Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Mir Interviews The Hafer Brothers

Todd and Jedd Hafer, who clearly have a deep connection to the letter D, have written a new novel titled BAD IDEA: A Novel With Coyotes. Since "bad ideas" are always a good idea for fiction--can't get enough trouble, anyone?--I'm featuring an interview with the deltaphilic siblings about their road-trip novel with a Christian spirit.

Since we featured a youth-oriented book earlier this week (CSFF Blog tour), we move to a bit older youth audience in this book. If you have teenagers, pay attention.

I should add, this is a Mir-Style interview. I've only done one other one so far on Miration. (See last year's with M-Nog Griffith, done in Chick Lit style cause she writes in that genre). This time, I was clearly unmedicated when I concocted my questions. Or overmedicated. Or supercaffeinated. Take your pick.

Before we get to the Q&A, a bit about BAD IDEA:

1. Excerpt is up and ready for you to peruse at CBD's website. Read it now.

2. Christian fiction author of over 100 books, Melody Carlson, has this to say about it: ""Wow! What a story! Written with aching reality and irreverent humor, this gut-wrenchingly honest novel takes the reader on an unforgettable road trip to the land of Growing Up and Getting Real."

3. Christian Fiction Review gushed this: "Bad Idea is written in a very easygoing style, reminiscent of Brad Whittington or Lisa Samson. Griffin's rambling narrative is great fun to read. In between his sardonic snipes and self-deprecating rants, Griffin comes across as someone who would be fun to know... but someone who is genuinely hurting.

The Hafer brothers know what they're talking about when it comes to working with teenagers, and it shows. Griffin's struggles are realistic and painful to read about. At the same time, there's plenty of humor to lighten things up and keep it from being too depressing."

4. Key Life Lesson #1 according to BAD IDEA: "If you're going to grab an ostensibly dead coyote by the paws and attempt to drag him someplace, you sould confirm the death first."

All righty, then. With all that set-up, it's on to the interview and assorted indirect references to Gerard Butler, because, well, Mir thinks he's a superdupertastyilicious bit of haggis:

Mir: Hi, Todd and Jedd. My blog audience is mostly interested in speculative fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction (romance, chick lit), poetry, Christianity, science-fiction and fantasy movies and television programs, the craft of writing, and one particularly photogenic celebrity from Scotland.

On top of that, not since W. Dale Cramer's really fabulous BAD GROUND have I bought and read a novel that focused on the older male/younger male relationship. (Which, hey, do novels featuring young male protagonists tend to have BAD in the title?) So, brothers Hafer, what about BAD IDEA is a good idea for my blog audience and for me. Why should we hop over to or CBD to buy and then read it?

T&J: BAD IDEA is hilarious. It will make you laugh, think and possibly weep. There is nothing cliche, nothing formula about it. It's fresh and honest. Just read it.

Mir: Would there happen to be a particularly photogenic Scot on the back or inside cover? If not, what's gonna keep us mesmerized?

T&J: Afraid not, but there is a coyote on the cover. Within the book, there is a very attractive young man (the main character's best friend). There are no pictures, so you'll have to imagine. You'll be mesmerized by Griffin's (the main charcter) voice. He's incredibly witty, insightful and messed up all at the same time.

Mir: What is the central message of this novel, and why did that message connect with you strongly enough that you committed to a lot of time writing, since we know writing can be horrendously, insanely difficult work?

T&J: We just tried to write an authentic story. We didn't set out to preach. The most powerful messages seem to be about grace and forgiveness - and hidden pain. Griffin looks like a healthy, together young man. Below the surface, he's got more issues than National Geographic.

Mir: What was your writing experience as you wrote BAD IDEA--your writing schedule, inspiring snacks, favorite references, spiritual upkeep, key verses from Scripture?

T&J: We live in separate cities, so we talk on the phone almost every day. We also email snippets back and forth constantly. Interestingly, we both listen to a lot of the same music: Third Day, Danny Oertli, Sixpence, Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Rich Mullins, DC Talk - these could make up the sound track for Bad Idea as well as our other books. Krispy Kreme donuts are essential to writing. Todd has a location much closer to his house, which is why he's the more productive writer of the two. We both write late at night after our enormous families have finally passed out. While we're writing, we're also reading - The Bible (another great book you just have to check out), Max Lucado, CS Lewis and many others.

T&J: Did you, in fact, manage not to go insane during the process of revision(s)? If so, what advice can you give to writers currently walking that tightrope between sanity and madness as they shape a novel of faith?

