Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Robert Liparulo shares a behind the scenes look at Gatekeepers!

Okay bloggers, by now you know that I'm a huge fan of Robert Liparulo! So, once again, I'm going to give you another peek behind the scenes of the fabulous Dreamhouse Kings series! Now, here is a bit more about his latest release - Gatekeepers!

On page 270-71 we find the following passage: " There is a balance to everything in the world," Jesse said. "Things need to be where they belong. We don't belong in the past, but if we go back there enough times, or stay long enough, history sort of...gets used to us. It starts to want us there, because by our continued presence, we made a place for ourselves."

Do you think man's fascination with time - with its dimensions and passage - with the desire to control or transcend its boundaries - is another attempt to better understand God's power and sovereignty in our lives? How so?

I’ve always been fascinated by the nature of time. It seems so immutable, so necessary, and of course it is. But it’s an invention of God’s. He rolled it out like a long tapestry, then wove the lives of His children into it. He deemed it essential to our existence. Everything we do is measured against it. Writing a novel, for example: if it takes five years, readers want to see every one of those days on the page in the quality of the writing, the profoundness of the story. If it takes a week to write, that would be something pretty special as well, especially if it’s well done. We have a sense of time’s passing, of what can be or should be accomplished as the minutes tick by. I’ve tried to get my head around the idea that we are the accumulation of all the decisions and actions we’ve put into each second of our past. Who hasn’t wished for a chance to change something we did, to go back and say “Yes” instead of “No,” to choose love and forgiveness instead of stubborn pride? But we can’t. We can only try to make amends, to fix the damage we’ve caused.

God, on the other hand, lives outside of time, and sometimes He gives us a glimpse of what that means. The most powerful demonstration of that is through grace: No matter how many years we’ve spent as sinners, sinning, in an instant, through His Son, God wipes our slate clean. Thomas Paine said, “Time makes more converts than reason.” Day in and day out, we see God’s divine nature in everything around us, we see his love for us.

His ability to be everywhere at once, including anywhere in time—not just then, but now, to move through time even more efficiently than we move through a house— is, for me, a constant reminder of His greatness and majesty. No other being can do that. Satan can’t. God not only knows the future, but is also in the future, as He is in the past.

I’m rambling a bit, but whenever I start pondering time—God’s place in it, my place in it—I find myself grasping at something that can’t really be grasped. That’s one reason the Dreamhouse Kings involves time travel: I wanted to explore man’s relationship with time and compare it to God’s. I wanted to say, “Wow, look at that. Can you imagine? Who else but a loving God would create such a thing?”

Do you see similar interests in the lives of your children? What books/ideas do they find fascinating?

I don’t think my kids have reached a point in their lives when time is quite as fascinating to them as it is to me. They love the idea of being able to manipulate the past in order to cause a positive change in the present. They understand the flow of time and always perk up when it’s described differently from the way they know it actually is. They loved the way time was out of synch in The Chronicles of Narnia, how time passed differently in Narnia than it did in the kids’ own “real” world. I think even five-year-olds have regrets, so the concept of reaching back and tweaking the past is something even they can appreciate.

Around our house, there’s a general appreciation for the idea that things that came before affect our present and future, and not simply within our own lives, but going all the way back to the beginning. We live in a culture that doesn’t necessarily hold onto “old” things, “past” things. It’s a “live for today” kind of world, but sins and redemptions of the long-lost past do matter. If it didn’t, God wouldn’t have given us the histories, the lineages that He does in Scripture. Original sin wouldn’t be an issue. If we grasp that, then we can better understand how the things we do today
will have an effect on tomorrow—for us and for future generations. That’s one of the lessons the Dreamhouse kids eventually learn.

With a young adult series underway and a new adult novel scheduled for release in March, your writing schedule must be pretty amazing. Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at your writing schedule and tell us how you keep all of those characters straight? How do you keep track of developing story lines? Do tell!

I try to write at least two young adult books one after the other. That way, I can stay in that world longer, which helps with continuity and keeping it all straight. I wrote Deadlock, the thriller for adults coming out in March, between books two and three of the Dreamhouse series. I’ll have written the next three in the series before jumping into the next adult thriller. One thing that helps me move between the thrillers and the young adult books is that my voice, my style of writing, doesn’t change that much, regardless of the age group I’m targeting. When I set out writing for young adults, I didn’t want to “dumb down” the writing. I think kids are a lot smarter and more sophisticated about storytelling than adults give them credit for. The only thing I changed was that the YA’s feature young protagonists, and they tell a story I thought would appeal especially to kids. I think this approached has helped adults enjoy the books, as well.

As far as keeping the characters and plotline consistent and moving forward through what will be a six-book series, I use big, poster-sized sheets of paper to outline the story so far and where it’s heading. I know the story inside and out—it sprang from a dream I had when I was a kid, one that I’ve been thinking about ever since. The challenge comes not from having to figure out where the story is heading, but how to pace the telling of it so it’s interesting and allows for the reader to get to know each character better as it progresses. My wife says I have two families, my own and the Kings. Mentally, I’m with the Kings so much, I know each one of them almost as well as I do my real family, so keeping their physical appearances and personalities straight is fairly easy. But the kids in Dreamhouse get banged up quite a bit. David breaks his arm. He gets a black eye. He gets smacked in the leg. I started using medical charts to chronicle their injuries. Sometimes I have to refer to these charts to refresh my memory as I’m writing: “Oh yeah, this newly introduced character would comment on David’s black eye”—that sort of thing.

For more about Gatekeepers and Robert, see my earlier interview here.

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