Welcome to my blog...

Here's where you will find the latest on what's going on with my books and the movie. It's also a great place to ask questions, where I recommend other books, and post different things bouncing around in my head. Look me up on Facebook and if you want to buy, signed, discounted, copies of my books, head over to http://www.ryannwattersbooks.com/.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For the Holidays, I thought I'd give you a view of what I see from my office. The building has decorated our atrium lobby and I've enjoyed the version of Florida at Christmas (note the Palm Trees next to the Evergreens!). There is also a great little pond out back which is inhabited by a number of turtles and frequented by a variety of Ibis, Herons, and Egrets.

Have a fun time celebrating New Year's Eve and many blessings to you and your family in 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My series of interviewing and focusing on each of the authors involved in the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 is coming to a close, but not without a crescendo. The hope of all the author is to encourage readers who have experienced one or two of us and our work, to get a better idea of other Christian writers that they might be interested in.


The Miller brothers have had the distinct privilege of growing up in a CBA Bookstore. As children they learned first hand the value of faith-based stories while helping their parents operate several Christian bookstores and clubs for 30 years. As a result, Lumination delivers more than simply good stories, we bring passion to write and illustrate stories that inspire and illuminate the truth of God's Word in a fresh way.

Christopher & Allan are formally trained with a degree in Computer Animation. They have worked as animators for the popular CBA kids video series, Juniors Giants, and have recently written and illustrated the newly released book The Legend of Gid the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits, the first book in the Heroes of Promise Series (Warner Press Kids).

That's some of the background on these two authors and I had the chance to meet Alan and Chris Miller for the first time during the Northwestern leg of the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08. They are very energetic and creative types that have taken their unique talents and combined them with amazing results. They made the Motiv8 + 2 part of the tour for Canada and Seattle and while in their hometown I had the pleasure of crashing in their basement, which also works as their home studio.

Their digital animation rocks, so be sure to take a look at their website, blogs, etc. They are a big part of the Christian Arts revolution and were also responsible for designing their own cover art, interior design and website.

My friend L B. Graham had an interview with them recently and here are a few excerpts I thought you might enjoy:

LBG: You guys work together, not just on your books, but in your day job – what’s it like working so closely together at not one but two “jobs?” Did you two always work together well? (Ie, any good sibling rivalry stories lurking in your past?)

CHRIS: Allan and I have been blessed to have each other as brothers. I realize not many siblings enjoy each other as much as we do, and it is truly a gift from God that we have been best friends since we were very little. We've pretty much been a team since day one and even went to college together to pursue our passion for computer animation (back in the days before Toy Story...ehem). I find that even though we have similar skillsets (art and writing) there is a key difference between us that really makes the dynamic "work". I'm more of a big dreamer kind of guy, I see the big picture and provide direction and ideas on a broad scale. Allan is more of the details guy, he usually reigns me in so I don't go too far out in left field, and he helps fill in all of the glorious details that make the final product the best it can be.

LBG: I gathered from conversations on Tour that you two trained in computer animation. Did you ever, or do you still, have any aspirations to make pursue use of those skills in video production or film, to be the next “Big Idea?”

CHRIS: Our passion is for storytelling in all of its forms. Film is a very powerful and engaging medium to use, but the key is having good stories to tell. In terms of being the next "Big Idea" the answer is "yes" and "no". Yes - in that we love animation, and would think it is the coolest job in the world to animate one of our stories. No, because our passion is for the teen/pre-teen ages of kids. So we would focus on a different demographic than Big Idea.

LBG: For the uninitiated who might be reading this on my site, how would you introduce your Codebearers Series and the first Hunter Brown book to them?

CHRIS: Fans of Narnia and Pilgrim's Progress will love this book. It is cut from the same vein...an allegorical journey of Spiritual awakening and understanding. Hunter Brown shows us a different kind of hero. Where most stories will say that the hero "has good in them" and they must struggle to find that good to overcome evil...we take a differen approach. In many ways,Hunter is somewhat of an anti-hero. His entrance into the realm of Solandria causes more trouble than it solves.

In the beginning, Hunter thinks he's a pretty average kid, but what he doesn't realize is that he and his friends are secretly infected by an invisible horde of creatures known as the Shadow. An ancient book magically transports him to another realm, where he must search for the only one who can save him from the Shadow's infection. After arrving, Hunter is befriended by the Codebearers and trained in the ways of the Author before finally being
tasked with recovering a sacred artifact known as the Bloodstone. Through it all, he must come to grips with the reality that he is not as good as he thinks he is.

LBG: As you work feverishly on Book 2 in the series, what are you free to tell us about where the series is going that will whet the appetites of folks who have already read book one and are looking forward eagerly to book two? (Like my son – so come on fellas, make me a hero and tell me something good I can pass on.)

CHRIS: Hmm...what can I say without giving away too much.

Well for starters, the title is tentatively set to be Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire. Hunter is re-written into the Veil lands, his old home in Destiny, but unfortunately, his best friend Stretch has no memory of their previous adventure, which leaves Hunter alone in his beliefs. Strange things begin to happen, and Hunter quickly realizes that even though his connection to the Shadow has been broken they are still very much alive and well. Oh yeah, and a new threat emerges as a deadly assasin is sent on a mission to destroy the Codebearers Resistance - or what's left of it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

From now until shortly before Christmas, the authors involved in the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 will be collaborating on a joint blog tour. We'll be focusing each Monday - or thereabouts - on a different author each week. Our hope is to encourage readers who have experienced one or two of us and our work, to get a better idea of other Christian writers that they might be interested in.


Q. Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head. (be as specific as possible).
A. Shortly after I quit my cubicle job, I wrote the first chapter of The Bark of the Bog Owl and showed it to agent John Eames, who was a friend of a friend. I told John, “My wife is pregnant with our fifth child. I’m in no position to do art for art’s sake. Does this look like the sort of thing you could sell?” John said he thought he could sell it if I could write a whole book that lived up to the promise of that chapter.

I think that meeting was late May 2002. I wrote The Bark of the Bog Owl throughout the rest of 2002… I finished it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Starting in January of 2003, John Eames pitched it to about a dozen publishers as the first book of a trilogy. A couple of publishers made offers in the spring, and we settled on Broadman and Holman.

What made me go with Broadman and Holman was the fact that Gary Terashita, the acquisitions editor, asked if I’d be willing to beef up the story—make it longer, and make it appeal to a little bit older target group. Ever since I started writing the book, I was afraid I’d end up with a publisher who would ask me to dumb it down.
Not all publishers show young readers the respect they deserve. To my mind, I was writing serious books, and I didn’t want them to go out into the world wearing footie pajamas. In retrospect, I don’t think that was as big a danger as I had supposed, but Gary’s challenge was very energizing—and it resulted in a much better series.

