns about the choice he has made. Stephen trains and studies, so that he can better control his abilities and understand this new world he has been pulled into. Still, he soon learns that even when you make the right decision, bad things can still happen. He struggles with understanding this and tries to shoulder all the responsibility for it. As he continues to help his new friends, he eventually learns that bad things happening doesn’t negate all the good in life.
Book 3, Redemption of the Mighty, (which should be out by the end of the year) takes us to the final battle between these two groups. Stephen struggles with stepping out in faith. Although he knows he has been chosen, he still struggles with feeling worthy. Eventually, he accepts his place in the battle, and takes responsibility for himself, which allows him to become the person he was always intended to be.
How do you develop your characters? Do they stem from people you know? Is it because their personalities advance the plot, or are they all floating in your brain screaming to be released?
I’ve heard it said that you should never make and author mad, because he (or she) will write you into their story and kill you. It’s funny, but does show that authors can use people they know for influence to the story. For me, I’ve done a fair bit of this. I think, at least in some way, all my characters have a bit of me or someone I know in them. This helps to make the characters more real, even for me.
I think when I started the first book as a short story, there were a few core characters that needed to be there for the plot. After it began growing and adapting, the creative juices had been opened and characters began trickling out. Now, it seems I have a hard time stopping the birth of new characters at times.
For me, the characters drive the story. I eventually found myself changing the scenes and outline as my characters developed. At times, I would start to write a scene I had outlined only to realize that a character had taken on a life of its own and didn’t fit the action in that scene. I had to make a choice—re-arch the character to fit the purpose, force it into the mold, rewrite the scene and outcome of it, or create a new character to achieve the purpose. The last two are the only options I consider. By that point, I usually love the character and have this whole backstory in my head that governs his or actions which keeps me from re-arching him or her. And, I hate it when a character acts out of character just because the author needs it to do so.
What do you want your readers to take away from reading these Chronicles?
One, life is filled with tough choices. Often, we want to avoid those choices and simply let someone else deal with it. We each need to understand that inaction in the face of wrong is still a decision to allow that wrong to continue. Scripture says that if we know to do good and don’t, that is still evil.
Two, just because we do good doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen in life. In fact, I’ve often found that bad things come of the heels of right actions. Evil tries to stifle good. But, we must persevere, keeping our eyes on the finish line and focus on things that are good.
People will try to keep you from being who God has created your to be. He has endowed us each with a royal heritage and gifts of love and compassion. He has called us to boldly step out in faith to be light and life to a dying world.
What is next in your writing career?
Obviously, book 3 is the focus right now. Since it’s now in the editing phase, I’ll start a new project. I have been asked to write a screenplay for book 1 for speculation purposes. This will be a new type of writing endeavor that I’m looking forward to. I’ve also started tinkering with a comic book based on one of the characters from the series. And, I’d like to do a few novellas on some additional characters from Chronicles of Stephen. Eventually, however, I’m hoping to work on some projects outside of this series, too!
Where can people find your books and learn more about you?
My books are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print. You can also get the ebooks from Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and more. Most bookstores should also be able to order them in print. You can learn more be at www.kenyonthenry.com, or any of my social media, www.facebook.com/kenyonthenry, www.instagram.com/kenyon_t, and twitter @kenyonthenry.
Thank you, Kenyon, for letting me interview you today. I know a lot of our followers will want to check them out!