Saturday, August 20, 2016

Author Spotlight: Bryan Davis

Last summer I posted my first Author Spotlight, in which I flailed about Ted Dekker. Has it really been over a year since that spotlight post? It's high time for another, this one on another of my top favorite authors of all time . . .

Bryan Davis! (Link leads to author website. Check out his Facebook, Twitter, and especially his awesomely helpful blog, The Writer's Chair.) With 28 books published and more to come, he's a fantastic author with masterful skill.

C.S. Lewis introduced me to fantasy, and Wayne Thomas Batson beckoned me into modern YA fantasy, but Bryan Davis locked me into that genre for good. I received Raising Dragons on my thirteenth birthday, and the Dragons in Our Midst storyworld was a place I lived throughout my teenage years. It feels like Billy, Bonnie, Walter, Ashley, and many other beloved characters are my friends. They took me on such a wild ride, and taught me so much.

Billy Bannister taught me to fight with truth as my sword and faith as my shield.

Bonnie Silver exemplified trust in God and a steadfast purity.

Walter Foley made me laugh.

Ashley Stalworth showed me how to surrender.

Sapphira Adi was a picture of longsuffering.

These books showed me what a true hero looks like. It isn't perfection, not an absence of doubts or a lack of failings. They question, they make mistakes, but they press on anyway. They hold fast to the good, the true, and the beautiful, even when it's incredibly hard. Characters like these give me something to aspire to.

And come on, humans with dragon traits like wings or fiery breath or danger sensing? How cool is that? Dragon slayers, weapons like Excalibur and candlestones, legends of King Arthur, multiple dimensions, flying demons, Nephilim, epic battles . . . This is really fun stuff, guys. (I mean terrible. A lot of that is awful for the main characters. But undeniably fun for us, right?)

Another thing in which Bryan Davis excels is complex plots driven by complex motivations. (And he's not an outliner! How does he do it?!) Twists and turns and revelations are a given in any of his books.

Anyway, I've been focusing primarily on Dragons in Our Midst, but that's only four books. Before I carry on to other series, I do want to mention the reading order, because it may be confusing for new readers who aren't sure where to start. DIOM is followed by two more four-book series, Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard. Here's how to read them.

Dragons in Our Midst
1. Raising Dragons
2. The Candlestone
3. Circles of Seven
4. Tears of a Dragon

Oracles of Fire
1. Eye of the Oracle
2. Enoch's Ghost
3. Last of the Nephilim
4. The Bones of Makaidos

Children of the Bard
1. Song of the Ovulum
2. From the Mouth of Elijah
3. The Seventh Door
4. Omega Dragon

There. Aren't I benevolent? Now, DIOM and Co. are what people usually think of when they hear the name Bryan Davis, and as amazing as those books are, they shouldn't outshine the rest of his equally amazing novels.

There's the YA tetralogy Dragons of Starlight and its companion trilogy geared for adults, Tales of Starlight. These take place on a couple different worlds--one in which brothers Jason and Adrian Masters live, and the other where dragons have enslaved humans. Both Masters brothers wind up on different quests to release the slaves, and it's intriguing to see how their stories intertwine but can still be read separately. Once again, Bryan Davis delivers an epic tale with heart, humor, and conviction.

There's the more mainstream dystopian Reapers trilogy, (Reapers and Beyond the Gateway are published, but the third has yet to be released). Unfortunately I haven't read these yet, but I love the concept of these Reapers escorting souls to a gateway to the afterlife, and discovering that something shady is going on.

There's the Echoes from the Edge trilogy (consisting of Beyond the Reflection's Edge, Eternity's Edge, and Nightmare's Edge). It's so mind-bending you have to read the books close together, or else you may lose track of things. It gets complicated to have three versions of each character, some alive, others dead, and mostly all worldhopping--but it's SO FUN. A creepy villain, awesome mirrors and violins and cameras . . . This trilogy is seriously underrated. It's currently out of print, but Bryan Davis has been revising them for republication with different titles.

There's a standalone novel, I Know Why the Angels Dance, which takes a thoughtful and heartrending look at death, grief, and hope. There's a children's book, Beelzebed (another I have yet to read), that takes place during DIOM character Walter Foley's childhood. There's even a couple of nonfiction books. Oh, and if you like graphic novels, Raising Dragons has been turned into one, and it's very fun.

Basically? Go read them all.