Q. Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?
A. I don’t often doubt whether what I’ve written is good enough. I usually succeed in writing the sort of thing I like to read; and since that’s the best way I know of judging whether a piece of writing is “good enough,” I rarely experience doubts at that level. What I do doubt—every day—is whether or not I’m faithfully pursuing my calling. What is an appropriate use of my talents? Should I spend next three hours writing the prose I can write, or should I devote that time to self-promotion? I can rationalize either choice. If I apply my talents toward writing bank brochures (something I frequently do), does that count as pursuing my calling? After all, feeding those babies is part of my calling too. I’ve got a couple of novels I want to write—I would even say I feel called to write them—but I don’t have any reason to believe they would help me provide for my family. What constitutes faithfulness in that situation? And what does a string of rejections mean? Is it a fiery trial for the purpose of hardening my resolve, or is it a signal that it’s time to go back to the cubicle?

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

A. I don’t know if this is the best advice I’ve ever heard, but at least it’s something your readers may not have heard before: if you want some serious training as a writer, get a job writing advertising copy. I know it sounds pedestrian. But every day you’re forced to try out several different voices, speak to several different audiences about several different subjects, some of which are so dull you can’t imagine saying anything interesting. But you need to get paid, so—lo and behold—you find you’re able to come up with something after all. And deadlines…sometimes you have 2 or 3 in a single day. Obviously, being a copywriter isn’t going to teach you everything you need to know about writing. But I’ve learned things about my own capabilities that I could have never learned from a writing class or seminar. Yoking my creative tendencies to the matter-of-fact, professional approach required of a copywriter has done me a world of good. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block. Lawyers don’t get lawyer’s block. They get up in the morning and do their jobs. Are you a writer? Then get up in the morning and write.

Q. What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

A. I once had a well-meaning person from a marketing department advise me to turn the character Dobro Turtlebane into a girl. Your readers who are familiar with the Wilderking books will know how funny that is. For your readers who don’t know the Wilderking books, Dobro is a smelly, rude, belligerent swamp-dweller. The Bark of the Bog Owl had no girl characters, and my friend from marketing knew that girls read a lot more than boys…and girls understandably like girl characters. I ignored the advice, of course. To base any narrative decision on marketing concerns would have utterly contradicted the earthy, swampy ethos of the Wilderking books.
Q. Who is your favorite character from all of your books so far, and why?

A. That’s an easy one: the main character in the Wilderking books is a boy named Aidan, but my favorite is a wild swamp boy named Dobro Turtlebane. When he’s on the scene, something wild and funny is going to happen. His behavior seems erratic—courting danger, fighting with people he actually likes, etc.—but if you can accept a few basic premises about his unusual worldview, his behavior is actually quite logical. Dobro is a great example of what I was saying in an earlier question about character driving plot. He’s a game-changer, for sure.

Q. There is the ongoing debate in Christian fiction on the overtness of the gospel in novels. You’ve used allegory and hints, but no outright salvation plan on the back page. What are you hoping to accomplish through your stories?
A. A lot of times when people use the phrase “the gospel” they’re talking about evangelism. Of course that’s an extremely important part of the gospel, but it’s not the whole gospel. Once you’re converted, you’ve still got the rest of your life stretching out before you. And the fact of God’s grace in your life ought to impact every decision you make. It ought to shape every interaction. It ought to define your attitude toward work and family and community. That’s the gospel too. It’s true that there are no conversions in the Wilderking (actually, there’s an implied conversion in Book 3)—but I hope the gospel is pretty overt.

Monday, December 1, 2008

From now until shortly before Christmas, the authors involved in the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 will be collaborating on a joint blog tour. We'll be focusing each Monday - or thereabouts - on a different author each week. Our hope is to encourage readers who have experienced one or two of us and our work, to get a better idea of other Christian writers that they might be interested in.

This week it's all about ME!


What I thought I would do, since most of you who frequent my blog, know me to some degree, is to post the interview that L.B. Graham did with me over the Thanksgiving Holiday. So here it is, completely unedited:
Welcome to my lbgraham.com exclusive interview with Eric. Here we go!

LBG: You went to the Naval Academy, played Division-I college football, started your own financial planning company and now you've written a novel - what motivates you to pursue all these challenges?

Eric: The first thought that came to my mind when you asked this questions was, "I do what I love!" So many times I run across people that have gone to certain schools for the wrong reason, or chosen a career based on someone else's expectations. God blesses us all with different skills and abilities. We may feel like aren't special, but that's not biblical. The key is to find out where God has gifted you and to use those gifts to the best of ability. Don't choose a job because of how much money it makes. The world values positions different than God does. You may not be a star NFL football player or a World-Class Surgeon, but you can be the best teacher, salesman or plummer! Do what you love and then be content to live on the money that the world pays for that job. For me, I loved football growing up and tried to be the best I could be and it led to a coach recruiting me to play football for Navy. I knew nothing about the Service Academies, but graduated with an Economics degree and was the payroll officer on my ship and the financial advisor for the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy on my shore duty. That in turn led to my career as a financial advisor. I loved reading fantasy and science fiction growing up, so when my girls challenged me to write a book, I thought... "I could do that," and off I went.

LBG: Your road to publication was unusual and interrupted. What would you say you learned along the way that would be of interest for others out there who want to be published one day too?

Eric: As stated above, it’s important to pursue what you feel God has blessed you in to the fullest, but it is also important to remember that God brings about everything in His timing. I pursued my writing of a book with vigor, conducting the research, outlining twenty chapters, and writing the first ten chapters within a year, then… along came 2001 and a week before the tragedy of 9-11, I came down with a fever, my doctor sent me to the hospital emergency room where they hooked my up to IV’s and wheeled me to a room to do tests. Two days later I found out I had a bacterial infection in my heart, which would take a month to kill and then I would have to have Open-heart Surgery to replace a bad valve with a titanium valve. Talk about a wake up call. My book was put on the shelf as I dealt with my own mortality, I was out of work for 3 months, and all during this time the crisis of 9-11 was going on. It would be six years before I came back to my book. The irony was that while many authors get dozens, if not hundreds of rejection letters, I didn’t get any. I came back to my book last year, wrote the final ten chapters in three months, and then one morning when I met with one of my clients over breakfast (who happened to be the President of a publishing company) I mentioned I had written a book and he suggested I send it over. I had my book published and in hand within five months. What you should get out of my story is that you pursue what you can to the best of your ability and God will bring about the results in his timing. Be patient and you to will have a story to tell.

LBG: What, in your view, is the biggest strength of "Ryann Watters and the King's Sword?"

Eric: The biggest strength of my story is that there is believability. At least early on, everyone can picture themselves as Ryann. He lives in the real town of Mount Dora, Florida (20 miles Northwest of Orlando - there's a cool book trailer video up at www.ryannwatters.com with my daughter as Liddy) and is visited in the middle of the night by Gabriel and tasked with finding the King’s sword. Gabriel gives him three gifts to help him along the way. I loved super hero comics growing up (still do), so Ryann is given a staff (smooth and metal with 7 buttons) and as he matures throughout the story, the buttons light up and have different powers. Not only that, but he is given a ring that changes colors when he’s near different things. He has two good friends, Liddy and Terell, and together they have to piece together clues to find Aeliana and search for the sword. Across town, the class bully is visited by a Dark Angel and told to stop Ryann. Book 2 in the Annals of Aeliana is almost finished. I’ve gotten carried away and it’s over 400 pages now, but "Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith" introduces a very cool cast of new characters, including; a Pegasus, White Dragon and Unicorn, a Black Unicorn, Elves, Dwarves… oh, and a new evil race – The Hugons (half human – half dragon). It’s due for release in May 2009 and you can find out more on my blog.

