Thursday, July 17, 2008

Donita K. Paul Interview

I usually just review books, but I thought I'd break over and do an actual interview. But first, an overview based on the interview:

Donita Kathleen Paul was born November 20, 1950 in Lawrence, KS to Arthur Norman and Elnora Evelyn Foster Paul.

My father was an industrial, mechanical, and civil engineer. If WWII hadn’t interfered, he would have had a doctorate. Instead, he designed airplanes that wouldn’t fall out of the sky, even when riddled with bullet holes.

My mother taught and taught teachers how to teach for the Methodist church. My mother was a farm gal who furthered her education through fiction. She had an astounding vocabulary, a knowledge of many cultures, and ended up being a world traveler.

I had three older brothers, David, Stephen, and Jon. That meant there was a brother to hold my feet, one to hold my arms, and one to tickle.

Every one of us and many of our extended family were storytellers. Swapping tall tales at a family gathering was normal. One of my brothers was an oil executive and went to cocktail parties all over the world. He was known for what amounted to a stand-up comedy routine about his perception of his childhood. If you ask other members of the family, these accounts were fiction, or fictionalized truth, or out and out fabrication. At his funeral, his business associates were astonished to meet his seemingly normal family.

I graduated from High School in 1968. University of Houston in 1973 with a BS in Elementary Education.

I taught elementary grades in public and private schools until I retired in 1996.

Married, divorced, with two children.

(In case anyone wonders: I asked about all that because I couldn't find it online. And I'm nosy.)

The regular interview questions:

I was mildly surprised that you never commented on using dragons. Despite Bryan Davis' arguments to the contrary, the Biblical image of dragons is overwhelmingly negative. I can think of only one positive reference--Psalm 104:26. Do you consider this an issue? (For what it's worth, I can think of a possible defense; I just wonder about your views.)

I do not think the use of dragons is an issue any more than talking teapots or bears of very little brain. This is fiction!

I use many elements in my story to be allegorical. With all allegories, you must be careful not to carry them too far. They represent something that they are not. The minor dragons represent gifts God has bestowed on people: healing, music, ability to read and retain, providing light in the darkness, to name a few.

When the characters sit down for tea or a meal, that is allegorical as well. It signifies resting in the Lord and refueling from His Strength.

Why don’t I get called on the carpet for tea?

A dragon is a symbol for something evil in the Bible.

A fish was a fish until the symbol evolved as a sign for Christians.

A cross was a symbol of shameful death.

I have dragons who are good and some who are not.

The business of the Principles is also puzzling. I admit I haven't read the earlier books, just the last one for an upcoming blog tour, but it's almost like the local Bible consists only of Proverbs and the Psalms. Is there more?

The principles are mostly from the Proverbs. In DragonSpell there is mention of a story of how Wulder rewarded the generosity of the urohm people. And at another time, someone says that the Tomes are filled with guidelines for life and the history of how Wulder has worked in His creation. My intention was not to rewrite the Bible, but to use principles from Scripture in a fictional setting. Hopefully, the reader picks up on Truth that applies universally.

For that matter, has there been an Incarnation, or is that handled differently? Or has it perhaps not yet come up?

I admit to steering clear of recreating Christ. I feel Lewis did that with Aslan. He did it well, and I don’t feel the need to try to capture the essence of the Greatest Story in my fiction. Maybe God will impress upon me at a later date to do so, but I have no inclination now.

The Dragon Keeper Chronicles are about the Christian walk, how a person relates to God through acceptance of oneself, relationship to others, and glorifying the Creator in all he/she does.

There is no salvation message. As it turns out, it has been an evangelical tool in that readers have said to me, "I didn’t know being a Christian was like that. I’m going to learn more about Christianity."

That is gratifying, but certainly is not my work, but that of the Holy Spirit.


CherryBlossomMJ said...

This is a fabulous and very interesting interview. I'm going to steer people here.

Robert Treskillard said...

Great interview! Thanks for going the extra mile.

cathikin said...

I thought I knew a lot about Donita since she is open to answer my emails and even has the Dragonkeepers club, er, group, on Shoutlife, but this was full of stuff I didn't know. Really got to read how she thinks.
Just goes to show that you are always full of surprises.

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