H.A. Pruitt is the author of the Christian fantasy novel Anelthalien and its sequel, Earth Quaking.
I invited her write in my Republic Chronicles galaxy because she’s another Christian author like me who seeks to honor God with her stories, and she’s super talented.
Welcome, Heather! Tell us a little about your story.
The story I wrote is titled “Zag”, and it is about a Kalli named Zag. In your galaxy the Kalli are space pirates who have a Viking vibe. The main character of my story is smaller than most of the Kalli. That drives him to try to prove himself. In the story he is on a raid and encounters someone who stirs up his anger. It causes him to make a decision that opens him to a new way of thinking.
I love that. I feel like the Kalli were the perfect race for this story and it’s super creative to have one that’s smaller and use that to drive him to try to prove himself. Zag is such an intriguing character and one I love. So, how did you come up with the name Zag?
Zag started as a placeholder name. When I envisioned my character, that’s the first name that popped in my mind. Usually, I give characters names that signify who they are, and I intended to go back and change his name to something with more meaning, but after finishing the story, “Zag” just fit him too well for me to want to change it.
Sometimes the names just click with us. That happens a lot to me as well. Zag, as a Kalli, is not necessarily a hero, though. What made you choose to write a story about a character that is more of a villain?
When I looked through the races in your galaxy, I wanted to pick two that would create an interesting dynamic if they met. The Kalli and Falcerri seemed the most unlikely to have anything to do with one another, so I picked them and then considered that the only way they would meet up was if the Kalli were somehow attacking the Falcerri. I also wanted you to like the story I wrote for her anthology, and so I drew inspiration from what I love most about her books: the idea that God loves and wants even the worst and most unloved sinners.
Aw, well it means so much to me that you liked my galaxy and wanted to write something meaningful. That’s what I seek to do and I love that each of us in this anthology seek to honor God with our stories but in different ways with different themes. The theme that’s dear to my heart is God loves sinners, so it was refreshing that you brought that into your story. What other themes did you try to incorporate into your story?
I did want to include the theme of letting go of anger. With that came the theme of forgiveness, which ended up as the stronger theme.
Forgiveness is such a heartwarming theme to explore in a story, in my opinion and I feel like your story handled it beautifully! Since the story is named after him, tell us about Zag—a fun fact or two.
Zag is a space pirate. He is smaller than most of the Kalli, and so he happens to be better at tasks that take agility and nimbleness, like stealing, sneaking, and net weaving. Whenever the Kalli go on raids, he is the one to scout out the area and rob anyone before they know anything is happening. Zag also has a complicated relationship with his parent.
That’s so creative! I love how much thought and time you put into coming up with his character, including his character art. You designed not only Zag’s character image but the cover as well. How did you go about doing that?
I love to draw my characters, but I hardly ever have any models, and so I usually use my own face in a picture and modify it. For Zag I made a really nasty face, took a picture, and then used the app on my phone to draw over the photo. Once I drew the general facial expression, I removed the photo layer and continued to draw Zag in the way that matched your description of the Kalli race and matched my vision of who the character was. As an artist, visualizing comes pretty naturally, so drawing him was pretty straightforward.
When you told us you wanted us each to have a cover for our stories, I at first just wanted the image of Zag on a white background. You wanted a more interesting background, and so I drew a subtle galaxy background, made it black and white, and then used my drawing app to make a cool design that would still allow the character to stand out but would create more contrast and interest. I’m glad you wanted more because the final product turned out really cool.
I certainly think it did! I’m always impressed with your artistic talents—especially because I don’t have any, haha. As a quick subject change, what difficulties, if any, did you have writing a story that took place in someone else’s galaxy?
You were very eager to answer any questions I had, and so I didn’t have any difficulties, but I asked many questions about your galaxy so that my story could feel like it was really part of your universe. I first wrote the story with my best guesses about the Kalli and Falcerri people and then asked you about details like their appearance, weapons, ships, and ways of life.
Honestly, I was so touched by how many questions you asked and I remembered at one time you apologized in case you were annoying me, but I was having a blast! Not every author has the opportunity to do this and collaborate with talented authors in their universe. It’s certainly a different writing experience than some of your other work. How does this story, Zag, compare to other stories you’ve written in terms of how difficult or easy the writing process was?
When I write Anelthalien, my main series, it comes so easily it feels like God just tells me the story and I write it down. I don’t do any planning at all. So, because I had to think about this story and come up with a basic idea, it was a little more difficult to write than usual. Once I had thought about the main idea, themes, and characters and started writing, though, God took over and grew the story into what it needed to be. I had an idea of what was going to happen, but God made the story much better than my original idea.
I love that. It happens to me as well. Sometimes, God inspires me for a story and it’s just like you said—like He’s telling me the story and I’m just writing it down. Other times, there’s a lot of planning involved, but sitting down to write and letting God take over is such a special feeling. I’m curious, though, where did the inspiration for this story come from?
The inspiration for the characters and the basic plot were from your galaxy notes that you let the authors read. Once I started writing, I noticed that the story reflected a difficulty I was having at the time. I think that instead of getting inspired to write stories, God just makes sure I write the right story at the right time so that I learn what I need to. What I write usually connects to my life, but I don’t realize it until after I am writing or have written it.
Wow! That’s amazing! Lastly, why do you write?
I want to bring all people closer to God. I really love how stories and books can attract anyone and can convey a message they might not hear otherwise. I like to write fantasy because so many people love an escape from this world. In the fantasy I write, though, I always find that God gives me and (hopefully) the readers a message that we can take with us into the real world so we can better deal with our real lives with God. I write so people can find God in the fantastic stories and then take Him into the real world with them.
You can find out more about H.A. Pruitt and her story, Anelthalien, on her website.
Heather’s story, Zag, will be in Lights in a Dark Sky coming on August 9th. Join our Facebook group to stay updated!