Andrew Peterson, the Storyteller
I’m excited to have an accomplished music artist and author on our column this month. Many of you may already listen to his music, or at least heard his name mentioned in last month’s article titled; KickStarting a Book to Life. So even if you’re sitting in a public place like a coffee shop while reading this, go ahead and give a warm clapping welcome to Andrew Peterson.
Brock: So Andrew we know you first as a music artist. What made you want to write the Wingfeather Saga and how did the idea come about?
Andrew: I’ve loved these kinds of stories since I was a kid. My reading interests are pretty broad—which is to say that I don’t necessarily love fantasy as a genre, but I love good books, good stories, whatever genre they happen to be. That said, fantasy has a certain kind of power that drew me in when I was young, and I still get butterflies in my stomach whenever I walk through the young adult or fantasy/sci-fi section of a bookstore. So when I finally decided to stop talking about someday writing a book and to actually write one, there was never any doubt that I wanted to try and tell a big, sweeping adventure story.
Brock: That you did, with four books and a creaturepedia in the series, you’ve created and immersive world with wonderfully engaging characters. Who are the main characters in the series and what makes them unique?
Andrew: The three main characters are siblings named Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli. Janner (12) is the eldest, he’s a bookworm, and he wants more than anything else to be at peace in the world along with his family. His little brother Kalmar (11) is the artist, and he has a tendency to get into trouble because he’s impulsive. Leeli (9) is the musician. She walks with a crutch because of an injury to her foot when she was a baby, but that doesn’t keep her from being fiercely independent.
Brock: Might you give us one fact about each of the characters that no one else knows, even your most avid fans?
Andrew: Facts that no one knows: Janner likes apples, but he likes cheese more. Kalmar once stole a berry bun from the Dragon Day festival and felt so bad about it the next day that he bought three berry buns from another stand and slipped them onto the platter of the first baker. Then he decided three buns was too much penance and ate one. Leeli always thought Faddy, the elder of the Blaggus boys, was very handsome, and before she met Thorn O’Sally (of the Green Hollows), she assumed she would marry him, even though she hated the idea of her name being Leeli Blaggus.
Brock: Ha, ha, you put a grand smile on my face. And this is the sort of wit and humor I’ve come to expect and enjoyed while reading the series. In three sentences what is Warden and the Wolf King about?
Andrew: Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli Wingfeather—Throne Warden, High King, and Song Maiden of the Shining Isle—are children, but find themselves nonetheless at the center of a great battle for the freedom of the world from a monster named Gnag. While Leeli, using her music as a weapon, leads the warriors of the Green Hollows in the battle against the Fangs of Dang, Janner and Kalmar attempt to sneak through Gnag’s dungeons to face him alone. Ultimately, though, the story is about Janner’s struggle to learn what it means to be a hero.
Brock: That’s a theme we can all relate to in our own lives in our own situations. What does it take to be a hero in the plan God has for us? Though you have said the series has come to a conclusion, any chance of more books? Your fans really got behind you on KickStarter, I am sure they would again.
Andrew: Yes! I can’t wait to write my next story. I’ve started one, but music is a big part of what I do so I have to focus on the next album right now. We’re putting together a collection from the last 15 years of music, called After All These Years, then I’ll start writing songs for a new record next year. After that I’ll be able to dedicate more time to a book. I don’t know exactly what it will be yet, but I’m sure there will be plenty of danger, adventure, and strangeness. I can’t wait.
Brock: And neither can I. Did you outline the entire series, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Andrew: There was a sort of outline, but it was mostly in my head. I had a general sense of where the story was going, and when I got stuck I would write quick chapter synopses in order to get the thing moving again. But that thing you hear about, where the characters start doing their own thing? That totally happened, weird as it sounds. More than just the characters, though, the story seemed to suggest itself to me. Unless you’ve written something like this it’s hard to understand, but there’s this real sense that the story “wants” to be told in a certain way, that it’s better at times than the author could have planned.
Brock: Thanks Andrew so much for the glimpse into your writing of both books and music. We look forward to reading great new books from you in the future.