Derek Elkins has been with Athanatos since 2012, after he won the Novel Contest.
Q1: Why do you write?
I write for several reasons. One, I’m a reader and I love to find out how a certain story’s gonna end. There are plenty of stories where I have no clue. It’s exciting to see how things play out. Also, a characteristic I inherited from my God: I like to create things. Yes, I have a pride and worth issue. Writing, even if sales aren’t the best right now, definitely fills my self-worth bucket. Finally, I write because God tells me to write sometimes. He has a message that he wants me to share through a particular story and it becomes imperative that the message be told.
Q2: How would you describe your writing “method”?
I write best like I was writing a term paper. I like to gather all the pertinent facts, organize them, then kinda lay them all out. When I write, I like to note down certain scenes, character descriptions or ideas I have about the story. Then I kinda order the ideas without numbering them and off I go. I’d have to say, though, that each story has a different genesis. I may just have a basic idea for a story and start writing, hoping that the ideas will come, or I’ll spend a good amount of time researching first before I set anything down on paper. It just depends on the story.
Q3. How would you respond to the classic question, “Is there Christian art or artists who are Christians?”
I think the question should be phrased a bit differently. I would say that there is art that is honoring to God and there is art that is honoring to something else: either the artist themselves or some other god.
Q4. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Carve out time and write even when you don’t want to write. You know what traps me the most is video games and movies. Okay, or anything. Some days writing is like going to my job. Yeah, I’d rather be a home, but if I don’t work, the bills don’t get paid. Same thing for writing. If I immerse myself in entertainment, or wait for my “muse” to arrive, the writing will just not get done. So, the question remains, do I want to be a writer or do I want to be a regular guy that wishes he was a writer? The old axiom is true: writer’s write, poser’s pose. Don’t be a poser. Oh, and stick with it in the face of overwhelming odds and let’s go do some good.
Q5. Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?
I’d have to say, of all my creations, my children have brought me the most joy. As for writing, I still love my first book I ever wrote. I took the idea of writing a story for my kids and wrote something I know would make them laugh. It was called, “The Trouble with Bricks”. I tried to write a chapter every week or twice a week or whatever and I would read the chapters as I wrote them to my kids at night. I still like reading the book now cause it makes me laugh and I enjoy a book that makes me laugh.
Q6. Which creation has brought me the most heartache?
There are so many. I wrote about seven full length screenplays which went absolutely nowhere. I regret them because I know that a few are really good but without an “in” they will never be considered unless I decide to make them. My first published book, “Life Unworthy of Life” was a bit of a disappointment in that I had such huge hopes for it. I thought, “Crud, it made first place in a contest. It’s going to have huge sales and this is it: my ticket away from the 9-5 and into my career as a full-time writer.” Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not giving up hope. I remember that it’s all in God’s timing and not mine. So, it’s not necessarily the book that I was disappointed in, but the expectations that I saddled the book with. I’ve learned since then just to write for the sake of the story and when or if God allows me to become a full-time writer, which I am now anyway, then the work really begins. I don’t know if I can imagine being forced to write to put food on the table.
Q7 and beyond. Is there anything I’d like to say?
Write what you’d like to read…unless, of course, God tells you to write something, then, by all means, write that. I like to think of some of my writing as a ministry. Of course, there’s some of my writing that’s just entertainment. But I’ve always been fond of entertainment too, so that’s not bad. I like to think that if I get stranded on a deserted island that I’d be able to keep myself occupied by writing and then reading and re-reading the stories I’d write. So, what I’m trying to say is write for yourself and if you happen to make it big, then go with that.