Recent Author Interview with a Choctaw Focus

Thanks to one of my goodreads groups, I was recently interviewed by Nostri Publication. They asked some great questions about my Choctaw of Oklahoma heritage and how it impacted my epic fantasy novel, Bringer of Light. I’ve posted it below or you can check it out here:

The author of week 4 is J. R. Boles

Bringer of Light is an epic tale, what in your life inspired this story?

JRBolesAt its heart, Bringer of Light is the story of friendship. The friends in my life who have stuck with me through all the hard times inspired so much of this story.

How does your Choctaw lineage play into the story of Bringer of Light? Into your other writing?

My grandmother was an incredible woman. She spent her childhood with her grandmother, Rosa, on the Choctaw reservation Oklahoma. She used to scribble little notes about the amazing things all around us. My favorite is one she wrote about the bumblebee when she read in a science magazine that bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly because of their shape. I think these notes started me on my path toward fantasy and science fiction stories. In them, I could explore the amazing in our lives as well as the sorrow.
The Choctaw women in my life are all remarkably strong women. They’ve overcome adversity to stand up for what they believe in. My grandmother organized a movement in her small town so that girls could wear pants to school. My mother established a GED program at our local community college to ensure that everyone has access to a second chance. My aunt is incredibly active with PEO, a philanthropic organization that promotes the education and advancement of women. Is it any wonder that I write strong female characters?
The name of the Naki warriors is a Choctaw word. What does this word mean and why did you choose it to represent this group of soldiers?
JRBolesBringerOfLightCoverThere are a couple Choctaw words in Bringer of Light. I started studying the Choctaw language in college while I was studying the structure of the English language in my linguistic courses. I was fascinated by the differences that fostered the success of the Choctaw Code Talkers in WWI.
Naki literally means arrow. I thought it was fitting for the arrow-wielding servants of the dark mage Mercer. To him they are nothing more than weapons. Tikbali is also a Choctaw word meaning “first in time.” For the longest time, I couldn’t find the right word for the ancient mages in Bringer of Light. It wasn’t until a conversation with my mom that I thought to borrow from the Choctaw language. Considering their struggles in the past and their passion for education and the greater good, the Tikbali deserved a Choctaw name.
But more than just language, there are Choctaw symbols and imagery throughout Bringer of Light. One of the main Choctaw symbols is Captain Jonathen Oren’s family crest of diamonds between parallel lines, which means, “may our paths cross many times forever” in Choctaw. The sun symbol for healers comes from the Choctaw belief that the sun represents happiness and life. It made sense to me that healers, who hold the great responsibility for caring for the well being of all, would hold the sun as their symbol.

You have been a Fantasy writer all along. What drew/draws you to this genre?
The first novel my dad read to me when I was a kid was The Hobbit. It sparked my imagination and instilled in me a lifelong fear of spiders. With my dad, I grew up watching Star Trek Next Generation and Star Wars. This education definitely played a big part in my becoming a Fantasy writer.
What continues to draw me to this genre is the opportunity to explore so much of what makes us human. Fantasy is often about those make or break moments in a character’s life, and while the scenarios might be fantastical, the character response is nothing if not human.

Do you have any future projects planned?
Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Bringer of Light. I wrote the first half as part of NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m close to having a complete first draft. I also have a dystopian novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2013 with a Choctaw main character that I can’t wait to finish later this year. She’s a medical doctor traveling across the country in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that destroyed our cities and wiped out most of human kind. My great-great grandmother Rosa was a healer and her husband was an apothecary, and I’ve always been fascinated by how they came together with such opposing beliefs. This character embodies both of them, and it explores the power of family, which I learned from the stories about Rosa that my mom told me growing up.
I’ve also got an urban fantasy novel that I’m excited to write with my writing partner, Sara Kincaid, based in Kansas City.

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