Here’s an interview with fiction author J E Henderson, who is currently hard at work on his series, The Credara Trilogy.
Q: Talk about your book, CREDARA: Rise of the Kraylen.
A: CREDARA: Rise of the Kraylen is book one of a fantasy fiction series I’m writing called “The Credara Trilogy”. First, a little background: CREDARA is a continuation of the story about the apocalyptic Great War, pitting the Sitcian Angels of heaven – led by Archangel Michael – against Lucifer’s rebel angel forces called the Kraylen. With the use of the Credara, a powerful heavenly urn given by God, the Kraylen are cast out and onto earth for eternity, and Lucifer is locked forever in Hell. The Credara Trilogy puts its own unique spin on a story, which is a well-known part of what some might call biblical or Christian lore, and others call a true biblical account. The Credara Trilogy, however, advances the story thousands of years later with the vengeful fallen angels, led by one of Lucifer’s Generals, named Licronus, lying in wait, rebuilding their numbers and plotting an uprising against God and mankind. When God discovered this many centuries ago, He put a system of warriors in place to protect mankind and put down any Kraylen uprising, should it occur. There are several important elements to this system, but the two most notable are the Credara itself, and the earthly human who is born to be The Sitcian. The Sitcian is chosen by God at birth to be the warrior who will ultimately lead the battle against the Kraylen, should they ever act upon their plan. He is known by the Sitcian Mark he bears upon his neck, and only a Sitcian can wield the enormous power of the Credara against them. It is the elders of the Holy Order of God who must be find him, train him in the Hamen Fighting Art of the Sitcian Angels, and protect him from the Kraylen who would undoubtedly want to kill him. Licronus knows that God has prepared for the treachery he has in mind. Despite this, he has decided that the time to act is now.
Now where God’s plan runs into trouble is with the current Sitcian. Agean is a truly flawed and damaged individual. For his own safety, but not of his choosing, he has been living the life of a monk – that is, when he’s not training in the Hamen Art, or drinking and gambling at the local pub. He has no idea who he really is and knows nothing of his destiny. The monastery elders in charge of protecting and training him are keeping that and other horrible things a secret from him. By doing this, they believe they are protecting him. But when they discover that the Kraylen have initiated their sinister plan, they realize they must tell him everything: how Licronus heinously murdered his entire family, why they’ve kept it from him, what he was born to be, and what he must now do to save all of mankind. Now, angry at God and with a bloodthirst for revenge, Agean agrees to the task not because of a sense of duty, but to kill the demon that took his family from him. CREDARA: Rise of the Kraylen takes us on Agean’s journey from lost, angry monk filled with hatred and vengeance to true warrior who must embrace his destiny and lead an army of Hamen Warriors into battle against God’s purest enemy. Along the way, Agean must find a way to replace his seething anger with honor and purpose and discover the Godly hero within, or else mankind is doomed. And in the end, he discovers that what he thought would be the end of the Kraylen’s uprising, would prove only to be the beginning. Licronus and his Kraylen have always had something far more sinister in mind. The war is not over.
Q: What inspired you to write a fantasy fiction novel?
A: I’ve been using my imagination to create stories for as far back as I can remember. I’d spent most of my writing career writing comedy teleplays on spec and dabbling in story ideas which I wanted to develop for the big screen. Writing for the screen is a somewhat technical task where you use your creative mind to guide and inspire other creative minds in a collaborative effort to create a visual journey on film. Also, because a screenplay is read by a limited number of people in the industry, and because success means actually getting it to the screen to be seen, I knew that writing CREDARA as a novel was an opportunity for me to tell the story in intricate detail. Also with fantasy fiction, you have license to create the universe. Although my story exists mostly in the real world, you still have the opportunity to be imaginative and create fantasy within it. Writing CREDARA allowed me to take this journey in full and now I have the chance to share it with readers all over the world.
Q: What kind of research went into it?
A: While the research may not be on the level of most non-fiction titles, fantasy fiction still requires you to do your homework. Take for example, names of things or places. You may not be doing research to ensure that the names are accurate, but you may want to see if the name exists at all. Or, if you do decide to use an existing term, you want to make sure it does not mean something horrible or disrespectful to anyone. Also, as with CREDARA, if the world you are writing in is the real world, you have to do a fair amount of research on the period you are writing in (i.e, weaponry, clothing, geographical areas, etc.). You don’t want to use a telephone in the Middle Ages.
Q: What led you to include the great battle of Archangel Michael and Lucifer in your book?
A: That battle is the very foundation upon which CREDARA stands. I knew I couldn’t just mention it; I had to paint the picture for the reader. I wanted to show this scene from a specific perspective, truly showing the disdain that Michael had for Lucifer and the arrogance that Lucifer had in the face of annihilation. Lucifer, for most, is the personification of evil. He will never give up, and therefore, God will forever have an enemy. I wanted to show clearly that there is no doubt that Lucifer, although locked in Hell, is as “forever” as evil itself. And just like good and evil, the battle between Michael and Lucifer will be forever.
