Dear Book Lovers,

What follows is an interview with author Dean A. Anderson. Donna Fujimoto recommended his Full Metal Trench Coat, the first book in Bill the Warthog Mysteries.  (You can find her review on the March 17,2011 post.)  We thought you might be interested in learning more about this author.

Nancy

 

You write for children.  Do you have children of your own?  My kids are barely kids anymore; two are in college and one will be a high school senior in the fall. The Bill the Warthog stories began as stories I told to my kids. The warthog detective was just one animal in the stories I’d tell, along with a raccoon lawyer, a cat house-sitter, a squirrel spy and a lizard actuary.

While serving at Felton Bible Church, {from Donna: After receiving his MDiv, Anderson served as a youth pastor at Central Free Church in Minneapolis, MN, Concord Bible Church in Concord, CA and Felton Bible Church in Felton, CA. He is presently part time on the pastoral staff of Healdsburg Community Church.} the congregation generously provided an opportunity for me to attend the annual writer’s conference at Mt. Hermon. But I needed something to submit for evaluation, so I wrote up stories about Bill the Warthog, based on the Ten Commandments.

I thought this publishing business was pretty easy because at that conference, an editor offered to take the book to her company. (She did want it adapted for a younger age group and turned into a series of ten picture books.)  After a couple of months, I didn’t hear from her, so I called the company. She had been fired several weeks before. (I hope my book was not to blame.) So I continued to submit my book to other publishers and about five years later, Legacy agreed to publish that first book. (Legacy actually asked me to write four more books with that first contract. Guarding the Tablets of Stone, the first Bill book I wrote, was published second in the series.)

Why did you chose to write for middle school aged kids?  I didn’t really choose to write for middle school aged kids. I wrote the stories and the publishers believed that was the right age for the stories.

I’ve written for teens, with work appearing in Focus on the Family’s Breakaway and Brio and Assembly of God’s Brio. CSS published my collection of Christmas skits, I Spy Christmas which is for a variety of ages. I have unpublished books written for adults.

But I do enjoy writing for middle school kids. I especially am pleased when I hear from a mother who says, “My son doesn’t usually like to read, but he loves your books.”

 Your books seem geared toward boys.  What other books would you recommend for boys to read? As a kid, I read Encyclopedia Brown and anyone who knows those books knows I steal shamelessly from them in the Bill books.  I also loved John D. Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain series. But my favorite books by far were C. S. Lewis’ Narnia stories. When my son was Bill book aged, he very much enjoyed Bill Myers’ Wally McDoogle books.

Why do you lean toward silly, weird humor and avoid the crude, gross humor often favored by authors who are reaching boys? Well, some might consider the descriptions of Bill’s diet (worms on pizza, etc.) gross. But kids are assaulted by enough crude language and humor. I feel no need to add to that, even if my publisher would allow such things. The silliness in the stories just is how I talk and think, as my family would attest.

 How do you think an author’s worldview affects the story he presents? Story and worldview go hand in hand. If someone believes the world is in the hands of a sovereign and loving God, then there is room for hope in a story. If someone does not believe in eternal hope, then the story will be more than a little melancholy or ring false.

One of the fun things about the Bill stories is the opportunity to introduce kids to a different portion of Scripture in each book. (So far, that’s included the armor of God from Ephesians, the Ten Commandments, the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians, the parables of Jesus and the Proverbs. Upcoming books will feature the love passage of I Corinthians, the story of creation and the beatitudes.)

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

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