One for the Books - Taylor Alumnus Publishes His First Book

By Austin Lindner Published: Nov 01, 2016

Chandler Birch

Chandler Birch '14 has always been a story junkie. Even when he was a toddler, his mom would hold books and movies hostage to coerce him into doing his chores. 

Now a published author of a fantasy novel that released in paperback and e-book on November 1, 2016, Chandler's identification as a story-addict still holds true.

The author made his way from his hometown of Westminster, Colo., to Taylor because of this passion for writing and storytelling. When he was 13, his dad sent a few of his stories to Dr. Dennis Hensley, professor of professional writing at Taylor.

Hensley was impressed with Chandler's work, quickly expressing a desire to meet him at a writing conference in Colorado later that year. After learning about Taylor's writing program over lunch, Chandler ended the meeting by firmly shaking the professor's hand and saying, "Doctor Hensley, when I'm old enough, I'm going to be in your program."

Just a few years later, Chandler was right.

While studying professional writing and living in Gerig Hall, Chandler honed his craft and began specializing in fantasy.

"Fantasy's my home. Always has been," he said. "Truthfully, I think I love fantasy because fantasy lets us remember what it's like to be children again."

During his senior year, Chandler entered a student novel contest held by Simon 451, a new imprint of the Simon & Schuster publishing company. At the time, he didn't have any complete manuscripts, so he challenged himself to scribble out a 50-page sampler in just 20 days.

After becoming a finalist in the contest, Chandler had to finish the book -- writing about 600 pages between April and September -- all while graduating from Taylor, moving to a new city, and getting married. On September 22, Chandler was informed that he won with his fantasy novel, originally titled Ashes.

Since graduating, Chandler has been revising and refining his book, cutting the manuscript almost in half and reworking much of the story.

The original agreement of the contest was just an e-book contract, but the Simon451 staff read the manuscript last Christmas and liked it so much they decided to publish it as a physical book, The Facefaker's Game.

As he continues his creative work, Chandler works as a publications editor for the Association of Christian Schools International. Whether his next project will take place in a familiar fantasy world or break into new territory, Chandler is firm in his desire to create original art and inspire other Christian artists to do the same.

"I'm very hopeful about where we're going next, as Christian art-makers," he said. "I think we have an opportunity to communicate truth in a convincing, meaningful way if we can get over our tribal hang-ups. But I don't think we'll do it by making more sequels to bad, indulgent Christian stories. I think we'll do it by having the guts to think, create, and live by the truth."