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Author/Director/Producer, Bill Myers
With over eighty novels for young children, teens and adults credited to his name, almost any fan of Christian fiction knows the name Bill Myers. His latest novel, The God Hater, came out in the October of 2010.
I was very excited to be able to interview Mr. Myers (especially since it was my first phone interview) and ask him many questions about his work and his faith in Jesus Christ.
Rachel: My first question is The Forbidden Doors delves into the subject of the occult and demonic and satanic activity at work in our world. How did you become interested, as a Christian, in such things?
Bill: Actually, I'm not very interested in it. I got a call from my publisher. I just did a kids series called McGee and Me! and at that time there was a lot of dark writing going on for kids. [There was] Fear Street and Goosebumps and my publisher asked me if I would write a Christian horror series...
They said, "We think there is something here that needs to be addressed from a ministry point of view."
And I said, "Let me go and do the research."
I came back and sure enough, I discovered what you guys already knew and that was there is a ton of supernatural counterfeit stuff out there trying to seduce kids.
So I figured "[I'll] write a series that explores each of those counterfeits and we've got a deal." Well, the publisher agreed and The Forbidden Doors happened after that.
I did a ton of research on each of those subjects: a lot of [foreign] research; some of the stuff I've experienced; some of the stuff was improvised, but the core is based on fact.
Of course, I sugar-coated it and turned it into drama so that everyone would keep turning the pages, but the core of each of the books is absolutely true.
Rachel: Okay, cool. Well, actually since you mentioned McGee and Me! my next question was about [that]. How did you come up with the idea for the McGee and Me! video and book series?
Bill: The publisher asked for a children's video series. At that time there weren't many and they said that the research shows that half of kids [ages] four to eight want animation and kids from [ages] eight to twelve want live-action. So, what do we do? And so, you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to come up with doing both in the same show.
Incidentally, that was just before Roger Rabbit came out which mixed animation with live-action as well. So, we did it about the same time.
Rachel: What are some of your hobbies?
Bill: I actually don't have many hobbies. I do! But they're weird hobbies. People would not count them as hobbies.
If you were to go to YouTube and look up (what's it called?) "Faith in Action-Bill Myers" and see that one of my favorite passions is to work with high school kids and to work with college kids and just studying the Scriptures and helping them come alive instead of just being boring and dull and historical, really going deep into what Jesus Christ has to say and seeing the lights come on.
So, that, to me, is probably my greatest passion outside of writing and directing and producing.
Rachel: Now, are you able to do that in a [secular] schools or do you go to Christian schools?
Bill: I do it through my church.
Rachel: Oh, okay.
Bill: I guess I’m what you would call the “lay pastor” for the college. It’s just me. [It’s something] I do because I want to. I work with some high school kids, so…
Rachel: Okay. As a Christian author, what do you feel is your responsibility to your readers? What do you feel you have to teach them?
Bill: Let me take it just a half step back and say I don’t want to appear to be teaching at all. I want to appear to be entertaining. But that’s not my agenda, you’re right. My agenda, quite simply, is to draw the reader closer to the heart of God; to get them to ask questions. And when I’m done, have them a little bit closer to God than they were when they started.
But I don’t want to get caught doing that. If I get caught doing that, then people think they’re listening to propaganda. So, again, I candy-coat it with plenty of sugar and so forth, so that you don’t taste the medicine going down.
Rachel: What and who are some of your favorite books and authors?
Bill: Oh! [These are] authors I bet you haven’t heard of, but I’ll give you a few anyway:
I love a book called Pilgrim of Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard; I love the poetry of a 17th century poet by the name of George Herbert; I’m still a big Robert Frost fan; and then I’m listening to a lot of (I listen to books on tape because I write all day, but it’s the same as reading), so I’ve been listening to a lot of comedy because I’m writing a comedy children’s series [and] I’m about to start writing an adult comedy book, so I like laughing and I like comedy a lot and there’s a whole bunch of writers that do that.
Rachel: Actually I have heard of a couple of those authors. I think my dad and my pastor read some of them.
Bill: Oh, cool.
Rachel: Who are some of your influences as an author?
