The popular fantasy author shares about writing for two sets of readers, the dangers in reading mainstream fantasy fiction, and how he’s going to take a step of faith.
It all started with a dream of a boy who could breathe fire. Since then, Bryan Davis’s books have sold more than one million copies, and have won awards from the Clive Staples Award to four of FamilyFiction’s own Reader’s Choice Awards (including “Novel of the Year”).
“I didn’t know anything about writing,” says Bryan, who picked up the pen originally as a way to teach his seven homeschooled children how to create stories. He would write a chapter, ask for their ideas and eventually have them write down their own versions of where the story would go. “What I didn’t expect is that this would ignite a passion in me to write.”
After several years of study, conferences and rejections, Bryan had the dream that led to the novel Raising Dragons, but it garnered more than 200 rejections during the following seven years of rewrites.
Yet there was one more step Bryan needed to take. “I was writing a story about people taking a step of faith and doing things they were afraid of and risking their lives, and it dawned on me that I wasn’t doing the same thing my characters were.” So, with no contract, he quit his job to pursue writing full-time. His voice softens in awe as he shares, “Within a year of making that decision, I had contracts for six books.”
His first contract was with AMG Publishers. They launched their fiction line, Living Ink, with Bryan’s Raising Dragons, the first novel in the four-book Dragons in Our Midst series. “Half a million copies later,” Bryan adds, “they’re very glad they did!”
Joining that series are two fourbook sequel series, Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard. Book two of Children of the Bard, From the Mouth of Elijah (Living Ink), released July 2012. The contemporary fantasy books share the stories of teenagers Billy and Bonnie, whose parents used to be dragons.
Zondervan published his Echoes from the Edge trilogy, a murder mystery fantasy with science fiction elements that is set on three parallel Earths. They also published Dragons of Starlight, a fantasy series set on two separate planets,—one occupied by humans, the other ruled by dragons. The fourth and final book in this young adult series, Liberator, released July 2012 as well.
Bryan’s first adult series, Tales of Starlight, published by Living Ink, is a companion series to Dragons of Starlight. It takes place at the same time as the other series, but focuses on the stories and journeys of the twenty-something characters instead. Bryan’s other adult novel is contemporary story I Know Why the Angels Dance (Living Ink), his only book without fantasy elements.
He connects with his readers via Facebook, Twitter, his blog, an email newsletter and a message forum, as well as meeting some of them in person during his annual tour. In 2012, he will be touring in September with his daughter, author Amanda Davis (Family Fiction’s “New Author of the Year” in 2012).
Bryan is currently working on “Project R,” which he hopes to sell to a general market publisher. “It’s not going to be overtly Christian,” he says, though he hopes it will draw readers to his books that are more spiritual. “I’m not going to leave the Christian publishing world, but I want to learn what it’s like in the mainstream world. It’s going to be another step of faith.”
He finds that even trying his books sometimes requires stretching on the part of readers. “Many fiction readers are nervous about fantasy, and rightfully so,” he shares. “There’s some bad fantasy out there— dark fantasy, over-sexualized, violent, gory, even teaching evil things.”
While his novels avoid those pitfalls, they also appeal to an audience who might prefer other genres. “The dragons are a device to make things look cool, especially for young people,” he explains. “The books are about people: their struggles, their victories, their defeats, their courage and their faith.”
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2012 issue of FamilyFiction Edge digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!