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Sons and Daughters: YA Fantasy Series

Interview with the author Nathan Lumbatis


Sons and Daughters: YA Fantasy Series




About Nathan Lumbatis



Nathan Lumbatis is the acclaimed author of the Sons and Daughters young adult fantasy series, which explores Christian themes of redemption, forgiveness, and sanctification through the context of mythologies from diverse cultures.
Nathan Lumbatis

Nathan Lumbatis is the acclaimed author of the Sons and Daughters young adult fantasy series, which explores Christian themes of redemption, forgiveness, and sanctification through the context of mythologies from diverse cultures.


Growing up in the woods of Alabama, Nathan spent his childhood exploring, hiking, and dreaming up stories. Today, as both a child and adolescent therapist and an author, he guides young people in redeeming their own stories through biblical principles. Nathan continues to reside in Alabama, cherishing every moment with his wife and three children.


The Sons and Daughters: YA Fantasy series follows the thrilling adventures of teenager Daniel, his best friend Ben, and their close-knit group of friends as they journey to various realms to battle the forces of evil. These captivating books delve into profound themes such as overcoming anger, embracing forgiveness, experiencing salvation, engaging in spiritual warfare, and undergoing transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through their quests, readers are inspired by the characters' growth and the timeless values they embody.




I’m thrilled to welcome our special guest, Nathan Lumbatis, who’s here to give us an inside look into the magical world of Sons and Daughters and share the creative journey behind crafting this enchanting series.



 

Inspiration and Background



What inspired you to start writing the "Sons and Daughters" series?


N: I'm a counselor, so I work a lot with children and teens. Over the years, I realized there was a need for them, especially orphans and foster children, to concretely understand what it means to be a child of God. When we become children of God, we are quite literally adopted into God's family. That’s what inspired me on the deepest level. But, I also love mythology and wanted to write a series of books that interacted with some of my favorites. Daniel and the Sun Sword takes place in Peru, and so it has a lot of Peruvian and Incan mythology. The second book, Daniel and the Triune Quest, takes place in India, so themes and characters from Hindu mythology show up. The third book, Daniel and the Serpent’s Abyss, takes place in the British Isles and Ireland, so it draws on Celtic mythology quite a bit. The fourth book, Trees of Eden, takes place in Babylon, and therefore pulls from Babylonian and Sumerian myths.



How did your background and experiences shape the world and characters in your books?



N: I had a fairly idyllic childhood, replete with untold hours exploring the woods near my house, hiking, writing, reading, and talking with God. This allowed for a lot of time to engage in free play and imagination, which are rich fields for any aspiring author. The books I read growing up were primarily fantasy, which heavily impacted how I thought of world-building and character development. I constantly had C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, and Stephen Lawhead rattling around in my head. And, of course, J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan eventually found their places in my heart, though I was an adult at that time. 


When I began counseling in 2005, my caseload was primarily children and teenagers who were orphaned or in foster care. They all struggled with anger, abandonment, and a loss of identity. I found myself wishing there was something they could read that would teach them about God’s love, his desire to adopt them as his children, and the eternal hope they could have for a redeemed future where everything is fixed. 


It was these experiences that set the stage for Sons and Daughters.



Please tell us about the story in the books.



N: That's a dangerous question to ask any author because we love to talk about our books much longer than anyone really wants to listen, but I'll give it my best shot. The first book, Daniel and the Sun Sword, is about 13-year-old Daniel’s journey from orphan to child of God. All he wants is to have a normal family, but through a series of events, he's adopted by the God of Life and sent on a quest to Peru to find the lost shards of the Sun Sword. That sword is one of the Weapons of Power that he and his friends must use to fight the Enemy—a primordial evil bound on pushing mankind beyond redemption.


N: The second book, Daniel and the Triune Quest, is about Daniel's friend, Ben, and his journey through India to find his Weapon of Power—the Triune Shield. Below the surface, it's about Daniel and Ben's friendship, which is struggling under the weight of a growing rivalry. On another level, it’s about understanding the role that sacrifice has in our redemption and adoption as sons and daughters of God.



N: The third book, Daniel and the Serpent's Abyss follows Daniel and Ben's quest through the British Isles to help save their friend Raylin, who is under the Enemy's control. It's about coming to the end of themselves, and understanding that in the process of redemption, we must look beyond our abilities and strengths and rely on God to change us from within.


