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Author Talk: April 2012

PROPHET, the first installment in R. J. Larson’s Books of the Infinite series, follows Ela Roeh of Parne as she struggles to understand why her Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet --- and faces the ultimate sacrifice as she devotes herself to him. In this interview, Larson talks about her decision to pen a fantasy novel, the process of naming her characters, and what motivates her to write.

Question: PROPHET is your debut novel in the fantasy genre. Why fantasy?

R. J. Larson: Despite being a lifelong fantasy fan, I was dragged, mentally kicking and screaming, into writing for the genre. In 2010, I was writing a somewhat gentler Victorian saga and loving it. However, somewhere around chapter eight, I made the mistake of falling asleep one night. When I woke up the next morning, my main character, Ela, appeared --- a scared girl-prophet in serious trouble. I tried to ignore her. But after eating all the chocolate and potato chips in our house and fighting to finish my chapter, I realized Ela wouldn’t leave me alone. I emailed my agent, explained the situation, and begged her indulgence while I wrote Ela’s story. Eventually, I hope to finish that Victorian saga! 

Q: How did you decide upon the fantasy setting of your book?

RJL: Ela’s appearance, a Biblical prophet with a few fantasy twists, led me into a world reminiscent of some of earth’s ancient cultures --- particularly ancient cultures that interacted with ancient Israel.

Q: Readers often wonder how authors create their characters. Were any characters from PROPHET drawn from actual people?

RJL: Naming characters is always tough for me. The name must fit the character I want to create. One of my readers contacted me through my website after reading some of my previous work. She is a delightful person. I love her name and begged permission to borrow a variation for use in PROPHET. Who is she? Well, she knows who she is. I’ll never tell. And, though I borrowed her name, all my characters are fictitious, or inspired by ancient prophets or Biblical figures.

Q: What was the single most difficult thing you faced as an author while writing this story?

RJL: To me, it’s unbearable to think that my loved ones, friends, strangers, and my characters suffer anything, ever. However, history and the Scriptures document this inescapable aspect of living in a fallen world. We all suffer. As an author, I wanted to free my charac­ters of this curse. Just as the Lord longs to free us.

Q: We all say, “Someday, I’ll write a book.” What is it like to be a writer? What drives you to write the words and actually finish your story?

RJL: I told someone that writing is like having this huge inner world full of voices that NAG at you until you pour the whole plot into your computer, thereby freeing your brain, which then becomes bored and spins yet another huge inner world...full of voices... In other words, I must write to maintain my sanity.