1. How do you view your relationship with your characters? Are they based off of real people such as family members and friends, a figure of only your imagination, or something in between?
All of the above. Inspiration for characters comes from all over the place, especially when you have seven main characters, and a host of supporting cast members, like in CotSK. Some of them, like Kat, who I initially created, are based on types of girls that I have known or counseled as a pastor. She struggles with particular issues that I think many girls can relate to. Wayne, of course, then adds his input into her as a character, and now you have a very three-dimensional individual, one who I think is pretty cool. Other characters, like Johnny and Autumn Briarman, are actually based on real people, in this case, my sister-and-brother-in-law, Johnny and Autumn Nesbitt. They bicker and get on each others' backs in real life just like they do in the story. That was a lot of fun for me to write.
My characters come from all over the place. At times certain traits from several people I know will come together in one character. Antoinette in The Door Within books was kind of a compilation of the real go getter (like my wife), the really creative (like my cousin), and the often too independent (like my...uh, I probably shouldn't say). Tommy Bowman in CotSK came to mind due to my own son Tommy. People used to always remark about his curly hair. I kept thinking, there is much more to Tommy than those cute curly locks. He's a deep thinker, a passionate, talented guy. So is Tommy Bowman. But not all characters come from people I know. Some characters are kind of archetypes at first. Mallik, Nock, and Bolt were just your token Dwarf and Elf types. They didn't really develop until the story revealed their personalities. Kat Simonson in CotSK was originally Christopher's creation, but then there was a student I knew who kind of inspired me. So I sort of blended another profile into what CH had already been building. The result, I think, is a very deep character.
2. How did you two make Curse of the Spider King, flow so nicely with two different brains writing it? Yes, you two are very similar, but how did you keep the same vision on it, especially with the characters.
Wayne and I spent a lot of time over the phone, email, and iChat, crafting the overall story-lines and themes. Long before we ever wrote our first chapters, we both had a solid working understanding of the story and were able to think as one through most of the scenes. Likewise, whatever chapters we were the most keen on diving into as individuals, would then be passed to the other person to do, edit, craft, or even delete carte blanche. The overall feel of the book then becomes "our voice," not Wayne's or Christopher's. In fact, every single line of the book has been read and re-read by each of us at least 12 times after we wrote the first draft.
As Christopher said, there was a ton of back-and-forth between us. We each had so many opportunities to add touches here and there. Honestly, there are so many chapters that we really can't remember anymore which one of us wrote them. lol The key, I think, was the outlining process. We spent a lot of time, the two of us just dreaming about where the story would go. More fun than you can imagine. Ideas just flew out of our minds (special delivery from the Lord, we believe) and into the outline. From there, it became a matter of getting to know our characters: their hopes and dreams, their flaws and conflicts. Once you know your characters...I mean REALLY know them, the story pretty much drives itself.
3. Tell us about your history with writing. What made you want to be a writer? When did you begin? Where do you find inspiration?
I always loved creative writing in school, but was termed a "slow reader," so hated to read books. It wasn't until after high school that I was awakened to the world of fiction by author Stephen R. Lawhead with his Song of Albion Trilogy. I will always credit his work for sparking my desire to write. And to this day, I'm sure you can still find traces of his influence. As for inspiration, like characters, its everywhere. In everything. From quite times spent with the Lord, to things I see in the movies, to quirky things I discover in nature. Like JRR Tolkien once said about writing of Middle Earth (paraphrasing), "I didn't invent any of it; I just went there and took notes on what I saw happening." When you're an author, you're just trying to convey what you already see.
For me, I always loved to create. I'm a last born (for those familiar with Birth Order Theory), and my next older sibling was 5 years older. Consequently, the older Batson did their own thing, and I had a LOT of independent play time. I used to make my own adventures in the backyard or up in a treefort. As I grew older, I realized that I really enjoyed artwork and writing. And I loved to share it. At some point in high school I came up with the silly idea of wanting to be a published author. Go figure. It was mostly just a dream. But when I began teaching wonderful 6th and 7th graders, I began to wonder if perhaps it could be reality. Those students were so amazingly encouraging. Really if it weren't for their influence, I doubt I'd be an author right now.
