Klavan is quickly becoming a household name for many Christian fiction fans,
including me. With books for adults and young adults as well as credits for
major blockbuster movies, you’ve probably watched or read something he’s had
his hand in. It’s my pleasure to share a look at his latest YA trilogy,
MindWar (Thomas Nelson). And if the title isn’t enough to convince you to add the book to your
wishlist, I’m sure the following interview will.
How did you come up with the idea for the MindWar Trilogy?
I’m a gamer. I’ve always loved games and puzzles and when video games came
along I was swept away. I played Space Invaders so much I developed a swollen
wrist! And as the games became more sophisticated, they became so incredibly
immersive; it was like actually being in space or in a haunted house or
underground. So I just began to wonder: what if the border between
life and games became permeable, what if you could pass from one into the other
and back again? I guess that was the start of the MindWar idea.
too was very into video games, defeating Dr. Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog)
became a daily goal for me. Tell us about the main characters in MindWar?
The main character is Rick Dial, a guy who feels he has lost everything that
matters to him. He was the quarterback on his high school football team, a real
athlete-hero type. Then his car got broadsided by a panel truck and his legs
were shattered. He’s on crutches now. And on top of this, his father has
disappeared and may even have run off with another woman. So Rick has
lost his faith: in life, in God, in himself, in everything. But when he’s
sent as an avatar into the MindWar Realm, he has a chance to recover the hero
in himself. It’s just a question of whether he can find it.
Wow, that sounds pretty awesome. In three sentences what will the MindWar
trilogy deliver to the reader?
Action, first of all. Because the stories take place both in real life and in
the game, there is both the sort of action you get in fantasy novels — sword
fights and dragon battles and so on — but also normal thriller action with guns
and bad guys and chases and so on. And, of course, you’re going to follow the
evolution of this young man Rick as he goes deeper and deeper into this
beautiful but essentially evil place.
Andrew can you share how you have intertwined Biblical themes into the
You know how it says in the King James Genesis that the imagination of man’s
heart is evil … and then Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that it’s not just
the crimes we commit that condemn us – the adultery or murder or whatever –
it’s the crimes we imagine — the lust and anger in our hearts. This is a
story about a young man who has to confront both: the perils of the inner
world and the outer one. The MindWar is essentially the war for the
imagination. You have to win that before you can win any other.
And it seems this is a battle parents are trying to win every day. I hope
they’ll be encouraged by Rick’s story. What sort of research did you have to
undertake for the book, or was it all straight from your imagination?
Well, I could try to keep a straight face while I told you how many video games
I had to play before I could really get the hang of the thing! But the
truth is I actually did have to do quite a lot of background research. For
one thing, the computer world of MindWar is actually a weapon to use in the
real world. The villain Kurodar is trying to imagine acts of terrorism into
being. So, without giving too much away, I can say that I had to find out
how some of those terrorist acts would be committed. And I really did
need to get some sense of how video games work, and how computers can be hacked
You may very well be on several government watchlists now from your research.
And I guess now I could be listed as an accomplice. Oh man, who knew
interviewing could be so risky. Can you give us a hint at the second and third
Not too much, but I’ll just say this: things get very weird in the second
two books because entering the MindWar has some very gnarly effects on the
brain and Rick has to start to deal with that. And there’s a kind of love story
you maybe haven’t seen before. And some cool twists and turns. And
now I’ll shut up before I give something away.
Thanks for pretty much nothing! But we respect that at FamilyFiction; we want
to be surprised by the plot turns and twists. You have many great releases
already out and I am sure many more planned, are you a full time writer?
More than full time! I’m usually at my desk by 7:30 am and what with
phone calls and required reading and so forth, I don’t shut up shop until ten
at night. I used to take weekends off, but that’s so twentieth century! I’m
just glad you have to turn your cell phone off in church!
You just gave me a very sad chuckle of self-realization. Taking weekends off is
so twentieth century has to be one of the truest statements I’ve read in a long
time. Then I think about Downton Abbey and how they waited days, weeks, for
information. We certainly have increased in ‘productivity’ if that’s what we
can call it. Speaking of productivity and efficiency, how long does it usually
take you to write a single book in the series?
About nine months, although longer for the first one because that’s where
you’re developing the characters.
What were some of the challenges you faced when writing MindWar?
Keeping the plot going strong in two realms: in MindWar and reality, and
making the timing work in both. I had to make it plausible that there could be,
say, a car chase in one chapter, and a fight with a gigantic fantasy monster in
can only imagine how hard that would be to keep your outline straight. What do
you want readers to take away from MindWar?
You know, I believe in stories as experiences. I’m not trying to send a message
exactly, I just want readers to live through what Rick lives through: the
search for his lost hero-self, the search for who, in the end, he really is. I
hope that experience will give you something that you can use in your own life,
but I think you’ve got to figure out for yourself what exactly that is.
In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
So many ways. Before I knew God, the problem for me and for my characters was
always the problem of Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?” My
stories were always about lost and endangered people trying to determine what
reality is so they could act. Now though, the problems my characters face
are more elemental, more immediate: How do I do what’s right? How do I
keep my courage in the face of suffering? How do I keep my faith when
everything goes wrong? In my humble opinion, my stories have become a lot
stronger because their issues are more grounded.
Staying on the personal side of things. What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Oh, man, I’ve had some great, great holidays. Last year, I went to Israel for
the first time and walked along the Sea of Galilee. And once, on safari in
Africa, I was standing up through the roof port in one of those safari busses
and two separate prides of lions walked criss-cross around the bus
simultaneously: nothing but lions everywhere. It was like some kind
of wild dream. In Hawaii, I once walked over the hardened lava of an erupting
volcano, hopping over the burning parts … I could answer this question
Those are some pretty awesome experiences to have had. Do you have a
favorite pasta dish?
Now you’re getting really personal. Pumpkin ravioli.
Sounds quite tasty, and not what I might have expected. Do you listen to music
while you write? If so what are some examples?
Never. It’s the one thing that disturbs me. When I was a radio news writer, I
used to write on two-minute deadlines with three televisions blaring, teletypes
clattering and the radio playing … so I’m not easily distracted.
But I love music and it messes with my rhythms so I have to leave it
Amazing how our brains can be trained to operate in different ways based on our
tastes and likes. And lastly, but often the most fun thing to share. Do you
have a favorite Bible verse?
Andrew: Several, sure. But the one that always
leaps to mind is: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as
the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let
them be afraid.” That’s smoking stuff. It never fails to move me.
Andrew thanks for giving us a look at your latest release as well as a little
more into who you are. We’ll look forward to checking with you when the next
Klavan is a best-selling, award-winning thriller novelist whose books have been
made into major motion pictures. He broke into the YA scene with the
bestselling Homelanders series, starting with The Last Thing I Remember. He
is also a screenwriter and scripted the innovative movie-in-an-app Haunting
Melissa. Twitter: @andrewklavan Facebook: aklavan