Monday, May 28, 2012

guest post: "reclaiming fantasy" by daniel morrison

Recently, I learned about Daniel & Christina Morrison's fantasy novel, Tarnished, and their Kickstarter campaign to turn it into an audio book. I'll be reading and reviewing the book soon, but in the meantime, I asked if they'd like to do a guest post on my blog, telling a bit about themselves and their project. 

“Why can’t you like something girlie like bunnies or something?” her boyfriend quipped.

“But I’ve always loved dragons and I think God wants me to help redeem them,” Christina answered. Needless to say, it was an ill-fated relationship.

When she began writing her novel, it was a historical fiction based on a popular story in the Old Testament. After some expert advice from an accomplished writer she reworked it as a fantasy novel. He said, ‘Write what you know’ and she had always known and loved fantasy. C.S. Lewis took characters from the theological mess of Greek mythology and cleaned them off, putting them into a fantastic Christ-centered narrative. Christina decided she wanted to do the same thing.

It was more than a rewrite later with her fantasy novel lying on the shelf that she met and married me, a creative director with a film degree and a calling to media. “I went from feeling like this was just a wildly out of touch dream to suddenly being centered and connected with God’s plan for my writing,” Christina says. “Before Daniel, it was just a somewhat good story sitting completed in my computer hard-drive. But with his help I suspected it could become much more.”

While joining in marriage was a journey, joining in creativity was another battle all its own. It’s hard to drop your pride and defenses and offer your skill and ideas up to each other. And I wasn’t on board with the project at the beginning. There were some serious issues which I think all fantasy writers have to pin down: how magic is approached, the general context of the world and how God is presented in that world are all delicate and pivotal parts of reclaiming the fantasy genre.

It was also hard for Christina to put her work on the chopping block. The story was already well-crafted and most of it stayed the same. It was really just a matter of a few wires in the heart of the story that needed switching, and once that happened there was a ripple effect that required a technical overhaul of most of the dialogue. Together, we wrestled through another re-write, changing character’s arcs, redesigning creatures, and switching the genders of some characters to better suit the story and avoid unintended undertones.
Daniel & Christina Morrison

Six months of rewriting and a pass through our editor brought us to our final scrutinized manuscript. Being artists and media creators, we were able to manage much of the publishing process ourselves. But having a completed book self-published is really only the beginning.

We have plans for developing a graphic novel, dramatized audio book and eventually a feature film of Tarnished. That’s a lot to bite off at once so we decided to begin with the audio book. We found and hired a professional Scottish voice artist to narrate Tarnished. John Cavanagh is amazing and did a fantastic job of the narration. But hiring artists and developing assets is a pricey endeavor when we are raising two kids, working a full-time job and running a media production company after work. We spend most of what we make in our own company (Remnant Studios) on the Tarnished production because we believe God has called us to spend ourselves on what He has given us to do.

“We want to engage as many people as possible in bringing excellent fantasy to life,” Christina says. “For too long Christians have backed away from important arenas like media and fantasy.”

And we are aiming to engage like-minded people: Launching a Kickstarter campaign (active until June 15th) to invite fans to fund the audio book.

Our core motto is to “Be Spent” by inviting God to direct us how to do that well.

And there's more: The Morrisons are sponsoring a Tarnished review contest. If you read the book and post a review on Amazon by the end of June, you'll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire. Check the book out here. You can also keep up with the project on facebook.

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