Thursday, May 08, 2008
CFRB Presents: An Interview with Bill McGrath
1. What inspired you to write this story?
I began writing the story in 1981. A friend had called and told me about the storyline of the movie “Omen III, The Final Conflict,” which he had just seen. Typically of Hollywood at that time when handling a biblical subject, the story had very little to do with what’s actually in scripture regarding the Antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ.
I reacted both as a new Christian, “That’s not what the Bible says” and as a twenty year old guy, “I could write a better story than that.”
So that’s what I set out to do. I decided to set the story of the tribulation and Second Coming in a fantasy setting, figuring that non-Christians would be more likely to read a biblical story if written that way. I wrote on and off for the next few years, getting about 120,000 word done, but stopped writing when my father died in 1986.
I took up the story again in 2001 when my son was born. I wanted to write a story for him that brought together many of the things in the books I read as a teenager that gave me a life long love of reading and, I like to think, help point me in the right direction in life in general. What I envisioned as one book (The Sword of Fire) has now grown into three (Asulon, Eretzel and Apocalypse). The direct spark for my writing was to write a better story than The Omen, but the tinder, the fuel for my story was all the great books I read as a teen. Therefore, you’ll see influences in my story from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dante Alighieri, Edmund Rostand, Alexander Dumas, James Fennimore Cooper, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert E. Howard.
2. Who is your favorite character and why?
I have a character in my story called Moor. He’s the hero’s Italian sword teacher. Moor is a combination of Mr. Spock, Sherlock Holmes and Machiavelli and gets to say and do things that us civilized folks can’t and there’s great satisfaction in that.
3. How have your personal faith and beliefs influenced your story?
When I was a child my whole family would sit together to watch biblical epics on TV such as The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and Samson and Delilah. I was impressed with the movies themselves and with the fact that my father, who was not a very religious man at the time, would enjoy them along with the rest of us. When I began to write my story, I thought back to those larger than life movies and thought how they captured your imagination, how non-believers could suspend their disbelief and believe in those stories while they watched them. I wanted to write stories like that, Christian stories that non-Christians would enjoy.
4. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Taking the story I see in my head (it looks like a movie to me) and putting it on a page so that the reader can both see what I see and enjoy the experience. In mundane terms, I also have trouble with basics like grammar and syntax. I often find myself slipping into what I call “Yoda speech” (in an effort to sound “classical” for a fantasy novel), but what my editor called “using the passive voice.” I went to school in the New York City public school system, so I was a bit weak on the basics when I began writing,(the minimum requirements for passing some of my classes were: 1. Show up 2. Don’t assault the teacher). I had to learn the basics of grammar and such as an adult through the many good books for writers available today.
5. What was easiest?
I have a pretty good imagination, so it’s easy for me to think up situations for my characters. Actually to say I “think up” things gives me too much credit. I believe having a good imagination is a talent like being able to sing or dance or draw well (none of which I can do by the way). I can no more take credit for having a good imagination than a singer can for having good vocal cords.
6. What's next for you?
I’m putting the finishing touches on book two now. Then I have to find a new editor (the editor for my first book is on maternity leave). I hope to have book two out this summer. Then I’ll begin book three.