Five Auralia’s Colors Confessions: “Summoner and Stranger”

The adventure continues…

Once in a while, chapters require several rewrites. But once in a while, they happen so easily that it’s like I’m watching a movie and describing what I’m shown. This chapter was like a movie in my head. Maybe a filmmaker will make it happen someday. For now, all I can offer is the chapter I wrote.

Here are
My Top 5 Confessions About Auralia’s Colors, Chapter 6 – Summoner and Stranger

In this chapter, you’ll meet Radegan.

It occurred to me, near the end of the project, that his name sounds like the name of the villain in The Secret of NIMH. I decided that I didn’t mind that at all.

In this chapter, one of the vawns – a common reptilian steed in the Expanse – develops an attitude.

I became rather fond of this animal, so by the time I started writing the sequel, I decided that a vawn would play a more important part and actually become a character. In my mind, a vawn looks a little like cross between a velociraptor and a mouthless tapir. It’s a lizard who can run with agility through a crowded woods, so it’s more useful there than a horse. It can be as agreeable as a good horse, or as aggravating as a mule.

Much of Auralia’s work, as described in this chapter and elsewhere, was inspired by the art of Andy Goldsworthy.

Scharr ben Fray sighting! Yes, the elusive wizard makes a rare appearance here.

Scharr ben Fray evolved more than any other character in the ten years that I spent writing Auralia’s Colors.

When a wizard first showed up in Auralia’s Colors, I was distraught. I had so hoped to stop any long-winded Gandalfs or speechifying Obi-wan Kenobis at the border and permanently banish them from the Expanse. So I made the wizard a mute. That way, he wouldn’t become a Gandalf and start making wise speeches. Oh, how I’ve come to hate the know-it-all wizard character!

Nevertheless, he kept behaving too much like Old Ben Kenobi. So I replaced him with an animal. And then that animal seemed too much like Aslan, so I shoved that animal to the margins.

Eventually, another wizard – Scharr ben Fray – shoved his way into the story. I became suspicious. Were imaginary wizards conspiring against me? Were they fighting back against Wizard Discrimination?

So I began interrogating Scharr ben Fray in my off-hours. And lo, I discovered that he is not Gandalf. Not by a longshot.

It’ll take the rest of the series to get to any big revelations about Scharr ben Fray, but we’ll get there. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

In his chapter, readers will go back to the scene of the story’s beginning… the reedy riverbank where Auralia was discovered. And not for the last time.

When I decided to figure out how Auralia was discovered, I found myself in the mythic territory of Moses… a child found lying in the reeds. What is it about reeds? Why do they give us such a sense of mystery and discovery?

I’m not sure. As a kid, I listened to songs from a silly little musical called “Down by the Creek Bank.” Maybe that kindled my curiosity about riversides and creek banks, and made me love the sensation of pushing my way through long grasses. Maybe someday I’ll get to have coffee with Annie Dillard and we can share stories about the dangerous revelations we’ve found on that holy ground.

Discovering Auralia there 13 years ago was an event that changed my life. It’s dominated my writing ever since, and I have stacks and stacks of journals and notebooks full of scribbles as a result. Maybe I should stay away from reedy marshes for a while.

You can order Auralia’s Colors at Barnes and Noble, Eighth Day Books, Third Place Books, Elliott Bay Book Company, or the independent bookstore nearest you.


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Don't you hate these ugly click-bait ads? Visit for a bigger, better, ad-free version of Jeffrey Overstreet's blog. Jeffrey Overstreet is the senior film critic for Christianity Today, the author of Through a Screen Darkly and Auralia's Colors, and he teaches writing and film at Seattle Pacific University, Houston Baptist University, and Northwest University.

  • lindsay

    I love what you say about Scharr Ben Fray shoving his way in through his wizard conspiracy despite your best efforts to keep him out. That’s always been my experience of writing – I want things one way, or I don’t want to go a certain direction, and then lo and behold it’s the only thing I can write and I eventually have to give up, only to find it’s actually much better than I’d planned in the first place.

    There’s a lesson in that somewhere… I need to read Mind of the Maker again.

  • Brian D

    Even though Terence Malick doesn’t really make fantasy movies, maybe he would enjoy filming scenes with people pushing their way through reeds at the riverbank. He never passes up an opportunity to linger over waving wheat and reeds.