LBG: As you look back at our Tour in early October from this vantage point in late November/early December, what experience or events stand out to you?

Eric: The trip was such a blessing for me. Meeting the seven other authors provided a great deal of insight into each person’s unique story and how God is using them in their part of the world. Antics along the way, whether in the van or fast food stops, were a hoot. As the most inexperienced author on the tour, I gained a great deal of knowledge and wisdom from stories, experiences, and insights into the publishing world and writing in general. I’m very much looking forward to finishing book 2 before Christopher Hopper finishes his book 3, so I can move up the chain! Seriously, I’m so glad God brought us all together and look forward to what the future holds for all of us, hopefully teaming up again!


LBG: If Maryland plays Navy in a bowl game this year, who would win?

Eric: Ha! That’s an easy one – Navy! That goes for whether they play Maryland, Virginia or Wake Forest (oops, we already beat them this year!). Actually, since I grew up in Miami, I’m hoping for a Navy-UM Bowl game… if so, I’m there!

Monday, November 24, 2008


It was truly a joy having Donita on the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour. Donita's quick wit and insights always seemed to arrive at the most appropriate times. In addition, her spontaneous action to jump into any situation, especially when it was directed at young children, was a sight to behold (see pics below of our visit to the Central California Children's Hospital and the Fresno Inner-City Reading Program).

Make sure you check out Donita's website and blogs, but for now as you enjoy your Thanksgiving week, here are some tidbits about our favorite Dragon Writer that you might not know!

Ten Things:
Ten things Donita K. Paul is thankful for:

1. Jesus (of course!)
2. Family and Friends
3. Church
4. Business Associates—the WaterBrook Staff, the Alive Communications staff, especially my editors and my agent
5. American Christian Fiction Writers
6. The Internet social networks—Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkdIn
7. The Internet Read groups—GoodReads and Shelfari (Anytime I think everyone is watching Netflix and playing video games, I visit these reader spots and breathe a sigh of relief)
8. Living in USA
9. Finding my niche, professionally
10. The knowledge God has provided and still encourages me to pursue

Ten authors Donita K. Paul enjoys:
1. Patricia Veryan
2. Max Lucado
3. Edward Eager
4. E. Nesbitt
5. Jane Austin
6. Charles Dickens
7. A. A. Milnes
8. Beatrix Potter
9. L.M. Montgomery
10. Too many Christian authors to list them all

Ten movies Donita K. Paul enjoyed:
1. Arsenic and Old Lace
2. Bringing up Baby
3. Secondhand Lions
4. Enchanted
5. Stardust
6. Mary Poppins
7. The King and I
8. Sense and Sensibility
9. Scrooge
10. Pride and Prejudice

TV Shows Donita K. Paul watched as a kid:
1. Roy Rogers
2. Man from U.N.C.L.E.
3. Gunsmoke
4. Alfred Hitchcock
5. Twilight Zone
6. Bonanza
7. Disney’s Wonderful World of Color
8. Ed Sullivan Show
9. Wyatt Earp
10. Dick Van Dyke

Ten foods Donita K. Paul likes:
1. Steak, medium rare
2. Soup, not creamy
3. Salads, the more varied the veggies, the better
4. Pumpkin pie, cookies, cake, and bread
5. Brownies, gooey is best but any brownie is acceptable. (I wonder why it is brownie and not browny.
6. Rotisserie chicken
7. Pizza, lots of toppings
8. Marinated artichokes
9. Mushrooms
10. Turkey

Ten foods Donita K. Paul does not like
1. Macaroni and cheese
2. Rice pudding
3. Rye bread
4. Curry
5. Coconut
6. Greasy fried food
7. Menudo
8. Haggis
9. Fruitcake
10. Turnips and rutabagas

Favorite type of jewelry: ear rings
Hobbies: beading, knitting, stamping
Game: Uno
Holiday: Christmas
Restaurant: Texas Roadhouse
Beverage: Coffee, Pepsi
Fast Food: Taco Bell
Collections: Children’s Books, dragons, statues and pictures of animals reading books
Flower: Pansy
Song: Tomorrow from Annie

Seasonal activities:
1. Spring—smell flowers
2. Summer—listen to kids in the neighborhood squeal
3. Autumn—watch leaves fall or blow down the street
4. Winter—curl up with a good book
How to shop, mall or online? ONLINE
How to communicate, telephone or email? EMAIL
Transportation for long distance? CAR with someone else driving.
Gathering, with kids or no kids? WITH KIDS

Ten places Donita K. Paul would like to go:
1. Hawaii
2. Disney World/Epcot Center
3. Carribean
4. New York-Upper state
5. Heaven
6. Ireland
7. Scotland
8. England
9. Washington State
10. Minnesota

Colors in order of preference
1. Yellow
2. Red
3. Orange
4. Purple
5. Blue

What Donita K. Paul wants people to say when they remember her: She was nice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From now until shortly before Christmas, the authors involved in the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 will be collaborating on a joint blog tour. We'll be focusing each Monday - or thereabouts - on a different author each week. Our hope is to encourage readers who have experienced one or two of us and our work, to get a better idea of other Christian writers that they might be interested in.


This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Christopher Hopper, in the event you are not already familiar with him or his work. There are very few people that I feel like I connect with the first time I meet them. Through our conference calls and e-mails in preparation for the Fantasy Fiction Tour, I felt that Christoper might be one of them. In this case, my sense was correct and we hit it off from day one.

Christopher brought many talents to the tour. Despite being the youngest both in age and heart (some might debate that based upon the maturity exhibited by the other authors), CH brought the techinical skills to set up our webcam TV, his oratory skills to lead all of our sessions, his writing skills as an author, his zany humor and most importantly his wife Jenni. In addition, both of them displayed their talents as musicians and I would be remiss to not mention checking both of them out on iTunes!

Swordplay is also one of CH's gifts, well... maybe one that is still being honed, as he did manage to cut Wayne's finger during one of the sword duels at an event! He has written an excellent series with book 3 in the trilogy going to the editor soon, which will be released in 2009. With the premise of a people group living in a Garden of Eden type setting and the idea that "what if the people hadn't sinned... the first time around?" Christopher lays out an exciting story of the second visit by Satan.

Instead of doing an interview this month, I'll give you two fun videos to watch. The first is an interview that was conducted by KSEE Channel 24 NBC in Fresno, CA (Wayne Thomas Batson is also in the interview) and the second is a video book-trailer for his series.

The Lion Vrie Book TRailer

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 - Blog Tour

From now until shortly before Christmas, the authors involved in the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 will be collaborating on a joint blog tour. We'll be focusing each Monday - or thereabouts - on a different author each week. Our hope is to encourage readers who have experienced one or two of us and our work, to get a better idea of other Christian writers that they might be interested in.


