Like many fantasy writers, Jonathan Friesen finds inspiration for the adventures he writes about magical fantasy worlds today in the “magical” real world of his youth.

This is especially evident in his most recent book, Aldo’s Fantastical Movie Palace (Zonderkidz). “My parents used to take me to the theater—a real theater. Not a 20-screen pastel multiplex, but an enormous palace, accented by red velvet and owning a screen that reached to the sky,” Friesen remembers. “There aren’t many of those atmospheric palaces left today. I stepped inside that place and it felt like I’d entered another world.”

It’s that atmosphere that he wanted to capture when he wrote Aldo’s Fantastical Movie Palace, about two kids with deep emotional wounds who find another world in the theater from the title. “It’s there that Chloe and Nick collaborate on a screenplay and ‘write’ the very fantasy world they enter.”

Other elements from his childhood also inspired him. “I was a hider as a child, a kid who desperately wanted to forget the struggles in my life,” he says.

In the book, the kids get a chance to do just that. “When, in the story, Chloe and Nick are offered the chance to forget the bad, the painful, it’s a real temptation,” he explains. “But the price to forget is high, and you never can shed only the bad. I hope the book helps readers discover the value of their flaws.”

Though their adventures, Chloe and Nick also learn an important lesson about forgiveness, “which is always a tough choice.”

Making tough choices is not just a theme in the book, but in life. “We are not the Creators of our world,” Friesen says. “But in a sense, the choices we make help shape our adventure inside it.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!

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About The Author

Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.