A good story offers readers the chance to test their minds and courage against the story’s problems. They won’t accept the offer, however, if they aren’t inclined to join the story’s family of characters. I tried my best to achieve both a good story and a good family of characters in Chaos Gate.
I’ll tell you a secret here. I wasn’t really in control of the characters in Chaos Gate. Once I get a story underway, the characters begin talking to me. I can’t force dialog upon them. A book then becomes something of a collaborative effort between me and the folks I’ve created. They take on personalities of their own and often won’t do what they’re told. When this happened while I was writing Chaos Gate, I knew that I was making a good, honest effort. I hope you’ll agree.
I wrote The Dragon and the Lemon Tree almost thirty years ago. I intended it as something of a diversion for our eldest son while Phyllis was pregnant with our youngest son. One of that book’s characters, Mere Rowan, remained in my mind. I knew that she wasn’t done speaking and acting, so I began a more ambitious project with her at its center: Chaos Gate. Reading The Dragon and the Lemon Tree is not at all necessary to completely enjoy Chaos Gate. Both books are entirely self-contained. I just wanted to let you know that Mere Rowan was around earlier and reassure you that that doesn’t matter at all. I just like the lady and she’ll be back in future stories.
Reading the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis was pivotal to me. I was amazed by how much fun the fantasy settings allowed. I still treasure Lucy’s first visit to the snowy woods and her meeting with Mr. Tumnus. I’ve tried to let my fantasy settings generate adventures, lots of them, for my characters. I’ve also tried not to be quite as loose with story logic as Professor Lewis was, but you can be the judge of that.
One final shared secret: all of the scenery I’ve described is quite real. I’ve walked around this world of ours quite a bit. I discovered early on that my imagination doesn’t come close to the amazing beauties waiting outside our doors.