Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring Secret of the Lost King
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Shaun: I actually never intended Secret of the Lost King to become a book, let alone a series. It was actually first written as a stage play for a summer camp. A group of twelve actors brought the story to life over the course of a weekend. It was a lot of fun and after we finished I kept thinking, “You know, this would make a really good book.” So I sat down with the script and wrote book one out. And then I got ideas for a second book set in this world, and then a third, and now it’s expanding to a six-book series!
Brock: That's awesome when God brings things together like that! Tell us about the main characters. Who are they? What makes them unique?
Shaun: Jack is an orphan who has always wondered about what life would be like outside the confines of the orphanage where he lives. But he’s also afraid of everything. So when he has to leave his home in Secret of the Lost King, he’s afraid. And especially when he learns that he may be one of the only people in the kingdom who can end the evil emperor Morogh’s reign, he’s even more frightened. How could he ever live up to this task? What makes him so special? I love exploring these sorts of themes: the value in a person and the unique things they bring to the table in any situation.
Brock: Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.
Shaun: Molly, one of the other orphans who joins Jack on his journey, is actually an avid horse enthusiast, although she would never admit it to anyone. Disdain is one of her favorite emotions.
Jack is actually an expert in horticulture, or the study of plants. Sounds boring, but definitely useful when you’re traveling through the woods and you’re just not sure which berries you really can eat.
Brock: In three sentences what is this book about?
Shaun: Secret of the Lost King is an adventure story exploring what it means to be a hero. Jack and his friends face an impossible task: find a missing king and discover the secret behind his disappearance. Along the way, they have to face one of the hardest questions any of us have to ask: what value do we bring to the table in any situation?
Brock: Intriguing! Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Shaun: When I sit down to write, I typically come up with the overarching story to begin with. I want to know where my characters start out and where they will probably end up. However, I have always said my “subconscious writing brain” is way smarter than I am, and as I write the story generally morphs a bit as my brain connects things together I never could have come up with on my own. I’m always amazed at the end of a book when I realize something and say, “I didn’t even plan for that to be connected! Crazy…”
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Shaun: This book is a story about discovery. Jack is discovering who he is and what his life is all about. I think a lot of us ask those same questions: Who am I? Why do I matter? These fundamental questions are so important for us to explore. I believe that God has created everyone for a purpose. He loves each one of us and definitely has us where He wants us to be: sometimes in an amazing place, and sometimes in the valley of shadows. Whether we are on the mountaintops or down below, we can trust that God is with us every step of the way and will use what we experience and go through to impact more lives than we can ever imagine.
Brock: Yes, that's a great lesson to live by. What is your favorite genre to write for?
Shaun: I really love writing fantasy stories. The possibilities are endless and the journeys are always surprising. However, I also really love fiction that is introspective and explores the deep thoughts a lot of us have but are afraid to voice.
Brock: What is the biblical background or basis for the series?
Shaun: As I was planning the series, I came across this verse in the book of Joel: “‘And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days’” (2:28-29, NASB). I came up with this idea to match Jack’s journey with a story from the Bible -- someone else who had gone through the same struggles. For me it made total sense to match Jack up with Gideon, a man from Judges, who was afraid to be the hero God had called him to be.
Brock: How many books are planned for the Thrones series?
Shaun: Six. Along with a few side short stories. There are so many amazing characters in this world I want to explore I can’t leave it just at the six novels!
Brock: Are you working on the next book in the series?
Shaun: Yes! I am working hard on book number three, and I’m excited about where the story left off in Sword of the Broken Son. There are some fascinating revelations at the end of book two that are begging me to be explored this time around.
Brock: How do you hope parents will use this book with their kids?
Shaun: I am a huge believer in parents reading books to/with their kids. In 2013, School Library Journal asked families: How many parents read bedtime stories to their kids? According to the poll, about "two-thirds of parents don't read to their kids every night" (Bayliss, 2013).