4. Writing isn’t your only creative outlet, or the only place of ministry you do. Please tell us about your other work.
Well, music is my first love, so when I'm not trying to meet a deadline, I'm usually behind a piano or guitar or drum set on my free time. And when I have even more extra time, I enjoying painting. As for ministry, I serve at an incredible church as the Teen & College Pastor as well as the Creative Arts & Production Director. I have always had a deep heart for my generation, to see them succeed in the dreams of their heart for the glory of Jesus. I am the president of a one year discipleship school, aptly named Dibor, after my first book (www.dibor.org). And my wife, Jennifer, and I spend time each year over seas ministering to people in various settings; in January I'll be in Switzerland and Spain, China in February, and a vacation to an undisclosed location with my wife in March. Lastly, ministry doesn't happen by itself, it needs to be funded, so I also own a few restaurants, the proceeds of which are used to advance the Gospel across the earth.
I'm married to a marvelous pretty RN named Mary Lu. We have 4 remarkable children, and so a lot of my time is family. I teach full time at a public school in Maryland. This is my 19th year of teaching...a staggering concept to me. Where did the years go? I have many dear friends I like to spend time with--catch a movie, play tennis, throw the football around, video games, jam a little guitar--that kind of stuff. By God's grace, my life is very rich and full. Being an author is something of an extraordinary blessing. Sometimes I'll see someone reading one of my books, and I'll think...this can't be real, can it?
5. I like the way you guys market your books, it’s cool and funny at the same time. How and where did you come up with those ideas?
Where did we come up with them? Are you kidding? Look at us! We're crazy! But that goes without saying. Really, we just like being creative...we do so with writing, why not with marketing? I don't know that anything we're doing is "new" necessarily, but we wanted to make whatever we do our "own." Give it our own flavor. Using technology has really helped us a lot. Both the ARG (alternate reality game) and Tribe Building depend heavily on the internet, while social media has allowed us to connect with fans all over the world. Video, of course, is not new, but given its subtle incorporation to the ARG, and Tribe Members' usage for promotion, gives us all some fun tools to use.
A lot of our marketing, esp. the Tribe Building came from the Treasure Hunt contests that I did with Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire. But prior to that (and I'm sure Christopher had a similar revelation), I kind of found out the hard way that authors (unless your last name is King, Meyer, Rowling, or Patterson) have to do a ton of book marketing themselves. I always thought, "Well, that's the publisher's job." Not so. Yes, publishers do some marketing, but their budgets are very small, unless, again you're a HUGE name. Odd, that names that need no marketing to sell get the lionshare of the marketing budget while midlist authors who could be big if they had the marketing, don't get it. But, I digress. After learning that I needed to do marketing or perish, I began looking for ways to do it. Reviews, booktalks, signings--the usual methods were good, but not great. The Internet opened up an infinite new avenue, and we've tried to harness it's power and the great connectivity it makes available. But when it's all weighed and measured, it's the readers that matter. Christopher and I know our readers are the ones who have the real power to make our books successful or not. So we've tried to come up with entertaining ways to get our readers to become a kind of grass roots movement to take the books to the next level. We love our readers.
6. What made you pick spiders and trees for the bad guys... especially spiders, I learned quickly not to read your book at night, because I would have horrible spider nightmares lol? You truly wrote them too well!
Well, who's not scared of spiders? Perfect!
Ditto. I hate HATE spiders. They freak me out--why? I'm not sure. I mean, I'm 6-3, 250. I can squash any spider in the world under my shoe. But still. The angular segmented legs, the big poison-soaked fangs, and the eight eyes--it's the thing of nightmares. No wonder you have bad dreams. I had giant trapdoor spiders in The Final Storm, so you might wonder, why do spiders again? That's a cool story. One, I can't reveal all of, mind. I was at a park writing while my son's football team was warming up for their game. I was watching all the kids run around the playground...swinging on swings, sliding, climbing, etc. And I happened to notice a couple of little girls playing jump rope and singing a certain kid's song, one that mentions spiders. That was an AH HA moment for me, and I immediately called Christopher to tell him about it. And so, it became inevitable that spiders would be a big part of this series.
7. Please tell us about your fun treasure hunt and contest you two have put together at www.heedtheprophecies.com. How did you come up with this great idea?
