Robin Parrish: The Power of Story
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Senior Producer
Colin Boyd stepped off the Metro bus on his way to work, and across the street he saw himself strolling down the sidewalk.
That’s the way author Robin Parrish begins the exciting journey that he masterfully creates in The Dominion Trilogy. The series is comprised of the novels Relentless (Bethany House, 2006), Fearless (2007), and Merciless (2008), and is a mix of fantasy, suspense, and fast-paced thrills. The plot of the series first began to take shape when Parrish was working as editor-in-chief of the popular online magazine Infuze. He originally wrote Relentless as serialized chapters posted on the site, and it quickly became the magazine’s most popular feature.
As the trilogy begins, readers are introduced to a long cast of characters with extraordinary supernatural powers like being able to disappear, a photographic memory, and lightning fast reaction times. The story centers around this group of talented folks who are fearfully living in seclusion and an age-old secret society that threatens not only their existence but that of the entire world.
As the main character works to unravel these mysteries, readers are pulled along at a break-neck pace. A variety of exciting chases, sword fights, and explosions keep the speed of the novel set on fast-forward. And, on the way, readers may end up discovering a few things about themselves along with the series’ heroes and villains.
Stories involving superheroes -- and their journeys as they grow to accept the roles that they have been given -- have been around for years, the author said, yet we never grow tired of them.
“There’s something powerful about that notion that no matter how bad things get, how horrible a hole we dig ourselves, there is always going to be some powerful figure who is bigger than us, and better than us, and more powerful than us, and completely benevolent, who can come down from above and save us.”
Though his novels contain spiritual themes, such as perseverance and self-sacrifice, they are not meant to be novelized sermons. Parrish said he is careful to avoid preaching in his books.
“I love the storytelling styles of Tolkien and Lewis, those kinds of allegorical and metaphorical kinds of things that don’t beat you over the head with Christianity but they definitely have strong values and ideas at their core,” he said. “I wanted to see if it was possible to do that in a modern way.”
His novels accomplish this brilliantly. However, the author said, some Christians have expressed concerns that the books do not mention God or Christianity directly.
“I’ve actually had extended family members who have called me up, or called my poor mom, and said, ‘Are these books Christian? Because I read them and I’m not sure.’ And my answer to that is I always wonder if Tolkien or Lewis ever got accused of their books not being Christian enough. It’s hard to maintain that balance between speaking to Christians where they are but also speaking to the rest of the world and not alienating either one of them.”
His main concern when he writes, he said, is crafting a good story. Then the Holy Spirit can use that in many different ways in the lives of readers.
“Story is a very powerful thing,” he said. “Story can change your mind about things, something you have a strong opinion about, in ways that a sermon could not. Story speaks to us in ways that nothing else can. It’s expressive, and it can really speak to our hearts because it’s relatable.”
Parrish said he has received numerous emails from readers telling him how God has used the novels in their lives. Many times, the things they take away from the story are not ideas that Parrish ever thought about when he wrote it. But he said he marvels at how God uses stories like that to speak to people.
“We live in this culture that is based around storytelling, yet the church seems kind of stuck in this mode of very didactic, ‘I’m going to tell you what to believe’ kind of stuff, and we’ve lost that sense of mystery and wonder and freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to move.”
He said he hopes that each reader will take away something different from his novels.
“I hope they feel inspired to live a life of meaning and I hope that they get something unique out of it that really speaks to them where they are,” he said.
Parrish is already working his next novel, OffWorld, which will be a science fiction tale. He has signed on to do three more novels with Bethany House, though they will not be a series. Once OffWorld is released next summer, Parrish said he is planning a supernatural thriller and he is still deciding what the third novel will be about.
Read more about Parrish and The Dominion Trilogy at RobinParrish.com.
Read Robin's blog.
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