Introducing N. D. Wilson
Writers are interesting people. Now that readers have more access to them, as Lyn Perry pointed out in his guest post last Friday, we aren’t satisfied with enjoying a good book; we also want to know about this fascinating person behind it.
From time to time, then, I hope to introduce various speculative authors to the visitors here at Spec Faith, starting with Nathan David Wilson. Publishing as N. D. Wilson, Nate writes middle grade fantasy for the general market, including the well-loved Cupboards Trilogy. His most recent release is the much acclaimed The Dragon’s Tooth, first in the Ashtown Burials series, which received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal. The paperback edition is due out next month.
Nate was a middle child and only boy, born to “Jesus People hippies” who over time became Presbyterians. Through “accidental” circumstances, his father took on the role of pastor, one he maintained, and eventually was instrumental in starting a school with an emphasis on classical education. Literally Nate grew up listening to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien while sitting in his highchair.
No surprise, then, that he writes fantasy undergirded by Scottish legends and G. K. Chestertonian humor.
Are his stories “Christian fiction”? I suspect he would be quick to say, No.
My religious beliefs are part of who I am, so they influence everything I do. But I wasn’t setting out to write a religious story. I wanted to write a good one. Of course, what I think is good is informed by my beliefs. (from “My Interview with N. D. Wilson” by Robin D. Fish)
Nevertheless, he has strong opinions about what he hopes for his stories.
Christians believe that this world is so much more than a mechanical soulless machine. And yet, we tend to tell our children stories that (we hope) will only speak to their intellects. We want to give them a list of facts to tick off… We feed their souls sawdust and are surprised when they drift away to other cooks (with different tales about reality).
Kids (and adults) don’t just need the truth in their heads — they need it in their bones. (from “Stories are Soul Food: Don’t Let Your Children Hunger,” N. D. Wilson)
Although his novels are children’s books, Nate recognizes that a good portion of his audience is adult, and he’s comfortable with that. His hope regarding children is that his books will be a part of their process of discovering the wonder of this world, something adults may need as well:
I write kids’ books because I can tell the Truth, and the Truth is that The Real is throbbingly fantastic… I want to paint a picture of this world that is accurate (if impressionistic), and I don’t want a single young reader to grow up and look back on me as the peddler of sweet youthful falsehoods. I want them to get a world vision that can grow and mature and age with them until, like all exoskeletons, it must be cast aside—not as false, but as a shallow introduction to things even deeper and stranger and more wonderful. (from “Children’s Books, Truth, and Adultish Readers,” N. D. Wilson)
Besides fiction, Nate has written various pieces of non-fiction, including a controversy-stirring article “Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core” for The Gospel Coalition six weeks ago.
In 2005 he received national attention for announcing in a Books & Culture magazine article that he had made a near-duplicate of the Shroud of Turin. His “experiment” which called into question the authenticity of the relic “caused some uproar in the Shroud of Turin world.” (See Wikipedia)
When he’s not writing, and I suspect, even while he is, Nate plays the roles of husband and dad. He’s married to Heather, “a surfer girl from Santa Cruz, California,” and they have five children who benefit from private sessions of his story telling.
In 1999 he graduated from New Saint Andrews College, then two years later attained a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts from Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he served as a lecturer before becoming a Fellow in 2004. Later he joined the faculty of New Saint Andrews College as the Fellow of Literature and Professional in Residence.
Besides his novels and non-fiction articles, Nate has a book of apologetics (Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, Thomas Nelson), several spoofs, and as reported by Justin Taylor has been “tapped as the screenwriter for the film adaption of C. S. Lewis’s classic The Great Divorce.”
In his interview with Taylor last year, Nate addressed the issue of representing Lewis’s story faithfully:
Any nervous fans out there should know that I’m as dog-loyal to Lewis and his vision as any writer could be. Where I’m adding and expanding and shaping, I am constantly trying to check myself against Lewis’ broader imagination as represented in his collected works—not simply this little volume. (from “An Interview with N.D. Wilson on Screenwriting The Great Divorce,” Justin Taylor)
As if that wasn’t enough, his own novel 100 Cupboards is currently in its own development for movie production.
You can learn more about Nate by visiting his web site and blog, by finding him at Facebook or following him on Twitter.
If you have friends or family who might be interested in learning about N. D. Wilson and his work, please share this article on your favorite social media venue. 😉
I’ve read the first Hundred Cupboards novel, but I don’t exactly remember what I thought of it. I didn’t know he was directing Great Divorce, though. This does make me slightly more confident in the adaptation, although my opinion is that the book should not be adapted at all–how would one portray Ghosts versus Spirits?–but that’s neither here nor there.
Galadriel, I don’t know how far along they are in the production of The Great Divorce. Wilson was the screenwriter. I don’t know if they’ve gotten to the point of hiring a director yet.
Hopefully, if they have a script that is faithful to the book, all the other parts will follow along. With the technology available to film makers, I think they can do a credible job of representing Lewis’s story. Twenty years ago I certainly wouldn’t have thought so.
Oh good! I’m so glad he’s a Christian. I devoured the Dragon’s Tooth and was so disappointed there were no other books yet. I thought I caught smidgens of stealth-Christianity in the story. It’s just a fun ride end to end. Thanks for putting together this article on him!
Now I need to read the other books …
A good friend of mine has raved about The Dragon’s Tooth. After that I started seeing N. D. Wilson’s name all over, including that flap about his opinions about The Hunger Games. I recently entered a drawing for a copy of The Dragon’s Tooth, but there were a lot of other people who entered too. I guess we’re all starting to hear about him. I mean, starred reviews from all those notable publications! That’s ridiculous!
I’ve read two of his 100 Cupboard books. I thought they were very good. But I have a thing about spiders and in the second book there was a thing about spider web something or other on the kid’s face and it gave me nightmares. =P So I just couldn’t go on. =P
But other than that – very good! I will be reading some of his other books.
Jenni, bug things creep me out, too. Tolkien used too many spiders as far as I’m concerned. And J. K. Rowling used them, too. Yuck. I’m not a fan of those scenes. Very creepy.
In one of the articles I read, Nate said something about showing darkness in his books which I thought was very cool. He said in the physical world, shadows are definitely part of what we see, but there’s a lot more sunshine.
I like that. I can take some darkness if I’m seeing more sunshine. 😉
The funny thing is that Shelob doesn’t bother me a bit… XD I’m all in favor of going after giant spiders with bright stabby swords. XD
Love this post. I am a huge ND Wilson fan. He’s a wonderful writer.
His first children’s novel, “Leepike Ridge” was one that I never heard about until year after it was out and it’s a gem. I mention it here because I didn’t see it mentioned in your great introduction to him. But I’ve liked all of his children’s books so far. I keep meaning to pick up Tilt-A-Whirl and I keep forgetting.
I love The Great Divorce and am thrilled to find it’s going to be a movie and Wilson will do the screen play.
I’m glad you mentioned that title, Sally. He’s much more prolific and has a wide range of things he writes. I was impressed–he might be the closest we have today to a C. S. Lewis, what with all his non-fiction.
I want to be a fan. Hope I can get a hold of his books soon. Otherwise, I think I’ll be missing out! 😮