Today’s guest is Jason Brannon, author of the Christian suspense novel, The Maze. Jason is also the author of The Tears of Nero. His fiction features flawed characters trapped in impossible situations that test and try their faith. He currently lives in Amory, MS. In The Maze, a near death experience transports Jamie Burroughs into The Maze, a realm built by angels and demons and filled with traps and riddles for those haunted by their mistakes. For Jamie, The Maze becomes a terrifying journey through a world of darkness where his soul and the lives of those he loves hangs in the balance. With his family in danger and his soul in peril, Jamie is forced to reevaluate the kind of man he truly is as he struggles to escape The Maze before it’s too late.
Dorothy Thompson:Thanks for this interview, Jason. Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing Christian suspense fantasies?
Jason Brannon: I was raised in church so it was only natural that Christian themes eventually crept into my writing. As a kid I was always fascinated by stories about Lucifer’s fall from Heaven, a war between angels, Christ casting the demons known as Legion into the herd of swine, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and all sorts of other accounts filled with vivid imagery. I started out writing horror and dark fantasy, but over time, bits and pieces of what I had learned over the years found their way into my stories. The one thing I have tried to be careful of when writing anything with a moral or message is to be subtle in the ways that it is presented. I am definitely not a preacher. My goal each and every time is to write something that is, first and foremost, entertaining. I want my books to be enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike. However, that’s not always an easy tightrope to walk.
D.T.: Can you tell us a little about your newest book, The Maze?
J.B.: The Maze, which is Book 1 in The Lost Labyrinth Series, has been described by some as the book The Pilgrim’s Progress might have been if written by Edgar Allan Poe, and that seems accurate to me. The Maze meshes my love for horror and dark fantasy and my Christian beliefs into a story about an ordinary man’s struggles and his eventual redemption found in a strange labyrinth. Imagine a place where all of your greatest sins and shortcomings are on display for the world to see. Imagine a place that takes those sins and incorporates them into riddles, traps, and tests that all have to be overcome in order to survive. Imagine a place that uses the dark desires of the heart as its blueprint, and you will have a good idea about what The Maze really is.
D.T.: Who is Jaime Burroughs? Can you tell us a little about him?
J.B.: Jamie Burroughs is a normal guy. He’s an everyman with a family, problems, struggles, temptations, and the occasional victory in his humdrum life. He’s the guy with a wife and child, a quaint house with a picket fence, and a heart filled with conflict. The world sees his life as perfect when, in reality, there are lots of flaws and cracks to be found beneath the surface. He wants to live a good life and be a good husband and father. He also wants to rekindle a romance with an old girlfriend that resurfaces in his life. Understandably, those two desires don’t mesh well, and as a result of a series of bad decisions, he finds himself standing at the door to The Maze.
D.T.: Can you tell us a little about Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas?
J.B.: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is a company that took a risk on The Maze when most publishers wouldn’t give it a second look. As is the case with so many Christian publishers, most of them avoid speculative fiction like the plague. Anything with a little horror or dark fantasy sends them running for the hills. Many of those same publishers say that there is no place in Christian fiction for horror and fantasy. I have always thought this is ironic given the number of horrific things that takes place in the Bible (i.e. the plagues of Egypt including the massacre of all the firstborn sons, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord’s angel killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, and, of course, the torture, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ which is the foundation of Christianity). However, Eddie Jones and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas saw the intent with which The Maze was written and gave the book a chance. For that, I will always be grateful to them.
D.T.: They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader can’t put the book down. What’s one of the pivotal points in your book?
J.B.: At one point in The Maze, Jamie Burroughs learns that his entire family is being held hostage outside The Maze by a deranged neighbor. Given that he is trapped inside the labyrinth, he is unable to run to their rescue. In order to save his family, he must find a way to pass all of the tests and navigate the dangers of The Maze. At this point, Jamie is motivated by more than just self-interest. Obviously, there is a purpose for his imprisonment inside the labyrinth, and his escape depends on examining all of the things he has done wrong. However, when he learns that those he loves are in danger as a direct result of the sins he has committed, his escape from The Maze takes on new importance. He sees for the first time that all of the things we do have consequences, and sometimes, those consequences affect the ones we love.
D.T.: What’s next for you, Jason?
J.B.: Book 2 in The Lost Labyrinth Series is completed with a working title of The Piper’s Song. It picks up where The Maze leaves off. Also, I will be focusing on another series of books called The Halo Group Series which revolves around a clandestine government organization that investigates cults, sects, and strange religious orders. Book 1 (The Tears of Nero) is finished and Book 2 (Beware the Death Angel) is well underway.
D.T.: Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
J.B.: I maintain a website, lurk on Twitter and can be found on Facebook.