Bedtime stories were a huge part of my elementary years. I loved it when my parents would come and read me a story before I drifted off to sleep. Those times not only sparked my imagination, but gave me valuable face time with my parents. I love hearing stories of families reading this story together and diving deeper into the story of Gideon and what it means to be a hero in their home, school, and neighborhood.
Brock: Where do you like to write?
Shaun: I love coffee. Therefore, I love coffee shops. Therefore, I write in them. All the time. The atmosphere, the smell, the varied conversations around me all inspire me to keep writing. I actually find I don’t write very well when I’m at home. There are so many distractions!
Brock: True! Expound on the spiritual themes in the Secret of the Lost King.
Shaun: In Secret of the Lost King, I really wanted to explore the idea of what it means to be a hero. We talk a lot about superheroes and standing up for what you believe in, and I wanted to write a story that explored what it means to be a hero in God’s eyes. It’s not always flashy. It’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s extremely hard. But being a hero who follows God brings a lasting impact on the lives of people around us we can never even begin to measure.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Shaun: I love 1980’s films. They were my bread and butter when I was little. Films like The Neverending Story and Return to Oz and Star Wars and Indiana Jones fed my imaginative brain like crazy. When I started reading, I devoured books. I used to read a hundred books a year, constantly checking out large stacks from the library, and later on when I could buy my own books, building my library from our local used bookstores. Brandon Mull, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Robert Liparulo, and Melody Carlson have all had tremendous impact on my writing style.
Brock: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
Shaun: I seriously devoured Oz books when I was little. My great-grandmother’s early 1900’s copies made it to our family and I ate those books up! In my teen years I discovered Ted Dekker and finally read the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.
Brock: What is the one author, living or dead, who you would co-write a book with?
Shaun: Oh man, that’s definitely a toss up between Brandon Mull or E.J. Patten.
Brock: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
Shaun: I’m a Children’s Pastor in my other work life, so I am always thinking about how to communicate the truth about Jesus to readers. However, I never feel satisfied with stories that wrap up everything neatly because I don’t believe life wraps up neatly. I think life is very complicated and especially in today’s culture, we ask a lot of hard questions about faith and Jesus and church. I want to be the writer who is never afraid to tackle those hard questions and allow there to be no answers by the end of the story.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
Brock: Soft shell or hard shell tacos?
Shaun: Coffee. Just kidding, soft shell tacos!
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Shaun: Coffee. Always coffee. I’m not addicted. I promise.
Brock: Haha Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Shaun: Philippians 1:6 - “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
Shaun: I love listening to movie soundtracks while I write. I’ve actually got a pretty extensive collection by now, but some of my favorite go-to soundtracks are: Return To Oz by David Shire, anything by Hans Zimmer, and recently Dave Barry’s The Black Hole soundtrack.
Brock: What inspires your writing?
Shaun: All kinds of things, but typically my stories always begin with an emotional thread I want to yank on until it unravels completely. I love exploring difficult questions and feelings. For instance, with Secret of the Lost King, I wanted to explore the idea of discovering who we are. What is that journey like, how does it happen, how does it end?
In Sword of the Broken Son, I wanted to explore the idea of rejection. What does it mean to be rejected? What do we do when we feel like God has rejected us?
But as my wife will tell anyone, my brain is crazy and comes up with the most random ideas sometimes!
Listen to author Jack Hayes talk about getting published and working with Crimson Pulse Media! His story Silencing Void is featured in Nebula Chronicles: Endeavor.
Announcing two brand new stories coming from Crimson Pulse Media.
Edge & Narrow presents The Pit an episodic story with a single chapter releasing each Saturday beginning January 14th with a double episode release) and running through the end of the year.
A mysterious world is discovered with a massive, miles-wide pit torn through one continent. The planet is strewn with the remains of a fallen civilization. What happened to the locals, and what were they digging for so desperately? A young intern assigned to the first expedition into the Pit will be among the first to find out...
Prepare to follow the adventure into The Pit and don't miss a single episode.