This week, I'm highlighting Sharon, who added such warm and caring heart to the book tour. Sharon's books appeal to a wide age range... especially teen girls and all the way through mothers and even grandmothers who are intrigued by the idea of a young mother pulled into another world for a fantasy adventure.

Here is some interesting background on Sharon:
Sharon is a wife and mom who has had many adventures, though none have involved an alternate universe (thus far). She has an M.A. in communication and has spent her life working in the arts (music, theatre, dance, and writing). Her other novels include The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2006), Renovating Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2007), The Restorer (NavPress, 2007 – Christy Finalist), The Restorer’s Son (NavPress, 2007 – ACFW Book of the Year Winner), The Restorer’s Journey (NavPress, 2008), Symphony of Secrets (Bethany House, 2008), Stepping Into Sunlight (Bethany House, 2008).

And some background on The Restorer series:

Susan, a modern-day soccer mom, is pulled through a portal into another world, where a nation grappling for its soul waits for a promised Restorer to save their people. Can she fill that role? While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt ruling Council, and learns that God can use even her floundering attempts at service in surprising ways.

Link to amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1600061311/

Now... how about some questions for Sharon!

Q. What was the inspiration for The Restorer? A. I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Deborah in the book of Judges, and wondered what a modern woman would look like in that role. The fantasy genre provides a powerful way to look at a familiar story in a new way. I loved the challenge of creating a completely relatable character, and then inviting the reader to follow her into an imaginative journey.
Q. What kind of reader did you have in mind as you wrote the book?

A. I wrote this story for my friends – ordinary women who are sometimes called on to fill extraordinary roles that they don’t feel prepared for. We may not be literally yanked into an alternate universe, but the idea of being pulled into an unexpected challenge is very real to most of the people I know. I wrote this book for my friends who receive a diagnosis of cancer, or the news that their child has a learning disability, or their parent is battling Alzheimers, or their spouse has lost their job. They suddenly find themselves in a foreign world, facing new rules, and being asked to fill a role they don’t feel ready for. My prayer is that as well as being entertaining, this novel can inspire courage and determination for those facing daily battles.

Q. How much of The Restorer is drawn from your own life?

A. Susan’s spiritual journey – her desire to follow God and her confusion when the road is much harder than she expected—is very parallel to my own. I’ve never carried a sword into battle, but I’ve faced the challenge of surrendering more deeply to God’ s purposes when they didn’t make sense to me.

What some are saying about the series!

The Restorer is a great book for the hero – or heroine – in all of us. Sharon Hinck gives us a beautifully-realized world that demands the best that an everyday, run-of-the-mill Mom doesn’t even know she has. Hinck’s prose engages us in every moment of the struggle as the strength of the One drives the battle of the faithful against unimaginable odds, Excellent characters and an intriguing plot provide readers with great entertainment along with spiritual inspiration and enlightenment. I simply loved this book, hated for it to end, and am grateful that there’s another in the Sword of Lyric series coming soon.
~ Kathryn Mackel, author of Outriders and Trackers

“A compelling adventure, an engaging heroine, a unique and fascinating other world The Restorer satisfies on many levels. Skillfully incorporating themes of faith, sacrifice and the power of words to deceive or deliver, Sharon Hinck has crafted a tale that resonates in both soul and spirit. A welcome addition to the expanding genre of Christian fantasy. Don’t miss it!”
~ Karen Hancock, author of the Christy Award-winning Legends of the Guardian-King series.

I knew that Sharon Hinck was a gifted writer, and I knew that her ability to write details was impeccable. What The Restorer showed me is just how big her imagination is! She's taken two concepts that have no right to work in the same story -- a harried housewife and a sprawling fantasy world with its own science, culture, and rules -- and smashed the two together into something altogether fresh and compelling -- even for a red-blooded, testosterone-driven guy like me. She zigged every time I expected her to zag, and the world she created is full of mystery and suspense and the awe of discovery. But it's the characters, especially her soccer-mom-come-prophesied-hero, who keep you coming back for more.
~ Robin Parrish, author of Relentless; creator of Infuzemag.com

"Sharon Hinck has done a remarkable job in writing a fantasy for people who don't normally read fantasies. A soccer mom finds herself in an alternate universe where she has to save her adopted people from vastly more powerful enemies. Loved the swordplay. Loved the spiritual insights. Most of all, loved the main character, Susan Mitchell, a compelling mix of Everymom and Wonder Woman."
~ Randy Ingermanson, award-winning author of Retribution

Lastly, here's a cool video if you want to know more!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 - Blog Tour


This week I am highlighting L.B Graham, who is the author of The Binding of the Blade, a five book epic fantasy series with P&R Publishing that began in 2004 and just recently culminated with the publication of All My Holy Mountain in 2008. The first book of the series, Beyond the Summerland, was a 2005 Christy finalist in the “Visionary” category.

L.B. was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up there before heading to Wheaton College outside Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois. From there he went to St. Louis to attend Covenant Seminary. Since 1996 he’s been teaching in St. Louis, the last 9 years at Westminster Christian Academy where he also serves as the Bible Department Chair.

L.B. was a hoot on tour and added quite a bit to our van escapades as we "rocked the suburbs!" Well... now let's get into a little Q & A with this accomplished author!

Q. The fifth and final novel of “The Binding of the Blade” (BOTB) just came out. How does it feel to be finished?
A. Actually, I was finished writing All My Holy Mountain, the last book in the series, in 2006, and it did feel a little surreal. BOTB runs about 2500 pages all told, and it is essentially one big story rather than five individual ones... though I guess the first book could be seen as a sort of prologue to the other four... At any rate, it was a pretty sizable undertaking and it felt almost odd to be finished.

Q. It sounds sizable. When did you start?
A. Well, I would say that I started working on the series, and by that I mean seriously working on the world-building and story-building, in the summer of 2000. But, that being said, the first seeds for the idea were sown long before that, in the summer of ‘92.

Q. 1992 is a long time ago - what happened that summer, or what were the ’seeds’ that were sown that summer?
A. I was a senior at Wheaton College, studying literature in England on a summer program, and two things collided to create the basic idea for the story. The first was, of all things, a footnote - I know, no one reads footnotes, but I actually do read them, at least sometimes. The footnote was in a poetry anthology of W.B. Yeats. The note was about archetypes... not very exciting to some, but to me, really interesting. Basically, for readers who don’t know what archetypes are, it is the idea that there are universal ideas or images or themes or symbols that carry with them, if you will, deeper meaning that add layers of richness to stories, movies, poems, etc…

Q. Like the ‘archetypal hero’ or ‘archetypal villain,’ that kind of thing, right?
A. Exactly. To use a familiar example, Gandalf is an archetypal “wisdom figure” and Frodo an archetypal “underdog” on the archetypal “quest” with Sam, the archetypal “sidekick” facing long odds against Sauron, the archetypal “villain” and so forth.

