Bill, thanks so much for joining us today to talk about your new series, Harbingers. Before we get started, I’d like to mention that Michelle Black contributed to this interview as well and is the one who brought this series to our attention.
Melissa: From what I understand you’re the brainchild behind Harbingers, and together with Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, you all are creating a sort of T.V. mini-series. How did all this come about?
Bill: It started out as a web-series my company, Amaris Media International, is planning to produce. But finding investors is always an arduous task, so I thought, hey, while I’m waiting, let’s have some fun with it. Then there’s that whole short form approach we’re using (80 – 100 pages). As much as I love reading, it’s getting more and more difficult to read entire novels. So why not write in a shorter format that has all the chills and thrills of a longer form but can be read in one or two settings while waiting to pick up the kids from soccer, or on a flight, or just over my cell phone? Finally, there’s the whole idea of working with friends I really respect. Frank and I have been pals for over 35 years (long before he was “Frank Peretti”). Angie and Al and I have written other projects together and/or taught at the same writing conferences for years. All three of them are gold. Terrific talent and seasoned pros submitted to God’s will and not their own egos. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Melissa: You wrote the first book, The Call and it’s told from Brenda’s perspective. She’s a fun character; someone I think I’d truly enjoy hanging out with. I love that she tries not to care, but just can’t stop herself from caring. What did you like best about writing her?
Bill: The beautiful thing about having ADD is if I can hold my attention, I usually have the reader’s. Characters are a big part of what I do. If I can create characters that are multi-faceted enough and with enough conflicting emotions, then I have someone I want to devote days writing about. Half of my time writing is spent throwing away ideas or characters I’ve seen before. To create someone so fresh that I want to hang out with them is a big joy of my work.
Melissa: I have to ask every man that writes a story from a female perspective this question. What did you think about writing a female character and what challenges did you face while creating her?
Bill: Having a wife of 40 years (it was a pre-nuptial wedding) and two, twenty-something daughters has been a big part of my life (and amusement). Then there’s the whole writer/observer in me. Folks think I’m being polite or shy in social settings. Actually, I’m just taking mental notes. Everybody’s fair game.
Melissa: Each of the five characters in this series has a special ability. I’m quite intrigued to find out what The Professor’s ability actually is. I’m not sure an atheist ex-priest counts. 🙂
Bill: Ah, but the gift of logic skepticism can come in handy when your teammates are out there on the fringes of reality.
Melissa: True, true. If you could choose, from the abilities these characters have, which would you like to have?
Bill: Tank, the big-hearted football jock, has a gift of love so strong that he unknowingly overrides evil. Sign me up for that one.
Melissa: The Institute for Advanced Psychic Studies—that could be a story in and of itself. You have some crazy scenes at this location. The preying on each person’s fears is frightening and certainly tells us a lot about each character. Of the fears each of these characters have, which one scares you the most?
Bill: That’s a great question. Don’t know if I have any of theirs. But you brought up an interesting point on how I develop characters. One of the biggest questions I ask any character I’m creating is, “What do you fear most?” That gives great scope and dimension to even my bad guys.
Melissa: Even though each novella is from a different character’s point of view, it still seems like it would be difficult reconciling each author’s style and perspective into the overarching story. What has been the hardest part in joining the four different perspectives?
Bill: Honestly, Frank, Angie, and Al are such pros and so easy to work with. We’ve all proven ourselves and know it. Between the four of us we’ve probably written over 300 books so there’s no my-way-or-the-highway in any of us. We all know and trust what the other is doing. If something’s not connecting, we e-mail or Skype until it does. As a story teller the experience is exhilarating. Yes, there are lots of differences in tone and perspectives, but that’s what makes it so creative and interesting.
Melissa: What book are you currently reading?
Bill: I’m heading to South Korea to speak at some schools and give input on an animation film we’re producing so I’m reading the Pulitzer prizewinning, The Orphan Master’s Son.
Melissa: Next up is Frank’s The Haunted, followed by Angela’s Sentinels, and Alton’s The Girl. Then it’s your turn again with The Revealing. How do you envision this series progressing and for the reader, what can they expect from future installments?
Bill: Our characters will soon be learning that they are not brought together by accident and they must work together to fight against a common foe. What can they audience expect? From what I’ve read so far it will be a thought-provoking explosion of creativity and imagination. Seriously, one of the things we keep reminding ourselves is to have fun. And so far we really are!