Ten words to describe my series, "Armor of God"
It’s time to take another look at my collection of “Ten Things.” This month I am focusing on ten words/phrases that come up when I am describing my YA (teen) adventure series. Trying to sum up the essence of so many chapters can be tricky. But, with time, and the need to explain the core message and style of this collection, I have found myself reaching for a fairly constant set of familiar phrases.
The four books that complete Armor of God are set in the summer of 74 AD, in the Roman vassal state of Armenia. As a result, these books fall into the more specific genre of historical adventure. This necessarily means that HISTORY and ADVENTURE would be the first words that I reach for when telling anyone what I have been writing.
I actually write in a range of genres that seem, on the surface, quite different to each other. They are: historical adventure, traditional Regency romance, and, more recently, YA fantasy. Yet all three these genres have one thing in common, and that is the element of history. I love to learn about other cultures and their backgrounds — what life was really like for them, how we can still relate to them. Even where mythological characters come into play, there is a wealth of literature interpreting different viewpoints on these fantasy creatures. History — even mythological history within different cultures and spanning different eras — teaches us patterns of behavior that recycle through the generations, sometimes with a new twist, yet recognizable to the modern reader, even centuries later.
However, history alone is seldom entertaining. Which is why I have introduced the element of DANGER in my series. Slavers, mercenaries, and traitors are adversaries whom the main character and his companions must overcome. Mountains must be scaled, deserts crossed, and capture evaded.
Which brings me to the next two words: TRAVEL and VARIETY. The story begins deep within the mountains of ancient Armenia. Evander, our unlikely hero, encounters a hidden tribe of barbarians, makes his way south to the market city of Edessa, and east to Amida in Mesopotamia. In the process he travels for days at a time over rough and harsh terrain, meeting people from many different backgrounds and faiths. Each encounter teaches him more about himself and his fellow human beings, and brings him closer to his goal of saving his people.
Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if it all went smoothly. Evander and his companions each enter their shared journey with personal BAGGAGE. Each character has a backstory that affects his (or her) actions. This creates quite a bit of distrust and hampers their progress. The bonus for the reader lies in the fact that the characters are therefor not simply good or bad. The YIN-YANG pull within each person means that their behavior is less predictable. Moods, circumstances, and triggers from their past all affect their choices as their complex human natures deal with challenges.
TEAMWORK is a continuous struggle as the dynamics change within the group of young would-be heroes. Different motives drive each one and these motives sometimes completely oppose each other. And yet teamwork is critical if they are to succeed in their shared quest.
Ultimately, though, this is a book about GRACE. It is a story about flawed character and messy FAITH. Evander meets people who have done terrible things, although, at the time, they justify their behavior to themselves. Some of them are people Evander needs to trust. For the reader, there is the reminder that even authentic faith is not a neat parcel or process. It is a journey with many detours and obstacles, not all of which we will attempt with equal success. But there is always the promise of a fresh start. It is a reminder also to reserve judgement, because someone’s journey may be in a very complex stage, filled with challenges we have not experienced or needed to overcome. My hope is that, having made such a journey with the characters in these books, the reader will have greater empathy for others, as well as renewed courage to face his/her personal difficulties. All wrapped up in four thrilling adventures!
I hope this has helped explain better what the series is about. If you would like to know more, please do contact me. I love hearing from future readers of these yet-to-be-published manuscripts. And if the themes have touched on your own story, you are invited to share it with me in the comments below, or in the privacy of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.