Anyway, this particular footnote was about geography. The idea was that geographical regions have archetypal connections in a lot of mythology and stories. For example, “the east” is often associated with spring, with morning, with new growth, with birth, with themes of things rising. “The south” is often associated with summer, with midday, with things in fullness and maturity, with romance, with themes of things having reached their full strength or potential. “The west” is often associated with autumn, with twilight, with things fading, with tragedy and themes of things declining, and “the north” is often associated with winter, with darkness and night, with sorrow and desolation, with themes of things lost.

The other seed that collided with this first one was much simpler. It was the famous image from Isaiah 2:4 among other places of swords and spears being broken down and remade into plowshares and pruning hooks. I would call this image, perhaps the archetypal image of peace, of our great hope for restoration.
Q. Those things don’t seem to be connected. How did you put them together?
A. It didn’t come together all at once, but what I conceived of was a story about a world where the making of weapons essentially represented ‘the Fall,’ or the loss of that world’s innocence and descent into sin and misery. And, on the other hand, the unmaking of weapons was the clearest picture for that world of peace, of things being made new. In short, the symbolic picture from Isaiah of our future restoration became a literal picture in my fantasy world, the picture of their great hope.

So, the Isaiah image became the thematic core of BOTB. The geography archetypes gave the story shape. I decided to structure the series geographically, matching tone and mood and theme and plot elements according to the pattern I outlined above.
Thus Beyond the Summerland took place in the south, was a story of romance and summer and things generally going well. The cover shows this summery feel. The story moved in Bringer of Storms to the west, in autumn, as things begin to fall apart pretty substantially, and as the world fades quickly into darkness. The stormy motif is portrayed pretty well here in that cover.
The story then cycles in the next two books through the north and into the east, each representing those archetypes in turn - darkness, night & desolation in winter followed by the slight glimmer of hope that comes with morning, sunrise, spring and things new. The covers for books 3 and 4 below show those seasons too. And then the last book returns to summer, though a different kind of summer, but I’ll leave it at that.

Q. So, those things help to explain some of the specifics of your series, but why fantasy? Did you know even back then in 1992 that you wanted to write Christian fantasy?
A. Actually, I would just say fantasy. I wouldn’t use the term Christian fantasy.

Q. Why not?
A. Well, the short version is that I think the adjective “Christian” is one that is properly applied to people, not things like “music” or “fiction” or in this case, “fantasy.” I know what people mean with labels like “Christian fantasy,” I just dislike the implication that Christian fantasy is good, and other fantasy is bad. I think that view is simplistic. Music, stories, movies and other artwork that conveys a message isn’t really divided into two piles - the good and bad. Rather I see them in a continuum. Some stories have lots of truth or good in them, others some, others not so much, and just because the author is a Christian doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with what he or she says or like the story. Likewise, I’ve read some great books by non-believers, who despite their unbelief are people made in the image of God and have created powerful stories.

Q. But isn’t there always something missing in those books, in those stories? Aren’t they always incomplete?
A. All stories written by finite, sinful human beings will be imperfect, if that is the question. However, just because there are certain things a writer can’t write about well or truthfully because he or she doesn’t believe those things, doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of other things they can and do write about well and truthfully. Stories from nonbelievers can contain beauty and power and truth, and I wouldn’t simply dismiss them out of hand because they come from non-Christians.

Q. Are you working on anything new, now that BOTB is finished?
A. Yes. I wrote a crime novel last year. It is a stand alone book, but I have ideas for 2 sequels right now. Currently, I’m also writing a nonfiction book and the first novel of a new series as well. None of these projects are under contract at the moment, though, so I couldn’t say what my next publication will be.

Q. Is the new series you mentioned also fantasy?
A. Yes, though I think of it as a fantasy/sci fi hybrid. I’ve posted a bit about that on my blog, but I won’t get into that here, since it is a bit complicated.

Q. Before wrapping up, what would you say to readers who haven’t heard of you or your books and may be wondering if The Binding of the Blade is for them?
A. It’s a fair question, as my books certainly aren’t for everyone. My publisher categorized them as ‘young adult’ fantasy, but I don’t think of them that way. Certainly younger readers who are good readers can read them, as many have, but I think of them as a bit older than that.
I guess what I would say is that there seems to be a lot more true YA fantasy stories than fantasy for older kids or adults out there in CBA, the “Christian” publishing world (there I go, doing what I don’t like doing, but I’m not sure how else to describe CBA!) As readers of those stories get older, they often become interested in stories that are geared a little older. Not that they necessarily outgrow the YA ones, but as they become ready for older ones too, then I’d encourage them to pick up Beyond the Summerland and see if they like it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour 2008 - Video Recap

You don't want to miss these great videos. Each day, Christopher and Jenni Hopper, captured the essence of the day through video of each of our events, meals, the van ride and more. If you ever wanted to see what it's like to travel with authors who write for kids then you'll enjoy these! (Hint: the authors act the age of those they write for). Eric

The tour kicks off at an amazing event in Abbotsford, BC.

The authors storm Seattle, WA signing books, swinging swords, and even causing a car accident!

Interview with NBC KSEE 24 in Fresno, CA

The authors start off with a rainy, impromptu gathering under a gazebo in Portland and finish with a bang at Medford's mall. A huge crowd gathered for the signing put on by Evangel Family Bookstore and were treated to, among other things, a reading by Jonathan Rogers and a humorous dual between Christopher Hopper & Wayne Thomas Batson.

(The fun and funky Portuguese/Brazilian music is in honor of Nathan Reimer).

MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day 3 - Sacramento, CA

MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day Three finds the authors crossing over into California and the question is: "Is California ready?" Stops include Trinity Christian School and Barnes & Noble in Sacramento.

Day Four is too jam-packed for just one Video Journal, starting off with a bang at NBC, two charity events, and finishes at a Berean Bookstore.

Day Four, part two, focuses on a special charity event done in partnership with Character 4 Kids and READ Fresno.


MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day 4.3 - Fresno, CA

SPECIAL : Meet The Authors - Day Four ends at the Berean Bookstore in Fresno where the authors take a few moments for a run-down on each of their books.

Reedley, CA
MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day Five is all about Reedley, CA! From Hotel Burgess to G Street, the authors are kept on their toes and given a special dinner that will make you drool...

MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day 6 - LA, CA

Day Six starts off at 4:00am! St. Genevieve's welcomes the authors on one of the favorite stops of the tour, then on to Bethany Christian and a final bookstore appearance in Van Nuys.

Los Angeles, CA
MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day Seven keeps our authors in LA for a second day, making two appearances at Christian schools and then a grand reception at Calvary Chapel Refuge in Huntington Beach.

MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour: Day 8 - San Diego, CA

Day Eight is the big send off! The authors make their final stop in southern California and then head home. Thanks to all those who made this tour a marvelous and memorable success.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BUY 2... Just in case!