N: In the fourth and final book in the series, Daniel and the Trees of Eden, Daniel and his friends must seal the Spirit of the Age into the Serpent to usher in an era of spiritual awakening. But this will require a battle in the heart of Babylon where the Enemy’s power is greatest. To prepare, Daniel and his friends must first navigate a treacherous path through Babylon itself to find the Gates of Eden—and beyond, the Tree of Purity. The book focuses on sanctification, reconciliation, and faith in the midst of tribulation.






 

World-Building



Can you describe the process of creating the magical world in "Sons and Daughters"?


N: A premise of the series is that ancient mythology developed when fallen humanity attempted to explain the Triune God’s relationship with and redemption of the world.  My process for world-building therefore started with location (e.g. Machu Picchu, Peru or Newgrange, Ireland) and then expounded upon the myths and legends of the dominant culture in those areas. 


Some of the mythological characters are presented in the legends as good, and therefore got roles as unfallen “angelic” beings in the Sons and Daughters series: Inti (Incan sun deity), Chandra (Hindu moon deity), Rhiannon (Welsh horse deity), or Enki (Sumerian water deity). Characters associated with darkness or evil naturally got cameos as villains: Supai (Incan death deity), Shiva (Hindu destroyer deity), Arawn (Celtic underworld deity), and Tiamat (Mesopotamian chaos deity). 


Were there any specific myths or real-world cultures that influenced the setting?



N: Absolutely. With each of the characters above, their dominant myth factored into their role in the series. So, from start to finish, there are dozens of different mythical stories and characters that influence the plot. 


I have two favorites from Daniel and the Trees of Eden, though. The characters have an unfortunate interaction with Tiamat, a primordial chaos deity, as they travel through the Persian Gulf. Her very presence addles the mind and saps the heroes of strength and power, and her role as the embodiment of chaos means she is neither on the Enemy’s side nor the heroes’. Her size and power (and insanity) were intriguing to me as her character developed throughout the story. 


Contrast her portrayal with the Judeo-Christian depiction of a cherub, a multi-winged, bronze-legged, four-faced angelic power wielding a sword of consuming fire. His role as the protector of Eden and defender of the heroes makes him a slightly dangerous character. How will he act if one of the heroes is tempted away from their quest while in Eden? I guess you’ll have to read the book the find out.



 

Characters and Development



Who is your favorite character in the series and why?


N: This one is hard. I definitely identify more with Ben; I wrote a lot of myself into him, actually. But I think I’d have to say that Raylin is one of my favorites. Her struggle to overcome her past, her descent into possession and insanity in the first three books, her redemption, and her ultimate destiny at the end of Trees of Eden were all intriguing to me. I think she’s the exact opposite of me, and so that makes her fascinating.


How do you approach character development, especially with the complex personalities in your books?


Before I wrote the series, I spent a lot of time outlining each character’s backstory and arc. Based on those, their journey to self-awareness and personal growth becomes clearer.  I also find the Enneagram personality theory very helpful in fleshing out the core motivations, desires, and fears of each character. In case there are any Enneagram nerds reading, here are the personalities of my characters:


  • Daniel: Type 3—The Achiever

  • Ben: Type 9—The Peacemaker

  • Raylin: Type 8—The Challenger

  • Seren: Type 1—The Reformer

  • Gabriela: Type 5—The Investigator



 

Plot and Themes



What are the central themes you explore in "Sons and Daughters"?


N: The central themes would be: forgiveness, redemption, and faith in God. In some measure, each character interacts with and is changed by these themes through their own arc.



How do you balance between plot-driven and character-driven storytelling?



N: I find that outlining the entire book before I sit down to start writing helps with the balance. If I write without planning first, then I definitely get imbalanced toward plot-driven storytelling and the character development suffers. With outlining, I can take my time developing both without the pressure of worrying about writing mechanics and pacing.


 

Writing Process



Can you walk us through your typical writing routine?


N: Typically, I’ll spend about seven to eight hours a week writing. I begin by fleshing out an outline, so it takes me maybe two or three months to finish that. Once I have enough detail and understand the direction I'm taking the plot in, I start writing the actual book, which takes me anywhere from nine months to a year and a half, depending on the size of the book. 


What challenges did you face while writing the series, and how did you overcome them?


N: The biggest challenge to my writing is time. It’s taken me about eleven years to complete four books in the Sons and Daughters series. During that time, I was (extremely) busy raising children, building my counseling practice, working full-time, etc. So, free time is a commodity, and I don’t have an abundance. I had to prioritize family, of course, and that meant I couldn’t spend long hours writing every day. But, slow and steady wins the race. 



