Today I’m interviewing M.B. Aznoe, author of the Swordflower Saga, a Christian Fantasy series. Thank you for joining me. Let’s get started by telling us a little bit about you:
Well, there are two of us who write under the pseudonym, M. B. Aznoe. We are a husband and wife writing team, and we decided to use our combined initials instead of our names spelled out (initials sound cooler anyway). Our names are Matthew and Bethany. We have been married for 16 years and have 6 children whose ages range from 8-15. As you can imagine, we have a very busy and active household which is why most of our writing is done either in the early morning or late at night when the kids are in bed. Our passion is to share the hope found in Jesus Christ. Whether in songs or stories, we strive to infuse our art with the truth of God’s Word, to demonstrate the hope of the Gospel in all of life’s circumstances. It’s also why after 20+ years as a software developer, Matthew has chosen to change careers and become a lead pastor in a small town on one of the Native American reservations in Montana even as we continue to write our books.
What is the Swordflower Saga about?
The story is about a young man and woman, Khomar and Aya, who find themselves unexpectedly married and fleeing into the wilderness from unknown assailants. As they seek to uncover the mystery of the identity and purpose of their attackers, our heroes find their faith in God put to the test as their lives spiral out of control.
Elvensty is the first book in the Swordflower Saga which takes place on another planet with its own cultures and unique challenges. We enjoyed taking a fresh look at Christianity as we stripped it down to its core elements and explored it within the context of a new world.
How did you come up with the names of your hero and heroine?
Khomar was actually the name Matthew created for his first role-playing character back in his college days. The name is the only thing the two characters really have in common, but we really like the sound of it and it helped spawn the concept of the Auxule language of his homeland. Aya was found via the baby book when we were looking for a good female name. It also served as inspiration behind the Jyrye (pronounced YI-REE) language that her people speak.
Who was your favorite character to create?
We love all of our characters, especially the core group. They have great chemistry and work so well together. However, there is one that stands out for both of us. His name is Lu. He is enigmatic and quiet, but when he speaks, his words have a unique flow that is a joy to write (we call them Lu-isms). We’ve been told he’s a favorite by many of our readers as well.
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
There are always surprises as we get into the writing process. We started our series with a basic outline – basically how each book would begin and end and a rough idea of what came in between. But as we told the stories and gave breath to the characters, sometimes they surprise us, or we meet new characters we had never even considered. For example, Aya meets two women in the bathhouse in Virados who we originally were going to make throw-away characters for that one scene. But they refused to be left out, and we found they became an important part of the texture of the story, even into our latest book.
Do you experience writer’s block? What do you do to get through it?
It really helps that we are a writing team. When one of us encounters writer’s block, usually the other one has an idea that they can start running with. After a couple of paragraphs (sometimes pages), our collective creative juices start flowing, and we are off and running again. However, the times when we’ve both had it usually resulted in us having to take a short hiatus to read other books, listen to podcasts, or even work on writing songs (that sometimes even end up in the book).
Do you reward yourself when a book is finished?
Yes! After the grueling deadline that we place upon ourselves, we find that we need a reward not just for us but for our children who have had to endure our long editing sessions as well. This generally involves going for Coldstone ice cream, and taking a few weeks off before pressing on into the next book.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
Matthew’s mother, Cindy. As a former English teacher, she has helped with editing all three of our books, and is constantly asking when the next book will be ready for her start reading. However, we experienced the most trepidation when we gave Elvensty to our pastor. He wasn’t exactly our target audience, but we wanted his feedback to make sure our book was solid from a scriptural point of view. When he came back not just approving of the message but loving the story, we knew we had succeeded in writing the book we had set out to write.
Please share an excerpt from Elevensty:
Raising her gaze, she saw the expanse of Jyrya before her. If she had been of a better temper, it would have been a stunningly beautiful sight. She could see the forest they had hiked through now lying in the long shadow cast from distant mountains to the west. She could just make out the outline of the river that ran down to the island of Elvensty and through the forest beyond. In the distance, she could see the arid plains of Jyrya, and in her mind’s eye she imagined the capital of Jyantral on the far horizon.
A mist was rising over the land, starting to shroud it from view. She trembled with anxiety and fatigue. Tears began to run down her cheeks as she watched the only life she had known sink beneath the shadows. God, where are you?
What’s next for you as an author?
We have two more books to complete in the Swordflower Saga. Jyrya, book number four, is set to release this fall with Illisya coming out sometime in the year after. We are already discussing the concept of a sequel trilogy that might take place a few years after the current series, and we have other ideas in the same world, both in the past and the future. We’ll see how it all pans out, but we intend to keep writing as long as God gives us inspiration to write.
Where can readers find you online?
Our website is www.swordflowersaga.com where we have a blog that we try to post to on occasion.
We are also on Facebook(mbaznoe), Twitter(@mbaznoe), and Instagram(@mbaznoe).