Q. Is this your first novel? Where can I buy it?

A. Yes, The Long Guest was my first novel. It’s the first in The Scattering Trilogy.

The whole trilogy is now available on Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble online. You can also buy from me directly, or from Born Again Books in Idaho Falls, Idaho, if you happen to be there.

For some reason, Amazon is not listing The Great Snake as part of The Scattering Trilogy. To find it, go to Books and search “the great snake mugrage.” It turns out there are plenty of books with snakes in the title, and these will come up if you don’t include my name.

Q. What genre are your books?

A. Epic fantasy that is light on magic.

For further clarification, you might like my books if you like …

  • Biblical fiction such as Havah (Eve’s story) by Tosca Lee or the feminist classic about Dinah, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, or the novels of Brian Godawa: Noah Primeval, Enoch Primordial, etc. OR
  • Fiction about about ancient North America like the novels of Kathleen and Michael O’Gear (People of the Earth, People of the Silence, etc.) OR
  • Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series (though my books have far fewer sex scenes, you will be grateful to hear) OR
  • Multi-generational family sagas OR
  • Books about culture crossing like those written by Pearl Buck and like the science fiction of Ursula Le Guin

Q. Why are your novels set in 10,000 BC? Are you a young earther or an old earther?

A. I am neither a young earther nor an old earther.

I don’t believe the world was created just 7,000 years ago, for a lot of reasons, including some biblical ones. As a linguist, I don’t find the argument that the word “day” always means a literal day convincing. In fact, I find it really simplistic. Also, there is lots of evidence that genealogies in the Bible tend to skip generations, just hitting the highlights of an ancestral line. This makes it impossible to calculate Genesis timelines with precision by using the genealogies and ages given.

But I’m not an “old earther” in the sense of accepting without question the conventional wisdom of mainstream archaeology, paleontology and anthropology. I believe that “modern” human civilization, complete with writing, mathematics, astronomy and engineering, is much older than we are usually told. Like, tens of thousands of years older. We’ll explore some of my reasons in the blog.

How did I arrive at 10,000 BC and why aren’t my characters cave people?

Obviously, to justify my choice of dates would require a really long answer. I may expand on my thinking later, either on this page or in a blog post, but briefly, here it is.

I took a few different lines of evidence, including evidence about the most recent North American ice ages, the last time the earth’s magnetic field reversed, and some of Graham Hancock’s wild historical theories. (For more detail see the Graham Hancock post here.) Putting all these together, I decided that for the purposes of my book, around 14,000 BC the earth (already populated at that point by advanced and probably evil human civilizations) entered an era of cataclysms that included lots of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as parts of the earth’s crust slipped much more quickly than we usually expect. This culminated in the Flood, which in the world of my books happened about 10,400 BC. I have people beginning work on the Tower of Babel at about 10,250 BC, which leaves The Long Guest opening at 10,200 BC and The Strange Land taking place at about 10,175 BC, twenty-five years later.

Obviously, not only are my dates guesses, but the “evidence” they are based on is little more than other people’s guesses. It is really really difficult to tell what happened tens of thousands of years ago, which is part of the reason that literally every theory is controversial.

Luckily, this state of affairs leaves some leeway for authors like me. For example, the ice-free corridor across Canada was supposedly not open until about 9,500 BC. In my books, I have it open almost 700 years earlier. This is not a huge problem because in this field of study, dates keep getting revised as new evidence or new methods of analysis come up. Unlike with more recent history, +/- 700 years is not that huge a margin of error.

Q. Wait a minute. If your novels are taking place in 10,000 BC, how come your characters have agriculture, trumpets, recurve bows, and in some cases even writing?

A. There is plenty of evidence that human beings had sophisticated science and technology long before conventional history teaches that they did. See all my blog posts with titles like “Ancient People Were Really Smart.” Especially see my series of posts about The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age, by Richard M. Rudgley.

Just because a given innovation was known tens of thousands of years ago doesn’t mean it was used continuously, by all peoples in all places, in an unbroken line ever since. Some technologies were lost, and we are still not sure exactly what they were (examples: ancient surgery and building with megaliths). Other technologies, such as writing and agriculture, were useful only to people who lived in certain geographical environments and were lost or abandoned by people groups who struck out as explorers in a pastoral or hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Q. What’s with the dragons in your books?

A. They are not magical. They are dinosaurs.

The Long Guest features a duckbill dinosaur, a raptor type of dinosaur, a passing mention of stegosauruses (in Paradise Valley), and a slightly longer encounter with a feathered triceratops. In The Strange Land, we only occasionally see flying dragons from a distance.

In both books, we don’t interact with a dragons a great deal, because they are not characters in the plot. (Sorry.) They are part of the ancient milieu through which the human characters move.

There is historical evidence that “dragon” was the ancient world’s word for dinosaur or for certain types of dinosaurs. See the dinosaur post for more information.

Q. Are you an “own voices” writer?

A. Yes. I am a human being writing about human beings.

Q. I’ve heard writers say “I was going to do X, but then the character did Y.” I always think, Wait, aren’t you the one who makes up what the character does?

A. Well, it may sound strange, but when we are writing fiction, the characters do “come to life” and do things the author wasn’t completely planning. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if this does not happen, then the story is not working.

Of course, the author still has to “make up” what the character is doing in a sense, and write it down. But it seems to come from somewhere else at the same time. This is similar to what happens to actors and musicians when they talk about “being in the zone.” They still have to play the notes or say the words, and they need to be talented and to have practiced. But something more is also going on. This is the reason that ancient poets and storytellers used to invoke the Muse before embarking on their art.

I’m not sure this phenomenon is experienced by every single fiction writer. Perhaps there are some very meticulous plotters who don’t experience this and who still write perfectly good books. But this “characters coming to life” thing is definitely a part of my own process, and I’ve heard many other authors talk about it, so I know I’m not the only one.