Frequently Enough Asked Questions

Every so often, I get questions. Most of them are intelligent. (Hey, I get spammed, too.) As I get enough of the same type of question, I’ll answer it here.

1. You chose Irish for the major background, and use a lot of it in the writing. Why? 

Because it’s easy enough to draw from. Ireland is a wonderful place, and a strong sense of spirituality, both in their Celtic traditions and in their Christian heritage. That  heritage, by the way, is part of my own heritage as well.

2. Why is there a glossary in the back of each book? And why does it get larger with each book?

So you can keep track of what’s what. I got the idea after trying to read Frank Herbert’s Dune series as a teenager. I couldn’t keep track of who did what, and gave up. After all, you can follow things like transporters and TIE fighters. But psionics aren’t quite so easy, especially when you’re using a different language. They’ve gotten larger because there’s more detail-and more than one branch.

3. Sometimes, it seems like new people get thrown in the middle of the storyline. Why is that? 

Because that’s how life works. And because what may seem random now make take on significance later. Or not.

4. You have an extensive Christian background-a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry-yet these books are not what exactly what I’d call “Family Friendly.” What gives?

One: I never claimed to be a Christian writer, nor have I ever claimed these were for a Christian market. That’s not the story I’ve been blessed with! I am, however, a Christian that writes. There’s a huge difference in that.

Two: My characters are moral, if not good-if they’re good. (Bad characters are just that: bad.) Most of them have a moral compass and try to use it. Like us, they’re not always successful.

Three: I do try to be somewhat sensitive in my work to not go overboard. But life isn’t sanitary, and I like my characters to be realistic enough to be believable.

Finally, each book carries a warning for parents to read the work first, and not just hand it over to their kids. That warning is on this website as well. As a Christian, I think it’s fair to say “this isn’t for you yet” to your children. To me, that’s not censorship… that’s simply good parenting.

5. Since you’re a fairly new writer, what kinds of advice would you give to another new writer?

Write! Write often. The late Ray Bradbury said that he “…started writing every day. I never stopped.” He wrote at least one thousand words a day. When I write, I start off in 13pt Georgia, and write essentially 1.2 space sentences for anywhere from three to as many as fifteen pages. (So you know: at that spacing and font size, a thousand words is roughly two  pages.) Remember, I have a job-which means I have to work-and I have a wife that likes to see me every so often.

As to what to write: Write whatever story you’re given, what you’ve been blessed with. Write short stories. Write poetry. Blog. Write a novel. Write a technical manual, if that’s your love and your muse. Since I started this, I’ve written fifteen books, started a sixteenth, written a dissertation, and I’m about done creating a course for the school I work for. (It’s on the writings of C.S. Lewis.)

I’d also say do your homework. If you’re writing on something, even if it’s fiction, do some study. As a result of these works, not only am I teaching myself the Irish language, but I’ve started writing a course on a Celtic view of the Spiritual Disciplines.

6. Some of your characters seem a little stereotypical. Is that on purpose?

Yes, it is…to a point. I try to handle those stereotypes carefully. But you must understand that in the written word, one tends to rely on those just a little to create the characterization. For example, let me use Jillian for a moment. (She won’t mind.) Her family background is Swedish. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fairly large bust; it’s why she’s a supermodel. (She also has a mean right hook.) Now, in a teleplay or movie, I can cast that role and the minute you see her, you know exactly her character, her background, because you can see it. I could use Annalie as well. The same goes for Nova and her mother Cass, for Jimmy, Pad, and to a degree, Russ. But how does one show a Canadian character? Vicki’s use of English. The same for Liz Preston, her daughter. Southerners from places like Texas, Georgia…all have an accent. Peggy Sue, Daisy Mae, Desiree, Sue Beth…all read like they’re from the deep south. At the same time, I don’t want to overdo it; that’s tacky. Maria has been fun to work with, as has Pedro. Speed and the Terror Twins…now that’s another story.

7. What is some of your inspiration for these books?

What hasn’t been an inspiration for these might be an easier question to answer! The original plot-the Bandathon segment in Fionnachtain-was a recurring dream for about a week. I finally decided to write it down to get it out of my head. Bold move; it grew from there.

They (whoever “they” are) say you should write to your strengths, what you know. So, everything I’ve ever watched, read, or lived has been fair game. I’ve been in marching bands and choir (as well as in drum corps and barbershop choruses), read a lot of science fiction-especially Star Trek-and historical fiction reading; watched a lot of Star Trek, Star Wars, Mel Brooks movies and Jay Ward cartoons (and Warner Brothers as well); read comic books…lots of them. Marvel Comics-the BEST. A lot of Anime and Manga…Speed Racer, Starblazers, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Battle of the Planets. (Okay, and Pokémon, too.) Toss in Ultraman, Spectreman, Johnny Sokko, The Space Giants…you get the idea. Elfquest-the original series I have all of, and a number of related books and they are wonderful reading. (The Pini’s are so talented it’s amazing.) I’ve read Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Harry Harrison (read the Stainless Steel Rat books!), as well as Tom Swift, Jr. and Perry Rhodan. Then there’s the musicals-The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, A Chorus Line, and more. The jobs I’ve had, the time in the military I spent. Schools I’ve been in, classes I’ve had, people I’ve met. And let’s not forget travel. I’ve been all over the US, parts of Canada, to Mexico, Japan, Guam, and Ireland.

Then there is my faith. Everything about my faith-the good and the bad-has influenced these as well. That includes those who follow Christ wholeheartedly, and those who live a plastic, false, sanitized version. Those who mean well, and those who are simply mean. Yes, Christianity has some mean, cruel people who do the dumbest things under the banner of church. (Not Christ-the Church. There is a difference, a big one.) But it also has some of the most warmest, caring people, who will do things not because it scores points…but simply because it is how they live out their faith. The character of J. Peter Cragmont is one of those. He was easy to dislike at first-but really is humble, a man who loves his church, his family-and who, though he can come off as arrogant and one sided-really does have a heart for the things of God. In short-he’s human, just like the rest of us.

8. You reference the Irish language as Gaeilge. Some say it’s Irish, others Gaeilge. Why did you choose the term Gaeilge?

Remember when I said you needed to do your homework, even for fiction? This is a great example. Technically, both are correct. Many Irish refer to it as Irish, but the language itself is called Gaeilge by linguists and some who speak it. I based my usage of the term on “An Caighdeán Oifigiúil,” the official written standard of the language used in Ireland, and it states that the name of the language is Gaeilge. Who am I to argue with that?

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