Please Welcome…Bill Myers
(*Originally posted March 2008)
This month our interview guest is Christian speculative fiction novelist Bill Myers!
Bill writes all kinds of cool and creepy Christian speculative fiction, but I first heard his name in connection with a TV program.
Back in the days before Veggie Tales there was precious little Christian film or video entertainment worth watching. It was truly atrocious. But then I stumbled across this series called McGee & Me about this normal kid and his animated friend (who got him in and out of all kinds of trouble). The animation was great and, more importantly, the writing was intelligent and entertaining.
McGee & Me was truly best in class for a long time. As a film school grad and recent seminary graduate, I thought my calling was to go into Christian film. Consequently, I spent a lot of effort trying to get hired by the people who produced McGee & Me. It never worked out, but my respect for that product and its producers has never waned.
Over the years I became aware of Bill’s name again, this time as a novelist. His Blood of Heaven books and Eli and The Presence (plus several others) are great Christian speculative fiction. His novel The Wager was made into a movie starring Randy Travis in the lead role.
But I think the thing that really wowed me was Bill’s Forbidden Doors series. This is a series of novels for teenagers. Each one covers a different topic relating to the occult: Wicca, Tarot cards, ghosts, seances, vampires, and curses. And the covers are brilliantly freaky.
When I saw those books I thought there might be hope for CBA after all. I hoped they would begin a radical new conversation that would throw open the (forbidden) doors for all kinds of Christian speculative fiction. The books did well (indeed, Bill’s books and videos have sold over five million units), but CBA didn’t budge as much as I’d hoped.
So without further introduction, here is our interview with a man who continues to be a valiant trailblazer.
WhereTheMapEnds: Catch us up with what’s going on in your life.
Bill Myers: Still banging my head against the Hollyweird walls. We have 20 books optioned as motion pictures (a couple with some heavyweights and some in pre-production). I try to write a novel a year, a few kid’s books, and one or two screenplays for folks if they ask. My latest novel, The Voice, is coming out late April and I’m pretty jazzed about it.[Editor’s note: Check out the Special Features page this month. Bill has given us a sneak peek at the prologue to this not-yet-published novel!]
WhereTheMapEnds: What is your favorite speculative novel of all time (Christian or secular) and why is that your favorite?
Bill Myers: I’m sure this sounds terribly weird, but I don’t enjoy reading speculative fiction. I read and study novels, poetry, and non-fiction intensively to learn the craft. But the stuff that I read for pleasure and to stimulate my imagination are the Bible and nearly all areas of science and theoretical sciences.
WhereTheMapEnds: Well, it may be weird, but it’s hardly unusual! I don’t read fiction either. Not Christian fiction, not speculative fiction. Nada. I read science books or psychology books or other nonfiction books on topics I’m interested in. And the Bible, too, yes. You’re not alone in your weirdness! So Bill, what made you want to write Christian speculative fiction?
Bill Myers: It seemed the best way to incorporate the truths of God in a way that was fresh and provocative.
WhereTheMapEnds: How was your first idea for a Christian speculative novel received (by anyone: spouse, friends, parents, agent, publisher, readers, reviewers, etc.)?
Bill Myers: I’m trying to think. That would probably have been the kids’ series, McGee and Me.
I remember sitting in the board room at Focus on the Family being asked if McGee was an angel or a demon. I thought, Huh? Then I figured I was in a psychologist’s ministry so I better give them a psychologist’s answer. So, on the spot, I said, “Neither, he’s the boy’s alter ego.” And they bought it.
Everybody wants to box imagination into something they can handle. If something’s a little new or inventive it makes us nervous.
WhereTheMapEnds: You could probably write a book on that. You’ve done more than your share of innovating and had more than your share of resistance, no doubt. Thank you for what you’ve done over the years, Bill. Now, I know you don’t like to read fiction, but if you had to…what is your favorite speculative genre to read? To write? If they’re different, talk about that.
Bill Myers: I just like to find ways to convey the truths of God in new and thought-provoking ways. If it’s spiritual warfare, fine, I’ve got plenty of first-hand experience in that. If it’s mixing science and religion as I have with Eli or my new novel, The Voice, fine, I’ve got notebooks on that stuff. I just go for anything that explores some thrilling, mind-staggering aspect of an infinite God.
WhereTheMapEnds: Awesome. What have you seen that encourages you about Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
Bill Myers: If I can do it, anybody can.
WhereTheMapEnds: What have you seen that discourages or frustrates you about Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
Bill Myers: It’s difficult to explain new concepts to folks who are either threatened by or not used to thinking outside the box.
WhereTheMapEnds: What advice would you give to someone who aspires to write and publish Christian speculative fiction?
Bill Myers: The same as I would give any writer. Read. Write every day. Keep developing your craft. And keep throwing it against publisher’s walls until something sticks. Oh, and keep the day job until it does.
WhereTheMapEnds: Great advice, Bill. Day jobs are good things. What’s the best book or seminar on fiction writing you know?
Bill Myers: I’m not a big fan of those things, though I love speaking and teaching at seminars. But what I’ve always done to learn is to get my hands on good writing and study it why it’s good.
WhereTheMapEnds: What’s the best part about writing and publishing Christian speculative fiction?
Bill Myers: Getting paid to think, speculate, and explore the wonders of God and His universe. It doesn’t come any better.
WhereTheMapEnds: Exactly. What writing project(s) are you working on now?
Bill Myers: We’re getting a couple projects ready for production (film), doing the kid’s books, and that yearly novel.
WhereTheMapEnds: What’s a cool speculative story idea you’ve had lately?
Bill Myers: I’ll tell you after it’s written.
WhereTheMapEnds: Stinker. 😉 What’s the best speculative story (Christian or secular, book or otherwise) you’ve encountered lately?
Bill Myers: Although I believe it’s more than just speculative, I’m really enjoying the mystical elements, symbolism, and character archetypes in Genesis.
WhereTheMapEnds: What else would you like to say to the readers of WhereTheMapEnds.com?
Bill Myers: I think WhereTheMapEnds.com is an invaluable resource and would encourage folks to track with it. I also think your publishing company is a fantastic idea. Keep up the great work!
That’s All for This Time
What a wonderful interview, huh? Thanks again to Bill Myers. Be sure to visit Bill online. And don’t forget to check out the Special Features to get a sneak peek at the prologue from Bill’s new novel, The Voice.