Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview with 100 Cupboards Author N.D. Wilson

When some friends of up and coming author, N.D. Wilson's suggested I review his 100 Cupboards series, I didn't realize I would become hooked so quickly, or enjoy the books so much. The books are American fantasy, (set in Kansas), where kids learn to be brave in the face of hardship, and eventually learn to delight in who they are.

The series even changed my perspective about dandelions. Now, I can't help but smile when I see dandelions poking through my lawn, and I am happy to find places for the
dandelion bouquets my children persist in bringing me. You can read more about the series and about his other book, Leepike Ridge, in my review. In addition, Mr. Wilson graciously agreed to be interviewed by CCBR, and I am thrilled to present the interview here.

CCBR: Is there an overarching message or theme you are trying to communicate through your books?

Wilson: Well, yes and no. It depends (et cetera). I hope to communicate the message and messages that reality (the greatest and grandest of all stories) communicates. More specifically, you could say that I want kids who read my stuff to see courage, sacrifice, love, and selflessness learned and exemplified by my characters.

CCBR: How did you get started writing books for kids and young adults?

Wilson: I never outgrew them. These stories are (and always have been) my favorite kind. I got started in 5th and 6th grade and began by criticizing what I was reading to my parents. They pushed me into proposing edits and changes to whatever I was reading, and from there I started dreaming up my own stories from scratch. All through high school and college I worked on shorter pieces, focusing on creative nonfiction, sketches, short stories--that sort of thing. Once I popped out of grad school, I settled in to try to write my first novel (it was bad and rightfully ended up languishing in the trash, but it was for kids). I've always been focused on this market.

CCBR: What is your inspiration, for plot lines, and characters such as Tom (Leepike Ridge) and Henry York, Uncle Frank and Henrietta?

Wilson: Hard to say. I draw a lot on the flavor of my own childhood, and I know my imagination has been spiced by the authors I most loved growing up (Lewis and Tolkien). But beyond that, I don't know. My fevered brain spits things out...

CCBR: You don't shy away from describing dead bodies or writing scary suspense scenes. What would you say to parents who are concerned the books may be frightening for their children?

Wilson: Chesterton said that a book without evil is an evil book (or something like that). I'm not afraid of reading my kids stories from the Old Testament, and they (properly understood and without dodging) can be pretty grisly business--even the broadly read basics like David and Goliath. David said what? And then he cut Goliath's head off and held it up? Samson did what? I do include darkness and evil in my stories, but hopefully in the same way and in the same context that we see them used in those tales. Darkness is to be faced with boldness, faith, and courage. Evil is an enemy to be overcome and triumphed over.

CCBR: What is your favorite part of writing? In your experience, what is the most difficult part of writing?

Wilson: Favorite part? Finishing. The most difficult part? Finishing (at least finishing well). Discovering a story page by page and chapter by chapter until a satisfying end is wonderful, but having story grip while you're doing it, and not being able to read the rest quickly (because it hasn't been written) is agonizing. You want to blaze through to the end, but...the pages are blank. There you have it--the best and the worst.

CCBR: What were your favorite books when you were growing up?

Wilson: Narnia and Tolkien when I was a younger. The Space Trilogy (and Tolkien) as I aged. Of course, you can throw all sorts of adventure tales in as well, but those are the true foundation of my imagination.

CCBR: How does your faith influence your writing?

Wilson: My faith does a lot more than influence me. It is fundamentally who I am. I can't tell you how being male influences me, or how being human influences me either. I don't know the alternatives. I hope everything I do is an extension and outworking of my faith. The stories I tell are simply apples on an apple tree.

CCBR: I heard you are currently working on a screenplay for C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. Do you have anything new planned for younger readers?

Wilson: Screenplays have been fun, but I do indeed have some new stuff for young readers. I'm starting a new fantasy/adventure series this summer. The first book (The Dragon's Tooth) will be releasing on August 23. Thanks much!

CCBR: I look forward to reading your newest book, and I hope our readers enjoy it too! Thanks for sharing your time and insights with CCBR!

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Annette W. said...

I hadn't heard of these! I'm looking into them now!

Erin said...

I hope you enjoy them, Annette! My review of the books will run tomorrow morning. Let us know what you think. Thanks for reading CCBR. Erin