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Permalink Posted by L.B. Graham Email @10:59:27 pm (14130 views)
Category: News, All Things Literary

It’s time for my Midweek Recommendation, in which I commend to your attention books or music or movies or anything I find worth recommending.

It’s a real pleasure for my midweek recommendation this week to commend to you a book by a former student and current friend of mine, Joe Bubenik. And, not only am I going to commend to you his Christmas book, “Believer,” but I’m going to interview him here so you can learn a bit about him and the book.

Joe came to Westminster Christian Academy where I teach as a transfer, midway through high school, and fortunately for me, he ended up in my class. The following year, I didn’t teach him, but as I helped supervise our chapel program, I was able to work with him some as he was a part of our chapel band. I have to say, we’ve had some really talented kids serve our school in that way over the years, but having Joe play guitar and sing up front was always a pleasure.

Anyway, on to the interview!

Q – Joe, for those who only know me as an author, what can you tell them about what it was like to suffer through a class I taught?

A – I wouldn't say that I suffered through your class. I had just transferred from a school where I had had some bad experiences with teachers, so sitting under your tutelage was never difficult. I'm assuming I was a perfect student and was a joy in every single class period.

But to be more specific, I believe I had you for Biblical Ethics. I imagine that is a subject that could really be boring, but I don't remember your class ever being dull.

Tangentially related: I was in your class when the plane hit the first tower on 9/11.

Q. – Wow, I definitely remember that day, for sure, but I’d forgotten you were in my room when it happened. That was quite a day – part of our enduring bond, perhaps? (And yes, Joe, you were always a joy!) At any rate, having just celebrated your 10th reunion, what else do you remember about life back then?

A. – Its odd to think back on those days. In some ways, a lot of things are the same: I was dating my wife then, I live in the same house as I bought it from my parents. Inversely, I'm married and have three children now. I also own 2 minivans.

I remember having different ambitions for my life, too. I was in a band and had hopes that that would lead to touring. I had also thought of pursuing a degree in youth ministry. Now, I can't imagine doing either of those things. Deciding I'd like to write has been a recent discovery.

Q – So, why did you decide to write a book? And what led you to the realization you wanted to try?

A – I have wanted to write this particular book for 6 or 7 years, but I didn't really pursue it until last year. I'm not sure what pushed me over the edge into actually creating my own story.

I have always enjoyed writing, particularly creative writing, but once I was finished with school, there was very little opportunity for it. I am surprised I started now, though. I have a full time job and children, which makes free time hard to come by, but once I started thinking about my story, it was hard to stop writing it.

Q – I’ve also felt the compulsive aspects of writing, but with several kids of your own, when and how did you find the time to write?

A – It is definitely difficult to find time to write. My three kids are 3 and a half, 21 months, and 5 months, so they need a lot of attention. But I find myself writing a sentence here, a paragraph there. I'll write on my lunch break or early Saturday morning before my wife and kids are up. At this point, I don't know how else I'd get it done if I didn't take the small opportunities I have. Hopefully I'll be able to solely focus on writing one day.

I think the level of technology we now have also allows me to write. I rarely find time to sit down at my computer for any significant amount of time, but I can write bits here and there on my phone. Writing in minuscule bits is less than preferable, but it IS better than not writing. And if you put all of those little bits together, over time you can have an entire book.

Q – I don’t write on my phone, but I feel much the same way. All books are written one word at a time. Changing gears a bit, there are a lot of Christmas stories in the world, what drew you to add your own?

A – I am a huge Christmas nut, so I can definitely attest to the fact of there being many Christmas stories out there. I also know that a lot of them are not very good. I had a story in mind and I wanted it out there. I suppose I'm biased, but I think I've created a story that is really different than other recent Christmas books. There is a large fantasy element to my story. I also really worked to draw lots of previously known holiday characters and items into the book.

Q – Well, tell us a bit about "Believer" and who you think the book would be good fit for?

A – "Believer” is the story of an orphan boy, Francis, who meets a person of legend and is transported to the North Pole. There he learns of danger facing the Christmas season and how he may be able to help. There's action, laughter, danger, and plenty of fun! It's written in 24 chapters so you can, if you'd like, read a chapter a day in December leading up to Christmas.

I really wanted the book to have an audience with a wide age range. I would say this is written in a young adult reading level, similar to the Harry Potter series. I'm envisioning entire families reading this together.

Q – As a story for children, there a lot of really beautiful illustrations - how did you find your illustrator?

A – This was easy because Jeremy Plemon is a personal friend of mine. We met at church 5 years ago and after I wrote this book, I convinced him that he should do the illustrations. I'm really proud if the way the book turned out, and that had a lot to do with his illustrations. He is a fabulous artist. He worked a long time developing the particular style he wanted to use for this book, and I think it matches the feel of the story perfectly.

Q – The cover says this is book one of the "Yuletide Tales," are there others planned?

A – It wasn't until I was nearly finished with this book that I decided that I didn't want the story to end here. I had purposely made the book shorter so that it wouldn't be overwhelming to read in a month. But in doing so, I limited how much I could tell.

Currently, I have at least 4 more books planned for the series. I'm about halfway through writing book two, which is tentatively called "Wonderworker."

Q – You are a man who loves his beard - do you think you might be related to Santa Claus yourself?

A – I'm not particular sure of my lineage past the early 1900s, but it seems I come from Czechoslovakian heritage. In all my studies, I've not found anything about old St. Nick being from that particular region.

But I wouldn't doubt it...

Well, there we have it, folks. The book again is “Believer” by Joe Bubenik. You can check it out at his blog, www.yuletidetales.com, where you will also find a link to buy the book on Amazon. Check it out!

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: Steffan Hansen [Visitor] Email
I'm just wondering y you haven't been posting anything?
PermalinkPermalink 01/30/14 @ 17:06
Comment from: L.B. Graham [Member] Email · http://www.lbgraham.com
Basic busyness. Up until the end of December, it was finishing "the Colder Moon," since then it has been many things, but mainly my day job (teaching).
PermalinkPermalink 01/30/14 @ 18:44

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