Q. What do you hope readers will walk away with?
That man must save himself. Humans are provided tools and means at birth and you must be brave enough and willing to push aside all that is part of your humanness to reach beyond in order to be the hero of your existence. Man will forever be confronted with challenges for which we will seek out a solution. The thing is finding the right solution despite the fact that a bad solution may be more closely within reach or more selfishly pleasurable. We can all be heroes if we look deep within and see who we really are and what we are capable of, good and bad. Agean has to get past quite a bit if he’s going to douse the burning anger within himself and become greater. And you don’t have be a warrior on the battle field to do this. A father pushing past what might feel to be the more comfortable choice of being absent in their child’s life, yet choosing to be present, can be considered one of the great heroes of our time. We all have a chance to be heroes.
Q: Who was your inspiration for Agean and why is he such a strong hero?
A: I consider myself to be a student of the world. I try and draw from every single experience to learn something – to grow and become a better person. So, I’m not sure I can single out one person who I can say is my inspiration for Agean. I have seen many people who inspire me. I have also seen many who I can say I would never want to be like. Agean, like many of us, is a simple human being with a bunch of problems. Some people have more, some have fewer. But we’re all kind of flawed. We don’t often times have an epiphany and suddenly we’re enlightened. Like Agean, it takes a journey. I applaud those I consider heroes because of the selfless impact they have on others. Agean is not a hero simply because he must push beyond the pain, it’s because he must do it for the sake of others. He must save mankind.
Q: Can you discuss the important dynamics of hero vs. villain in a story like this? How did you keep these archetypes fresh and engaging?
A: I really think this is what stands out about CREDARA. The story isn’t just about two characters; one on the good side and one on the bad side. Agean’s connection to God makes him the personification of good and Licronus’ connection to Lucifer makes him the personification of evil. This is a do-or-die situation. There is no middle ground. I think this brings a bit of freshness to the concept of enemies battling for supremacy. I think their character keeps them engaging because Agean has to do some serious work, and Licronus is up to something in such a menacing way that you just have to wonder what’s really going on. The story’s puzzle is important and adds another layer of flavor to what would seem to be cut and dry. Like the question of God and omnipotence. If God can snap His finger and make the evil go away, why doesn’t He? Evil is bad, isn’t it? Is it that he can’t? Or he simply won’t? How is it that under such dire circumstances, the one chosen to be the hero is but a mere mortal? These things are simply ingredients for the soup. And this is where the final two books come in. To what length will Licronus go to get what he wants, and is Agean truly capable of stopping him?
Q: What advice do you have for others considering writing a book of this genre?
A: We have chains. We all do. One of your greatest gifts is your imagination. Open your imagination up by casting off the chains we’ve taken on over the course of our entire lifetime, spread those imaginative wings and fly. Don’t just view the world, view your existence. Throw away the answers and ponder the possibilities. Think about this thing we are doing on this sphere hurling through space as if we know nothing because “that” is actually a good thing. One of my personal favorite examples of this is the age old question about the tree falling in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it – no sound sensing devices whatsoever. Does it make a noise? Chains on: of course it does. Chains off: We do not actually know. Digging that deeply into your psyche and imagination creates endless possibilities. That’s what this genre is about. Endless possibilities.
Q: What can readers expect from the next book in the trilogy?
A: Some answers and more questions. Read book one. Once you’ve finished you will undoubtedly want to know what happens next. But ask yourself this question: “Will the story take our journey backwards or forwards?” Book two will delve deeper into the evil that has risen up. One of my goals with CREDARA is not to just have villains with sinisterly evil qualities; I wanted them to BE evil. This is what God has sent Agean to battle against. When I say the book is about the “ultimate” good versus the “ultimate” evil, I meant it.
Q: Credara.com says you can follow the complete CREDARA trilogy as it unfolds. What can readers expect to see as you work on the next two books?
A: Oh, how I love to get people thinking about the possibilities. Toss out what you know of the timeless story of God versus Satan and be prepared for an interesting new take on things. I want to take my readers deeper and farther back into its origins. I’ve gotten a review on Amazon where the reader finds that there is more “fact than fiction” in the CREDARA story. What could really be going on outside of our fixed realities? Let’s loosen just a tiny bit the bolts that hold us firm to what we understand to be true. It’s not just “suspension of reality” when you really don’t know the full scope of the reality and the possibilities are endless. Once you truly embrace this, you’ll discover a little something called adventure. It all gets started in book one of the trilogy. And oh yes, those readers who are already dying to see what happens next with characters and the story, I’ll be working very hard to keep you pinned to the pages. No spoilers here.
Q: Where can readers find the book?
A: CREDARA: Rise of the Kraylen is currently available in hardcover and paperback online at my website, Credara.com. It is also available in those formats at Amazon.com, BN.com and many other online booksellers worldwide. It’s available in ebook format at Amazon.com, BN.com, iTunes, Google Play and other online ebook retailers.