Meet author Bryan Canter

Bryan Canter has a keen interest in history and the Christian faith. He has a passion for lifelong learning in an eclectic array of subjects. Bryan has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics, a Master of Arts degree in religious studies, as well as a Master of Arts in liberal arts from a “great books” program at St. John’s College. He writes historical fiction in order to make history come alive for his readers, allowing them to experience the past in new and engaging ways.

Tell us about your newest book.

Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of the Picts is an historical fiction novel set in the highlands of Scotland in 367 A.D.  I had the privilege of visiting Scotland for six months in the summer of 2018 in order to research the subject and literally walk the ground where the story takes place.

What inspired you to write (Daughter of the Gods)?

The novel actually started out as a college writing assignment.  We were supposed to write a descriptive scene, to which I added a bit of a twist at the end.  While we were doing our peer reviews in class, everyone asked, “So, what happens next.”  My reply was, “I don’t know.  It’s just a scene.”  I literally could not sleep for several nights until I finally identified where the scene was, when it occurred in history, and why the protagonist was there. During the rest of the semester, I ended up writing what eventually became the first three chapters of the novel.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

Summer, 367 A.D.  In a land of mystery and enchantment, in an age of Celtic gods, Highland warlords, Roman legions, and powerful druids, a young Pictish healer finds herself embroiled in an epic struggle between gods and men.

The Celtic tribes of the lands we now know as Scotland and Ireland conspire to assault Hadrian’s Wall and drive the Romans out of Britain forever. But in order for the warriors to achieve victory in the military campaign, the druids must first gain ascendancy over the new Roman god.

Amid clandestine preparations for war, Flora is yanked out of her peaceful, ordinary world and thrust into a spiritual battle of mythic proportions. In order to save her family, her clan, and her people, she is called upon to sacrifice not only her life, but her very identity. Feeling trapped in a web of manipulation and deceit, she struggles to discover the true reality of who she is and who she will become.

Set in the Scottish Highlands, this story brings to life an age and a people that have remained veiled in the mists of time. Based on extensive research into the archaeology, culture, and geography of fourth-century Scotland, Daughter of the Gods explores the mysterious people knowns as the Picts—a collection of tribes so determined to retain their freedom that they dared to defy the mightiest army the ancient world had ever known.

What genre do you focus on and why?

I primarily write historical fiction.  The past provides so many amazing stories or settings for original stories that there is an existing pool of rich content to pull from.  I always liked history, but I didn’t necessarily like historical text books.  I try to re-write the events of history in ways that help my readers to experience it in a more personal way than is otherwise available in the dry tomes of history classes.

Why do you write?

I wrote my MA thesis on evangelism in a postmodern culture. One characteristic of postmodern people (there are many such characteristics) is that they are more receptive to truth in story form than when it is presented as a logical argument. This realization led me to write fiction for non-Christian audiences with light Christian principles and themes woven throughout the stories. It allows people to encounter Christian ideas who would likely not visit a church or a Bible study. I don’t try to “convert” my readers, but simply acquaint them with concepts that they might not otherwise confront.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

Flora is a seventeen-year-old apprentice healer who is asked to sacrifice herself for the sake of her people. The story is written from her point of view.  I just randomly chose her name when I wrote that first scene for my college writing class. It turns out that flowers became an important, recurring theme throughout the story. I think that God might have inspired the name from the very beginning, knowing in advance how the novel would end up.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I try to write for two hours a day.  I can usually put about a thousand words together in that amount of time. I also work as a publishing consultant, so two hours of dedicated writing provides a decent pace while leaving time for my personal publishing and marketing activities as well as my business commitments.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Independently published authors have to develop a broad range of skills. They not only have to learn the craft of writing, but they also need to figure out all the tasks associated with publishing and marketing their books. For me, this is a challenge that I enjoy. But I know it can be overwhelming to people who don’t have as much discretionary time to dedicate to these other disciplines.

What’s the best part of your author’s life?

I love doing research and then watching as the pieces of the story come together. I prefer to do experiential research whenever possible. Since I write historical fiction, I not only read source materials from my chosen periods, but I also visit historical locations, participate in archaeological digs, and learn relevant skills, like horseback riding, sailing reproduction ships, and fencing with authentic weapons and techniques. I want to live the experiences as closely as I can, so that I will be able to more accurately portray life in the past to my readers.

What’s one thing your readers should know about you?

I live full-time in a motorhome, so that I can visit historical venues and places of extraordinary beauty.

How have you changed or grown as a writer?

One of God’s characteristics is creativity. Since we are made in God’s image, I believe that He placed a creative spirit within each of us. It might be expressed differently in different people, but it is there in all of us. Writing provides one way for me to interact with God as He teaches me how to create stories and to reflect that aspect of His image in me. It is a never-ending process of learning and growth.

What is your favorite pastime?

I love to be outdoors. I like to hike, to ski, and to film video of nature’s beauty with my drone.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

I published The Bethany Tales in February of 2020.  It is a biblical fiction novel, and is available as an eBook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a contemporary romantic drama that I hope to release later this year.  (I know, it’s out of my genre, but God got the deciding vote.)


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