 

how to write a fantasy series, advice from the published author Nathan Lumbatis. Nathan Limbatis is the author of the ya fantasy book series Sons and Daughters. Book covers of the series were created by the book cover designer Donika Mishineva - www.artofdonika.com

Advice for Aspiring Authors



What advice would you give to aspiring fantasy writers?


There are three bits of advice I regularly dole out, and tell myself, for that matter.



1

Stop worldbuilding and write the story.

Fantasy writers, possibly more than authors in other genres, get stuck in creating elaborate backdrops for their stories. But there won’t be a story unless you actually pause the planning and write.


2

Don’t let perfectionism keep you from finishing your book
and submitting it to publishers/agents.

I believe it was Stephen King who famously quipped that the first million words are just practice. All aspiring writers need to accept this. It takes years to hone your craft, and even then it won’t be perfect. It won’t even be perfect after your stories get published. How should writers apply this? Finish your story, edit it as best you can, and submit it. If you’ve got a manuscript you’ve been working on for years and you haven’t attempted to do anything with it because you think it isn’t perfect, you’re right. And no one else’s manuscripts are perfect either. Submit your manuscript and make stuff happen.


3

Plan to be patient.

It’s going to take a long time to plan your book, a long time to write it, a long time to edit it, a long time to get it accepted for publication, and a long time in pre-publication. It’s just going to take a long time. Authors have to be patient people.



How do you stay motivated and inspired throughout the writing process?


N: I enjoy the process of writing itself, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. I never have to force myself to get up to write. I also feel like my reason for writing (i.e. to encourage readers who struggle with a sense of belonging and identity) keeps me focused on the project itself, even if it spans a couple of years.


 

Future Projects



Are there any upcoming projects or books you’re working on? Do you plan to explore other genres or continue within the fantasy realm?


N: Yes! I plan on writing a fiction book based on the Enneagram personality system, and I’m toying with the idea of writing a series of children’s books based on the folklore of the southern United States. Somewhere in between I plan on writing a how-to book to help therapists go into private practice (cue the yawn). 



 

Reader Engagement



How do you engage with your readers?


N: I usually engage with my readers via my social media platforms, my website, and email. I’m always happy to get questions and comments! I especially enjoy answering questions about writing and publishing. It’s enjoyable to demystify the process for aspiring authors so they can avoid all the mistakes I already made.



What has been the most surprising reaction from readers about your series?


N: It was definitely when a young reader created a list of encouraging spiritual lessons she had learned from the books. That was definitely humbling, and it made all the blood, sweat, and tears of the writing process worthwhile!



 

Personal Favorites



Which authors or books have influenced your writing the most?


N: The writers I mentioned before (Tolkien, Lewis, etc.) influenced me in the sense that they taught me that deep and abiding truths can be taught through fantasy. I would have to say that Rick Riordan influenced my writing style the most, though. His straightforward and exciting way of telling a story clicked with my mind. When I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians in my twenties, I thought, “I can tell a story like this.” Of course, if the sales of my books want to be influenced by him too, that’d be just fine.


If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be and why?


N: I’ve got two answers for this one. If I could choose any writer from any point in history, it would have to be C.S. Lewis. I would love to learn his process for weaving deeper truths into his fiction.

 

After him, I would want to co-write a book with my daughter, Ariel. She’s 15 and is a fantastic writer. She’s already written two novels and is working on her third. She’s going to be famous one day! Collaborating with her would be a joy. And since this idea is actually feasible, I’ll suggest the idea to her today.


 

Behind the Scenes


What’s something about the Sons and Daughters series that most readers don’t know?


N: Numerous characters and dilemmas were based on the lives of my clients. So, if any of them are following this interview, go read the books and see if you find anything that seems familiar!



 



Thank you for joining us for this insightful conversation with Nathan Lumbatis. It's been a privilege to delve into the world of Sons and Daughters and learn about the inspirations and creative processes behind the series. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into Nathan's mind and are as excited as we are to see where his imaginative storytelling takes us next. Stay tuned for more author spotlights, and don't forget to pick up your copy of Sons and Daughters to embark on an unforgettable adventure! 😊


Follow the author Nathan Lumbatis' Website to be the first to hear about her next literary work or important news. You can find him on Goodreads / Instagram / Facebook / Amazon as well.

thank you note to the readers of books and blossoms blog on artofdonika.com

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