posted by Michelle Griep for Mark Fisher
What kind of journey leads a person to devote years of their life in front of a glowing monitor, pecking away at plastic keys, with no expectation that the novel they’re writing will ever see print? What does such a voyage look like?
Two Early Novels For Practice.
From an early age, I was an avid reader. And somewhere along the way, I developed this crazy idea I’d become a writer of novels. Shortly after I was married, I remember sitting down on the living room floor with a notebook and pencil to write a novel. But I never finished it. My hands cramped. And maybe there just wasn’t enough life behind me. Six years later, I sat down at my PC Junior—today you’ll find them in a computer museum—and wrote what became a massive, 600-page fantasy novel. It took five years to complete. It never found a publishing home.
No sooner had I abandoned this project than I wrote a second book, a novel of dark fantasy—this, of course, was before I was baptized. This work was tighter, more polished, but it too failed to find a publisher. So I switched to short stories, pumping out two dozen in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, sending them to one magazine after another. But it was like fishing in bad weather. A few nibbles that steal your bait. A few tugs on the line to let you know that, yes, fish really are down there. But nothing’s biting today. For a time, I gave up on writing. Fishing too.
Baptism, and a God-inspired Desire to Write.
Fast forward fifteen years to 2007 when I became a Christian, read the Bible cover to cover, and was baptized. Then God seemed to light a blowtorch to my desire to write. I wrote a half-dozen stories of spiritual transformation and struggle. Then I convinced my church leadership board we should publish a book, soliciting from the congregation spiritual short stories (including four of mine), testimonies, and poetry. They agreed and we did. I was a co-editor. We called it Tales from Calvary.
A Novel Is Published.
Then I revisited a story about a girl on an island under siege from raiders. Ah, but the minute I sat down to write, she became a young man. And the island suddenly situated itself a day’s sail off the coast of ancient, Celtic Ireland. Then it struck me. Few people have ever heard the real story of St. Patrick. How he was taken captive by Irish raiders and made a slave. How he prayed to God, and God sent him visions. How he became a bishop and returned to the island in AD 432 to confront the druids and spread the gospel across a pagan land.
My story had become a novel of historical fiction. And my intrepid hero fought the druids, was banished from his betrothed and his island home, and he landed on ancient, Celtic Ériu where he found St. Patrick. I dare say no more.
On June 20, Heritage Beacon Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, will formally release the end of my journey. Check it out HERE.
Mark wrote his first twelve pages at the age of ten, complete with drawings of a prairie fire, Indians, and a stampede. More recently he’s been writing Christian historical fiction in an early medieval setting. His writing career only began in earnest after his baptism into Christianity, after twenty-eight years working for IBM as a computer programmer, and after completing a Masters of Ministry. Mark and his wife like to travel, with recent trips to Japan, Ireland, Italy, and France. When he’s not working for the church he helped plant in 2012, he’s walking his dog or at his desk writing.
In his heart, Taran knows that sacrificing children to the sun god is wrong. He’s heard of the one God they worship in distant Britain. But when he speaks out against the druids who control his island home, they banish him to the sea. Instead of a wedding to his beloved Laurna, there’s a tearful parting.
Beyond the sea lies ancient, Celtic Ireland. There wait the Roman evangelist, Patrick, and two kingdoms ruled by powerful kings and their druid advisors. But travel through this wild land can mean slavery or death. And the druids will do anything to prevent Patrick and his followers from changing their ancient ways.
Will Taran find the spiritual truth he desperately seeks? Will he ever be able to return home and rejoin his beloved Laurna?