I Am a Donkey; Lord, Give Me the Words
By Yvonne Anderson
How does a person who avoids CBA novels and doesn’t care much for science fiction end up writing Christian sci-fi? Well, it’s like this…
There came a time that I felt a nudging of the Holy Spirit to write a book. I prayed and pleaded, because this was seriously not something I wanted to do. But, “not my will, but Thine be done,” and so, in February of 2002, I set sail on the uncertain seas of the writing world.
If you’re a writer, you know about the swells, the troughs, and the periodic doldrums of that life, so I’ll spare you the details. But after a near drowning, the Lord allowed me to rest on the beach of non-writing for a time.
Of course I thought that part was my idea. “I’m finished,” I said as I built myself a shelter of driftwood. “I’ll never write fiction again.” And I busied myself with life on dry land, never planning to go to sea again.
In the course of establishing a “normal” life, I ran across an innocuous-looking little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss. Originally written in the mid-1800s and reprinted in the 1970s, it explained the theory that when God created the heavens and the earth, He portrayed the gospel message in constellation pictures for early man to “read.” What an intriguing concept! But I struggled with the archaic language as well as technical terms (vernal equinox, declination and ascension, etc.) the author apparently assumed the reader understood.
“This is fascinating,” I said, “But it needs to be simplified.” In an attempt to make it easier for the average dummy like me to grasp, I decided to write a story in which the characters discovered these things for themselves. Yes, yes, I know; I was never going to write fiction again. But this wasn’t really writing. It was just for fun; no one would ever read it but me. And it was just a short story, so I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on it.
That’s what I told myself as I waded in for a quick dip in the ocean… and was caught in a current that took me far out to sea.
Was it because I’d just been reading about stars and had stars on the brain? For whatever reason, I set the story in space, on a planet of my own creation. I named it Gannah, from the Hebrew word for “garden,” because when God created our world, that’s where human history began: in the Garden.
Giving it an outer-space setting meant I was now writing sci-fi. Writing blind in the genre, really, because I’d never read much of it, and my only brush with it on the screen was the original Star Trek show when I was a kid. Which I didn’t like.
Funny thing, though. Once I got wet, I realized this was the best swim I’d ever had, and the short story turned into a full-length novel. But even in 120,000 words, I couldn’t fit in everything I’d discovered about the planet Gannah. So I began a sequel, all the while laughing with delight at what a wonderful sense of humor our God has. Putting the likes of me to work writing Christian sci-fi? Only the God who made a donkey speak (Numbers 22:21-31) would do something like that.
Though at sea once again, I was never alone. God was with me, of course, but He also brought me into contact with other seafarers. At latitude January, longitude 2011, I connected with an independent publisher who liked Gannah and asked a provocative question: What’s your vision for the series?
Series? What series? I’m just having fun! But with a three-book contract in hand (what, me? a contracted author?), I had quickly found a long-range vision.
I published the third and fourth titles in the Gateway to Gannah series in 2014. And, released from my contract, I republished the first two earlier this year with minor revisions and new cover art. The series is now complete, and all titles are available in both print and ebook at Amazon. Each book can stand alone, but when put together, they tell one lengthy tale.
After releasing the third title, I noticed from the reviews that people who had started with Book 1 enjoyed it more than readers who jumped in at Book 3. So when I published the fourth, I added an overview of the series up to that point to enable first-time visitors to Gannah to get their sea legs quickly.
Whichever starting place you choose, I invite you to fly through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure!
Book 1 – The Story in the Stars
Dassa skates toward the palace in completion of her Third Quest, unaware the Karkar Plague has returned to ravage Gannah.
On a medical starship not far away, Dr. Pik is ordered to find a cure for the plague – an unlikely assignment, given his inbred hatred of the whole Gannahan race. Duty trumps prejudice, however, and he succeeds… but that’s just the beginning of the story.
Dassa and Pik survive attack by space pirates, food poisoning, savage Gannahan beasts, and a plane crash. The hardest part, though, is enduring one another’s company.
The Creator who wrote the story of redemption in the stars has commanded her to share it with her reluctant savior. That’s not all He requires of her, but the rest is unthinkable.
Book 2 – Words in the Wind
Dassa is back on Gannah, but things aren’t going the way she’d planned.
A shuttle crash leaves her marooned 10,000 kilometers from the settlement just as a blizzard sets in. Injured, she takes refuge in Ruwach Gorge. Seeking food and shelter, she stumbles across the ruins of a place she’d always thought was a myth. What she finds there casts doubt on some of her fundamental beliefs.
Her husband, Pik, reluctantly takes charge of the settlement in her absence and organizes a search for her. Rebellious settlers and a wayward daughter make things difficult enough. But when the planet’s animals threaten to break the ancient treaty and resume the old Wildlife Wars, Pik’s hard-pressed to hold things together. If he can manage to find Dassa, will she have a home to come back to?
Alone in the mysterious canyon where reality and fairytale are flipped, Dassa wonders the same thing.
Book 3 – Ransom in the Rock
How much is a life worth? And who will pay the price?
Fifteen-year-old Lileela returns from the planet Karkar, frothing with bitterness over what she perceives as abandonment by her parents. Why do they want her back now? And why does Karkar demand such a huge payment for delivering her?
Neither she nor her family suspects that Karkar’s true motive is revenge. The tiny New Gannahan settlement has no hope of repelling an invasion – no hope, that is, except for One the Karkar can’t see.
Book 4 - The Last Toqeph
While traveling through desolate terrain, Adam stumbles upon an impossibility: a village of Old Gannahan survivors. Hard to believe. Harder yet, it seems one of them is the true heir to the throne.
Will Adam right an ancient wrong and lose his inheritance? Or ignore the truth and lose his integrity?
Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.
The Story in the Stars, the first in the Gateway to Gannah series as well as her debut novel, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist in 2012. The adventure continues with Words in the Wind and Ransom in the Rock and concludes with The Last Toqeph.
She lives in Western Maryland with her husband of almost forty years and shares the occasional wise word on her personal site, YsWords. A member of ACFW, her name comes up now and then as having been with The Borrowed Book blog for a couple of years and coordinated Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest for unpublished novelists.
Oh, yeah: she also does freelance editing.
If you like good conversation, you may contact her through her blog, Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.