Here’s Part 2 of our interview with our 2018 Keynote, Mike Brewer
Q: Which authors have inspired and influenced your life, faith & writing?
Tolkien, Lewis, Raymond Chandler, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Conan Doyle. I love genre fiction. I love writers who strike some balance between the plain tale plainly told and the magic of language.
Q: You’ve shared about your writing group with Cecil Murphey. How did he influence your writing career?
Cec is a long-time friend. We met years ago when he led a monthly writing group in Louisville. I was living near Cincinnati, but I gladly made the monthly trek. Cec is a born teacher. He is gentle with beginners but also demanding because he is so committed to the craft of writing.
The best thing about Cec is that he never tried to make me write like Cec. He helped me learn how to write like Mike. Cec put me in touch with the company that published my first book, and he introduced me to his agent who sold my second book. A long list of folks could share similar stories about him.
Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Put your bottom in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard, and do something.
Q: You’ve published several books for young people. Where do you get ideas for your stories and how did you first get started writing for young readers?
My wife says writing for middle-school boys is the perfect match for my maturity level. She’s joking–I hope–but I’ve never outgrown my wonder at the amazing world in which we live and the incredible story we call history.
*Did you know Middlesboro, KY is built in a meteor crater?
*Did you know butterflies taste flowers through their feet?
*Did you know slaves in Egypt were smeared with honey to attract flies away from Pharaoh? In a world like ours, anything can happen, so coming up with ideas for younger readers is never a problem.
As for how I got started, it happened without any design on my part. Cec Murphey was offered a job for a book of boys’ devotional stories. He wasn’t interested, so he introduced me to the editor and I sent some samples. She liked my work, and I began a very cordial partnership with Rainbow/Legacy. But writing for kids wasn’t new ground for me. I had already written a great deal of Sunday School curriculum for younger students, as well as some comic books and puppet plays. I like kids and I don’t talk down to them, so writing for a young audience is a good fit.
Q: What would you like readers to take away from your books?
First, enjoyment. I love for readers to have a good time when they pick up something I’ve written.
Second, I hope they find something to think about, ideas that stretch the mind and heart. Sometimes my work is very explicitly Christian. At other times, a Christian worldview forms the backdrop.
In any case, I think when we wrestle with significant questions, we are turned toward God. The Holy Spirit moves when a reader ponders big issues: love, relationships, purpose, ethics, death.
As a writer, I don’t want to beat people over the head, but I want to say plainly, “Following Jesus makes sense of life for me. Discipleship works for me. What do you think about it?”
Q: What’s been the most challenging part of your writing journey and how did you overcome it and grow?
I’d hate to admit how many years I sat around wanting to be a writer and doing nothing about it. I told myself I was too busy. I told myself I’d start writing someday. I told myself the odds were against me.
Finally, I simply started writing and sending things to editors. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know much about the business. To be honest, I didn’t know much about good writing.
But once I started trying, things started happening. I sold some pieces. Doors opened. Connections appeared. I started small–reviews, recycled sermons, lesson plans, devotionals–but I started, and I believe God honors effort.
Q: Any last words to encourage aspiring authors?
Come to the conference! Give God the opportunity to energize, educate, and enlarge you!
Very well said. Thank you, Mike, and we look forward to hearing you speak at KCWC 2018.
Come see what all the fuss is about! There’s still time to register for KCWC 2018: http://www.kychristianwriters.com/2018-registration/