Monday, November 26, 2012

William D. (Bill) Burt Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

William “Bill” Burt spent most of his teenage years reading fantasy novels. Perhaps this explains the success of his popular series, King of the Trees, which is based on time travel, fantasy, imagery, and allegorical characters. It has been so successful, in fact, that Burt’s reviews include one written by an eleven year old. He has connected with readers of all ages, but capitalized on the familial element; parents often read to their children and then discuss the story together. Burt’s gift of communication carries over into multiple facets of his life, including his proficient use of American Sign Language, Russian and Welsh. It is interesting that an author who began his writing career editing his father’s plant guidebooks, would go on to effectively capture an audience of his own through faith-based fiction.

MN-Your King of the Trees series is now in its 7th book in the sequence. How many sequels do you think will ultimately be included in the series?

BB-The series is definitely not finished. I would like to see at least three more titles published. I actually have completed plot narratives for Books 8, 9, and 10. I am also embarking upon an entirely new fiction adventure series called "The Creation Seekers." It's aimed at the same target audience (pre-teens and teens) and is based upon Creation Science principles.

MN-The target age group for the series is 8 years and older. Why write for the young adult audience?

BB-I didn't initially set out to write for that particular audience, and as it turns out, adult readers enjoy the series as well. I simply wanted to communicate Biblical truth in a way that would reach the young and the young at heart. I also wished to create a book series that I would have enjoyed reading as a boy. (C.S. Lewis responded similarly when asked why he had written the Chronicles of Narnia.) Furthermore, I didn't feel God was leading me to address the adult themes that invariably surface in novels for mature readers.

Speaking of young adults, although girls love my series, I have been surprised and gratified by the enthusiastic response from boys, whom book publishers have historically neglected. (Publishers target girls as an audience, knowing that girls will read boys' books, but boys will rarely read girls' books.)

MN-Let's talk about the second installment in the series, Torsils in Time. What adventures await Rolin and Marlis?

BB-Torsils in Time is a bit of a cautionary tale about what happens when leaders let their guard down. In The King of the Trees, King Rolin and Queen Marlis have just decisively vanquished their enemies. In Book II, the main characters assume the land of Lucambra is about to enjoy a protracted spell of peace and quiet. Indeed, Rolin and Marlis are enjoying a leisurely picnic in the mountains when disaster befalls them. Unbeknownst to them, Felgor, Lucambra's mortal foe, has not died but has merely passed into a world-between-worlds known as "Limbo." He succeeds in trapping the king and queen in Limbo, where they become invisible and encounter many other unexpected challenges and perils. In the end, Gaelathane delivers them out of all their predicaments.

As in all the titles in my series, the Gospel is presented allegorically in a subtle yet unmistakable fashion.

MN-Is there a character trait or value you would like for the reader to learn while reading Torsils in Time, or did you write it for entertainment purposes only?

BB-Probably the most important character trait that Rolin and Marlis develop in this book is the ability to trust and obey Gaelathane (God) even when it seems He has utterly abandoned them. I would be pleased if my readers learned to trust God as implicitly.

MN-Your books have been A) labeled "The Christian Alternative to Harry Potter" and B) compared to the Chronicles of Narnia by reviewers. Do these statements adequately represent the King of Trees series?

BB-A) Yes. As your readers know, young people today are being exposed to a vast array of dark, occult and soulless fantasy works—including the Harry Potter series. (My first series title was released just months before the first Harry Potter title came out.) For years, I have been very concerned that young readers and their parents do not fully appreciate the potential for spiritual harm posed by books and films that glorify the occult. One of my purposes in writing the King of the Trees series has been to counteract and expose this dangerous societal trend toward dabbling in the so-called magic arts. I decisively debunk the occult in my books by demonstrating that God's power is far superior to any puny human efforts (i.e., magic) intended to supersede His natural laws. In my books, when unusual events take place that appear to be magical, readers learn that these are merely the result of different natural laws at work, as ordained by Gaelathane (God). There is no place for magic in any of my books. I have been encouraged by the positive responses from young readers and their parents (Christian and otherwise) who have found in my series a refreshing alternative to occult-oriented juvenile literature.

B) Yes again. I believe reviewers often (favorably) compare my books to the Chronicles of Narnia for several reasons: 1) The King of the Trees series and Lewis's Chronicles are both written as extended, Biblically-basedadventure-allegories; 2) Both series appeal to adults as well as to younger readers; 3) Both series are primarily set in a medieval-like era; 3) Both series feature mythological creatures and noble characters locked in good-versus-evil struggles; 4) C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, so it is natural that something of his style might rub off on me. (I should mention that the allegories I employ in my books are unique to me.)

I might also mention that after I had finished reading and re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I felt called to create a series combining C.S. Lewis's allegorical richness with Tolkien's cosmological depth and realism. Whether I have succeeded in attaining that goal I leave for my readers to decide

MN-With Christmas on the horizon, parents may wish to purchase books in the series as gifts. Are they readable as stand alones, or do you suggest reading them in order?

BB-All my books stand alone; my plots don't leave the reader hanging at the end. That said, I would strongly recommend reading Book I--The King of the Trees—first. The sequels won't make sense otherwise. I would also recommend reading the sequels in order, although it's not as critical as reading the first book first. I like to say that we "grow with our readers." That is, books in the series become progressively more advanced as well as more polished in respect to the prose, poetry, allegories and illustrations.

MN-As parents, how can we encourage the proper use of childhood imagination and creativity?

BB-I think it's as simple as the old "GIGO" ("Garbage In, Garbage Out") computer adage. What children feed upon through their eyes and ears—the windows to their souls—will be directly reflected in their imaginative and creative lives. The corollary to that principle is what I call "PIPO"—"Purity In, Purity Out." If we supply the proper raw materials—the Bible, classic Christian literature and videos, a solid Christian education, etc.—we can rightfully expect that our children will become creative forces for God and righteousness in this world.

MN-There is compelling research that points to a steadily declining literacy rate in America. Is the answer really as simple as parents reading to their children starting at an early age?

BB-I agree: Reading aloud to children (and to young adults as well) is one of the best solutions to our literacy crisis. (So is turning off the television!) Apropos of that topic, all my titles come equipped with glossaries and pronunciation guides at the back for easier reading and/or reading aloud. Many parents have told me they make a family activity out of reading my books aloud together. To that end, I purposely have avoided incorporating nightmarish scenes in my books. (I road-tested Book I on my own children by reading the manuscript to them before bed when they were younger. They loved it!)

May your leaves never wither! (Ps. 1:3)

Author Bio- William D. "Bill" Burt is best known as the author of the "King of the Trees" Christian fantasy series. Having spent most of his teenage years adventuring in Middle Earth, the author is an avid fantasy fan. His first allegorical fantasy title, The King of the Trees, came out in 1998 (WinePress). Bowing to reader demand, he has expanded the series to include a total of seven titles to date, with more to follow. He has also embarked upon a new young-adult adventure series featuring prehistoric creatures in a modern setting.

While still in high school, Burt began his writing career editing his father's popular identification guides, Edible and Poisonous Plants of the Western/Eastern States. As an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at Western Oregon University, he served as a successful grant-writer and program coordinator.

Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing novels, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years' experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children.

To read more about William “Bill” Burt or to order any of the books in his King of Trees series, visit his website and/or friend him on FaceBook!

Torsils in Time
William D Burt

Picture Book II in the "King of the Trees" fantasy series by William D. Burt.
WINEPRESS PUBLISHING: JUNE, 2001. (Softcover; 288 pages. Illustrated by Terri L. Lahr and Rebecca J. Burt.) Includes glossary and pronunciation guide at the back for easier reading and for reading aloud.

In this sequel to The King of the Trees, King Rolin and Queen Marlis are enjoying a carefree autumn picnic when they are trapped between worlds. Too late they learn the connections among a silver starglass, a handful of black pearls and five ravens. Cut off from friends, family and each other by a mysterious malady, they learn to survive in a savage land where unwary travelers fall prey to strange and terrifying creatures. To save Lucambra and many other worlds from a devouring darkness, they must join forces with some unlikely allies. Only in losing all they have ever known and loved do they discover the faithfulness of Gaelathane.

Ideal for ages eight and older, Torsils in Time is an inspirational fantasy tale filled with adventure, riddles and mystery.

Purchase Links: 
Torsils in Time -Softcover, Autographed 
Torsils in Time -Kindle Format 
Torsils in Time -Epub Format (Nook, etc.)

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. 
Other author inteviews featured in the November issue of TWJM: Karen Kilby, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Tim Redmond.

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