Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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
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
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.
Q. Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?
Q. What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?
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?
Monday, December 1, 2008
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!
SPECIAL BONUS Q!
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!