It's not every day that I get an e-mail from a mom who is distressed because her dog ate everything in sight. Mimi Baker came home to find books and shoes completely destroyed. At first she blamed it on the new stray dog they took in. But later on she caught their Border Collie red-handed... err "red-mouthed" as she says. Here was the e-mail dialogue between the two of us:

Mimi: Hi Eric. Wanted to let you know I purchased the book today. Didn't think I was going to get to buy it after talking to my husband yesterday. Today we were given some money and I decided that it was going toward your book. If Jacob is willing to read, I'm going to do what I can to keep getting him the books that draw him in. It's been a hard time trying to find books that he will spend time reading. You're book is right up there with Captain Underpants and Diary of Whimpy Kid. I have to admit, I've been enjoying your book too. I'm reading it aloud to Jacob so it's given us some nice time together. I took a picture today of the book in it's current state. I threw away the cover, back and book jacket yesterday, not thinking I would actually take a picture. After your email about having better book sales with stray dogs like the one we have, I thought I'd take one now. :)

Eric: Thanks so much for the follow up e-mail and picture. I admit that I got a chuckle out of it, as it reminded me of the Dalmatian, my wife and I brought home a year after we were married. We left it in our kitchen, penned up fortunately, when we both went to work and when we came home we found blue stains all over the kitchen floor. Our dog had gotten up on the counter and knocked over the entire cup holder of ink pens! Blue footprints everywhere, blue stains on her mouth and all over her white hair. It’s funny now!

Mimi: You are welcome to use the book demolition if you want. Too bad I didn't still have the cover and front & back. Would've been a bit more colorful. This morning after being downstairs for about 20 minutes getting ready for work, I came upstairs and found the Border Collie, who is 6 mos old, eating my 5 yr old's The Ants Go Marching book. This happens to be one of his favorite books! I have a feeling we've been blaming the wrong dog. Sigh... the stray, Abby was laying sweetly on her cushions and looking at me as if to say, "am I in trouble for this one, too?" Poor baby. Caught the stinker, Rugby, red mouthed! Thankfully I heard him run into his kennel! Big chicken, get out here and face the book reviewer!! This is a house of book lovers, there is no tolerating the destruction of them!!!! GRRRR (literally) :) Oh, and we can't forget the shoes. We are also a household of shoe adorers!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 - Blog Tour


I'm especially greatful to Bryan for being my initial contact with the Motiv8 authors and for him recommending me to join them this year. Bryan walks the talk and is a great example as a caring father and committed Christian. This week I'd like to provide you with a short interview with Bryan. If you haven't checked out his Dragons in our Midst series yet, you need to. Fortunately for you he is finishing the 8th book in the series now... so if you get started then you'll be able to have the complete series soon!

Q. I'd like to start by asking you to give a short testimony of how you came to know the Lord.

A. I made a profession of faith at the age of seventeen, but I didn't really completely surrender my life to God until I was about twenty-five. Reading Romans chapter six about dying with Christ and rising to new life made the difference. I finally realized that faith in Christ meant so much more than mere belief and lip service. I needed to die to self and surrender all.

Q. What was the inspiration behind the "Dragons in our Midst" series?
A. I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. I told my eldest son about it, and he suggested that I write a fantasy novel based on the dream. He said that if I wanted to speak to children in our culture, fantasy was the way to go. After brainstorming with him for a couple of hours, we came up with the fantasy concept of how a boy could breathe fire.

Q. You've written four books in this series. Are there any more books coming up?

A. Tears of a Dragon is the last book in the Dragons in our Midst series. I’m writing a new series called Oracles of Fire. The first book, Eye of the Oracle, will be a prequel to Dragons in our Midst, and the second book, Enoch’s Ghost, and the following books will be sequels. The new series will have the same basic story world, but a couple of the minor characters from the first series will step up and become major characters.

Q. Can you name some people/authors whose works have influenced you? If so, can you say in what way these people have influenced your life and your work?

A. I really enjoy C. S. Lewis, two books in particular; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Perelandra. I loved the spiritual parallels in Dawn Treader. The debate between Westin and the woman when he tried to get her to sin in Perelandra fascinated me. I have somewhat similar dialogues in The Candlestone and Circles of Seven, so that definitely influenced me.
The works of Francis Schaeffer had an impact on me. The God Who is There and He is There, and He is not Silent are two that come to mind. I enjoy careful, analytical thought, and Schaeffer was a master in that field. I try to carry that kind of thinking into my stories, and those who read my fantasy series will find that they are far more than children’s fairy tales.

Q. Does your faith influence the way you write? Would you like to elaborate on this?

A. My faith pervades all my writing, but my doctrinal stands on some issues make my stories quite different from most. My Christian protagonists depart from what many writers call "real" or "honest," though they portray a more "real" Christian character than what is passing for that label in much of Christian fiction. On this point I could elaborate until your ears fall right off your head, but, briefly, I reject the notion that you have to write sinful acts or tendencies into Christian characters. Sin doesn't make them "real" or "honest." It just makes them sinful, and in most fiction I find too many characters with tacked-on flaws. It really seems clich├ęd.
I believe in the overwhelming power God gives us for holy living. My characters struggle in many non-sinful ways and find the power to overcome. I like successful heroes. God gives us victory in Christ, so it makes sense to write that way. And feedback from my readers indicates that they relate to the great struggles my characters go through, and they are inspired by my characters' successes. I believe this portrayal of obedient faith is what is truly real and honest.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing these books and getting them published?

A. Since these books are faith-based, the mainstream publishers didn’t show any interest. I often heard, "Too spiritual" or "Too Christian." The Christian publishers at that time weren’t producing fantasy at all, and certainly not a series about dragons. I couldn’t find a significant Christian fantasy series for young people that had been published in the last thirty years. It didn’t matter that the Chronicles of Narnia had been one of the greatest sellers in history. In fact, when I mentioned that to one editor, hoping the Narnia success would open a door, he said, "You’re not C. S. Lewis."

Between agents and publishers I collected about two hundred rejection notices, which I might use to wallpaper my office someday. I rewrote the first book about twenty-four times, changing it drastically in some of the rewrites. I think I made it even more radical as time went on, perhaps thinking that it might just end up as a story for myself and my family.
I finally met Dan Penwell of AMG Publishers. He had already contracted with me for a non-fiction book called The Image of a Father, and although AMG had never produced fiction, he took interest in my weird dragons story. AMG liked it so much, they started a fiction line with the series, and it has become their best selling line of books.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with these books? And what, in your opinion, separates these books from other books written in the genre?
A. I’m not a fan of most fantasy, because it seemed that the characters would get out of difficult situations by suddenly learning a magical spell or an undiscovered power, or maybe a new character would come along and save them. It was too easy. I wanted my characters to use their gifts from God along with strength of character, faith, and perseverance to work through their problems.

I don’t know of any other Christian fantasy that blends fantasy elements into the real world. Most either take place in another world or follow contemporary characters as they travel to another world. Although my characters take a couple of journeys into alternate dimensions, the base world, where most action takes place, is in our world and in our time.

Q. Some Christians are a bit scared of fantasy works. I know of some who do think that it is opening the door to an unseen world. What is your take on this and what would you say to encourage Christians to embrace Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction?

A. This is a topic I talk or write about nearly every day. Yes, fantasy does open the door to an unseen world, but this is not a bad portal. There really is an unseen world, so understanding it is an important part of the maturing process in our walks of faith. As Paul said, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." How can we do battle if we can’t imagine what’s out there? Elisha opened such a portal for his servant, saying, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

The key is to provide young readers a way to see the good side of the unseen world in order to give them reason to rely on its power. God has often provided a vision of the holy for His people, and Christian fantasy is one of the best ways to stretch young minds beyond the here and now and give them a view of the heavenlies.

I believe that Jesus used fantasy elements in his stories. In fact, if I were to write a story about His miracles that didn’t include His name or where He got His power, it would be a fantasy story. Yet, Jesus made a fantasy story come to life, knowing that we learn and remember best when the story is fantastic. I wrote an article that elaborates on this subject. You can find it online at http://www.daviscrossing.com/fantasy.pdf

Most people see dragons as a symbol of evil. Why did you decide to make "good" and "bad" dragons?
Well, I think that dragons are rightly a symbol of evil. But we have to remember that Job chapter 41 tells us that God created Leviathan. He describes it as one of His greatest creations and He uses it to reveal His power. If you read that passage carefully, Leviathan has armored scales and breathes fire. It sounds just like a fire breathing dragon. That's certainly where the authors who have described such beasts got their inspiration, from this creature of God. God created this being in order to show His power. Now, I don’t believe that God created anything for the purpose of being born evil. Angels were created and some of them fell. They weren’t created to be evil, but some of them chose evil and fell. I'm putting dragons in the same mold, as a symbolic parallel to angels. They were created to be good; some of them fell. The greatest evil figure in all the world, and in all of the Bible, is a fallen angel, and the symbol of the fallen angel is a dragon. But why can’t there be good dragons as well? Some people would say that dragons are a symbol of evil. The Bible calls Satan a dragon. Therefore, all dragons are evil. Well, the fallacy there is Satan also appears as an angel of light. Does that mean that all angels of light are evil? I don’t think so. I wanted to make that angelic parallel, and it becomes even clearer in the third book, called Circles of Seven. Billy’s going to face a tremendous decision, and he'll have to discern between good and evil dragons. It’s such a great story.
I like how you interweaved Christian faith in your story, but didn’t "hit people over the head with it." Did you find it hard to strike that balance?
It really wasn’t that hard because it’s been my desire for a long time to be able to say, "I just want to tell a story that is filled with Christ." There is no soapbox; no one is standing there shaking a finger, preaching at you. I want to have a natural flow of Christian thought and Christian love, without having to say "Jesus loved you and died for your sins." It’ll flow out naturally. The reason I’m doing that is because so many people get turned off with the shaking finger and the soapbox sermon. But as we get to later books in the series, the Christian message of the blood salvation of Christ is going to come out a little more clearly. We want to hook our readers and not turn them off with a fire and brimstone, or an "Are you saved by the blood?" kind of message. It will come out later. I think you probably can tell that Bonnie is clearly a Christian, and Billy is probably not. He's got a lot of questions because he’s never been taught right. He’s in between because his father, being the dragon, revered the Bible, but he didn’t feel like he was a fallen creature that needs to be saved. This is one of these deep mysteries that I don’t think kids will get but I want adults to think about.

Q. What would you like to say to readers who dream of writing a fantasy novel?

A. I know so many aspiring fantasy novelists! It seems that’s what half the authors I know want to write, but the Christian publishing world hasn’t caught up yet with the demand, which isn’t completely they’re fault, but that’s another topic. I would tell those authors to break free from the Tolkien and Lewis mold. Don’t try to create another Middle-earth with elves and orcs. Don’t send kids to a new world through a wardrobe-like portal where a new kind of Christ-figure dwells. Make faith a real component that fits naturally with characters of real faith.
I’d like to see another contemporary/fantasy blend like mine. I think young people of today relate to a world they recognize, and they enjoy seeing weird happenings within it.

Q.Would you like to share some of the lessons you've learned in your journey as a writer and as a published author?

A. The most impact has come through watching God provide for our needs. In order to pursue writing full time, we had to make a lot of sacrifices, but God has shown Himself to be our sufficiency. I have a long story that shows God’s provision, but to make it short, when I went to a homeschool conference to try to sell the dragons books for the first time, I was quite concerned that the slow sales wouldn’t provide enough for me to break even on this venture. As the conference drew to a close, it became clear to me that I would come up fifty dollars short. Soon after calculating that number, a man came up to me and noticed my books and my sign that identified who I was. He pulled out his wallet and said, "On my way over here, God told me to find a man named Bryan and to give him fifty dollars." He then handed me the money. I didn’t want to take it, but he encouraged me to do so, I finally did. When I got home, I recalculated my expenses versus sales, and the fifty dollars caused me to break even to the dollar.
I will never forget that lesson! God is my sufficiency, and I have learned not to sweat a lot of the issues that used to cause me concern.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 Blog Tour


It was a blast meeting Wayne on the tour. You know you've bonded with someone when you're able to spend 12-hours a day in a van or event, eat every meal together, and yes (being good stewards of the publisher's funds) even share a "KING" size bed. Okay, okay... what do I know about Wayne? Wayne writes adventures set in imaginative locales because he believes that on a deep level, we all dream of doing something that matters and that we all long for another world. Wayne is a 6th grade Middle School teacher and knowing him now I would have done anything to have him as my teacher when I was that age (brrrr... I cringe thinking of Mrs. "O" from those days!)
But hey... why don't we do a little Q & A to get to know him more... shall we?

Q: Why did you write a fantasy instead of a contemporary story about middle school kids? I mean, you obviously know them well.

Fantasy is absolutely my passion. I’ve always loved tales of knights and dragons, exotic settings, and great feats of valor! And in traditional fantasy, I find the sort of world I’d like to live in. Honor and kindness are revered. Simple lives of tending gardens, working with your hands, and gathering around a table with friends at a pub—I long for such things. I mean, sure, running into a pesky dragon while taking out the trash would be a little inconvenient, but still…

Q: What made you want to write Christian speculative fiction?

Actually, I don’t write Christian speculative fiction. I write fiction that is informed by my identity as a Christian. I know that sounds like semantics, but really, it’s not. If I’m a Christian and a mechanic, and I fix your car…was it a Christian Repair? If the manager at the local McDonalds is a Christian, and I make a purchase there, do I get a Christian Happy Meal? See my point? I am a Christian and Jesus is everything to me. He is my worldview and my life. When I write, I pray that HE comes shining through. But I am NOT writing just for Christians to read. I want everyone to be able to read and enjoy my books on multiple levels: surface and deep. At the surface, come and enjoy a heart-pounding adventure in an enchanting realm. But go deeper than that. See the big questions. Be a thoughtful reader. My thought is, if I get people asking the questions for which Jesus is the only answer, then, I’ve done well.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Door Within series?

The Door Within Trilogy (DWT) came out of two distinct events. The base concept of the story, though I didn’t know it at the time, came from an encounter I had as a new Christian. I felt compelled to tell some important people I knew about Jesus, so I summoned the courage and went to them.

