Friday, January 29, 2010

8 Questions for Andrew Peterson

Today I'm asking a few questions of Mr. Andrew Peterson, the author this month's CSFF tour selection, North! Or Be Eaten.

Chawna: What is your favorite part of being an author?

Andrew Peterson: It's hard to narrow it down to one thing. I love the creative process. I love the rhythm of it; driving to the coffee shop, settling in the corner, launching the word processor, sinking into the story again. I love the interaction with young (and old) readers. I love holding the finished book in my hand. I love what storytelling teaches me about my own story, and the God who is writing it.

C: Would you share an inside look at the writing process for you, some trivia we might not otherwise know about it?

AP: I roughly outline the story before I start writing. I arrange it according to chapter, though in the end those chapter breaks will have changed drastically. After I finish the third edit or so, I re-read it and break the chapters up into even smaller sections, preferably with cliffhangers. We read books aloud quite a bit in our house, and we all dread long chapters. If they're short the kids almost always want me to keep reading. As for the process, I try to write 1500 or 3000 words every day, and it's usually at a coffee shop near my house. I take mine with cream and sweetener. If it's nice outside a pipe may be involved.

C: From what I read on your website, fiction isn't your original background. How did you get into novel writing, and specifically the fantasy genre?

AP: I've been a singer/songwriter for the last fourteen years or so, which basically means I'm a storyteller with a guitar. There are a lot of similarities between songwriting and novel writing: you do well to approach it with a little fear and trembling, like an animal trainer with a bear. But there should be a little audacity, too. But the differences are vast. Songwriting involves a lot of waiting around, while book writing requires nose-to-the-grindstone work, day in and day out. Songwriting is about patience; book writing is about endurance. I've loved stories like this since I was a kid, and harbored a dream to write them throughout my music career. Having these three kids were the impetus to tell a story I hoped they'd love.

C: What do you hope readers will take away from the Wingfeather Saga?

AP: I hope they find themselves swept into another world for a time. I hope that when they close the book they have the same warmth in the chest that I have when I finish my favorite books. I hope the story will help them see the world we live in for the wonder that it is. Most of all I hope they brush up against that holy Other who haunts the world of man and proclaims His truth in stories and art and music. I hope the story pushes them closer to belief.

C: I know the writing of a story touches not only the people reading it, but also the one who wrote it. What impact did writing the Wingfeather Saga have on you?

AP: I came to understand the need for conflict in my own story. I kept seeing myself in the different characters, people who are confronted with doubt and fear and suffering, and yet, I, the author of their story, had good intentions for them all along. The analogy breaks down eventually, but it helps me understand God's purposes a little better.

C: What is one book you would recommend reading besides the Bible and your own work?

AP: Where to begin? Of course there's Tolkien and Lewis. I love Buechner's Godric. Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Walt Wangerin, Jr.'s The Book of the Dun Cow. Oh! One of my all-time favorites is Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. I'd better stop while I can.

C: What is one questions you never have been asked but wished you had been, and what is the answer?

AP: I don't have a good answer to that one. I have questions I wish hadn't been asked, like "Why are you so weird?" and "Will you help me move this piano?"

C: Is there anything else you would like to add?

AP: I'm finishing up my newest album, The Last Frontier, and plan to start on book three of the Wingfeather Saga in February. The working title is The Monster in the Hollows. I have two more books in mind after that one, so unless something weird happens in the story the saga will be five books. Also, I have a lot of fun stuff posted at, including definitions and art by readers.

Thanks for answering all my questions and we'll look forward to seeing those additional books.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great interview. Nice to see Andrew's sense of humor isn't limited to his fiction. :-D


Chawna Schroeder said...

Thanks, Becky. And humor makes someone like Mr. Peterson so much more fun to interview, doesn't it?

Brandon Barr said...

Good interview Chawna :)
I wish I could write even 1,000 words a day...

nissa-amas-katoj said...

Oh, this was great! And you've gotta love an author who gets asked why he's so weird. I get asked that alot myself. But I never get the 'moving the piano' question. Perhaps it's because the questioners fear I'd use a trebuchet--- or a bit of C-4.

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

That piano question is always a killer.

Great interview, Chawna!

Breann said...

"Most of all I hope they brush up against that holy Other who haunts the world of man and proclaims His truth in stories and art and music."
Oooh, this is good stuff! Thanks for posting this interview.

Chawna Schroeder said...

Thanks for stopping by, Breann, Brandon, Rachel, and Nissa. I'm glad you all enjoyed the interview. All credit is do to Mr. Peterson giving such good answers.