Interview with Jeffrey Overstreet (CSFF Tour, Day 3)

“It’s too late . . . I’ve come this far, and I’m not giving up now. Beauty is leading us home.”

“You may find nothing at all. Or else a tyrant who takes away your freedom.”

“And I may find the freedom to choose what is best and go on choosing it. All the time. Free of disappointment. Like kites that fly for their master for the joy of it. Without strings.”

“It saddens me that you cannot imagine life without someone to serve.”

“It saddens me,” said Cal-Raven, “that you think joy comes any other way.”

(from The Ale Boy’s Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet)

During my recent series on The Auralia Thread over at Speculative Faith, I had the privilege of interviewing Jeffrey Overstreet. We talked about art, surprises, questions, and this final book itself. He said he’d immensely enjoyed the interview; it posted on my birthday–so that made it even more fun.

Rachel: Before we even start, let me say thank you for an extraordinary reading experience. In The Ale Boy’s Feast especially, I found myself reading a story that not only enveloped me in its world and characters, but caused me to look at my own life differently. I’ve been challenged to pay more attention to the beauty that surrounds me and think about the realities it might be pointing to—and to stay faithful to the dreams God has given me, knowing that ultimately they will lead me to Him. That might not even be exactly what you were trying to say, but I appreciate the message!

Jeffrey: Thank you so much, Rachel. I wanted to tell the best story I could, given the time and resources available to me.

I knew that my job was to pay attention to the characters, their decisions, the consequences of those decisions, and the textures of the world in which all of this took place. As for any “messages,” well… I wasn’t going to worry about that. I believe that a storyteller should focus on bringing the story to life, and messages will emerge on their own. If the storyteller stops and concerns himself with delivering messages, than the storytelling suffers and becomes heavy-handed.

So I’m delighted to hear that the story meant something to you. I learned a lot from following these characters around, and if readers learn lessons of their own, that’s an extra blessing.

Rachel: The Auralia Thread’s most obvious theme is art, and the power of art to call us beyond ourselves. But it certainly isn’t the only theme. What other themes were in your head when you began, and what themes have arisen in the writing process? Have any surprised you?

Jeffrey: It all started with the question, “Why do most people reach an age where they fold up their imaginations and put them in a closet? Why do most people decide that make-believe is just for kids?”

But later, that led to questions about what leads people to lose their curiosity about the truth, and to set up camp in a particular church denomination or a particular political party or a particular academic discipline and to toss away the lenses that might help them see the truth more fully.

I think that almost any theme I could highlight would be a theme that surprised me. I didn’t go into the story to explore themes. I went into the story because a question inspired a picture in my mind—an intriguing picture of a society that made imagination illegal. I wanted to step through that picture frame, explore that society, and get to know the broken-hearted character who was so grieved by it.

As a result, pretty much all of what transpired surprised me. I didn’t start with an agenda to fulfill or a lesson I wanted to deliver. I was curious about characters whose stories are still teaching me lessons.

Rachel: Speaking of surprises, what other aspects of the series have surprised you?

Jeffrey: Many of the relationships of the characters changed considerably over the course of the series in ways that really surprised me.

Read the rest of the interview here.

So, are you intrigued? Ready to read the series (or finish it)? I have a book to give away, and you can win it here at this blog. But you must do something, because I’m all about reciprocal giving.  In a comment, link to a review you have recently written and posted online. I will pick a commenter at random for the win. Check back here to find out if your name has been drawn!

And thanks for coming along on this tour. It’s good to be back.







3 responses to “Interview with Jeffrey Overstreet (CSFF Tour, Day 3)”

  1. Elisabeth Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing – I really enjoyed reading this interview!

  2. […] Shane Deal ? ? ? Chris Deane ? ? ? John W. Otte ? ? ? Sarah Sawyer ? ? ? Rachel Starr Thomson ? ? ? Robert […]

  3. […] ? ? ? John W. Otte ? ? ? Sarah Sawyer ? Kathleen Smith ? Donna Swanson ? ? ? Rachel Starr Thomson ? ? ? Robert Treskillard Steve Trower ? ? Fred Warren ? […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *