“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
― Lloyd Alexander
Ben Phillips is a 35-year-old father of four remarkable and rambunctious children. He has been married to his loving and patient wife, Katie, for 16 years. Ben’s lifelong passion has been writing and creating music to lead people into a better understanding of God’s pursuing love for them. By God’s grace, for the past ten years, he has led people in worship as a full-time career at Calvary Community Church, a non-denominational, 13,000-member church located in Phoenix, Arizona. During Ben’s time leading at Calvary, he has written more than 40 songs, and published two albums. His band, North Element [formerly North Worship], is available through iTunes, cdbaby.com and other major music-based websites.
Ben began his love for reading at the young age of eleven—he enjoyed tackling novels by authors like Stephen Lawhead, Terry Brooks, J.R. R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. Ben began creating fictional characters in early childhood, and progressed to writing short stories in high school. He found the same love and interest in writing fiction as in music. For years, as God led him to use music for His glory, Ben’s love for writing was focused on songwriting lyrics. In 2010, following a back injury, Ben was forced to lay low from his busy, musical lifestyle. During that time, a desire to communicate God’s beauty, plan of salvation, and love through fictional stories was rekindled.
Ben was becoming aware of the growing divide among American subcultures—and the general lack of interest in hearing the gospel of grace. These two realities, combined with his children’s love of reading, sparked the idea of joining others who have portrayed Christian ideals and spiritual truths through fictional characters. He had a sincere desire for his children to understand the honor, strength, and lifelong wonder found within a relationship with Jesus, and knew it could be communicated through stories and characters in ways other than theological non-fiction—a genre widely unread by the majority of the world’s children and adults. During the past three years, Ben has worked on a fantasy trilogy: The Shadow Champion. His new sci-fi novel, Eonian, will be published and released in the fall of 2014.
Post-Apocalyptic Sci-fi; Heroic Fantasy
“My passion for writing began years before I could read or write. It was a love that stemmed from a vibrant, wide-eyed amazement of all things make-believe: bedtime stories, picture books, theater productions, movies, backyard pretending—it all embodied the possibility of an otherworldly escape to my impressionable, pre-school mind. As a boy, I would get lost in books, privately placing myself as a character within those fictional tales. Before I was ten years old, I had begun dreaming up my own worlds, complete with larger-than-life characters, and deadly archenemies. It wasn’t long before I attempted to write down the adventures from my mind, often in storyboard form. Somewhere along the way, while I grew farther into adulthood, the wonder was lost to me, as I think happens to many of us.
In my early twenties, I came into a saving faith in Jesus. Soon, when reading authors like Lewis and Tolkien, the idea of writing fiction with the intention of incorporating analogous truths that hold an eternal value became romanticized in my mind. As I matured in my faith, the make-believe of my youth—that had once been lost—began to reemerge.
Without necessarily intending to do so, I found myself dreaming up new, elaborate, imaginations that I would share with my sons. I have to confess, the actual act of writing has always been more of a burden—a means to an end. Dreaming of the story, in all its grandeur and beauty, comes easily…typing the words on a page, to convey the depths of those dreams, is daunting to say the least.”
“Death, blindness, and chaos—this is the reality that the 22-year-old military subcontracted courier, Gavin Marksdon, awakens to discover. It’s been nearly six months since a meteor storm pummeled one of the largest cities in America, causing a mysterious plague to spread throughout the world. The unknown bacterium is saturating every living organism with a contamination level that is bringing all civilization to a halt—technology and organic life are both struggling to survive.
Gavin regains consciousness in total darkness. Recovering from a grievous wound received by a meteor fragment, he learns there is a tangled web of his own government’s knowledge—deceit as well as a war—that has raged for countless eons from beyond Earth. While battling powerful changes to his physical form, Gavin and his handful of allies find themselves on an expedition that holds the balance of their world—a world wavering between a dark evil, and a new light. Journeying their way through a devastated, post-apocalyptic America, to find and save Gavin’s 13-year-old sister, Lenora, they stumble on a deeper conspiracy of a global alien presence…and their own government’s betrayal.”
“Slow and peaceful tones collide with driving rock to create a worship project that glorifies Jesus Christ with the honesty of humanity.”
“A seven song EP with music that ranges from songs of wonder and praise to heart-wrenching cries for God to intervene in seemingly hopeless situations.”
Eonian is scheduled to be released in fall of 2014 through A Book’s Mind publishing. The official book launch is scheduled for October 2014. Watch for the date!
Philip Cook was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where he currently resides with his wife, Cristina, mother-in-law, Martha, and their four dogs.
He graduated from Western International University with a Master’s degree in business administration, and is now a full-time real estate broker, dedicated husband, writer, and Sunday-school teacher.
Always interested in history and mythology, Phil embraced his heritage after traveling to Ireland, which gave him a deeper insight into not only its people and its land, but also its legends.
He was influenced by many famous writers, including J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and C. S. Lewis. The author’s journey led to the creation of the magical world of Erden, where both truth and fantasy merge to become a story of faith, friendship, and the eternal battle between good and evil.
Christian Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
“My passion is for fantasy and science-fiction literature. I also have a strong desire to share my Christian faith, and decided to start a journey as a Christian-fantasy novelist. Throughout the story of Erden: Flame of The Creator, there are nuggets of Christian truths.”
“After his nine-year-old niece, Lilly, follows a huge wolf into a shimmering pool of light, Peter and his new friend, Karina, jump in to save her. They enter the world of Erden where they encounter great, wicked, and dreadful creatures like the demonic Tzygula. Along the way, Peter and Karina are befriended and mentored by two human warriors—the beautiful Brittini, a highly magical and skilled Elvin swordswoman, and Riley, a powerful, yet smart-aleck leprechaun. Peter and Karina are amazed at the Creator’s power, and the strange, wondrous, and perilous world where they are trying to find and rescue Lilly.”
Reality is fantasy’s best friend. We, the audience, and you, the writer, all live in reality. The problems we understand are real problems. Genuine conflicts. True drama. The drama of families, of lost loves, of financial woes. Cruel neighbors and callow bullies and loved ones dead.
This is the nature of write what you know, and the fantasy writer’s version of that is, write what’s real. Which sounds like very bad advice, because last time I checked, none of us were plagued by dragons or sentient fungal cities or old gods come back to haunt us. But that’s not the point — the point is, you use the fantasy to highlight the reality.
The dragon is the callow bully. The lease on your fungal apartment is up and your financial woes puts you in tithe to the old gods who in turn make for very bad neighbors. You grab the core essence of a true problem and swaddle it in the mad glittery ribbons of fantasy — and therein you find glorious new permutations of conflict. Reality expressed in mind-boggling ways. Reach for fantasy. Find the reality.”
For more tips on writing fantasy from Chuck Wendig, click here.
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