I recently interviewed Mr. Leam Hall, a fellow Christian sci-fi author I met via Realm Maker's Consortium. He writes to encourage women to see their worth and value in Christ, and I think that's awesome!
Leam spent much of his childhood adventuring in real-world forests. When he grew up, he adventured into the imaginary wilds of "The Lord of the Rings" and the galaxies of "Star Wars." The latter filled him with dreams of travelling to the stars. Absent a spaceship, Leam turned to story-telling and his Domici War series (beginning with Book 1, Agent) is the result.
1) What got you into writing? Did you always want to be a Christian author?
As a kid, well, life wasn’t great. I turned to day-dreaming to escape the pain and trouble. Moving into my double digit years, life changed drastically. Not better, just different. When I accepted Christ at age twelve, I had no way to translate that moment into a transformed life. My teen years were worse, but then it was all my fault: no one else was to blame.
In my early twenties, I took a creative writing class and started putting stories on paper. While nominally a Christian, my life and writing didn’t show it; that took decades of God’s patience. I became a “Christian Author” when I accepted God’s crafting in my life. There are things I do well, and things I do really poorly. All Christians are called to be “good and faithful servants”, and my books are my service to you.
2) Thanks for sharing so candidly. Do you have any hobbies or fun facts you’d like to share?
The “c” in “Domici” is pronounced like the Latin “c”, as a “k”.
Each chapter I write has a date/time stamp and location header that is used for the file name. If you collated every chapter from all of my books, you could read the entire story in chronological order.
Al’s house in “Agent” is based on one of the places we’ve lived.
The Sangrean Games consist of five sports; hand to hand combat, sword fighting, rifle shooting, swimming, and riding the six-legged lizards called ‘ponies’. Over the course of my life I have trained in martial arts (unarmed, ARMA, SCA), precision rifle, SCUBA and swimming, and even done some horseback riding (no six-legged lizards, sorry!). Currently, I’m getting into Hungarian Hussar Sabre Fencing.
Fun, but Sad, Fact: In “Agent”, the family dog was named and modeled after one of our rescued dogs. “Matilda” was a Golden Retriever/Australian Shepherd mix, named after Matilda of Tuscany. We lost our Matilda to illness last year.
3) You’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (as am I!). How have those fandoms influenced you as a writer?
Add in Cornelius Ryan (“The Longest Day”, “A Bridge Too Far”), and you have the complete list of human authors that dominate my writing style.
I love the diverse cultures and epic scale of Tolkien. Characters in my stories reflect their home culture, and it’s fun to celebrate cultural differences. The young lady in “NavakSen” is from the desert Clans; a no-nonsense people with strong beliefs and indomitable spirits. In Clan culture, a “NavakSen” (plural “NavakSenoj”) is a warrior-maiden. A woman who later in life embraces chastity to enable warrior-service can become NavakSen; they are not people to upset! In “Solvërgn”, the young lady is from the Mountain Man culture and embraces their ancient tradition of facial tattoos. The “Solvërgn” (plural “Solvërgn”) are a forgotten order of priestess-healers.
The Domici War series' ships usually look like something from a Star Wars junkyard. I love the idea of crawling through an old building, or starship, and figuring out how to bring it back to life. No fancy phasers or clean corridors on my ships!
In “The Longest Day”, author Cornelius Ryan wrote about a wide cast of players surrounding the Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. He shared the perceptions and actions of people on both sides of one global event. You get some of that in the “Al” series, but later books really dive into it. You will meet people who have only been talked about; you’ll see the pain of their struggles and the depth of their stories.
4) What inspired The Domici War series and Book 1, Agent?
I had this plan for an encouraging short story as a gift to a friend’s daughter. It grew past my original plan.
5) What is the plot of Agent? Who is your intended audience?
Backworld tomboy Alba Ester “Al” Domici wants to be special and important. Her family lives in an old house, and her dad doesn’t seem strong, like the heroes in video shows. The local Sangrean Games team has two scholarship spots, and that’s Al’s ticket to stardom and significance.
Al’s life turns upside down when she learns her family’s secret, and she has to make a tough choice. Does she do what’s expected, or risk being herself? While the stories are written about young ladies aged 11 to 16, their various
cultures recognize adulthood at age fourteen. The stories are written to encourage the lady, young or not, who has gone through difficulty, made mistakes, but still hears the call to be her true self.
6) As a Christian, how much does your faith influence your writing?
Heavily. I let the faith of the characters speak naturally, but our faiths define who we are. Even those who claim no faith are living out that faith. My faith is fundamentalist, in the literal sense. If something is in the Bible, it’s true. I don’t have to understand it, I’m not that smart. The characters struggle with sin; Al is “rules flexible”, one character commits a crime to join a club, and another becomes pregnant out of wedlock. All of the characters accept that The Creator, how God is referred to, is real, but not all of them surrender their lives. Even when they do, life doesn’t magically turn into rainbows and unicorns. The characters struggle with the gap between church lessons and the challenges of real life.
