Interview: Mark Swirsky

Seventeen-year-old Ransom Cross, son of a cavalry officer, learns that he is the target of the Shadow Lord after assassins capture him. Delivered from them by a chance encounter, Ransom flees his captors and must discover the truth about himself. Befriended by allies and beset by enemies, Ransom races to the city of Talmor, seeking an answer from the High Priest and the Chronicles of Altaran. His difficulties are part of the war the Shadow Lord has begun against the races of Altaran, seeking to dominate and enslave all who oppose him.

The Chronicles of Altaran is a fast-paced fantasy adventure set in the mythical world of Altaran, created by Makir.

Inspired by the writing of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, the story explores the challenges faced in deciding whether to pledge allegiance to Makir or to the Shadow Lord.

You all should remember I am a huge fan of C.S.Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia; well, today’s author writes a very similar series, that I am incredibly pleased to feature!
Was there a particular book/series/author that inspired you to start writing? Was there a specific moment that inspired your series? What started me writing The Chronicles of Altaran was equal measures of arrogance and inspiration. I had finished reading a book in a multi-volume New York Times best-selling fantasy series and was frustrated.  The descriptions were so detailed that they had become tedious.  The author had introduced so many characters that I was having trouble keeping track of everyone and finally I blurted out, “I can do better than this!”  That was the arrogance part.  Then I thought, Why don’t I?  I had always been impressed with how C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had crafted such wonderful stories that also conveyed a Biblical world view. I wanted very much to do the same thing.  I wanted to write a story that was entertaining and compelling while at the same time weaving Biblical truth throughout it without being preachy. Once I started, the ideas flowed without much effort on my part.  I knew before finishing book one how the whole story would end.

Do you draw inspiration from pop culture (TV shows, Video Games, Movies, etc.), and if so, which ones? The inspiration for the skeleton of the plot, the theme, and certain portions of the story come from the Bible.  My initial training was in biology so I enjoyed creating some unique animals which were composites of a couple different species.  For example, the hantavore is a composite of an ant lion, scorpion, hermit crab, and beetle.  I didn’t derive much inspiration from pop culture although I did slip in a couple of character names that referenced old role playing games computer games.

If you could live anywhere (any time, era, and place), where would it be?I very much like living in this era, in the United States because of all the opportunities we enjoy with technology and the freedoms of living in this great country. If I could safely visit the Cretaceous period, I would love to see real dinosaurs.  That’s probably why one of my key characters is essentially a small Tyrannosaurus rex.

If you had 24 hours to do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do? If I had twenty four hours to do anything I wanted it would be to enjoy the super power of flight.  I think it would be so cool to zip from place to place in the air and to be fully free from the constraints of gravity.

You’re trapped on an island but are allowed to bring one person, one food item, and one object. What are your choices? If trapped on an Island I would want my wife, Julie, my best friend to be there, assuming we are going to eventually get off the island. The object I would bring would be a working satellite phone so I could call someone to rescue us off the island. The food I would bring would be an orange. In case the phone did not work, we could eat the orange, plant the seeds and hopefully harvest more oranges in the future before dying of scurvy.


Thank you for the wonderful interview, Mark! Make sure to check out his series, The Chronicles of Altaran (found here on Amazon, and a review will be coming soon!).



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