Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Kathy Tyers!

Okay, I'm totally stoked about today's guest. Today we're sitting down with Kathy Tyers, one of the pioneers of Christian Science Fiction. She's a terrific lady, a legend in the Christian Fiction market--and she's written for Star Wars! Let's get to it!

Greg Mitchell: Kathy, thank you so much for being here today! On to business: I've heard you describe your newest science fiction novel Daystar as an “alternate universe Messiah novel.” A very interesting premise. What's the story behind that? Tyers: The Firebird series takes place on an alternate timeline, in which the Virgin Mary said “No” and human history took a different course. People went to space, engaged in genetic engineering, and the messianic line survived simply because God doesn’t break promises. So in Daystar’s far future setting, when the messianic people are ready for the big event, God displays the same character that we saw in Jesus of Nazareth – but since it happens under different circumstances, we see different events.

I made a point of not going through the gospels, creating characters to represent each of the biblical people – with one vital exception – and I was careful not to present miracles that would be too parallel to the ways Jesus proved himself on this world – again, with one vital exception. I wanted to bring back the sense of wonder and mystery, to try and remind people how mind-boggling a God we serve.

GM: Daystar is the fifth book in a series, correct? Can it be read by itself?

KT: Absolutely. Daystar is the only novel that takes place in the third generation of the Firebird series. Major characters from the other novels come together, and some of them play major roles – so series readers will enjoy Daystar on more levels than stand-alone readers, but yes, Daystar is primarily about entirely new young characters.

GM: How did it feel to finish a series you’d been writing for so long? What's the Firebird Saga all about?

KT: It felt slightly sad and a little wistful. But deeply satisfying. I had a sense of “job well done.” And now I’m wondering what in the Whorl to do next!

As for the series: The first book, Firebird, is about a young extra heiress sent out to die in battle, who’s captured instead. She discovers that the cause she was defending – her family’s glory – isn’t worth dying for after all. In Fusion Fire, Lady Firebird goes up against truly evil enemies and realizes that there’s deep darkness in her own soul, too. Crown of Fire takes her back to her home world for a royal occasion that nearly costs her life. Those three books have been combined by Marcher Lord Press in The Annotated Firebird, along with maps, notes, family trees and other information.

I returned to the Firebird universe with Wind and Shadow, which is about Firebird’s twin sons. One is following in her footsteps as a warrior, but the other has grown up to be a priest. He’s kidnapped by a demon-possessed telepath who thinks he might be the predicted Boh-Dabar or messiah of this alternate universe. Daystar finishes the series when an outsider, Meris Cariole, gets caught up in the messianic events. So do two of Lady Firebird’s grandchildren.

GM: Wind and Shadow, your fourth Firebird novel, was apparently part of a Master’s degree?

KT: Regent College in Vancouver, BC specializes in training “lay people” in theology, spirituality, history, biblical languages, and other subjects that we normally think of in terms of training for professional ministry. In Regent College terms, every Christian is a minister of the gospel – and since the stress is on learning about God as creator and redeemer, artists are held in high regard. My degree was in “Christianity and the Arts,” and it was a tough course of study but very much worth it. Vancouver was an amazing place to spend two years, too.
GM: The Firebird series is over! This has been a huge part of your life. I know that, for my own series, it'd be hard for me to leave it behind for good. Do you think you'll ever return to the world of Firebird sometime down the road?

 KT:  I certainly won't say "never." I tied off that series pretty conclusively (no spoilers here!), but there's room for prequels. Some of my readers have suggested a spin-off series featuring some characters from the books. I've seen authors do that successfully. It could be worth a try.

GM: Okay. Now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty. My love for Star Wars has been well-documented on this site. I must now live vicariously through you. What was it really like to write for Star Wars?
KT: Fun! The invitation came from my Bantam Books editor, Janna Silverstein, after I had published four science fiction novels with Bantam (including the first two Firebird novels, Firebird and Fusion Fire). Bantam and Lucasfilm selected one of the ideas that I pitched – evil aliens attack an Imperial world right after the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Imperial fleet, so the Rebels have to help repel the aliens. I had quite a bit of artistic freedom writing that novel, which was published as The Truce at Bakura.

My second Star Wars novel, Balance Point, was part of a series called The New Jedi Order, and the series had already been substantially outlined when I started writing. They wanted an anchor-point book for a particular moment in the series, and they wanted a “character author” to write it. Apparently they felt I’d done a good job portraying the beloved Star Wars characters, and they wanted me to do it again. I was honored!

GM: In relation to Star Wars, have you kept up with the EU lately? The prequel films? Recent novels or the new Clone Wars animated series that's running on Cartoon Network? I was just wondering if you had peeked in on the mythology from time to time and what you thought of it all.

KT: I confess I haven't kept up. The amount of licensed Star Wars literature has become overwhelming--and I've had other things going on, like widowhood and grad school and putting together a new life! My writing has moved in other directions, too. But the Star Wars season of my writing life was something I wouldn't have missed for the world. Whenever I see kids in my neighborhood out playing Jedi with their lightsabers, up and down the street, it makes me smile. Big time.

GM: Well, Kathy, you have certainly impacted a lot of people with your work. Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out. 

That concludes another interview. Be sure to head to Kathy's site at for free excerpts from her Firebird novels, deleted scenes, and more!

And don't forget, I'm running a Goodreads giveaway for my latest sci-fi/paranormal/romance/action novel Rift Jump. Enter today for your chance to win a free copy--signed by me!

1 comment:

Mary Ruth Pursselley said...

I am a huge fan of the Firebird trilogy. I haven't read the sequels yet, but I'm eagerly looking forward to them. Thanks so much, Miss Tyers, for sharing your thoughts. And thank you, Greg, for hosting this interview!