Here are my reasons.
1. To combat a sanitised view of Christianity
More than once, I have come across the idea that once you become a Christian, your major sin habits are largely solved. People have a wrong-headed notion that a new convert will instantly give up their habits of clubbing, swearing, working on Sunday, and so on. This is simply not true. The Christian life is a constant battle with sin, and things can still get ugly. Additionally, true Christians still struggle with horrible indwelling sin. My portrayal of Nazt in these books (while difficult to handle) was a deliberate attempt to show the reader how all sin is ugly and how controlling and sly it can be in an attempt to rule our lives. The imperfect characters who battle for good and just causes also demonstrate this. Yet in trying to depict these things, I wanted never to let go of the truth that we always have hope and that whenever we turn to God and call on Him in repentance, He will answer.
In the West, we have this idea that good things should happen to good people. It is not uncommon in Christian circles (and I’m no exception to this), that when something goes wrong we wail and grieve and lament: “How could something like this happen to me? How could I lose my job? How could this person hurt me?” These problems are the tip of the iceberg for people in other countries, where famine, unrest, war, and even genocide ravage their lands. We have the strange notion that bad things should never happen to us – that they’re the exception and not the rule. This is simply a lie. We live in a sin-damaged world. Violence, pain, and intense suffering are the norm for a large percentage on our planet. A naïve view of evil will not help us in our battles. If we tell ourselves anything else, we’re kidding ourselves. If I wrote anything else, I would be writing fantasy indeed. I have sought to be realistic in my fantastical writings, and I’ve refused to shy away from questions such as “why is God putting me through this when I’m His child?” and “why does a good God allow so much suffering?” Lastly, I find it frustrating to read sanitised fantasy like Harry Potter, where the protagonist reaches the end of the books without once sullying his soul and manages to return to normal life instantly – to have a nice sandwich and go to sleep in a canopy bed after the final war is done. This is a westernised depiction of what life is like – of what the battle between good and evil is like.
To further support my case, the Bible doesn’t pull any punches in its depiction of life.
“O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance…
2 They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
3 They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.” (Psalm 79: 1a, 2-3)
3. To combat a sanitised view of God’s judgement.
Perhaps it is shocking that there are so many deaths in my books. But I’m reminded that as western Christians, we speak much about God’s grace, but little about his judgement. God’s judgement is what makes His grace so glorious. In my books, I have tried to show both concepts.
God portrays judgement very strongly in the Bible. Consider the following verses:
“With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.” Acts 1:18
“The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Isaiah 58:10
You will notice that I’ve deliberately included Christian themes that Christians themselves are uncomfortable with… that I myself am uncomfortable with. The idea that those who dishonour God and harm His people will be judged so severely does not sit so well with us. But we only need to look at the atrocities of Isis or the terrorist attacks in recent times to understand that these verses can actually be comforting for those who trust in God and seek to love their neighbours.
Lastly, my most controversial decision was probably to categorise these books as YA or Young Adult novels, supposedly suitable for teenagers. I did this because I believe teenagers can understand these concepts and do know what it’s like to hurt and to face the horrors of the world. That said, my advice with these books has always been: read with discretion. These novels are not everyone’s cup of tea. I fully accept that.
In summary, I have written my books in this manner to fight against westernised idealism, which has even crept into Christianity. I have no trouble admitting that they are not politically correct books and that some people may struggle with them. Books should come with ratings, shouldn’t they? Even so, I would only put mine at an M if it came to that. Nevertheless, the Bible also says “an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Proverbs 24:26). In this article I have tried to come clean about the content of my books. I hope that it has been beneficial to you and has helped you think more deeply about Christian fantasy in general.