You know the question that goes, “If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you choose?” It probably gets asked as a “getting to know you” question at book clubs, I guess, and it overwhelms me every time I hear it. Just one? Why not five? Or ten?
I don’t know what my list would look like or which names I’d have to whittle off to reach the single digits, but I am confident of this: N. D. Wilson‘s name would be on it.
Or would have been on it. Because I did get to talk to him. And it was fantastic.
I had the privilege of (or, I should say, I super-professionally begged for the privilege of) interviewing him for Deeply Rooted about his gorgeous nature documentary The Riot and the Dance. He was as articulate and intriguing as one might expect and said things like this:
When you’re able to sit in awe of an ant war on the sidewalk in front of your own house, then the awe that you experience looking at God’s creation near you, where he has placed you, will lead you outward. It will give you a desire to see more of his work, to walk through the rest of his museum.
If we’re the art appreciators—the ones who understand that there is an artist and this is his work, and we want to celebrate it—then we need to do everything we can to create a beautiful artifact ourselves and not just have talking heads explaining fairly bland cinematography. We wanted to use our words and our cameras and our lenses in a more effective imitation than that. We wanted to tell the truth, and beauty is part of the truth.”
Normally, this sort of post—a “here’s something I published elsewhere” post—would be a midweek bonus affair, not something I would publish in place of a book review. But I think you’re going to love what N. D. Wilson had to say so much (I did, even after listening to the recording a half-dozen times as I transcribed it) that I decided to publish this instead of a book review this week. Go forth! Read and enjoy!
Taylor Everett Brown’s book Rootless is an adventure story set in the fictional (and fantastic!) realm of Pateramor. He kindly answered some questions for us so we can learn more about the story behind Rootless and about him, the author behind the story.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure, I’m a giant nerd who aspires to great adventures, fantastic romance, and saintly holiness. And, every once in a while, I come close to reaching those aspirations.
For example, I once managed to pluck a diamond out of the glittering, salty sea-spray of the Texas coast. Realizing the miraculous nature of what had taken place, I dropped to a knee and proposed to my (now) wife, stunning her just long enough to secure a “yes” and sweep her off her feet!
Since then we have set about the serious(ly fun) business of building a home and filling it with amazing children.
And on a related note, I am certain that I am called to the vocation of fatherhood because I have been telling dad-jokes my entire life.
What inspired you to write Rootless?
I’ve always enjoyed faerie tale stories, whether they came in books, video games, or songs. And, as faerie tales tend to do, they inspired my own musings on the origins of magical worlds, fantastical beasts, and wonderful peoples.
I started capturing those ideas and writing them down while I was in college and, after more than a decade, they had grown into a living breathing world. I knew it was special and I wanted to do something with it. I just lacked the resolve and the focus. Then my son, Everett, came along and provided the spark I needed to write my first story in the world of Pateramor.
I thought it would be so much fun to write a little bedtime story, starring my son, that I could read to him throughout his childhood. Well, the bedtime story turned into a series of bedtime stories and, finally, into the full novel, Rootless. I was so happy with it, I decided to publish it.
I loved reading about the different forests of Pateramor. Which part of Pateramor would you most like to visit?
It makes me so happy to hear you say you loved reading about the forests. I wanted the forests to be like characters in the book, each with their own personality, feel, and quirks. I really enjoyed writing about them.
Rootless takes place in the Kingdom of Windfall, which is only one small part of the world of Pateramor. But even just in Windfall, there are so many places I would like to visit. From the serenity and solitude of the Singing Mountains to the hand-made grandeur of Fortuna to the other-worldly beauty of the glowing forest. It’s hard to choose!
But, for me, I think the dragon forest edges out the rest of the destinations. I just love dragonapple trees. Everything about them, from their warmth, to their giant fruit, to the ecosystem they create is intriguing.
And, between you and me, I will admit that I designed the dragonapples to really appeal to someone with my taste buds. That mixture of sweet and spicy is something that I relish. I would love to try one.