I laid it all on the line, spilled my guts with such fervor that I was literally shaking. I expected disagreement, argument, or just plain denial. But nothing prepared me for the reaction: they laughed. And it wasn’t just laughter, but it was that condescending “isn’t he cute?” kind of laughter. Insert dagger and twist. That pain stuck with me for a LONG time, and so, when I began to write, the first story that suggested itself was one that would be carried by a protagonist who discovered something akin to a cure for cancer…and yet, no one would believe it.

The between worlds aspect of DWT came from a challenge my students threw back at me. Teaching 6th and 7th grade Language Arts in Anne Arundel County Maryland, I assigned a short story to my students. I made it a contest. And for those who could not think of an initial story concept, I made a bulletin board with very evocative pencil/charcoal drawings—The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Well, the students, wonderful cherubs that they are, indignantly challenged me: “Mr. Batson, you make us do all the work, writing these stories. Why don’t you write one?!” So, using one of the drawings as inspiration, I began a 17 page short story called The Faith of a Child. Though most elements in the story have since changed, that short story became The Door Within.

Q: What message do you want readers to get from reading "The Door Within" trilogy?

#1 The nature of faith: it begins with persuasion. You recognize something as true. You accept its basis in fact. “You believe the bridge is strong.” But in faith there is also an element of risk that MUST be involved or you’ll never know how real it is. “You have to step on out there. Walk across the bridge. Trust that it will support you.”

#2 God can make use of failures. Aidan is no hero in the classic sense, but King Eliam uses him mightily.

#3 Putting God off or refusing to decide whether you believe or not is in reality choosing not to believe—The Glimpses with eyes that glint green. In the end, there is only faith or no faith. The superband RUSH said it this way: “If you choose not to decide, you’ll still have made a choice.”

#4 The reality of adventures to come in Heaven. I won’t give away too much here, but that is one message I hope readers will take to heart. When we die, the adventure has just begun. We will not be sitting around in heaven playing harps like in the cartoons. God the creator of all things will have plenty of surprises for us. I imagine each of us will spend a thousand years just saying, “COOL!!” over and over and over…

Q: Are your books influenced by your own childhood in any way?

I think so. Aidan is a lot like I was when I was in my tweens. Creative, hopeful, and thoughtful—but not very outgoing. I always longed for adventure, but most of mine were in my imagination. Aidan’s fear of Robby’s Basement came straight out of my own childhood fear. My parents had a split basement. The unfinished side, the workside as we called it, was the creepiest place on the planet. I was always afraid that some creature lurked in its shadowy confines—that it waited for someone to venture too close to the open door. I used to leap over the side of the stairs onto a couch to avoid going by that basement door.

Q: What have you seen that discourages or frustrates you about Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?

I am thoroughly frustrated by product placement in both CBA and ABA stores. I know there are a lot of hands involved in determining where a book goes: marketers, distributors, branch managers—and even a local clerk can trump them all by putting a book wherever. Lol

In CBA stores, fiction often gets lumped together with Nursery Rhymes and Beginners Bibles. Come on, dude…if you’re a teenager looking for a book, are you even going to consider something next to A Very Veggie Christmas?

In ABA stores, you often see great Christian SpecFic titles tossed into teeny tiny “Religious Fiction” sections. Yes, the place where no one sees it. That’s another reason why I don’t like delineating my work as Christian Fiction—if I do, it’s just that much easier to get thrown in with New Age Fiction or Taoism. If I do have Christ’s message to share, the books need to be where people can see them. You don’t see Phillip Pullman’s books being pulled from mainstream fiction for a special “Atheistic Fiction” section. Tolkien and Lewis can be found in both sections—religious and main stream. Maybe dual designation is what we should be looking for. Hmmm…

Q: How did you involve your students in the process as you wrote this book?

Fifteen years of students from three different Maryland counties and six different middle schools helped to shape The Door Within. They were my sounding board and my encouragers. In 1992, when The Door Within was only a 17 page short story, my 6th graders pestered me to make it longer...until I did. Then, they helped me to know what parts of the story interested them or made a personal connection. The kids seemed to enjoy being able to critique the teacher's work instead of the other way around. And those discussions took the kids into an amazingly sophisticated level of understanding of literature that they would not ordinarily have attained. "Mr. Batson, you need more foreshadowing in that chapter" or "Mr. Batson, I found that allusion to The Hobbit when Aidan said..." or "There's not enough description in this section. I just couldn't see it." These are 10, 11, and 12 year olds analyzing literature and thinking critically. Good stuff! And in the end, as I flirted with a publishing contract, nailed it down, and began the real process of editing, my students were there to share the suspense, excitement, and frustrations. And when my new batch of students comes in this year, I imagine they will exult in the finished product just as I do.

Q: Adults tend to pass over Young Adult books, thinking they are too simplistic in nature to be satisfying. Personally, I have found many of my most profound reads in this genre. What do you think adults can learn from Young Adult literature?

Grrrr…you hit upon a sore point for me. The same folks who think YA lit. is simplistic are the same characters who underestimate the capabilities and intellect of our kids. Kids are far more perceptive and intelligent than most would believe—and the books they read deal with REAL issues, issues that matter to them with a passion that is hard to imagine.

I think that adults can gain a lot from YA Lit. Especially they can regain their youth, their creativity, their dreams. To quote Gandalf when he spoke about the Ents, the tree people who had become stiff and too tree-ish: “they [parents] will awaken and find that they are strong.”

Q: Any musical inspirations that help you write?

I have strange musical tastes. While writing though, I listen to progressive heavy metal. I know what you’re thinking: a.) How can you possibly concentrate with that noisy music? But Prog Metal is really quite classical and symphonic. It’s also driving and epic—an adventure in every song. b.) And, secondly, isn’t that evil? I choose here to respectfully agree to disagree with my Christian peers who think that a particular style of music is inherently evil. The bands I listen to may not all be Christian, but they are mostly positive or ask the big questions of life. My particular favorites are The Orphan Project, Angra, Dream Theater, and Evanescence. Oh, and I like Yo-Yo Ma too.

Q: If a movie was made, based on The Door Within Trilogy, what actors would you have as the lead roles?

Ah, too fun! Here’s my potential cast:

Aidan Thomas: some unknown lad, soft-spoken but tough as nails. Maybe Josh Hutcherson (though he’s quite well-known now).

Antoinette Lynn Reed: again, an unknown, but she must have serious inner fire.

Captain Valithor: Sean Connery. Please, God, let them make the movie while Sean is still with us!

Falon the Mortiwraith: I’d like her to be voiced by Eartha Kitt the voice of Yzma in Emperor’s New Groove.

Paragor/Paragal: This may seem weird, but I’d cast myself in this role. I’ve read his most intense scenes like “Traitor’s Legacy” so many times, I feel like I just know his flaws and his arrogance. If not me, then Sean Bean or Richard Armitage.

Mallik: Gerard Butler, the Scotsman who played Beowulf

Sir Rogan: my buddy Dan who, I’m convinced, is part Viking.

Thanks, Wayne for the great interview.

High School student, Jason Derfuss films a summary video of book 1