I have three kids.
Right now they’re 13, 12, and 9, and they devour books like crazy people. They gobble them up like sugar cereal. When we come home from the library, each of them has five or ten books under each arm. At first I tried to keep up, tried to preview every book they read. But these days, when my oldest zips through a Hardy Boys book in one afternoon? No way.
So I wanted to let you know, in case you’re wary of these books, I’m not one of those writers churning out stories for money, or to push a political agenda, and I’m not writing fantasy just because I have a thing for swords and dragons, and I don’t want to corrupt your kids with shady philosophy or trick them into practicing witchcraft. I don’t want to expose them to words or situations I wouldn’t want my own children exposed to.
Here’s why I’m writing these books.
I bear the Maker’s image, and one of the ways that plays out is that I delight in making. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember. From the moment I picked up the guitar I wasn’t content to play another guy’s songs–I wanted to sing my own. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to write stories. I love stories, and thrill to an imagination on fire. I sat down in front of the blank page and let my imagination run wild, did my best to tell a story I would want to be told. If a reader is willing to trust me with a little of his or her imagination, I want to light it up with truth, and beauty, and goodness.
I want you to know that I take my job as storyteller very, very seriously. I believe deeply in the power of Story. It has informed the way I live, my relationship with God, and, as crazy as it sounds, my understanding of the meaning of life (if I may speak in such grand terms). My dad’s a preacher from the South, so you can imagine how folklore, anecdote, humor, absurdity, good character (and odd characters), good and evil, and the Bible shaped the narrative of my childhood.
So this is a story about light and goodness and Truth with a capital T. It’s about beauty, and resurrection, and redemption. But for those things to ring true in a child’s heart, the storyteller has to be honest. He has to acknowledge that sometimes when the hall light goes out and the bedroom goes dark, the world is a scary place. He has to nod his head to the presence of all the sadness in the world; children know it’s there from a very young age, and I wonder sometimes if that’s why babies cry. He has to admit that sometimes characters make bad choices, because every child has seen their parent angry or irritable or deceitful–even the best people in our lives are capable of evil.
But of course the storyteller can’t stop there. He has to show in the end there is a Great Good in the world (and beyond it). Sometimes it is necessary to paint the sky black in order to show how beautiful is the prick of light. Gather all the wickedness in the universe into its loudest shriek and God hears it as a squeak at best. And that is a comforting thought. When a child reads the last sentence of my stories, I hope he or she drifts to sleep with a glow in their hearts and a warmth in their bones, believing that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Thank you for trusting me to lead you and yours along this old footpath.