Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring Dreamtreaders, Book One
I recall the first time I saw a Wayne Thomas Batson book, I was in a Borders (I miss those stores and their apple cider) in Peoria, Illinois. There on a table in the teen section sat Isle of Swords, I couldn’t help but pick it up and read the back cover. At the time I had just finished college, and hadn’t yet been immersed in the world of publishing. Still I was drawn in by the story and quickly made the purchase. Well I’m proud to say that 7 years later and almost as many books, Batson is still delivering exciting fiction. Without another word, check out my interview with him about his new series.
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for Dreamtreaders?
Wayne: I found an article online about the science of dreams. It blew me away. I mean, dreams have always been a curiosity. Sometimes they leave us with such a feeling of “I’ve been somewhere new” or “That was so real.” But to discover that there is actually a field of science devoted to dreaming, that was news to me. After a little more research, I realized that dreams may be worth exploring in fiction.
Brock: That sounds cool. I know I’ve woken up in the middle night, thinking wow that was just weird. Tell us about the main characters?
Wayne: Archer Keaton has the same issues as any other high school freshman: fitting in, standing out, bullies, crushes, etc. But he’s got one additional issue: he’s a Dreamtreader, one of three people chosen each generation to protect humanity in the realm of dreams. Rigby Thames is another freshman, but he’s arrived halfway through the school year and carrying a suitcase of mysteries, including a Mad Uncle who might have been guilty of murder. Kara Windchil is a young lady with plans. Also just a freshman, Kara knows what she wants in life and how she’s going to get there. She’s always seen something special in Archer, but when Rigby arrives, she becomes distracted. Her ambitions change and a secret hobby threatens to lead her into uncharted territories. Honestly, the plot of the story came first. But once I had the general storyline, all these people leaped into my mind to carry out the story.
Brock: If I had a nickel for every character that came out of the woodwork during my writing. It’s amazing how characters come to life. In three sentences what is this book about?
Wayne: What if Dreams were much more than we ever imagined? What if a threat loomed within the realm of dreams, a threat to everything and everyone we hold dear? And finally, what would happen if people gained the power to control their dreams?
Brock: Intriguing! What is the biblical background or basis for the series?
Wayne: Dreams play a pretty significant role in the Bible. Just do a search, and you’ll see that some very important events occurred due to dreams. So, the general topic (dreaming) is of Biblical importance. But as the story developed, a new theme began to dominate: the idea of having anchors of truth. When people have God and the Bible as their anchors, they can withstand any storm. But when we lose sight of those anchors, we invite disaster.
Brock: That’s so true. How many books are planned for this series?
Wayne: Three books. Book 1 will be out May 6th. Book 2, later in the year.
Brock: That sounds like an aggressive schedule, but your fans and I thank you! Did you outline the entire series, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Wayne: I outlined all three books. I need the structure, and having the major plot points worked out ahead of time reduces the number of rewrites I have to do. But my outlines aren’t carved in stone. There’s enough flexibility in them that, if an epic idea shows up later, I can always change the outline. And keep in mind, the characters really don’t take control of the story. Even in seat-of-the-pants writing, the author is still in control. But no matter how you write, you want your characters to have real personalities and make decisions that are true to their identity and situation.
Brock: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all straight from your imagination?
Wayne: I had to do a bit of research on the fields of Sleep Science, Sleep Physiology, and Lucid Dreaming. This wasn’t too taxing, however, because it’s all very cool stuff.
Brock: What do you hope kids take away from the series?
Wayne: Back to the “Anchor” theme. No generation in the history of the world has ever seen its moral compass destroyed then this generation’s has been. Politics, news media, entertainment, music, social media, peers, and even ill-informed parents are sending mixed messages (at best) or false messages to our children. And we dress up those messages with lacey labels like “tolerance” or “fairness” or even “loving,” but it’s really societal poison. If kids don’t have anchors, the solid truths they will stand on no matter what, then they will get washed out to sea and drown in sin.
Brock: Is it difficult to be accurate to Biblical perspective/facts when writing fiction fantasy?
Wayne: It’s not difficult to write fantasy fiction from a Biblical perspective. Not hard at all. What’s difficult is having to break through walls of “well intentioned” Christians who object to just about anything on the ground that it’s not Biblical because they wouldn’t do it that way. Drives me crazy how some Christians go after other Christians—why? Just because they are uncomfortable with the means by which the Gospel of Jesus is being spread. Can’t Heavy Metal Music spread the Gospel? Is God so powerless that He cannot touch a child’s heart through a story with unicorns or wizards? The apostle Paul would want to slam his head against a wall if he saw the picky attitudes of some Christians today. He was the one who immersed himself in a variety of cultures just so that, by any means, he might save a few. There is freedom in Christ, remember? And that freedom extends to creative expression.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Wayne: I’m an author’s mutt. I mean, I’ve read so many authors in so many genres that I really have no idea whose style I most emulate. I suppose Tolkien’s sense of the grand adventure is something I really want to capture. But I like the pacing of modern authors better. And I like to include a lot of poetic technique in my writing. In poetry, one thing you learn very quick is not to waste words. That’s really handy for writing novels too.
Brock: How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Wayne: There’s no such thing as a normal writing day for me. I’m a full time English teacher at a public middle school in Maryland. I have four teenaged kids, a wonderful wife, and a handful of very close friends. But, as a result of these blessings, the one thing I do not and cannot possibly have is a regular time to write. It just isn’t there. Therefore, I write whenever I can. An hour here, two hours there, fifteen minutes too. It all counts.
Brock: Wayne thanks so much for the interview. And I totally understand the fifteen minutes here, an hour there.
Wayne: One last thing for readers to remember: Anchor first. Anchor deep.