My web designer first forwarded me links on the concept of ARG's a year ago. After Wayne and I did a bunch of research, we both thought that hosting one for the initial launch of CotSK was a perfect fit. And so far, its been a lot of fun! I'm actually quite amazed at how smart our Players are...I honestly don't think I would have gotten half as far as some of them have. As for Tribe Building, that's Wayne's baby. He's a virtual expert on these contests, and I just love watching him work and interact with the readers. What I'm really looking forward to is that lucky Tribe that we get to fly out and do a private book party for next Spring!
The ARG was really CH's grand endeavor. I was his sounding board and threw my .02 in here and there. But really CH does the heavy lifting with the ARG.
8. Who is your favorite character in Curse of the Spider King and why?
I'd have to say Kat. I love that she has everything that most teens want in terms of possessions, but still shows she is so unhappy inside. Our culture in the US tries to say that money, relationships, and fame is what makes you happy. But its not, and its a lesson that teens today really need to hear (and adults for that matter). The complexity of her character, both internally and externally, I find very fascinating and endearing.
Tough question. I like Tommy a ton b/c he's that unlikely hero type. He's got over protective parents and yearns to do something important with his life. So I like that a lot. But sentimentally, I think Mr. Charley is my favorite. He's a middle school janitor and gets very little respect from most. But he is so much more than meets the eye--just as all people are.
9. Do you guys watch any of the Stargate shows? The portals to Allyra are kinda like the gates in the show Stargate... yes I love that show :)
I watched the original movie. Although I wasn't thinking of it at the time, I definitely see direct comparisons. That's got to be the quintessential portal in modern media!
I've heard of the show, but have never seen it. I think I saw the original movie as well, but that was a long time ago.
10. And last, but not least... do you have any words of encouragement or advice for aspiring writers?
Plenty, but I have to run! Please visit http://www.christopherhopper.com/novels and read "Tips for Aspiring Authors."
Same here. Helping aspiring writers is what I do everyday. So I have tons of advice and instruction. Most of it is up on my blog http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com Just check the sidebar under Writing Tips.
Thanks again for the great interview Wayne Thomas Batson, and Christopher Hopper, you two are awesome!
Purchase Curse of the Spider King at - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400315050
And don't forgot to see what other bloggers for this months tour are saying about, The Curse of the Spider King.
http://www.christiansciencefiction.blogspot.com"> Brandon Barr
http://fantastyfreak.blogspot.com/"> Justin Boyer
http://pagesofdiscovery.blogspot.com"> Amy Browning
http://valeriecomer.com/"> Valerie Comer
http://www.the160acrewoods.com/"> Amy Cruson
http://csffblogtour.com/"> CSFF Blog Tour
http://word-up-studies.blogspot.com"> Stacey Dale
http://www.scificatholic.com/"> D. G. D. Davidson
http://sjdeal.blogspot.com"> Shane Deal
http://scriptoriusrex.blogspot.com/"> Jeff Draper
http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns/"> Emmalyn Edwards
http://projectinga.blogspot.com/"> April Erwin
http://virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com/"> Karina Fabian
http://anewnovelistsjourney.blogspot.com"> Todd Michael Greene
http://realmofhearts.blogspot.com/"> Ryan Heart
http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com"> Timothy Hicks
http://jessebecky.wordpress.com/"> Becky Jesse
http://crisjesse.wordpress.com"> Cris Jesse
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/"> Jason Joyner
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/"> Carol Keen
http://krystisbooks.blogspot.com/"> Krystine Kercher
http://www.tinakulesa.com"> Tina Kulesa
http://www.realheartprints.com"> Melissa Lockcuff
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/"> Rebecca LuElla Miller
http://www.leastread.blogspot.com/"> John W. Otte
http://oohbooks.blogspot.com"> Cara Powers
http://www.chawnaschroeder.blogspot.com/"> Chawna Schroeder
http://www.jamessomers.blogspot.com/"> James Somers
http://specfaith.ritersbloc.com/"> Speculative Faith
http://www.epictales.org/blog/robertblog.php"> Robert Treskillard
http://frederation.wordpress.com"> Fred Warren
http://www.galacticoverlordinchief.blogspot.com/"> Jason Waguespac
http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/"> Phyllis Wheeler
http://www.novelteen.com/"> Jill Williamson
http://kmwilsher.blogspot.com/"> KM Wilsher