Bill: I don’t know. You know, maybe, (and I know this sounds really weird, but) I think my favorite book is the Gospel of John, just because it is so phenomenally deep. You know it is written so that a first-year Greek student gets it and can read it. Every time I read it, it just goes deeper and deeper and deeper into the life of Christ and into some of the supernatural elements of Christ and some of the just deep stuff.
So I suppose [the Gospel of John] has had the strongest influence on my life and I spend about half an hour to an hour every morning, out in the back orchard, reading Scripture. So, again…the Bible has had a strong impact. I read about, like I said, thirty minutes to sixty minutes every day and I’ve been doing that for about forty years. So, I guess I’d have to say the Bible.
Rachel: Are there any new projects that you are working on that you’d like to share with the readers at Teen Ink?
Bill: Oh, there’s always new projects! If you go to my Facebook*, I think I actually have a picture of all the notebooks that I’m filling up with different ideas.
God Hater just came out this week; that one I think is pretty important. There’s a pretty cool website that [is] up called www.thegodhater.com , it has a lot of resources and stuff.
But after that I’m working on a children’s comedy series called P.J and the Time Stumblers and I finished another grown-up book called The Judas Gospel, so I’ve always got something going.
Rachel: What is your favorite book or book series that you’ve written?
Bill: Oh, that’s like asking a parent who their favorite kid is! I think I’ll have to pass on that one because I like all of them and I see problems in all of them. So, they’re kind of like kids, because even though they’ve got problems, you love them.
Rachel: That’s kind of what everybody says to me, but I always have to ask!
Rachel: Is there anything that you would like to share with the readers at Teen Ink, like about your work or about your faith?
Bill: I think so. When I was a teenager, I was so bored with Christianity. I just thought, Man, oh man, I’ve heard this a million times before. Give me a break!
Then a friend of mine came up to me and said, “Well, the reason you’re bored is because you’re only half a Christian.”
And I said, “Oh, come on! What are you talking about?”
And he said, “Well, you know all about Jesus dieing on the cross for all your [sins] and that’s cool, but you don’t know anything about Him being your boss, your Lord. I’ll make a promise, if you promise always to say ‘yes’ to God, always, regardless of how crazy the request, your life will be anything but boring.”
Well, so, I made the bet. I mean, I was going to be a dentist for crying out loud! I made that bet and one thing led to another and pretty soon I’m studying film directing and producing down here in Holly-weird, directing stuff and writing books and none of this I had planned. Like I said, I wanted to be a dentist! I had my boring life all planned out.
I think Christians, they think, Oh, hey, I’m a Christian now, I got into the game, oh, I got into the stands.
You get into the stands so that you can go down onto the field and play the game and most [of] my Christian friends just sit in the stands and Jesus is down there, saying, “Okay, you’re in the stadium, let’s play!”
[But] nobody wants to go down on the field where the action is, except a few of us. I think that’s the difference between “boring religion” and just an adventure and a relationship is by agreeing always to say yes.
I got out of the stands and I’m playing on the field. I don’t play well, but, boy, am I having fun!
Rachel: Well, I’m personally glad you didn’t become a dentist.
Bill: [laughs] Me, too.
Rachel: Well, this is my last question. Do you have any advice for the authors at Teen Ink for their writing?
Bill: Yes, yeah…Keep writing. The more you write, the better you get. You know, if a child wants to go to the Olympics as an ice skater, she doesn’t get on the ice once in a while, she’s on the ice everyday, practicing and practicing and getting better and getting better and failing!
There’s a number of times you fall as a writer, but you just keep getting back up and practice and practice and practice. There’s nobody that is good enough to be a writer just by sitting down and starting. You start and you just get better and you get better and better…
Most of my professional friends, by the way, will rewrite. [It’s] rewritten about seven times before we send it in to the publisher. Now…that sounds like, Oh, no! But the cool thing is, the hardest is when most people stop and that’s the first time. The first time is brutal! Then you go back to it the next time and you fix it up a little bit and you go back to it the third time and you give it a little more polish and that’s where it gets to be fun.
So, my biggest encouragement to anybody [who] wants to be a writer is to write.
Rachel: Well, thank you for your time. I’m really excited to [get to interview you] and thank you for letting me share this experience!
Bill: You are sure welcome.