When Daniel Blackaby was five years old his mother made him an offer he couldn’t refuse—for every book he finished she would immediately buy him another. “We grew up with a love of language,” says Blackaby, 25, adding that the power and influence of the written word were affirmed daily. “We rarely watched TV. Our house had a huge library and we played word games around the table.”
As the grandson of author Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) and son of speaker and author Richard Blackaby, he is proud to carry on the family tradition, and he is the first to do it with fantasy fiction. The Legend of the Book Keeper (Russell Media, June) is his freshman effort, book one of the Lost City Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy teeming with mythological creatures, supernatural settings, and the eternal struggle between good and evil.
“The main character is a teenage nobody who suddenly achieves everything—the classic zero to hero,” says Blackaby. “But it might not be all he thought. What is his identity now that he is thrown into a position of fame?” Blackaby says there are spiritual underpinnings throughout the story, but he has been careful not to over-emphasize them. “There can be a stigma when readers learn a Christian has written a book. They are looking for action and adventure and worried they might get tricked into a sermon.”
An avid fan of the fantasy genre--particularly Harry Potter and the television show Lost--Blackaby did lots of research, but left reading the Twilight series to his wife Sarah. “There are no vampires in my trilogy.” Blackaby explores timeless issues such as love, self-identity, and self-confidence but offers no pat answers. “That is not my place to decide, I need to let my characters decide,” he says. What he deems most important for readers is “to understand that who they are has value and that their lives are not defined by their flaws. I want them to be inspired to ask the big questions.”
Blackaby is convinced a young audience can be receptive to Christian themes of purpose, redemption, and an afterlife, “as long as these are not a justification for poor quality writing presented in unrealistic and overly cheerful ways that young people can’t relate to.” The key is in the presentation, something Blackaby might be genetically hardwired for. “In my trilogy, even if you gloss over the spiritual themes, my hope is at the end of the day you will stay up late to finish a chapter—that you find it entertaining and exciting.”