Today I’m happy to introduce Behind the Words. I know all of you are fond of the zany tomfoolery of past interviews, but sometimes I must be a big girl. Sometimes the story and the writer warrant a deeper understanding. And who better to start me off than a legend in Christian writing, Bill Myers. It is my great honor to present a more serious look at Bill’s writing and heart. This man has layers, and I love layers.
Don’t worry, as promised, there will be a drawing for two copies of The God Hater. That will not change. Peyton longs to pull names from his special hat and I would be an awful momma if I didn’t oblige him. Go to yesterday’s Review to get the lowdown on how to enter HERE.
Bio: Excellent typist, 62 words per minute.
Diane- Thank you for joining me, Bill. You may not know this, but it is custom at NAF to offer our guests cyber-cheesecake with tea, coffee or milk. Please, kick up your feet and get comfortable. I’m about to pick your brain.
I’ll waste no time with filler questions. I’d like to ask you why you do it. Why have you written an insane amount of books? Is it the money? The fame? Fast cars? Or is there another motivating factor?
Bill- I’m first and foremost a film maker, but since Hollywood is a bit prejudice about Jesus Christ I’ve settled for turning my movie ideas into books – at least til now. We’ve gotten tired of waiting for the Hollywood studios so we started up a film company and are currently looking for investors for stuff like “The God Hater” and “Eli”. Either way, my agenda is always the same . . . to glorify God without being preachy.
Diane- What is your approach to writing? Do you outline, snowflake or run on the seat of your pants? And do you write actual screen plays as well as novels?
Bill- I outline extensively. Usually takes a month. By then I know what every scene will be, where to slow or speed up pacing, blend in the subplots, etc. In my genre (supernatural/thriller) you need to carefully design the roller coaster before you start building it. This probably comes from my screenplay background where you don’t have time to waste. And yup, I’m still writing scripts.
Diane- And have you ever carefully designed the roller coaster, only to have God step in and lead you to a twist where you thought there’d be a loop-to-loop? Do you get surprised?
Bill- Not often. I’m pretty ‘interactive’ with God during the outline phase so there aren’t too many extra “God twists.” Generally speaking, I stay about 90% to the outline. I let the characters have some wiggle room. But since I like, or at least have compassion, for all of them and they know it, they take advantage of my soft-heartedness and keep demanding I let them each be the star of the story. Holding them to the outline is often a tough discipline, and to keep them in line I occasionally promise that they might get to star in the sequel — unless they keep nagging at me and I decide to kill them off now. (Excuse me, it’s time for my medication).
Diane- Speaking of characters, can you tell me how you came up with Nicholas McKenzie? I mean, an atheist isn’t the ideal choice for a Christian novel. Why him and who were you thinking of as your target audience?
Bill- I don’t think of a target audience. And I definitely don’t think “Christian novel.” If I did, I’d be a lot richer by writing romance and Amish stories. Seriously, that’s what Christian publishers tell me they want. “Give us women stories. Give us affirming, stories. No high concept, please, and less thinking.” That mentality makes me nuts. Its not only degrading to Christians, it’s degrading to women. Novels are supposed to be thought provoking and . . . “novel.” I may not always be successful but I try to write for the glory of God and let the pieces fall where they will. I keep my eye on our culture and try to write honest, original stories that tackle current issues . . . and right now militant atheism is on the rise. As a lay college pastor I see my kids’ faith shredded by bigoted, “intellectual” professors who feel their mission is to enlighten and educate their students right out of Christianity. So I climb into that man’s mind and let him play his cards all the way until, through some high concept and original twists, he sees how bankrupt his thinking is. Of course there’s a love story, action/suspense and all that page turning stuff folks expect from me, but I will not wear the straight jacket that Christian publishers keep trying to put Christian readers in when they use the term, “Christian novel.”
Diane- I tend to have a similar view, Bill. *snicker* I kind of set you up on that question. I knew what your stance was, but wanted to make sure our readers, many of which are writers, understand there is already a champion in their corner in the market. It is a breath of fresh air. We have running jokes around these parts about buggies, bonnets and boxes. Most of us do not fit there.
One of my favorite parts of The God Hater is how virtual-Nicholas is able to pull up history of any of the other virtual characters. Do you imagine that might be similar to how God pulls us up in His mind? Or do you feel it is only a loose interpretation?
Bill- Good catch. Nothing is by accident in that book. Using human contrived technology to illustrate God always falls short by a few million light years, but nothing is by accident. God lives outside of time and can view our birth as easily as our death any time He chooses.
Diane- All the choices we make are known and allowed by God and therefore can not be called an accident in truth. Coincidence and chance are the ignorant man’s way of describing the divine.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve known there is a God. I knew He loved me, watched over me, and created everything I know, will know and a whole lot of stuff my brain can’t wrap around. All the reasons why have come to me along the way. The “aha” moment when I understood and everything in my belief shifted came first in my teens, again in my twenties, and yet again in my early thirties. I imagine I’ll have many more moments of epiphany before I’m taken home.
But Nicholas’s characters take a backwards path to God by my standards. His virtual character more. They see the brokenness of creation and the absolute need for salvation and intercession by a living, breathing God. They come from a totally logical path. The emotion of that is more of an afterthought to the knowledge.
Which do you relate more with, Bill? I know you were young when you put yourself into God’s mercy, but how young? And do you have “aha” moments?
Bill- Both. And one more. There are times I worship and approach God through my brain, other times through my emotions, and other when “deep calls unto deep” when His Spirit is speaking to mine.
Diane- “Deep calls unto deep” is what I call my “aha” times. Has it always been that way for you?
Bill- I try to hang out with God an hour or so a day (usually in my back orchard). Some of that’s reading Scripture (so I hear and know what His voice sounds like) some of it is worship, and some of it is just listening. I keep a small notepad in my back pocket when ideas comes. But the listening isn’t to manipulate Him for ideas. It’s simple, quiet adoration. If aha’s come that’s up to Him.
Diane- I’ve notices your work seems to use modern situations to bring your readers an old message. I like that, Bill. But how are you dealing with the modern and sudden changes in the publishing industry? What are your thoughts on E-Books and the industry in an economically hard time?
Bill- I’m not happy with the way it’s making publishers run for cover. Mixing finance with ministry often leaves the most vulnerable behind. Children books are the best example. Those divisions in Christian publishing are all but disappearing as there is not enough profit to be made. Topics that do not interest the vast majority, or that dare stir up our complacency, or that don’t pander to what the masses are itching to hear are being excluded. I’m not being cute or clever when I say that in today’s economy I don’t think Paul could get his letters published. On the other hand e-books allow anybody to be published. The gatekeepers are gone which is good and bad. Good, for those who want to say what needs to be said (like the Apostle Paul), bad because of the glut of poor writing or half-baked ideas the public has to wade through in order to find those diamonds.
Diane- And that is why I find it a necessity to do these review/interview/giveaways. I have a loud mouth and sometimes people listen. I buy the books I give out so people know that this gal is willing to spend her own money on the novel. That speaks volumes over my opinion.
Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us at NAF, Bill. It has been a pleasure. I do hope to have you back some time for a silly interview. *wink* Do you have any morsels of wisdom to share with our readers before you say goodbye?
Bill- Keep letting God have His way and watch what cool things He does . . . even with wrecks like us.
Well that’s it for this edition of Behind the Words. I hope all of you enjoyed the layers of Bill Myers. Please remember to enter for your chance to win a copy of The God Hater. Love the books. Buy the books. Then tell the world.
Peace, love and God’s will.