Welcome back today, my lovelies. As promised, I have one Fred Warren with us. There is an anvil dangling over his head. It was a gift from my dear friend Grace Bridges. She wanted to make sure Fred had a proper Anvil Interview. Genuine New Zealand Anvil from the Museum of Transport and Technology…
Fred is a bit of a silly. I may laugh too hard and well…the anvil may literally drop. He knew what he was getting into. He is a brave man.
As I mentioned yesterday, there are two signed copies of The Muse up for grabs. Click HERE to get the details from yesterday. And whatever you do, share the Anvil goodness with your friends.
Hope you enjoy the mind of Fred Warren.
Ready? Set! Go!
After a 24-year career in the U. S. Air Force producing innumerable military reports, Fred Warren decided to cut his imagination loose and try his hand at writing the science fiction and fantasy that he’d enjoyed reading his whole life. With over twenty works of short fiction appearing in a variety of print and online publications, and his first novel, The Muse, published in November 2009, he’s feeling pretty good about that decision, though he admits he’s still got a lot to learn. He works as a government contractor in eastern Kansas, where he lives with his wife and three children.
Fred- (watching anvil uneasily) When I began writing The Muse, I didn’t intend for it to be “Christian fiction,” though I discovered, as I often do, that my Christian faith and values found a way of weaving themselves into the story. Some people might argue that it’s not a Christian story because there’s no direct call to salvation, but at its core, it’s about love, friendship, and redemptive sacrifice. It acknowledges that God intervenes in the affairs of our lives, and that He’s the true source of the constructive, meaningful inspiration we experience. Stan, the hero of the story, is a nominal Christian, sort of going through the motions of his faith without really understanding it. The things that happen in the story force him to take a closer look at his own life.
As for the speculative part, I’ve loved science fiction and fantasy since I was a kid, in books, movies, plays, and on television. I love to take ordinary people and put them in extraordinary situations, then see what happens. When I say fantasy, I include animated cartoons and comics under that heading, which is why you’ll frequently see references and tributes to things I’ve enjoyed over the years. As you noticed in The Muse, you’ll find a tip of the hat to Animaniacs and the Smurfs, as well as to Ray Bradbury and Mark Twain.
The cheesecake is very tasty. Could I have a glass of milk with this?
I know many writers in the Christian Speculative fiction genre have had a hard time finding a publisher. Many I have spoken to in the last year seem to think it is for just the reason you mentioned above…no direct call to salvation.
Did you experience any of those obstacles before you met Grace Bridges at Splashdown Books? Please tell us a little about your journey to find The Muse a home.
My road to publishing The Muse wasn’t typical. After I finished the first draft, I took a couple of months revising and polishing it, then I sent it around to a few other writers I trusted for feedback. I tried to get a variety of perspectives–men, women, young, old, Christian and non-Christian, speculative fiction writers and folks who wrote in other genres. Sometime during that process, the manuscript found its way into Grace Bridges’ hands, and she liked it well enough to send me an offer to publish it. Splashdown Books is a small, independent press, based in New Zealand, and Grace was willing to take a chance on something a little different from the norm by a first-time novelist. Frankly, I was shocked. I had fully expected to be shopping this story around to agents and publishers for years, if it was ever published at all.
Every writer knows that you must keep writing. Are you currently working on a second novel? And do you have a routine for writing?
Fred- I’m working on two novels at the moment. One is a sequel to The Muse, set a few years after the events of that story, and the other is a science fiction adventure with lots of intrigue, romance, and explosions. I’m planning to have the first draft of both stories finished by the end of this year. I also have a few short stories in various stages of completion. I try to write something every day, even if it’s just a blog post, but my work and personal schedule doesn’t allow me to wall off a dedicated block of time, so I write when and where I have the opportunity. I’ll often get a good idea during the daily commute, so I’ll spend that time sorting it out in my head, then put it on paper or into digits when I get home.
(finishes up the cheesecake and leans back in his chair with a sigh) This is so much better than the store-bought kind. The last one I got was full of little blue-and-white bugs. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
Sorry, Fred. I didn’t mean for that to happen. Some of the Smurfberry juice was on my hands still. Then, the mention of bugs and well…can you continue?
Fred- It was a fairly simple idea, though it was interesting enough to pull me away from another story I’d planned, and it got a lot deeper as I began to explore it–writers often talk about “needing a muse” or “looking for their muse,” but what if that wasn’t necessarily a positive thing? What if a frustrated writer found his muse, and it meant him no good? What if he began pursuing the wrong sort of inspiration, and it was dangerous? We don’t usually think of inspiration as a bad thing, but there are plenty of examples in history of charismatic leaders who have inspired their followers to horrific actions. People may stir your enthusiasm to support an agenda that seems innocent but ultimately puts you and your loved ones at risk. The Muse presents this situation in a lighthearted, fantastic setting, but the underlying theme is very serious: “What is the source of my inspiration, and where is it leading me?”
I believe God is ultimately the true and best source of inspiration. The language the Bible uses to describe the inspiration God provided to the writers of Scripture is the same as that used to describe the life He breathed into mankind at the beginning of Creation. True inspiration infuses life into what we’re doing. The wonderful thing about God’s inspiration is that it’s all around us, if we’ll only pay attention. The beauty of the natural world, the love of my family, the little insights that show up without announcement or fanfare throughout the day–all these things energize my writing.
(rubs head) Ooo, that smarts. Could I borrow a cold compress?
Fred- Thanks for inviting me and for reviewing The Muse, Diane. Aside from the skull fracture, I’ve had a great time. Anyone who’d like to know more about me or my writing, including a list of all my stories in print and online, can find all the details at my blog, http://frederation.wordpress.com .
Well that’s it for this time, lovelies. I pray you are all having an excellent Thanksgiving weekend with loving family.
Peace, love and God’s will.