Published on June 23rd, 2016 | by Ed Sum0
In Conversation with Fantasy Author Christian A. Brown
Christian A. Brown is a fantasy author who understands how modern fiction works. Unless it evolves with the times, the work can look dated. To keep his own material refreshing, he’s not afraid to buck trends. His first novel, Feast of Fates, appeared on shelves in late 2014 and received a devoted legion of fans. The central character Morigan may well allude to the Morrigan of Irish Lore. Nestled in reference her importance in the tale is definitely the Three Fates. Brown calls them the Sisters Three — Eean, Elemech and Ealasyd — in his world, just what kind of ongoing role they play requires looking at the third book, Feast of Chaos, tentatively scheduled July release.
The fourth volume, Feast of Mercy, is in the works. This world Brown created is filled with an exploration into aboriginal culture and coloured with nods to mythological lore. Readers will find his exploration into gender equality interesting.
“One of the reasons why people have taken to my work is because you don’t see that a lot in fantasy especially, which is very trope-ridden,” said Brown.
In addition to putting his life into this work, some may find his treatment of ethnic differences just as personal. When his father is African, Canadian, Cherokee and Russian and his mother is French-Canadian Métis, a lot of what he experienced filtered into the work he’s now crafting. When growing up, he didn’t have television. He was at the library reading works from visionaries such as novelist Ursula Le Guin and playwright Timothy Findley.
“I was this brown bi-racial child, sort of without an identity,” admitted Brown, “That’s how I began my life and so, I went through a lot. So did our family — pretty negative experiences — but it’s all about how they shape you. Because of my parents were always such good teachers, they always try to find the value in all those unpleasantness.”
“I’ve definitely been affected by diversity and growing up first [he has a younger sister]. That did find its way into my writing. I have no qualms writing about characters of colour, different religions, gay, straight, or whatever… you just write about people.”
This author believes some other writers are wasting their time coining Tolkien. He thinks that’s been overdone for at least the past century. What they do in world building has always been about a creating very machismo brotherhood where women are placed in secondary roles.
“If you want to remain closed-minded and not partake in some of these amazing things that are teaching us how to be better people, that’s fine. That’s your choice,” said Brown.
This author’s observations includes a hot debate about whether or not the new imaginings to old ideas is going to be good or not. He believes that there will always be old dinosaurs on the sidelines adverse to the idea, like Paul Feig’s reboot of the Ghostbusters.
With his own work, he hopes to create a better world that readers can pick up on and use in their everyday too. This Feast series is not a quick read and it’s filled with plenty of lovely idiosyncrasies to make his book the type you have to slowly consume like wine. His world evolved out of the many years of playing Dungeons and Dragons. He found the world established by Wizards of the Coast, not to his liking and he crafted one that was more thoughtful. He was working on a story at the time which needed refining. Since he had no formal schooling in creative writing, he went into the workforce as a physical education instructor and sports therapist.
“When I was young, I was always that odd match. I would rather read a book than play sports, even though I am very physically active now. But back then I was not,” revealed Brown.
When life directed him to another way due to a family medical situation, he turned to writing. Finding an editor to help fine-tune his work also taught him to establish a routine. “Writers, anyone, any artist who put their material — their art for consumption and viewing — is going to have to suffer criticism at some point. It’s best to hear it from a professional first,” said Brown.
The help he received from Barbara Berson (she used to work at Penguin Random House Canada) helped sharpen his tale and recognize his rookie mistakes. Brown is an organic writer, a panser who went with the flow. Now that he’s halfway through his series, he has charts and a series bible to keep track of all the story threads. Berson was absolutely ruthless in helping him find the story (it took seven drafts) that’s to become Feast of Fates and he understood she just wants to help improve his story.
Just like his younger days where he was taught by his parents to find the good in people, there are more lessons to be learned as an author now in the scene. Two books in, he’s very capable of expressing his ideas in both the literary and pop culture sense.
“I started working on my initial novel when I was 23, and I literally plugged away at it for 7-10 years. I think wrote around 190-200 pages, and then in 2010, my mother came quite ill from lymphoblastic lymphoma. My sister had kids by this point, and I decided that I should I step up and be there for her. She was in induction therapy and I spent all this time with my mother,” began Brown. Since he had a lot of downtime, which was to be expected, he looked at the material on his laptop and rather than do nothing and watch Netflix all the time, he did revisited his story and was driven to finish the story he began.
“My mother was a go-go-go personality and she was such an inspiration,” said Brown.
“I had the goal of finishing it just in case something bad happened to her. I wanted her to read it first. and yeah, I finished a 600 page draft in about 3-4 months. Eventually, after many more drafts and changes and editors, we have the first book in my series.”
Now two books in and a third soon to be hitting shelves, he would love to see his own work picked up by Hollywood producers and adapted for the big screen. He has a come what may attitude and remains hopeful for this opportunity to happen one day. He believes it’s up to creators to continue pushing the boundaries to get noticed. Some material can definitely feel rote after a while (like Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Divergent), but that’s expected. He believes the studio system produces safe products. People are not expected to think hard about what they’ve seen. Perhaps that includes why he believes Michael Bay films succeed because they are factory-made. Between what creators and business people want, this author believes the two can work well enough together when effort is put in.
“I don’t think we’re ever gonna run out of ideas,” smiled Brown.