Of course, what really seals the deal is the dragons. Who doesn’t want to see dragons? Especially dragons as exhilarating and as beautiful as phytodrakes?
What are some of your favorite books? Which ones particularly fuel your writing?
I recently read Augustine’s Confessions and it is incredible! It reads as easily as a modern novel and the troubles he deals with in his life are so easy to relate to . . . and yet it was written 1600 years ago!
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s thrilling and inspiring from beginning to end, which is saying something given how much story it packs between its covers.
I also really enjoy reading anything by C. S. Lewis. One gem of his that not many talk about is Perelandra from his sci-fi trilogy. C. S. Lewis is so good at speaking about evil and there’s a scene in the second book where he explores what it was like when Eve was tempted in Eden. It is deliciously terrifying!
But in the end, J.R.R. Tolkien is still my favorite. When I need to get inspired to write I reach for him. The completeness of his world, the beauty of his language, and the sheer size of his story, you just can’t beat it. I can re-read his books over and over and I am always in awe.
Can we look forward to any new books from you?
You know, I do have a second son now, Augustine Michael Brown. And it would be a shame for him to grow up hearing and reading about his brother going on faerie tale journeys and not have any himself.
Yes! I am thrilled to announce that I have begun writing a second story in the world of Pateramor! I’m aiming to complete it before the end of the year. So stay tuned!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Always! If you want to know more about the me, the books, or the world of Pateramor, I encourage you to go and explore Pateramor.com. I’m slowly building up a treasure trove of information on that website to fill in the blanks between the books.
For example, right now there’s a great article on the race of little inventors called the Munchkins (to which readers were introduced in Rootless). And I hope to soon publish an article on their “superior” brand of technology called “munchkintech”.
I shared this in the email newsletter a few weeks ago, but then I forgot to post it here! Alas! But I recently had the privilege of interviewing Caroline Cobb for Deeply Rooted. Her music is everything you and I love in a good book: beautifully written, vivid, and anchored by Scripture. If you haven’t listened to her album A Home & A Hunger yet, I think you’re going to love it. (We do. We’ve had many a dance party to her songs.)
You can hear in her own words how much she loves the Lord and his Word, and how she longs to share them both with her listeners:
I was . . . simultaneously feeling the ache of the “not yet” of God’s kingdom and clinging to the hope of the ‘already.’ I kept being drawn to write from passages that explored these themes: the beauty of God’s ‘upside-down’ Gospel, the tension we feel as Christians between ache and hope. Each song parachutes into a different moment in Scripture, with every song tracing this overarching theme of kingdom hope.
My prayer is that these songs would help people remember and rehearse God’s Story, and that his truth would get into their hearts and minds in the middle of their everyday: when they’re stuck in traffic, cooking dinner, changing a diaper, working from their desk. I’m also praying it will remind those that are walking through hard things of the secure hope we have in Christ and help us all remember the good news of Jesus. I know I need to remember and savor the Gospel again and again, and I’m praying this album will help others do that too.
Last week, I told you all about Golly’sFolly. This week, you get to hear from the authors themselves! We’re also giving away a copy to Golly’s Folly today (details on how to win are at the end of this post).
Dear Readers, let me introduce you to Eleazar and Bekah Ruiz—your new favorite kindred spirits:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Eleazar: I’m a graphic designer by day and a publisher/art director by night. My background as a graphic designer/art director has been helping, serving, and equipping churches to communicate effectively to their different audiences through the mediums of branding and design. Other clients include Microsoft, Xbox, Focus on the Family, Tooth & Nail Records, among others.
Bekah: I’m an educator at heart and just love to be around people in general. I’ve worked with elementary kids, middle schoolers, and college students. I’ve been working in higher education for 6 years now. I love DIY projects, coffee, and learning more about the publishing world with Ele.
Why do you think kids need to hear Golly’s story?
