Robert Liparulo Interview, Part 2

Today I’m continuing the interview with Christian thrill writer and now Christian speculative YA fiction author Robert Liparulo.

RLM: Would you be inclined to proudly accept or sheepishly duck the tag of “plot driven” for your books? And why?

RL: I’d shy away from that label. While my stories tend to be high-concept, in that they are big and easily grasped in a sentence or two, it’s really the characters that define them, not their plots. I avoid detailed outlines, because I want my characters to tell me where the story ought to go. I’d call what I write “high-concept, character-driven adventures.”

RLM: Your YA books have been compared favorably to those by authors such as Ted Dekker. If you could choose which author you wanted your books to be like, who would you name and why?

RL: That’s a tough one, because I’d like to think my stories and style are unique and beyond comparison. But comparisons are inevitable, I know. It makes it easier for readers who haven’t read an author to understand what they may be getting into, whether they would probably like the author or not. With that in mind, I’d like to write accessibly strange stories, the way Stephen King does; with the literary skills and popular sensibilities of Dean Koontz and Peter Straub; and the storytelling abilities of Richard Matheson and Frank Peretti.

RLM: Thomas Nelson, a member of the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA) is your publisher. Why was it important for you to be published by a house known for its Christian content?

RL: The bottom line is I’m a Christian. I knew when I signed with Nelson, as I do now, that my faith would inform my writing. I want to tell stories that reflect God’s goodness and grace, and depict heroes that behave the way I believe we should behave, with heroism and bravery. I like action thrillers, and had a hard time finding them in Christian bookstores or the Christian fiction sections of mainstream bookstores. So I’d buy them from the mystery and thriller sections of secular stores, which usually meant I had to put up with gratuitous sex and violence to get the intrigue and action I wanted as a reader. I wanted to give people what I was craving: action thrillers without the things that would make them R rated, if they were movies.

RLM: What about your work is distinctly Christian?

RL: The simple answer is “I do.” And I do think that’s a more important consideration than specific scenes or characters who are obviously Christian. My stories reflect my strong faith in Christ, but in subtle ways. I don’t often wrote scenes that specifically reference this faith, but through my characters’ actions, I think it becomes obvious that they are acting in Godly ways. Some fiction contains more overt references to faith than mine do. I believe there’s room for all sorts of stories in God’s kingdom. I think of what I write as sort of a frontline in the battle for God’s kingdom. I’m reaching readers who want the action, but not necessarily the faith. Then they realize they like what they’ve read and they hear through interviews or other readers or by virtue of my publisher that I’m a Christian, and they think, “Hey, that wasn’t preachy. Maybe there are other books by Christians that I would like.” And they go deeper into the fold, until they find—and I hope, like—the more overtly faith-based stories.

RLM: Why should readers, young or old, read the Dreamhouse Kings series?

RL: First, to be entertained. It’s a fun, action-packed story. Next, for the good examples of family, bravery, and eventually, faith. Because the family has to overcome all kinds of obstacles, such as dangers when they go back in time and the threats of a man in the present trying to get them out of the house, plus their own doubts and fears, it paints the story of people who have to do what’s right regardless of all the reasons not to. It explores the values of love for family and fulfilling what you were designed to do—your destiny, if you will.

RLM: Thanks so much, Robert, for taking time to dialogue with us about your work.

RL: Thanks for letting me ramble. We writers love to do that!

Fantasy Friday – An Interview, Part 1

Announcements. Please vote in our monthly poll for the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award.

Also, check out the list of nominations for the Clive Staples Award. Be sure your choice is on the list and remember, these are books published in 2008. You can see the requirement details in the post opening nominations.

Authors Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper have a great contest going on to promote their new book, Curse of the Spider King (the CSFF November feature). Follow this link and check it out!

The Interview. Some of you may already be fans of action thriller author Robert Liparulo (Comes a Horseman, Germ), but perhaps you didn’t realize (as I didn’t) that he’s currently writing a young adult series of speculative fiction. I had a chance to ply him with some questions—too many for one post, but we’ll get started today:

RLM: In July Timescape, the fourth book in your series for young adults released. Tell us a little about the Dreamhouse Kings series.

RL: The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors.

Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.

With each book, the action and stakes increase. It’s a lot of fun.

RLM: You broke in as a published author three years ago with your much acclaimed adult thriller, Comes a Horseman. What prompted you to shift gears and start writing for an young adult audience?

RL: A lot of high schoolers started reading my “adult” thrillers, especially Germ, and I got a chance to talk to classes and book groups. I found that I really enjoyed talking to young readers; they’re primarily interested in the things that made me want to become a writer in the first place: story and character. They love asking why a story went one way instead of another, why characters did what they did. Every time I left a school, I was excited to get back to storytelling. The kids really pumped me up.

Right around this time, my publisher called and asked if I’d be interested in writing a few young adult stories. I jumped at the chance.

RLM: Your fans love the high-action thrills in your books. What prompted you to dip into speculative elements for the Dreamhouse Kings series?

RL: In tackling young adult stories, I decided not to “talk down to” them. I wanted to retain my style of writing and even the vocabulary. These are smart readers, savvy consumers of story. I decided what would make these stories “young adult” would be the protagonists—they would be youthful, like the readers—and the story itself would be one that this age, particularly, would like. I have four kids of my own, so I know they enjoy far-out stories, speculative adventures. They are more willing than adults to suspend disbelieve for the sake of a good story. That got me thinking about a dream I had when I was eleven or twelve about a house with doors to the past, and that developed into the Dreamhouse Kings.

I’ve always been a fan of speculative fiction—Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov—and in my early days, I wrote short stories that could be classified as horror or science fiction, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to go there now.

To be continued.

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