T&J: It's tough. Rest assured, the journey to insanity for either of us would be a short commute. We were blessed top have a wonderful editor and creative team from Navpress/Th!nk for this novel. If they weren't so brave, or if they didn't get us, it would've been so painful. We feel like we write pretty clean, so, hopefully editors and the like are less tempted to butcher. That's the advice: submit stuff that's already in good shape. If you hand in a mess, it's going to get seriously reworked and some of your intended meaning will be lost, no matter how skillful the editor.

Mir: What about your protagonist(s) really stands out, since he's not an alien or a half-elf assasin or even a brooding superhero with a Scottish brogue and roguish good looks?

T&J: We're regretting not making him Scottish - although we never specify that he ISN'T. As we said earlier, his voice is uniquely witty, tortured, self-deprecating and brutally honest (even about his own lack of honesty). Some have compared him to Holden Caulfield, but he's smarter, funnier and not quite as depraved and self-absorbed. He's real.

Mir: (Note: I detest Holden Caulfield and will never reread CATCHER IN THE RYE unless someone holds a very sharp ax to my neck.) When I saw the subtitle of BAD IDEA--"a novel with coyotes--I was wondering if you meant coyotes that howl and have fur or coyotes that smuggle aliens into the country, or even if you, by chance, meant both. So, which kind of coyote, and is this a really clever sort of metaphor we should be paying special attention to?

T&J: The coyote is both real and metaphoric. Griffin encounters an all-too-real coyote and that sets the stage for much of the story. Griffin feels that the coyote is his "brother" - that they are kindred spirits. You'll have to read to find out why.

Mir: If I gave BAD IDEA as a gift to some teenaged person of my acquaintance, what graphic novel or comic book would go nicely with it as a packaged gift deal?

T&J: Tough question. If the teenager is a girl, you could select one of Melody Carlson's True Colors series (depending on the issues the young lady may face - each color in the series speaks about a certain issue). For the boy, we'd recommend Donald Miller's To Own a Dragon (not a novel, but great nonetheless). Griffin is a fan of Robin from Batman, so we'd go with an old Batman & Robin comic book.

Mir: If Jesus was scheduled to read an excerpt from BAD IDEA at a writer's conference--something prestigious, of course, such as the Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing--what chapter do you think he'd read from, so we know when to pay really close attention. Can you give us a brief excerpt--a couple paragraphs, say--of the passage Jesus would read out loud?

T&J: Wow. Hopefully He could find something better to read than our nonsense. Jesus probably wouldn't need to resort to quoting anything other than scripture, but... and this is just a guess {quote to come, I don't have the book w/ me right now}.

(Mir Note: Never got a quote, so if you read the novel, why don't you drop me a comment with what passage YOU think Jesus would read at the Festival of Faith.)

Mir: Is this a novel which may result in a sequel? Will the sequel have any aliens, superheroes, hunky Scottish actors, or were-coyotes rampaging through a national park? If no sequel is planned, what will be your next fictional project?

T&J: Yes, there is a sequel. It will be called FROM BAD TO WORSE: A Novel With Girls. The super hero Robin may make a return (he's not really very 'super' though). We're finishing it now and are very excited for Griffin's return.

Mir: If you had to describe BAD IDEA in 10 words or fewer during the last five seconds of the David Letterman show, because David ran late, and you were the final guests, how would you plug it so that the audience would murmur, "Ooooooooooh, I want that book"?

T&J: "A hilarious journey to grace and understanding (with coyotes) - nice tie, Dave"
ps: Everybody in the audience who buys Bad Idea gets a free canned ham!

Mir: If you were interviewing yourself, what question would you pose that you've always wanted to be asked, and what answer would you or your doppelganger give?

T&J: Can we say "doppelganger" on the internet? I'd ask how we can be so brilliant and so ingratiatingly humble at the same time? Then, the other one of me would answer, "I just don't know. It boggles the mind, doesn't it?"

Mir: Thanks for answering my whack questions, gentlemen. Feel free to add any other interesting tidbits about BAD IDEA or your own experiences writing this novel that you'd like to have prospective readers know.

T&J: We appreciate the opportunity. We love to hear from readers via our website: Thanks and keep reading!

If you'd like to feature or interview the Hafer brothers on your site and have saner questions than mine (which, let's face it, would hardly rank as a major journalistic feat), contact Rebeca Seitz at Glass Road PR. Rebeca's a doll, and the Hafer's are very patient. Notice how they didn't tell me to buzz off, crazy lady.

Add'l Info:

Todd is editorial director for the inspirational book division at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jedd is director at The Children's Ark in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a home for troubled teens, and travels the country as a standup comedian.

1 comment:

Janey Demeo said...

Awesome blog. Very inspiring, useful & connective. THANKS. I'll stop by again.
Janey --