September 28, 2010

Author Interview: Wayne Thomas Batson

Welcome to day two of the CSFF Blog Tour!  Hopefully you've read my review of this month's excellent book, Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.  If not, click HERE.  Now that we're all caught up, let's see what Mr. Batson had to say in answer to my interview questions...

Can this guy rock a cape, or what?

Oh - and please don't forget to click on a few links from the day one post for updated tour info all about Venom and Song:  Book 2 in The Berinfell Prophecies.


Me:  What does "Endurance and Victory" mean to you?

WTB:  Not much. Christopher came up with that. Just kidding. The Elves are the Children of the Sun, and they have an actual physiological need for sunlight. It's their natural habitat. So to be forced underground where they can only rarely escape to get light requires great endurance. During that time of hiding, it seems the enemy has the upper hand. It's like that for Christians sometimes, I think. The world can seem so dark and dreary. And esp. in America, it can often seem like false things prosper while others suffer. But there will be victory. God has already won it. We know that in the end, not only will God wipe away every tear, but He will renew everything, a new heaven and a new earth. Everything false will be burned away. Victory is coming.

Me:  There are several prevailing themes throughout this series, but some really come into focus in Venom and Song, like trust, forgiveness, acceptance, and many aspects of relationships. What is the one theme you felt was the most necessary to portray?

WTB:  In Spider King we hoped that the seven teens would show readers that each and every kid, rich, poor, athletic, bookish, popular, or reclusive--each one is more precious than he or she can imagine. In Venom and Song, we hoped our young lords, now endowed with spectacular powers, would show readers how much each one needed to be content as one part of the whole body. As my mom says, "Comparisons are odious." Jealousy should be impossible for Christians. To each one He gives gifts. Run with it. Do your part. Be content.

Me:  We see the Seven's gifts mature and grow, will that growth continue? And what spurs this growth?

WTB:  We will indeed. CH and I have been plotting out book 3 of the series. And just the other day, we discovered that two of the seven will develop breathtaking extensions to their abilities. :-D

Me:  There are so many aspect to writing a great story, how does the language itself factor in for you? Is it important?

WTB:  Language is important. Vocabulary, sentence structure--it all matters. But, there's an element of language that is really very fluid and subjective. What I mean is that writing styles change over the decades. Ten years ago, we taught students to avoid using the speaker tag "said" so often. Be more specific with your verbs, we'd preach. Not said, but howled, bellowed, whimpered, etc. But in 2010, a lot of readers smirk and complain when writers don't just stick with "said." Get rid of adverbs, some tell us. Eliminate the comma before the and in a series. It's all very malleable and depends on who you ask. All that said, I am a firm believer in using words to impact tone. Every word and phrase, every chance for a simile or metaphor--can I craft it just right to add to the readers fear, joy, sadness, anxiety, etc? If a publisher gives me time, I like to go back through a manuscript and just tweak little things to add that lingering impression.

Me:  We see a lot of battle and death in this installment. As an author of endearing characters, how do you choose who lives and dies?

WTB:  I'm not sure what CH will say here, but for me, I don't choose. The story does. The story often demands that someone die, and usually, the demands are pretty specific. How can Aidan ever become the leader he needs to become if Captain Valithor is always there over his shoulder? And in Venom and Song, there was just no way that the seven could infiltrate Vesper Crag and not pay a price. When a certain sacrifice was called for, we thought, who would be the most likely character, and one stepped forward and volunteered.

Me:  Certain pairings are starting to appear within the Seven, will these carry significance throughout the rest of the series?

WTB:  Great question. At this point in the planning, I'm not sure. But honestly, the characters in Venom are all a little young to forge lasting romantic ties. Attraction can be there and HUGE bonds of friendship too. And I hope these kind of bonds will grow.

Me:  The character of Mannaelkin is often the voice of doubt, why is a character like this important to the story? And the message?

WTB:  I don't know if you always need such an oppositional character within the ranks of the "good side" characters. For CH and I, it wasn't really a purposeful thing. But, unconsciously, I think, Christopher and I have a burning resentment toward the infighting within Christianity and even the local church. Jesus said that others would know Jesus' kids by how they love each other. When someone puts self in front of God's plans, we all look bad.

Me:  Without giving too much away, in the final battle of the book we see rain. What does the symbolism of rain mean to you?

WTB:  Funny, but the symbolism came after the fact. In the very early stages of Book 1, Curse of the Spider King, I was sitting in a park with my laptop working on the outline. There were all these little kids running around and playing on the equipment. Some were jumping rope and singing. That's when it hit me. Spider King. And I had this image of little kids singing "Itsy bitsy spider." And I thought, HOLY BISCUITS!! "Down came the rain and washed the spider out" !! So there it was, a key element of book 2. Once we began delving deeper into the rain concept in book 2, it began to take on more of a "cleansing" metaphor.

Me:  In the chapter The Art of Discipline, on page 120, Grimwarden says, "Never mistake service for anything less than the highest form of nobility, Jett. Dictators and tyrants lead without serving; only true kings use their place of power to lead in the most humble of ways." This stuck with me, as did many other lessons the Seven learned. Is service something readers can strive for in their daily lives? How?

WTB:  I'm still very much learning about being a servant. All I know so far is that we must daily put our own needs behind those of others.

Me:  The question that all of your readers are dying to know is - when can we expect book 3? Do you have a title or any tidbit you can share with us about it?

WTB:  We're working on a title. And we're proposing Book 3 this week, so pray that it will happen. I think CH and I are pretty dedicated to doing book 3 no matter what, but that might mean finding a new home for the series. We hope not, but we'll see. As far as what might be happening in book 3, well let's just remind readers that the Spider King had accumulated a gigantic force of Warspiders, Gwar, and Drefids...on earth. Nuff said.


Okay kids!  I'm not sure what I'll have for tomorrow, cuz that's just how I roll.  It could be something really cool, or not much at all.  We shall see...

As they say in Allyra...
Endurance and Victory!


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great interview! You asked some excellent questions. It's like a "director's cut" hearing Wayne talk about the book and characters.


WayneThomasBatson said...

That was great, Amy! Thanks for asking "thick" questions. You really made me think. Is Christopher up for tomorrow?

Fred Warren said...

Nice job pulling some very thoughtful and substantial responses from your interviewees, Amy. A very fun read.


Krysti said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview! How cool that this all started with "itsy bitsy spider!" Hahaha--

Now I'm wondering who's going to write the story to "High in a tree a crow sat?"

Jeff Chapman said...

Good set of questions, Amy. I particularly liked the ones about characters and death, rain symbolism, and service. I remember making a note of Grimwarden's statement on service when reading.

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