Although his craft has grown since his first book, you can count on several things in each and every Bryan Davis work you pick up: deep characters, strong faith elements, awesmazing plots (awesome + amazing = awesmazing, you guys, get with the program), and quite often dragons. And we all know how much I adore dragons.

This author has hugely impacted me as a reader and as a writer. I've had the chance to meet him in person,* and the faith he proclaims in stories, he also lives out in the real world. If you've been longing for more dragons in your life (correct answer: you have been), I highly recommend his books. And even if dragons aren't your thing, but music or dystopians are--there's some of that, too.

*My family actually had him, Mrs. Davis, and two of their daughters over for supper when they were on a book tour. We had great conversations, he signed all my books, and I got the chance to go over some edits on my work (from both Mr. and Mrs. Davis) in person. It was one of the best days of my life.

taken September 2012 // this pic turned out blurry for some reason

His books are the perfect illustration of this quote:

"Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth." -Alburt Camus

By taking us to other worlds, he shows the truth of good and evil, of hope persisting in the midst of doubt, of  love spanning time and heartbreak and bottomless rifts. Maybe it sounds sappy, but his stories are truly an inspiration to me.

And now I'll stop talking, because "Too much information can make your brain choke."

Have you read any of Bryan Davis's books? Do you have a favorite book or character of his? And if you're new to this author, do any of the abovementioned novels pique your interest?

P.S. This is my 101st post! Crazy!



    Ahhhh, okay, so you know I LOVE Bryan Davis and all his fabulous books. What you said about them is so true! The complex plots, life-changing themes, and inspirational characters are all awesmazing. (Loved seeing that word pop up in your post. ;D)

    My favorite series he's written are definitely the Tales of Starlight/Dragons of Starlight series. They've definitely grown on me over the years, as I used to like DIOM better. The characters and truths resonate with me, and even when I'm not reading them I'll find myself thinking about them. That's a mark of a brilliant storyteller right there. ^_^ (Also, WHY DID I NOT KNOW TETRALOGY WAS A WORD?! My life will never be the same. O_o)

    *le gasp* BRYAN DAVIS CAME TO YOUR HOUSE??? :O :O :O I'm SO jealous! He came to our church a few years ago, but of course that was the week we were out of town. :/ And he came again to somewhere close to us this year, but we weren't able to go then either. I have such great luck. XD

    Lovely post, Tracey! I love commenting on your blog so much. <333 Part of me wants to go back and comment on all the posts you missed, but the more sensible part is refusing. :P We'll see whether I actually listen to the advice I give myself...(I very seldom do.)

    Now. I should go work on my own post. ;)

    1. Yay, a fellow fan of Bryan Davis! :D His books definitely are life-changing. I've heard that they've even prevented some readers from committing suicide. Pretty amazing.

      Oh, those are so good! Thinking about a book after the cover is closed is DEFINITELY a sign of a powerful story and a brilliant storyteller. ^_^ One of the things that stuck out to me in ToS/DoS was the questions about justice vs. mercy. (YES. IT'S A WORD. I looked it up, and apparently quartet and quadrilogy are also options. And a five-book series would be a quintet or pentalogy, I think. Handy terms to know for a bookworm!)

      He did, and it was amazing! Totally a God thing, too. :D Aww, shoot, that's awful that you missed him twice. Third time's the charm?

      D'awww, thank you! I enjoy reading all your lovely comments. <333 I have no problem at all with you commenting on old posts, but please don't feel you're *obligated* to do it! (I'm debating the same thing with all the posts I missed on YOUR blog, actually. XD)

      *runs off to new Mary post*

  2. I got a little thrill when I saw you did this today. Because, ya know, BRYAN DAVIS!!!!

    I love how you said DIOM was the place you lived in your teenage years, and that the characters were like your friends. Because that's EXACTLY me. The DIOM world and character just WERE my teenagehood. Those character became a part of me. And, also like you, these books HEAVILY influenced what I read to this day. The Hobbit introduced me to high fantasy, yes. But Bryan Davis's stories opened up an entire world of Christian speculative fiction, which is basically the ONLY thing I read these days. And I think he kinda paved the way for this type of story. Because back in the day Christian publishers weren't took keen on producing weird speculative Christian books, you know? Bryan Davis was one of the first to make it work.

    ANYWAYS. I'm babbling! (When am I ever not?) This post just gives me all the happy feels. And I still can't believe you had him at your HOUSE. I would definitely think it was one of your best days ever!

