Drum Roll Please. Fantasy author Stephanie Cain is here. I promised a special someone for our blog tour and here she is.
Stephanie A. Cain writes epic & urban fantasy novels. She grew up in Indiana, where much of her urban fantasy is set, but dreams of living somewhere without winter. She works at a museum where the best-selling novel of the 19th century was written. A proud crazy cat lady, she is happily owned by Strider, Eowyn, and Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Her website is www.stephaniecainonline.com and she can also be found on Twitter as @stephanie_cain and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephaniecainfiction/.
Stephanie and I have swapped posts. So she’s going to talk about “Shining A Light” this Christmas season. Remember we’re doing this as part of our Giftmas 2017 Tour to help the Edmonton Food Bank. Help us with just a dollar and you can still win a prize, see here.
Over to Stephanie!
Belief and Fantasy
I’m a fantasy author. My dad read to me almost every night, taking me through the Chronicles of Narnia, the Westmark trilogy, the Prydain Chronicles, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and many other wonderful books. Because he gave me this love of reading, and reading fantasy in particular, I grew up with an identity grounded in that literary tradition.
I was also raised a Christian—in the evangelical church, specifically. Over the years I have rejected the political identity that goes with the evangelical church, but I have never stopped being a fan of Jesus Christ. These days I tend to refer to myself as a red-letter Christian (someone who believes Christianity should be defined by the words of Jesus, which many Bibles print in red ink) or a follower of the Jesus Way (a term used by the Boston Declaration signers here: https://thebostondeclaration.com/ ).
My two heroes of fantasy were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Tolkien was a Catholic, as many people know, and dear friends with Lewis, who became one of the foremost theologians of the 20th century and—more importantly to many people—the creator of Narnia.
For me, it was never a secret that the great lion Aslan was Jesus…but I always felt as if I loved Aslan more than Jesus. In that, I was like Laurence, whose mother wrote a letter to Lewis in 1955. Lewis replied, “When Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.” (Letters to Children, p 52)
Fantasy and Hope
Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post about hope in fantasy literature (http://www.stephaniecainonline.com/hope-in-fantasy/), and I highlighted what I feel is one of the most beautiful passages every written—it’s a passage I return to when I’m in need of encouragement, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s about light.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King, Book 6, Chapter 2, “The Land of the Shadow,” Samwise and Frodo are deep in enemy territory, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, and Frodo is growing weaker under the burden of the ring. And yet…
“Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeking among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
Isn’t that wonderful? The world is dark and grim, we are battered and sore and weary, and it seems like we’re creeping—or even racing—closer to a moment when everything is going to fall apart. But there’s still light and high beauty that the darkness can never touch.
Hope and Real Life
That passage reminds me of one in the Bible—1 John 2:8. “…the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” Just a couple sentences later, John adds, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” There’s another important passage in the Bible that talks about loving someone else. In Matthew 22:39, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Taken together, that means if I want to live in the light, I need to love my brother, my neighbor, as I love myself.
What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself? In my mind, it means I want for my neighbor all the things I want for myself—health, happiness, fulfillment, to not be hungry, to not be in need, to have people who care about me. It means I want my neighbor to have the same light I do. It means I want all of my neighbor’s needs to be filled.
So for me the goal, not just of Christmas or Giftmas but of the entire year, is to shine a light on the people I come into contact with, whether I do that by giving money to a food bank, donating to the ACLU, sponsoring a refugee family—or even by writing fantasy novels that are filled with moments of hope when my characters are striving to do what is best for their world.
And isn’t that really what both the Bible and Frodo’s quest to destroy Sauron are about? Doing what’s best for the world and shining a light—even when it’s hard.
-Stephanie A. Cain
So that was Stephanie for you, as part of our Giftmas Tour. We’ve already raised 300$ so we have a very short distance to go. If you can, help us spread the word on social media #Giftmas2017 is our hashtag!