Lost Realms presents the Dissident Saga coming July 2017
Book 1: Ransom’s Ruin
Kelonia is still recovering from a vicious civil war that destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure thirty years ago. When Shiloh’s farm is attacked and destroyed, her parents recognize the attack strategy as one favored by Dissident fighters from the last war. Shiloh must find a secure location to hide while she prepares to take a stand against the enemy who is trying to recruit her.
Interview by Rebecca Pettett
Featuring The Galactic Exploration Collection
Rebecca: What was the first story you wrote about?
Ann: I’ve been writing from a very early age, so it’s hard to remember what my first story was. My first good story was written for a writing contest in fourth grade and was called “Noella” after the main character. I’m proud to say that it made it to the finals.
Rebecca: Where is your favorite place to go for inspiration for a story?
Ann: My favorite place to go for inspiration would probably be outside on a nice, sunny day. It could be on my porch or somewhere in my yard.
Rebecca: What is your favorite part of the writing process? What is your least favorite?
Ann: My favorite part of the writing process, I think, is getting to develop the characters and just coming up with a story in general. My least favorite part is revising, because it is EXHAUSTING!
Rebecca: What is the hardest thing for you to capture on a piece of paper?
Ann: A water buffalo! Just kidding ;) My real answer would be that it is hardest for me to come up with a good ending to a story.
Rebecca: What main piece of advice would you give a new writer?
Ann: One thing to do if you want to become a good writer is read well-written books. Usually, I prefer the older, classic books that have stood the test of time. Another important thing to do is practice writing. When you write, your writing doesn’t have to be super long, just write often and your writing will become better.
Rebecca: For some last minute fun: What do you like to do in your free time?
Ann: I really enjoy singing and I also love to read.
Rebecca: And what is your favorite dish to eat?
Ann: Hmmm...there are so many good ones. One fun dish that my family sometimes eats is taco boats. It’s a yummy mixture of taco-like ingredients put into a soft tortilla shell shaped like a boat! Another good dish is the mashed potatoes that my mom and grandma make at Thanksgiving time. They use the same recipe and it tastes SO GOOD!
My next post in our series introducing the authors from my upcoming project is from Rebecca Pettett. Take a moment and find out about a book that she found inspiring.
I've really been inspired by a lot of different stories, so it's kind of unfair to say that there's been a “most,” however, I was really inspired by the book called Bruchko—it's a true story by Bruce Olson.
In this autobiography, Bruce tells his story of how he felt God calling him to the mission field around the age of nineteen, and that God wanted him to minister to a tribe in Colombia called the Motilones. Bruce didn't want to go—God made him go anyway.
Reading this story, it's inspiring to see that Bruce went through lots and lots of trials, and yet God was with him through all of it. It was also both inspiring and challenging for me to read about how Bruce went through the unbelievable, and he still remained faithful to the Lord. Obviously, he couldn't have done it without the Lord, and there were probably plenty of times Bruce questioned what God was doing, but it's encouraging to know that the Lord never left his side and was always faithfully there for him.
“Crazy” is probably a good definition of Bruce's testimony; in fact, if you ever read it, you may have a hard time believing that it's true. But regardless of how crazy it is, it reminds me that the Lord will never leave my side, and He will bring me through each and every one of my own trials. Bruchko is a great read of twists and turns, encouragement and conviction, and is definitely one of my favorites.
Hi everyone! My name is Jack Hayes, and I’m one of the other authors for the Galactic Exploration collection.
I’m a homeschooled freshman, trying to get good grades and finish well. I enjoy school…
most of it, that is. :-)
I have a bunch of hobbies, including writing, reading, making short films, playing instruments and tinkering with tech. I think I might want to be a film director, software developer, or worship leader… I’m just not sure which at the moment.
Oh yeah, and I love playing Pokemon Go.
Here are some random facts about yours truly:
That’s all for now, but stay tuned!
Our next post in our series introducing the authors from my upcoming project is from Rebecca Pettett. Take a moment and get to know a bit about her. I promise, you'll like her!
