N.P. Beckwith is a professional chiropractor, former educator, casual artist, and undocumented theologian. Occasionally, on a dare, and at great risk to those he loves, he writes a novel. He believes that he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and that children are a heritage from the Lord. That being said, he is currently satisfied with the heritage he has received, and is not seeking additional heritage. He is a world traveler, his conquests including Texas, Holland, India, Japan, and at least one alternate earth. He currently resides with his good thing and his heritage in his home state of Maine.
1) How long have you been writing for, and why did you start?
I’ve always written short stories. In school, creative writing was one of my favorite subjects. The idea that I could say whatever I wanted to say in my own words was liberating. I don’t see myself ever writing a technical manual. But as for writing on the scale of a novel, Martyr was my first. True story, my wife saw me playing a video game one day and said,”Why don’t you do something more productive?” So I decided to write a novel. That was around 2008. I was in chiropractic school at the time. I wrote about 20 pages and quit. I got busy, lost interest. A couple of years later, while practicing in the Netherlands, I took it up again. I didn’t stop until it was finished
2) Out of everything you have written, what is your favourite piece and why?
Given my previous answer, I’m going to have to go with Martyr. I learned a lot about writing through the process of writing Martyr. Some of the lessons were painful, like being told that I use too many big words. “But I love every one of those words!” I thought. But I realized that the reader isn’t going to be impressed with my vocabulary, they are just hoping to find a good story and get lost in it. And I was making them stumble over my words to get there. In Martyr I was able to explore some of my philosophical and theological tendencies while writing a story that I hoped would be engaging and uplifting. I also think I was able to convey much of the emotional impact that I wanted in a way that was fun for me. Plus, obviously, the world of Martyr is real and when I found it, I just had to write about it.
3) Which author is your biggest inspiration?
Stephen R. Lawhead, particularly his Song of Albion trilogy. That series showed me that Christian fantasy could be done in a more subtle way, without losing its impact. In Albion we see God through a lens of Celtic mythology, but (especially if you read book 3 to the end) there can be no doubt that it is the God of the Bible that is in view. The God of Martyr, Chaer-Ul, is a mysterious deity, revealing himself through dreams and visions that are not always clear. Later, he speaks more plainly. This led one reviewer to conclude that he seems to evolve throughout the story. I would argue that it is the protagonist’s understanding that evolves, and Chaer-Ul simply accommodates himself to that growing awareness. I see a similar progressive unfolding in the pages of Scripture.
4) How does your Christian faith inspire your writing?
I don’t think I could write a novel purely as entertainment or escape. While Martyr does not have an evangelistic message per se, I do challenge the reader to wrestle with some of the tough questions of faith. Is God good, even in the face of suffering? Can I trust him? Will he keep his promises? Does he truly have my best interests in mind? These are questions every believer must try to answer at some point, and the characters in my books are no different. For the most part, though I raise the questions, I don’t attempt to answer them explicitly. I think part of the Christian walk involves finding our own answers to the tough questions. In the process, we may experience fear, doubt, even anger. There may be times when we rebel because we don’t like the answer we are given. My characters wouldn’t be real if they weren’t capable of this full range of human emotion and behavior. We all come to God as sinners. We don’t ever truly rise above our fallenness as long as we live in this world. My faith helps me to create characters that display this tension.
5) What are your plans for the future? Are any more books in the pipeline?
Well, Martyr is intended to be Book 1 of a trilogy. I’m calling it The Other Earth Chronicles. Work has begun on the second book, but it won’t be out this year. One reason for the delay is that I have done a complete re-edit of Martyr, including a new cover design. The Kindle version is already updated, and a matching hard copy will be available soon. The other reason is that I have been working on a YouTube trailer to promote Book 2. We’ve actually shot most of the scenes, and just need to edit and polish it. With a budget of approximately zero dollars and an all-volunteer cast, this has been an interesting journey, to say the least. Did you know that it is a bad idea to sneak onto airport grounds and start filming broken-down aircraft? It is. I did not know that. I’m kidding, I didn’t actually do that. But the project did involve acquiring permission to shoot at various abandoned locations. Not to mention devising an easy way to travel to and from Other Earth with equipment and crew. Look for the result on YouTube in the coming year.