When I began this blog, one of the things that mattered most to me was consistency: I committed (seven years ago! Goodness gracious) to writing weekly posts, because the blogs I liked best were consistent, reliable. I knew I could check every Tuesday for a new post, and, by gum, every Tuesday there’d be a new post to read. I looked forward to those posts. I have occasionally varied my schedule here to account for new babies or homeschool schedules, but for the most part I’ve kept my Weekly Post Commitment.
But every now and then a writing deadline or family illness comes along and sinks my well-intentioned ship. So, to that handful of you that might look forward to my Friday morning posts the way I look forward to my favorite blogs’ updates and who noticed my absence over the past two weeks: my apologies! I hope to compensate you for the missed posts by talking about C. S. Lewis. I find that C. S. Lewis typically makes everything better.
Caroline McAlister (author of John Ronald’s Dragons) has written a lovely picture book biography of C. S. Lewis—but! Her book is not only about C. S. Lewis. Finding Narnia is the story of Lewis and his brother, Warnie, and the way that they, together, brought the books into being.
From the brothers’ childhood games and stories, to the years when they were apart, to the moment when Lewis found himself thinking again, “What if . . . ?”, McAlister shows the way the seed of Narnia was planted, took root, and eventually flowered. She shows the work behind it, the patience, the love. When I was a kid, books seemed like mystical things to me—I thought ideas were something you waited for, not something you tended. So I love the way that Finding Narnia refutes that and shows readers another, far more common, way of writing a story.
And then, of course, there are the illustrations. Jessica Lanan’s watercolors are striking—so much so that three of my daughters commented on how pretty they are. She shows the imagined worlds of the brothers alongside their physical world in a way that feels organic and just right. That is as it should be, for this is not a story of how Narnia, in a bolt of inspiration, found Jack and Warnie, but how they, as children and then as grown men, found Narnia.
Once a day, we go for a walk. It’s a big outing for us now, and invariably includes a stop to visit our neighbor’s chickens. (That is the extent of our analog socializing for now: the neighbor’s chickens.) But along the way, we hunt for stuffed animals hidden in windows and on porches, and we search the neighborhood for handmade signs: “Apart Together.” “We got this.” “We can do hard things.”
Our own sign says “Thank You,” and around it ranges a constellation of Post-It notes naming everyone we could think of to thank, from God to grannies (Phoebe’s addition). And then there’s Sarah’s addition, the one that is the reason for today’s post: “Authors.” In her words, “We would be so bored right now without them!”
I know that the internet is filled with things we can do to help, and that is as much a gift as it is—at times—overwhelming. So, here is a little, bite-sized list of authors and artists mentioned frequently on this blog and how we can support them right now.
Slugs & Bugs
Slugs & Bugs is currently running a “SlugStarter” (like a KickStarter, but with a better name!) to fund their newest project—a new silly songs album! Learn more about that here.
S. D. Smith
S. D. Smith, author of the Green Ember series, just released the final installment of the series. (Want to know more? I reviewed the earlier books in the series—but have, alas! fallen behind in my reading—here.) Order a copy of that book or any of the others to help keep his good work going.
You haven’t heard Dianne mentioned here by name, but she is the founder of Deeply Rooted Magazine. She wrote a book! And it launched right at the start of the closures and lockdowns, so I encourage you to pick up a copy of A Holy Pursuit (or, if you’ve read it already, left an Amazon review). I haven’t read the full book yet, but I got to peek at it early in the process and it looks so good—a biblical look at the popular myth of “Following your dreams.”
Andrew Peterson recently released new editions of the first two books in TheWingfeather Saga (which I love deeply and reviewed in full here). The book covers are gorgeous. These are totally worth buying even if you already have the other ones. (Don’t ask how many copies of Anne of Green Gables I own based on this logic alone.)
Author of the Easter devotional Mission Accomplished, and the Advent devotional The Littlest Watchman (both reviewed here), Scott James is adept and telling big truths to little people. His newest book Where is Wisdom? launched last week and is inspired by Job. I haven’t read it personally, but I know he’s an author worth supporting.
Wildflowers magazine is full of fun projects for kids currently house-bound, and they are currently offering a free printables to their newsletter subscribers! These include coloring pages, DIY projects, and more (even one of the short stories featuring my illustrations). They have also marked down all their past issues to $8 apiece! Learn more about the giveaways here, or go here to order an issue of Wildflowers.
Those are a few ideas. You could also buy anything from the Rabbit Room store, which is filled with work by artists, musicians, and authors worth supporting.
And if you know of other authors or artists we can support, please mention them in the comments below!
Remember The Mistmantle Chronicles? I was only slightly joking about starting a movement to get them reprinted. This week, I hope the news of their goodness, their loveliness, their urgent need to live on bookshelves worldwide spread a little further, because Story Warren let me revise and share my review of the series on their site.
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”.
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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