Paper God is Andy Nash’s story of his failure in business and success as a Christian — to put it simply. It’s the story of how he pursued a dream — in this case, the dream of starting a family-values-oriented magazine in post-9/11 America — to the point where it became an all-consuming passion in his life, and the unexpected paths he found himself travelling in pursuit of that dream.
I’ve followed Andy Nash’s career with interest, as they say, since I’ve enjoyed almost everything he’s written (but particularly his memoir Growing Up Adventist). I dimly recall the announcement that he and Chris Blake (another writer I greatly admire) were starting this magazine called The Front Porch, then never hearing another thing about it. I assumed it had failed, like so many bold little business projects do fail, and never really thought about it beyond that. Paper God is the inside story of what it feels like to put your heart and soul into a project like that and see it fail — and what you can learn from the experience.
I try to keep up with what my kids are reading, and they’ve both enjoyed The Lightning Thief and the rest of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. (They also enjoyed the recent movie, but were quick to point out many, many liberties the movie-makers took with the story — to the point where it’s almost a different story).
Parallels have been drawn between Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, but really, both are just riffing on an ancient theme — a pre-adolescent boy who, for various reasons, isn’t happy and doesn’t fit in, suddenly finds out he’s someone special. In Percy’s case, he’s the son of the god Poseidon, and he finds himself suddenly living in a world where gods and demigods, satyrs and others mythological creatures, are real — and often deadly.
This was a book that promised much but, for me, didn’t quite deliver. It’s a fantasy novel that appears to be trying to do the same sort of thing the incomparable Guy Gavriel Kay has done in his recent novels (I’m sure other fantasy writers do it too, but GGK is the one I know best): set a story in a fantasy world that closely parallels our world at a specific period in history. The fantasy element allows the author to introduce characters and events that aren’t strictly historical, and also, of course, to bring in magical elements.
The Queen’s Bastard is set in a parallel Elizabethan era, in which Lorraine, the queen of Aulun, is a dead ringer for Elizabeth I. Except that Lorraine has a secret illegitimate daughter, Belinda, whose father is courtier and spymaster Robert Drake (a bit of an amalgam, even in his name, of several of the men in Elizabeth’s life). Belinda has been trained as an undercover assassin, sent by her father to kill people throughout Europe for the greater glory and security of her mother’s throne. She also has paranormal powers that she doesn’t fully understand or know how to use — until she meets someone else who shares them.