My friend and fellow speculative fiction author Ralene Burke has just released her Bellanok serial in one big ol’ book. Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior. If you’re looking for a great fantasy, look no further. Ralene stopped by to chat with me about her process and her characters.
Hey, Ralene. Thanks for giving us a little access to your mind. In Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior, there’s such a contrast between the world Brian knows and Fauna’s world. Did you prefer writing one over the other?
Oh that’s a good question. Of course, writing our world was easier because I was working within known parameters. But designing Bellanok was a lot of fun. And who wouldn’t love writing in a world with dragons and unicorns? So, yes, I probably preferred writing about Bellanok.
Is there a character that you like more than the others?
You want me to choose between my babies? Brian with his insecurities, Fauna with her pride, and Roman with his sarcastic demeanor? Brian and Fauna have very real struggles that people will relate to. But Roman was both the comedic relief and the rational one between Fauna and Brian.
I suppose I can see why it’s too tough to choose. Do you see yourself in any of the characters?
Brian and Fauna are both bits and pieces of me. Both of their big struggles are issues I’ve had in my life. Finding my place, accepting my need for Christ. Fauna’s optimism and heart are also qualities that we share. Honestly, I don’t think we can write characters that don’t have at least a piece of us in them. Even the villains, which can be a manifestation of our fears, our insecurities, etc.
How do you picture Brian and Fauna? Do you have pictures? Do you keep them posted somewhere as you write for inspiration?
I had pictures once upon a time, but the files were lost in an old hard drive. I found Brian’s (then) new photo when my cover designer and I were looking at stock photos for the various covers of the serial. She found one that absolutely fit. Fauna was inspired by a fairy-like character I found on Pinterest.
A great cover designer is a prize.Glad you found someone who gets you. Let’s talk about something fun for a minute. What’s something quirky you do as a writer?
I don’t drink coffee? Many of my writer friends already know that I’m allergic to coffee. So, I can’t drink that to keep me going. I do eat gummy bears when the going gets tough. 🙂
I love the Haribo brand gummies. #nomnomnom
Listen, this is something I’ve wondered…thought about as I write actually. I liked the fact that you originally released Bellanok as a serial. Was that your plan all along, or was it an experiment?
It was definitely an experiment. My agent and I had decided to self-publish Bellanok as a way to start building my brand. But then I read a blog post or an article somewhere, talking about serials, and from a marketing standpoint I thought it would be a good way to keep me, and Bellanok, at the front of people’s minds for a few months.
That’s a great idea. I might do that myself with a book. I know I like the quick follow-up. There’s nothing worse than a cliffhanger that leaves me cringing and crying when I have to wait a whole YEAR for the sequel. Anyway. I love books where I identify with the struggles of one of the characters. I can sort of get outside my own head and see a different approach to things. What’s one word of encouragement you have for people who feel like Brian–frustrated, failing, and hesitant to believe they can really be of use?
Remember that God is omniscient. He knows all, the future and the past. What you are going through now may be preparing you for what is to come. Stay close, lean into Him. Pray. Immerse yourself in the Word. And then wait. It’s hard, no doubt. But when God comes through, as He always does, He will blow your mind!
I like to ask a bonus question, because I’m a geek: What’s your favorite fandom?
Uh—uh—well . . . there’s so many! Okay, okay . . . probably Doctor Who. Or Lord of the Rings. Or Star Wars. Aaahhh!
Tough to choose, for sure. Thanks for swinging by, Ralene. Conversations with you are always lovely.
Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is available on Amazon!
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .