R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre. Visit her on her blog or on Twitter.
How did you come up with the idea for Prophet?
I woke up one morning, about two years ago, after a brief dream of a young woman in a dark chamber trying to make a difficult, dangerous decision. In the dream, I also saw a glowing piece of vinewood. I’m used to vivid dreams and figured this one would fade as my day progressed. Instead, the young woman soon had a name, Ela. Furthermore, I was hearing voices. Dialogue between Ela and her Creator…Ela being asked by the Infinite to become His prophet, and Ela agreeing. The catch? As she agrees, Ela knows she will die young, because all of Parne’s prophets die young. Indeed, the elders of Parne warn, “A silver-haired prophet has failed.”
I was so drawn to Ela’s story, and her Creator’s words…they were impossible to ignore.
How did you decide to write fantasy?
I never expected to write fantasy. My favorite research topics are ancient history, Biblical history, medieval history, and the 1800’s. I was working on an 1890’s novel when Ela’s story hit me, and I did NOT want to abandon my fictional Victorian-era family for some “out-there” fantasy epic. I love fantasy, but to write it? No, not me.
I resisted the notion for days. Weeks, actually. Until I realized that my Biblical and early medieval studies played right into building Ela’s world. Moreover, Ela refused to leave me in peace. She was so persistent that I knew I’d be unable to finish my cherished Victorian novel if I didn’t clear Ela’s story from my thoughts. I finally emailed my agent, explained the situation, and begged permission to write fantasy—a genre my agent doesn’t usually handle. Thankfully, my dear agent humored me and agreed to present Ela’s story to publishers.
Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
Ela, of course, showed up on her own. The Infinite—her beloved Creator, and ours—was also in the plotline from day one. As I wrote, and consulted the scriptures to research Prophet, the other characters each stepped into place, so real, so vivid, I felt as if I’d been watching a movie. The most difficult part of the whole process was finding time to pour the book from my thoughts into my computer. I work almost full time, so I wrote on my two days off per week.
Which character from the book is your favorite?
Ela. I loved her strength and dedication to her calling as the Infinite’s prophet. However, Kien and Pet were close seconds!
Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?
My husband is an editor, and my sister-in-law is an editor and a writer. I’ve been a book fanatic since learning to read at age five, so writing is natural to me. I wrote a few short devotionals for my sister-in-law, Kathi Macias, and gradually built my writing resume.
I’ve had a number of works published, devotionals and Biblicals, but Prophet is my debut in the fantasy arena. Fantasy! I cannot believe it’s true. *Pinches self.*
Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?
I do read fantasy, but I also read many other types of books. My latest read is a cookbook—crockpot recipes! (I depend on my crockpot to cook dinner while I’m writing. I had to buy a new one while I was writing this series.) I’m also reading The Hobbit, and I am eagerly awaiting Donita K. Paul’s next book, Realmwalker!!!
What other projects are you working on at this time?
After working full time and writing on my days off for the past two years, I’m taking a brief break. Currently, I’m awaiting edits for Judge, the sequel to Prophet! I admit I am looking forward to visiting with Ela’s counterpart, Kien, again—he’s been fun to write. I do have two fantasy plots running through my brain right now, but I’m also tempted to return to my 1890’s book. I miss those characters as well. Once you write a story and meet your characters, they become almost family, and it is difficult to ignore them. J
Thank you R.J.!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Christian Book
Goodreads Summary: Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she's much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne's elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.
Yet she can't imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.