Author Interview: Ralph Smith

By David Bergsland

Seal of the King

Ralph Smith has written one of the best Christian fantasies I have read recently: Seal of the King. So, I asked him if he could share with my readers about himself. It’s a fairly intensive interview. I’m trying to get at why this action/adventure, spiritual warfare, romance has such a compelling relationship between the male and female leads. The book is also remarkable in that it shows a believable, realistic view of strong Christians moving under the power of God.

 Let’s meet Ralph Smith!

I loved Seal of the King. How large is this series going to be?

Currently I am planning at least 4 books. I have the second one 2/3 completed and have mapped out the third. The only question for me will be how far I take the 4th as to whether or not I end up with 5.

What are your hopes for the series, professionally?

I love writing. It has been my dream since as far back as Junior High School. Just having the opportunity to share my story with people and have it so well received is a great blessing.
If this series could open the door for me to write full time that would be amazing.
I have had a lot of people tell me they think it would make a great movie. I see it playing in my head when I write and or read it and the idea of sharing that with everyone seems like too much to hope for.

What are your hopes for the series, spiritually?

One of the main reasons I wrote the book was to show people who struggle with their faith that a Godly relationship is full of passion. That love that comes from God is pure, loyal and faithful, a small reflection of the love He has for us. [ED: his depiction of godly love resulting in a righteous, powerful marriage is amazing.]

I also wanted to show through the story how trusting in Him, even when we can’t see where He is taking us, means we always have hope. That if we open our hearts to his will and follow it he will always be with us.
I think for many people today reconciling how God works in our lives is difficult. With all the secular information overload today, it is a very confusing time. I felt that using a fantasy story to capture peoples imaginations that through the story and how the characters act, not so much what they say, God willing, I might help some people to see what how and why we do what we do is just as important as what we do.
Just as our characters are in a battle between good and evil so are we. We are battling for the hearts and minds of our youth who are being overwhelmed with information, books, songs, music, tv, movies etc.

We are David in that battle against Goliath and hope to find the rock God has laid there for us to use.

What is the inspiration for David and Aurora? They seem like judges, prophets, or two of the King’s Mighty Warriors?

I wanted David and Aurora to be regular people with fears and doubts, but because, in spite of their tragedies, they remained faithful they were blessed with gifts.
They aren’t seeking glory or authority and don’t really want the responsibility they were given. But because they are faithful and obedient the Lord blessed them. They are humbled that he has chosen them and recognize that they are servants of the light not lords over it.
It is because of their compassion for others, even those who were seduced by the dark, that they succeed.

Do you have a specific reason for avoiding rebirth and filled with the Spirit events in the lives of the characters?

I wasn’t specifically avoiding these topics. In fact in the second book I have those events with other characters. My plan for the series is to build on each spiritual issue to more complex ones. As I mentioned, in some ways I wrote the book more for people who are struggling with their faith.

Tell us a little about your life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

Here is the bio I put on my author page as a start.

Ralph Smith – was born in 1964, and grew up in Northport, NY.
I’ll never forget those days when we would walk to school, ride bikes to the beach, play stick ball in the street, and hang out under the street lights until well past dark. Life was simpler then and I learned something really important (although it took me many years to understand it).
Every day of your life is what you make of it. I’ve had my share of good and bad days. No matter what we face in life, how we face it is just as important as the outcome.
I like the current phrase “Be Present”, but I would take it one step further. Make the most out of every moment, so that if anyone is your last you can look back in pride at not having wasted it. How we touch the lives of those around us is far more important than what we’ve accomplished.
I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and three sons who fill my life with purpose every day.
Having traveled around the world for work (more places than some and a lot less than others) I have been blessed with friends all over the globe. I only hope that in some small way I have touched their lives as much as they have touched mine.
I found my faith late in life. For a long time I didn’t believe. Then one day, I knew without a doubt that God existed. I knew that he was working in my life in ways I can’t always see, but that he was there.
How I knew is one of the things I can’t put into words. It would be like trying to explain how I use the muscles in my hand. It is something that is beyond words.

Onto the topic at hand, writing. My sincerest thanks to anyone who reads my work. Writing is my passion, it always has been. My college professor Judith Johnson wrote a poem, “the gift”.

what have i got for you?
only what i am,
and you are not.

More than thirty years later her words still resonate and inspire me.

Yes, life gets in the way of my writing, time, distractions, being too busy. But writing is a great way for me to clear my thoughts. In particular this series is a little like prayer too because I am looking for guidance.
I have had a lot of challenges in my life and God has shown me that he is there watching over me, even when I make a mess of things. I always tell people god is trying to teach me something but I am a slow learner.

Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.

I love spending time with my children they are the greatest joy in my life. I also truly enjoy woodworking, making furniture and things.

Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

I did find a few people to read my drafts and help me understand some of the deficiencies before I published it. I thought I had it fairly well edited then found I was wrong and hired someone to help.
After that I paid several people to read it, that I didn’t know, to get some objective feedback.
I am very blessed to have had someone working for me in my business who did the book cover. We do websites and graphic design and she did a great job.

Have you done anything writing-related, outside of your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

I set up a number of other websites, engaged people in a variety of fan groups etc. and have had a lot of aspiring authors reach out to me. I felt that if I could achieve some success with my book I could help other people too.
I did take a poetry class in college and my professor loved my work and that has always stayed with me.

Tell us about Seal of the King. Make us want to read it.

Even though the basic plot of good versus evil is not unique, I hope that what I did within the elements of the book will stand the test of time. I wanted to write a love story that would inspire people, not waste their time with the trite, will she won’t she, will he won’t he, or the typical love triangle that is so common today.
It is the strength of this love, the purity and at the same time passion of it that helps these two characters overcome so much of what they face.
I also wanted an adventure filled with danger and excitement, twists and turns, letting the reader think they know what is coming then take them somewhere unexpected.
I also wanted to create characters that you could step into, put yourself in their place and feel satisfied that they lived up to the readers expectations.

What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

The underlying message in my book is that being faithful and trusting in God will never fail us. That he gives us everything we need even when we don’t know it and that if we seek his will in all things he will never take us where his grace can not sustain us. We need to embrace every moment of every day and make the most of it.

[ED: This is a truly remarkable book. You should check it out.]

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