    As far as favorite books, the whole DIOM/OOF series, definitely. Though the Echoes from the Edge trilogy blew. my. mind. They're really close to my favorites! I loved his Starlight books, obviously, but they didn't grip me as much as his others. Still love 'em though. I love ALL his books! To this day I've never known an author to come up with such big, complex plots. And he PANTS them all. I just...I can't. He's amazing.

    I need to stop or I'll sit here and fangirl all day. But one last thing. YOUR 101TH POST!!!! *throws confett* THAT'S AWESOME! :D All the wonderful Tracy posts! *huggles them*

    1. YOU TOO? Let me hug you!!! I love how they meant so much to both of us. He definitely had a big part in opening up the market for Christian spec. AMG Publishers had never published any fantasy until he came along, actually. Maybe one day they'll call him one of the founding fathers of Christian speculative fiction! ^_^

      (Blabbering is fun, though.) I'm so glad it gave you all the happy feels! Yes, I have very fond memories of that day, and the following day as well, when I went to his workshop AND the parent talk (which was basically fantasy apologetics--very cool and inspiring).

      Yes, those two series are dear to me, too! Echoes blew my mind as well, and ahhhh, I just love them ALL. I know, right? How in the world can anyone pants such complicated books? He has a gift.

      LOL, fangirl as long as you want to! XD Aww, thanks--your support during this blogging journey means the world. <3 (And I was going to mention my last post being my 100th, but...I forgot. So I had to announce the 101st. XD)

  3. WOAH! You actually had him and his family over to your house? That's incredibly amazing and wow! Talk about happy fingerling moment in the extreme. :) I'm quite delighted for you.

    And yay! 101 posts! GO GIRL!!! That is impressive. :)
    Aidyl from Noveltea

    1. Yes! It was so cool! I was probably grinning like a maniac all evening. XD

      Thank you, Aidyl! And thanks for stopping by Adventure Awaits. I love seeing new faces. :)

  4. I remember when my younger sister (Ariel) and I absolutely DEVOURED the Dragons In Our Midst series a couple years ago, those books are so much fun! And DRAGONS. EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH DRAGONS (*whispers* plus, my story muse is a little brown dragon, so I'm biased XD). AND AWESMAZING PLOTS. He totally has them. And I'm so using that words from now on :D.

    *cannot believe the fact that you had Bryan Davis over to your house* *is extremely jealous*

    1. Aren't they fabulous? :D I'm planning to reread all twelve DIOM/OOF/COTB books back-to-back sometime. EVERYTHING IS INDEED BETTER WITH DRAGONS! (Cute muse!)



    And oh my goodness, you met him? And had his family over for dinner? Wowzers. o.o

    1. Yes, you do! Any of them look particularly tantalizing, or do you need a suggestion for where to start? (I'm more than happy to provide, obviously. XD)

      It was pretty cool! :D

  6. I've read almost all of Mr. Davis's books besides Echoes from the Edge and Why the Angel's Dance. I've been friends with Mr. Davis for years and he's been such an amazing writing teacher. ^ ^

    1. *high fives* That's impressive! (You really need to read EftE, though--so good.) His writing advice IS amazing. It's completely transformed my writing for the better! Thanks for the comment, Tori! ^_^

  7. I grew up on his books, he is the author who got me into fantasy. It's so cool that you got to meet him.

    1. So cool that he got you into fantasy! He introduced me to contemporary fantasy too. Ah, fond memories. ^_^

      Yes, some days I still can't believe it! XD

  8. That is amazing that you got to meet him! I have met (as an adult -- I did meet a couple of randoms who came to my school when I was younger) Carol Ann Duffy and Maggie Stiefvater, but never for dinner in my actual house! I love that story. Living the dream.

    Anyway, I am very interested in Christian fantasy because I've not read any modern books, only Narnia and LotR ... So I'd like to. And it seems Davis would be a good place to start.

    1. It was such a highlight! Meeting authors is very cool. Still excited that you got to meet Maggie Stiefvater! What was she like? (I feel like that's such a juvenile question, but y'know...)

      YES, START HERE. I'm not sure what you'd think of his earliest books, but nevertheless, Dragons in Our Midst is a favorite of mine, and each book improves over its predecessor. (Plus the way he weaves in King Arthur legends is so fun!) Haha, now I will be cheering for you to finish a series so you can start a new one! ;D