This is the final day of the CSFF March Blog Tour, featuring Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow by homeschool graduates Christopher and Allan Miller. These brothers live in the Seattle area. Both are married and have two young boys. Allan kindly granted me an email interview. Here it is!
Q: I saw a banner ad at homeschoolblogger.com that indicated you and your brother were homeschooled. Can you tell me about that? All the way through?
A: We were homeschooled for my 6th-11th (I graduated one year early) and Chris’ 8th-12th grades. Prior to that we attended a private school in Fairbanks, AK. The year we moved from AK to WA (my 2nd grade and Chris’ 5th grade) my mom had homeschooled us so we could be flexible during the move. We loved it! However, this was 1986-87 and homeschooling was not very “popular”. Not yet comfortable with the idea that she could successfully teach us at home, my mom enrolled us in private school the following year after we moved. However, neither us or our parents were settled with the decision.
After my brother completed his 7th grade year he asked mom if we could homeschool again… she had been feeling the same way. So, we bravely jumped back into it and we will forever be indebted to our parents for that gift. Homeschooling truly is a gift from parents for every kid who receives it. One of the greatest benefits of home-based learning is the opportunities it gives you to discover your strengths and invest time into those.
We found that our base subjects (math, english, science, etc) were able to be completed rather quickly, leaving us with time to explore interests like art, animation, or writing stories. Additionally, as our parents started seeing our passions forming, they encouraged us to incorporate them into all of our studies – leading to us writing/illustrate children’s books as our science projects – books that creatively taught the concept of physics or light/color through story. I believe this is a HUGE contributor to directing our future path towards becoming published author/illustrators.
The time homeschooling also allowed Chris and I to really grow in appreciation for each other as friends which eventually led to us attending the Art Institute of Seattle together in 95-97. The combination of our friendship and our strong foundation in faith, nurtured through homeschooling, helped us stand firm in our convictions even amidst a strongly secular college environment. So, in short, we would never wish we had our schooling any other way. It was fantastic!
Q: Who is older and by how much?
A: Chris is older by 2 1/2 years. Somehow that didn’t stop us from becoming great friends – sharing many of the same friends throughout our teens.
Q: Apparently you also worked in a Christian bookstore while homeschooling?
A:My parents and grandparents (mom’s side) ran a Christian bookstore up in Fairbanks, AK for a number of years. So, soon after entering the world both Chris and I were brought into a world of books – tucked behind the counter. Many of our earliest memories are of roaming the aisles after-hours and making little forts between the tent-shaped bookshelves where we’d peek out through holes of the peg-board backing to spy on customers (you never knew there were spies in the bookstores did you?)
After moving to WA our parents started a Christian School Book Club (think Scholastic) and after selling that began traveling as Representatives for a homeschool distributor. So, we never really could escape books. In fact, Chris and I recall thinking about how we would be glad to never have to haul another box of books after high school… oh the irony that we now haul our OWN books from and to events and schools!
Q: Did you find a lack of Christian fantasy works to read as you were growing up?
A: As a matter of fact, we did. The older we got, the thinner the selection of GREAT Christian books became. There were some wonderful books, to be sure, but not enough in our opinion. This is one of the driving factors in why we’ve chosen to write the Codebearers Series. In fact, you could say that we are writing these books for ourselves – the 10+ year-old versions of ourselves. These are the kind of stories we loved to read (and still do) These are the stories we believe we’ve been called to write and we hope our work answers that call well. There has been nothing more fulfilling than hearing from a reader or parent about how it connected with them and met that very need.
Q: Is the second book out now?
A: The second book, Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire, is written going through the editing and illustrating process right now. It is slated to be released 9/9/09. You can follow our progress through our website, Codebearers.com, and blog, http://themillerbrothers.blogspot.com
Q: How long are you planning the series to be?
A: We have a 3 book story arch for Hunter Brown that Warner Press has contracted us to complete. The 3rd book should come out summer/fall of 2010. However, we have some other storylines we’d like to explore that may extend the series into more books… possibly following another main character, but that’s all I can tell you now!
Q: Is there a videogame to go with the book? If so, is it similar to the book trailer?
A: There is an online game off of our Codebearers.com website, but it’s not animated in that sense. It plays more like a first-person mystery – where you get to solve visual puzzles and riddles to discover the message that Hunter eludes to at the end of book 1 – so it’s a continuation of the story between book 1 and 2. If you’ve ever played the popular PC games, Myst or Riven, then you’ll be familiar with this style of game. Ours is built with the widely distributed Flash plug-in, so it works on any browser (though dial-up is not recommended). We try to add a new level every month or so, but it’s tough when you are writing a book too!
My brother and I are professional website designers/programmers. That has been our “day job” for the past 11 years. So, much of what you see on Codebearers.com is a direct application of our skills. The website also offers a great community for kids to interact with each other. We also make appearances via a fun “3D Chatroom” every so often. I should also mention, the online game plays for points as does other things like writing a review of the book, recruiting a friend to Codebearers.com, etc. On December 15th we awarded a $400 gift card to Best Buy for the top points earner. It was a lot of fun and we will be starting up the next round of competition soon. (end of interview)
Be sure to check out what other bloggers are saying on this today on the CSFF Blog Tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte