Christian Authors Make Their Mark
Guest Post by L.A. Miller
The Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series—now modern Christian YA classics—have sold more than two million copies between them, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl books have sold more than 600,000 copies since 2008, Slate.com reports.
Richard Paul Evans, author of novels for adults such as “The Christmas Box,” has found big success in the YA market with his Michael Vey series. “Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25” reached number one on the “New York Times” bestseller list (teen fiction).
The Newest Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author and Book Series
“This Christmas it would be nice to see children enjoy reading literature with spiritual themes and publishers expanding this genre,” says L.A. Miller, author of the science-fiction and fantasy Christian YA book series the Quests of Shadowind, which includes “Sky Shifter,” “The Grounding Stone,” and “Veil.” “This literature can help kids and teens to understand Christian religious beliefs and encourage them to read.”
Since 1995 his production company, Wood n Nails Music, has been recording original Christian songs, including its twelfth CD, the recently released “Jesus, Priceless Treasure.”
“Generally, action-packed stories hold teens’ attention,” says L.A. Miller. “They interest teens long enough to keep them reading and to teach them unfamiliar religious themes as well as reinforce the basic, fundamental Christian tenets. “
Quests of Shadowind is the story of a group of young teens who are abducted to an alien world called Shadowind, which is inhabited by ghostly creatures, cyborg animals, and virtual humans—a land where anything is possible, including being downloaded into a cryptic, evil role-playing game. In order to survive, the youths band together as they search for a way back home.
Quests of Shadowind: The Christian Connection: Allegory and Allusions
There are intentional Christian parallels in the Quests of Shadowind series by L.A. Miller. Take the basic storyline, for example: Two children awaken to find themselves orphaned and lost in a strange and dangerous world. They soon join with other similarly lost children and encounter both spiritual and physical challenges. With outside help from sometimes enigmatic and unseen helpers, they must overcome these obstacles, caused by a computer virus that blocks their path back to their parents and their world.
According to the Bible, Adam and Eve found themselves kicked out of the Garden of Eden. They were no longer God’s children. A virus had entered their lives—sin. With their relationship to God severed, their lives became a struggle. But with God’s help and intervention—His word, His strength, and His plan for salvation—every similarly lost child can still reach heaven. Faith in Christ and his merits are key, and Logan and Mindy (Shadowind’s main protagonists) have plenty of hope, although sometimes it wavers.
There are other similarities as well. There are evil spirits known as Deep Shadows—demons—who thwart Logan and Mindy every step of the way. And what of Shadowind’s inhabitants, the anibots? They are robotic creatures, depicting how animals are different from human beings: they don’t have souls. There are aliens called Nulenacs and Scursions who represent anti-Christian forces. And the spider bots that suddenly appear and zap people away are like death itself.
On the positive side, there are Light Shades, beautiful, angel-like spirits who help and protect the children. Watchman Danby tends to Delta Village, where the children live, giving guidance and wisdom, and acting like a pastor or a priest. Two men in particular, Captain Aimery and Crazy Bill Purdy, guide Logan and Mindy on their quests. Often seeming nonsensical and puzzling, these men loosely portray Jesus and God’s word (the Holy Bible). And a character who is soon to be introduced will reflect God the Father. The terms “loosely” and “reflect” are used because what fictional character could ever accurately portray God?
Even the name Shadowind is derived from a combination of Bible verses—Ecclesiastes 6:12 and 2:11.
And we can look for more parallels in Miller’s upcoming books. Quests of Shadowind is a series of eight stories. The first three, “Sky Shifter,” “The Grounding Stone,” and “Veil” were published between 2011 and 2012. In these stories the similarities to life as a Christian are sometimes like the undercurrents of a riptide: strong but difficult to see. But with the wise words of Jesus—“He who has ears, let him hear”—those hidden meanings will rise to the surface and become stronger as the series progresses.
How Mr. Miller Wrote the Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Shadowind
The entire Shadowind series was spawned from Miller’s childhood relationship with one of his sisters. They were from a large family living in a small house. Miller and his brother shared a room with their youngest sister, and in order for her to fall asleep, Miller would perform plays using her stuffed animals. Every night when the lights went out, the stories would commence (hence, his opening line, “And then the lights went out…”) until his sister finally fell asleep. Or until their mom came in, flicked on the lights, and said, “Okay, that’s enough for tonight.” And so Miller began writing plays when he was eight years old, and his first book when he was nine—simply entitled “Adventure.”
Want even more? Logan is the name of that same sister’s child, who died in infancy due to a hole in his heart. So Miller’s sister (whose name was changed to Mindy in the book because her real name was already used in a well-known fairy tale) and her son are still able to run through life together, if only in fiction.
A Closer Look at Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy
Most Christian publishers have guidelines for taboo words and situations. Some also have in-house theologians vet content to make sure it adheres to biblical principles, Slate.com reports.
“Christian adult novels generally have clean language,” say L.A. Miller. “Christian values are presented through themes and characters. This way young readers are encouraged to read, learn, and work their imagination.”
Junior young adult (YA) Christian sci fi and fantasy novels include:
* C.S. Lewis, “The Chronicles” of Narnia and the Space Trilogy
* Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time”
* Frank Peretti, the Veritas Project series and the Cooper Kids Adventure Series
* Karen Hancock, “The Enclave” and the Legends of the Guardian-King series
* Bryan Davis, the Dragons In Our Midst series and the Oracles Of Fire series
* Tim LaHaye, the Left Behind series
* Gene Wolfe, the Book of the New Sun series
* Chris Walley, the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy
Kids Need to Learn Christian Values Early On
“It is important to instill Christian spiritual teachings early on,” says Mr. Miller. “Christian sci fi and fantasy books enable kids and teens to learn our values and faith easily, which will help them to go through their lives, make themselves stronger, define themselves, and, last but not least, become better people.”
L.A. Miller has been writing for more than forty years. His backgrounds in science fiction, astronomy, technology, and classic literature inform his work, which has included novels, short stories, and music. He is the owner of Wood n Nails Music and lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with his wife and two dogs. He is the author of the Quests of Shadowind series, which includes “Sky Shifter,” “The Grounding Stone,” and “Veil.”
As for Mr. Miller’s Christian background?
* Mr. Miller was baptized into God’s family in infancy by a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastor. He was confirmed in that faith at age thirteen, and has been a member of that synod—or church body, comprised of 470,000 souls and 1,200 congregations worldwide—his entire life.
* Mr. Miller has served as an usher, on the board of evangelism fellowship, and as an elder. Because of his musical background, he also served as the chairman of the sound system committee and as the music director for contemporary worship. He also played bass in the band at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Muskego, WI—of which he says, “I miss that terribly!”
* Mr. Miller is the president of the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, a fledgling congregation in Las Cruces, NM.
* He reads and studies the Bible almost every day, spending between twenty and ninety minutes per session, and attends church and Bible classes at every opportunity.
* Mr. Miller has written and recorded more than one hundred Christian songs in the contemporary, pop, and rock genres. In fact everything he writes, whether musically or fictionally, is a faint reflection of, and an offering to, our sovereign Lord. Since 1995 his production company, Wood n Nails Music, has been recording original Christian songs, including its twelfth CD, the recently released “Jesus, Priceless Treasure.” It’s a fitting title for this collection of modernized hymns, because that’s what the music—what life itself—is all about: the precious treasure of Jesus Christ, the son of God and savior of the world.
“These activities make me painfully aware how much I need my savior, Jesus Christ,” says Mr. Miller. “He did everything in and out of love. I do all these things with reluctance and selfishness. Yet the Lord continues to use me as His ambassador. What a gracious, loving, and merciful God we have! He deserves all honor, thanks, glory, and praise!”