Eleazar: I think people including myself have the tendency to intentionally and unintentionally seek happiness, contentment, and fulfillment in all the wrong places. Some people turn to finding fulfillment in relationships, others in money, and some simply find their meaning in what they do 40-60 hours a week.
I believe that is our natural bent and it starts at a young age. I personally realized it in my twenties. I realized that everything I had worked for up until that point in time and everything I’d accomplished had been done in hopes to satisfy me or fulfill me. At one point I expected my wife to be the person to “complete” me (like Jerry Maguire would say). Other times I sought that satisfaction in my job or in people’s perception of me.
Golly’s Folly is simply our way of giving kids a heads up about this tendency. At some point they will unconsciously expect things like the ones I mentioned to satisfy them. We are here to say, from a Christian worldview, that the only place such satisfaction can be found is through a loving relationship with our loving father, God.
Bekah: I believe kids have brilliant minds, and are so capable of taking in this message. We often underestimate them. When everyone in their classrooms and everything in the media is telling them to “get this” and “buy that,” we want them to hear that seeking things first will not give them the satisfaction in their hearts that Jesus can.
I would love to hear more about your publishing company, Patrol Books. What is your vision for the company?
Eleazar: At Patrol Books, we are trying to raise the expectation people have about Christian art. Have you ever been to the theater and stared at all the movie posters for upcoming movies? And then noticed one of those posters had a religious bent? Once you perceive that, you think to yourself, “Nah … I’ll pass.”
Recently we’ve visited several bookstores due to our latest book release and have found the same is true in the children’s religious section at those bookstores. Those shelves have been either half full or filled with poorly executed content. No wonder people don’t expect much of Christian art! We believe it is our (Christians’) responsibility to change that perception.
Bekah: The selection [of excellent Christian children’s literature] is kind of sad, really. In “religion and social issues” within the children’s section at bookstores, we found a slew of books on potty training, learning manners, pregnancy (new sibling), one or two children’s bibles, a handful of Islamic writings, and that was it.
Patrol Books exists to create content that is both orthodox in its theology and surprisingly beautiful in its content. We are here to raise the bar. And we are tasking ourselves with literature to start.
Golly’s Folly is beautiful, both in the illustrations and in the way it actually feels as a book. It’s clear that the physical presentation of the book matters a lot at Patrol Books. Why do you think it’s important for a book to be beautiful and well-written?
Eleazar: We believe beauty and sound theology should be inseparable simply because the epicenter of Christian theology is God himself. A God who proves his care for beauty in multiple instances in the Bible. Starting in Genesis with the creation of Eden, then again in the building of his temple in Exodus 31, and ultimately bleeding over all the way to the book of Revelation where the heavens, the place of God’s throne, are described. God often uses the beauty aesthetic to communicate something about himself in the same way he uses the ugly aesthetics to describe sin. To quote Dr. John Piper [Bible scholar, teacher, theologian], “Nothing ugly is ever called glorious in the Bible.”
What’s next for you as authors?
Eleazar: Most of our time is currently focused on making sure Patrol Books succeeds as a business and in the midst of that we’ll be working on the second book of the Golly’s Folly series for which we already have a title!
What’s next for Patrol Books?
Eleazar: There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon for Patrol Books. In the next year people should expect us to release two or three more books from other authors. But we are trying our hardest to not make you all wait until next year! This holiday season could be a particularly exciting time for us at Patrol Books, so please stay tuned!
Enter to Win a Copy of Golly’s Folly
To enter, fill in as many options as you like in the widget below. The giveaway closes on Friday, Nov. 18. After that, a winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. Best of luck to you all!
You can also enter to win a Songs for Saplings Family Journal, as well as one of six full sets of the Questions With Answers physical CDs! Even if you don’t win, Songs for Saplings has offered a special coupon code so you can download the first three albums in the series for free, just for reading the interview.
Hi, I'm Théa! I review classic literature, poetry, nonfiction, fantasy, picture books—children's books luminous with grace and beauty. These are books our family loved and that I think you'll love too. Thanks for stopping by!
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