Cool! Your stories seem to address issues I haven't seen in other Christians' works. 👍
7) What were the hardest and easiest things about writing this series?
There were two huge challenges with this series, and the first one started with “Agent”, page one, chapter one. I’m an older male trying to write from a teen female perspective. I haven’t been a teen for a long time, and I don’t ever remember being a girl. The first half-dozen revisions never went into Al’s head; I feared portraying a female poorly. It took me a long time and a lot of dialogue to write things that I could write, and still remain reasonable from a female perspective. Most of my readers are female, and they
seem okay with what I’ve written.
You asked about faith, and that led to the second, and most painful, challenge. I wrote the first few books as fun adventure stories. They dealt with serious issues like bullies, mental health labels, and fighting against evil, and then I began “Solvërgn” in the same style. Yet my faith drives me, and I stopped writing to pray, and to seek what God wanted this book to be about. His response was clear, “teen pregnancy” and “suicide”. My response was also clear, I said “no”.
As a guy writing about a fourteen-year-old-girl getting pregnant, there are just too many ways for the mind to stray where it should not. I had to be very careful. But that wasn’t really the hardest part. In the book, the girl decides to take her own life, to avoid the shame of being an unwed teen mom and to protect her parent’s reputation. She jumps into a river and gets caught in the roots of a long-dead tree. I know the darkness that drove her to that decision because I have sat on that riverbank. I have faced that choice, and I was too scared to go back into that darkness.
In a contest of wills between God and man, God is going to win. It just takes a while for the human to catch on. It took me a year before I finally gave up and started writing. I told God that it would be the worst book ever, and that no one would care. There was no relevance. It took me a long time to write that book, but in doing so, I thought I was broken to God’s will. I thought I had things figured out.
One Wednesday night, six months after giving everything to God, I sent the book to my faithful alpha reader. The next morning, I had a message from a former co-worker; a mutual friend’s fourteen-year-old-daughter had taken her life earlier that week. At 04:30am that Thursday morning, I was truly broken to God’s will. I don’t know if, had I stayed on track and somehow gotten my book into that girl’s life, she would still be alive. I do know that every day, young ladies face that darkness, and far too many succumb. I write to encourage those ladies to see their awesome value and their true potential. They are not objects, they are not commodities, they are masterpieces crafted by God’s heart.
Wow. That is quite a testimony of how God led you to publish this series, and the tragedy that ultimately made you surrender to His will. Thank you for sharing.
8) I noticed you’re a self-published author like me. Can you share about your experience?
I really like the self-published route. It means a lot more work, and all of the bills get paid out of my pocket. It also means that I can seek the wisdom of friends and write what I feel called to without trying to match the next market trend or a publisher’s expectation. I’m happy for those who get traditionally published, but it’s not for me.
Great summary! I enjoy self-publishing for these reasons, too!
9) If you could be any character in your novel, who would it be and why?
Are you kidding?!?!? My characters get beat up, knocked out, cut with swords, shot, trapped on asteroids, and tossed out via torpedo. Those girls are a lot braver and tougher than I am.
10) Point taken! What are the main themes/messages in your Domici War series?
My wife says “redemption”, and I can’t really argue with that. In Agent, Al does something really stupid, and loses everything. Then the person she hurt the most offers grace. But the story doesn’t end there, she must live out that gift. In Captain, Al and her team are captured by slavers and they must fight to retain their humanity. In NavakSen, a strict rules-following young lady commits a felony and must decide if labels are more important than people. The struggles continue through each book, and the characters must live out the grace and redemption they have been given.
11) You’ve published several novels in this series already. How many books do you have planned, in all?
This series has six books, and all six are now published. There are at least two prequel books that deal with the struggle to free Birach from murderous tyranny; they show common men and women becoming the heroes Al and her friends revere. There is a space exploration series that starts the day after the epilogue in Dragon. For those who expect Al and her husband to settle down and live “happily ever after”, well, sorry. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.
12) Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
I’d like to talk about my favorite subject: you, the reader. We’d all love for the world to be a wonderful place where no one does wrong, and no one struggles. That will never happen on this world. Sin has corrupted humanity and pain prevails. Each of us carries hurt, and sometimes we act out of our pain. Yet each of us has been crafted by God Almighty, not a single one of us is a mistake. None of us are The Creator’s cast-offs, we are beloved children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When I wrote Agent, I had one theological question in mind: “If I truly believe God is who He says He is, how will I change my life?” Like everyone else, Al wanted to be special. She thought she had to work for it. She thought her value depended on her own strength and accomplishments. When she finds out how intrinsically special she is, the rest of the series is her living out the truths that all of us must face. Do we live as if we truly believe our Father is who He say He is? Do we live as if we truly believe we are who our Father says we are?
Amen, and those are great questions! It's been fantastic interviewing you. You can find Leam on Facebook and his books on Amazon. Visit his Amazon page here.