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The Big Idea: Scott Drakeford

Gods are complex characters in the best of times… and in Rise of the Mages, author Scott Drakeford wanted to see what gods might be like in not necessarily the best of times. Read along as he explains why.

SCOTT DRAKEFORD:

What if God were real?

That’s the question – or the Big Idea, if you will – that led me to write Rise of the Mages… but maybe not in exactly the way you might think.

You see, way back in 2012, I asked myself this question as a believing, dedicated mormon. And for those that aren’t familiar with mormonism, it’s a deeply involved, high-demand religion. I even spent two years in Brazil, working the streets from sunup to sundown to sell people on my church. I was all in. 

Until I wasn’t.

When you grow up in a religion – or any ideology, for that matter – it feels like the only reality possible. And when you encounter hard truths about what your religion is (or isn’t), it feels like the very fabric of reality has torn beneath your feet, leaving you to free-fall to a new dimension.

Attempting to reconcile the theology I had been born to with my observed reality (and even with some of the darker lore in religious texts) was one of the more difficult exercises I’ve attempted. What would a god who did, said, and inspired the things contained in our real-world religious texts really be like? 

I’m a lifelong fan of fantasy fiction, and writing fantasy felt like the perfect way to work through my mental and emotional dilemma. Because what is fantasy fiction for, if not to safely imagine alternate realities, and further, to use those as corollaries to better understand our own reality?

The Fallen God in Rise of the Mages is my interpretation of what a god who influenced – or even created – some of the worst parts of our own world might really be, do, and say. I made the Fallen God male because the vast majority of assholes I’ve encountered in life have been male. Further questions and subsequent speculation helped me flesh out my “Big Bad” and his effect on my story. 

How did the Fallen come to be so controlling and abusive, yet claim to be a Being of love? He probably wasn’t born (or self-actualized or whatever) evil. 

What would the extent of his power really be? An all-powerful god is not only boring, but wildly implausible, given the chaotic nature of reality and the fact that said god’s influence is clearly limited.

What would it look like if a person, or group of people, opposed such a malevolent, powerful Being? Would such a person even believe in gods, or understand that they directly opposed a supernatural Being? 

If this god were so clearly “evil”, who would follow him and why? Would they be compelled? Simply misunderstood?

And on and on I went until I had fully fleshed out my primary antagonist. In Rise of the Mages, the Fallen God makes an immediate appearance in the prologue, and for good reason. As the book (and the entire series) progresses, we see the people who have chosen to follow him, and hints of his goals, his motivations, his origins. We see some of what he has planned for the heroes of this story, Emrael Ire, his brother Ban, and Emrael’s mentor, Jaina. Spoiler: they do not have a good time.

Much like my own journey from believer to atheist shaped much of who I am today, the Fallen God underpins the entire story, world, and characters of Rise of the Mages. I can’t wait for you to meet Him.


Rise of the Mages: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

3 replies on “The Big Idea: Scott Drakeford”

Interesting. I have a minor fascination with Mormon theology, and a tendency to deal with missionaries on my doorstep by inviting them in and discussing theology. Which once led to an older missionary basically dragging the younger one out by the ear, while the latter protested “But this is interesting!” – we’d been discussing feminist theology. I may have to give this a look.

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