Greetings! I am Rebecca Pettett, one of the contributing authors to the Galactic Exploration Collection. As an introduction, I'd like to share a little fun about myself.
I'm an artist. I've loved the art of making art since I was little. I draw, crochet, sew, etc., and my room shows it. Let's just say my art materials take up a little bit of space. Okay, it's more like a lot.
I'm a perfectionist. Which is an ironic problem because nobody is perfect—and I am no exception. It's one of the many things I laugh at myself for.
I love Adventures in Odyssey. I've listened to it basically all my life. My family and I still do, but it's not as much as we used to. When I was younger, we used to have a whole collection of cassette tapes with AIO episodes on them. Cassette tapes. We mostly listened to AIO via the radio or online, except on road trips (what else are tapes for?). I lived in a very technologically diverse home.
I'm a musician. I love listening to, playing, or writing music. I mostly like to play piano and guitar, although I play few other instruments as well.
I'm now an author. Which is funny, because as a kid, I hated writing. Absolutely abhorred it. I loved coming up with stories but never finished writing one down until I was thirteen or so. I tried— many times. It probably didn't help that I couldn't spell for the life of me.
Lastly, I love being a part of the Galactic Team. God has brought me through an amazing and crazy journey to get here. It's been a very fun and wild ride, but I'm very grateful to the Lord for this adventure, and I'm glad you can join me. Until next time...
Hello! I’m Ann Hirshberg, one of the writers in the Galactic Exploration Collection that Brock Eastman will be releasing. I was very excited to be a part of this project when I first heard of it, and I’ve learned some things about being a writer along the way.
For example, I’ve found that the writing process can be very challenging, as well as time-consuming. An especially difficult undertaking, to me, is the revision process. This involves making many changes to your story so that it is exactly how you want it to be. I have had lots of help from my family in fixing up my work, but it has not been easy!
Along the way, one factor of revising was that I had to balance all the feedback I received and figure out what advice to take. Every so often, I would have somebody point out a plot hole, or something that wasn’t quite right, and we would spend a long time deciding how to correct it. That was frustrating, but ultimately worthwhile.
The biggest thing that I felt needed improvement was the ending. I had to revise it twice before I thought it was good enough to be a part of my first revision. The first two endings were a little too rushed, but I was finally able to create something that fit. I am sure I will still need to revise some things, but, as of now, I’m rather pleased with my newest resolution. It has been able to build up to a climax that suits the story, and bring it to a close in a way I like.
Overall, the writing process for my part of the collection has been a struggle so far, but it has taken me on a journey. Throughout it all, I have been able to see the transformation of the story I’m writing into something that is growing more satisfactory. I have learned about hard work, and how it is able to bring success.
Over the next few months, you'll be getting to know the contributing authors to the new Galactic Exploration Collection, an exciting collaborative project from Crimson Pulse Media. First up is Elissa, whose story is currently under construction, so you'll have to check back to keep up on the details.
I thought for my first post, it’d be fun to share 10 quirky truths about myself. So here goes.
10. I have four kids, three are homeschooled, the fourth (who was adopted from Russia) goes to a school for children with Autism.
9. I have no professional training as a writer. I’ve never even taken a creative writing class.
8. Aside from writing, I also like photography, graphic design, illustrating, gardening, and scrapbooking.
7. I hate cooking. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t have a family, I would survive by eating cheese and trail mix. So healthy. I know.
6. I read at least 3 books at the same time. I’ll read just about anything, but I normally go for nonfiction or young adult literature.
5. I’ve been an active member of the same church for 30 years. My parents started taking me there when I was in grade school.
4. I don’t own a working television.
3. Someday I’d like to teach writing classes.
2. I think pudding is gross.
1. I met Brock Eastman when he was looking for bloggers to promote his first TQ4T book like 5 years ago. We’ve worked on several projects together. My oldest son and I even got to meet him in person twice - once in Ohio (where I live) and again in Colorado (where he lives). He’s kind of a goof ball!
Thanks for letting me take over! I can't wait to talk to you all again soon!
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