I am so honored & delighted to have Andrew Peterson on the blog today to chat about his middle-grade fantasy series, The Wingfeather Saga! I’ve been a huge fan of Andrew Peterson’s music for 20 years, and if you – my fellow story lovers – haven’t already listened to his song “To All The Poets I Have Known”, you really must do that today. In fact, here’s the video just to make it easy on you 😉
But we aren’t here to talk about my adoration of this song even though, I mean, it’s worth gushing about in a whole post. We’re here to talk about The Wingfeather Saga so let’s get back on track!
Andrew Peterson is critically acclaimed in the music industry, and his lyrics and songwriting are compared by reviewers to James Taylor, Marc Cohn, and the late Rich Mullins. He’s married to Jamie; they have two sons, Aedan and Asher, and one daughter, Skye.
We are focusing today on books 3 & 4, newly released in those gorgeous hardcovers, but you can find info about all of the books in The Wingfeather Saga (and lots of other cool stuff) HERE
Praise for The Wingfeather Saga
“I love all the adventure and the wild inventiveness and, most of all, the heart in Andrew’s books. He is a poet and a master storyteller. I want to read anything he writes.”—Sally Lloyd-Jones, New York Times best-selling author of children’s books
“An experience your family will never forget. I can’t recommend these books highly enough!”—Sarah Mackenzie, author of The Read-Aloud Family and founder and host of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast
“The Wingfeather Saga is witty, imaginative, and full of heart. Highly recommended for middle-grade readers who’ve run out of Narnia novels and are searching for their next great series.”—Anne Bogel, creator of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and host of the What Should I Read Next? podcast
“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom—and features excellent instructions on how to cope with thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional toothy cow.”—Allan Heinberg, writer and coexecutive producer of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and cocreator of Marvel Comics’ Young Avengers
“Immensely clever!”—Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales
THE MONSTER IN THE HOLLOWS
SERIES: The Wingfeather Saga #3
GENRE: Middle-Grade Fantasy / Christian
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2020 (hardcover)
Now in hardcover for the first time, featuring all-new illustrations! Things are about to go from bad to wolf in the howlingly entertaining third book of the Wingfeather Saga.
Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, the Lost Jewels of Anniera, are hiding from Gnag the Nameless in the Green Hollows, one of the few places in the land of Aerwiar not overrun by the Fangs of Dang. But there’s a big problem. Janner’s little brother–heir to the throne of Anniera–has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows, he looks like a monster.
But Janner knows better. His brother isn’t as scary as he looks. He’s perfectly harmless. Isn’t he?
Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, The Monster in the Hollows is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.
THE WARDEN AND THE WOLF KING
SERIES: The Wingfeather Saga #4
GENRE: Middle-Grade Fantasy / Christian
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2020 (hardcover)
Now in hardcover for the first time, featuring all-new illustrations! Our intrepid heroes are caught in the middle of an epic showdown between good and evil in the fourth and final novel of the Wingfeather Saga.
All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk. But when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated.
Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.
Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, The Warden and the Wolf King is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.
Hi Andrew! Welcome to the blog!
Q: Tell us how you were first inspired to begin writing The Wingfeather Saga. Were your children your first “test” readers of these imaginative stories? Were the Igiby children—the main protagonists in The Wingfeather Saga—inspired by your own kids?
Andrew: I can’t even remember how many times I started and abandoned the epic fantasy I always wanted to write. Writing is hard, and when you’re a kid, it doesn’t take much to knock you off the wagon. I even got about 100 pages into a Batman novel in high school (this was in the early nineties, before such a thing was heard of), but when it blew off the back of my moped on the way home from school, I abandoned that, too. Music came along and I found a career touring and songwriting—but in the back of my head I hoped that the day would come when I stopped talking about writing the book and started actually writing it.
The thing that did it was having children. I couldn’t wait to share the books I loved when I was little, and as soon as my boys were old enough, I read them the Narnia books. The hours I spent reliving that story, remembering what it was like to be a kid again, the wonder I felt, and the good practice of seeing the story through their eyes, all gave me the push I needed to get busy. I had to know what it was like to craft a big, dangerous, beautiful story. We had two boys and a girl, and I loosely modeled the Igiby children on them, though at the beginning my kids were a few years younger than the kids in the story. The crazy thing was, all three of our kids grew into many of the best traits of their counterparts. Every time I had a new chunk of the story written, I would read it to them, and once again, seeing the story through their eyes was a tremendous help.
Carrie: I love that reading Narnia to your kids was what helped that last piece of inspiration fall into place. I think Lewis would absolutely love that as well 🙂
Q: How have you combined your passions of storytelling and songwriting in the Wingfeather Saga?
Andrew: My songs have always been story-driven. There’s usually a narrative arc to my concerts. Writing novels is vastly different from writing songs, but a love of story is at the heart of both. Having experienced the power of music to heal, to push back at whatever darkness is in us and around us, I wanted to make that tangible in The Wingfeather Saga. Music, in the Wingfeather world, is a kind of magic (which I happen to think is true in our world, too). Of course, I couldn’t resist peppering the books with the occasional lyric—one of which I put to music.
Carrie: My husband and i were having a discussion yesterday about the link between music and story. Both are the languages my soul speak – and that’s possible because they are so intricately entwined with one another.
Q: In The Wingfeather Saga, you create a world of wonder and have a number of quirky characters that inhabit it. How long did it take you to develop this world?
Andrew: From the time I sat down with my old high school sketchbook and drew the first map, to the time I spotted the first Wingfeather book at Barnes and Noble, was about five years. Taking Tolkien’s advice, I started with a map. Until the world was built, I kept running into walls, so I scrapped everything and started with rivers and continents and creepy cows in the woods. Not long after that I added cities and castles and villages—and then the Igiby children appeared, like sprouts in a garden.
Carrie: what a cool process!
Q: What is the importance of fostering your artistic imagination as a Christian?
Andrew: In an amazing essay by J. R. R. Tolkien called “On Fairy Stories,” he argues that one of the ways humans bear God’s image is our creativity. That can mean a lot of things, but one of the most human things we can do is to make up stories. “We make in the manner in which we’re made,” is the way he put it in a poem he wrote for C. S. Lewis. There’s a long history of Christians who put their imaginations to work building worlds, writing poems, painting pictures, and writing music. I think Christianity is the best garden in which an imagination can grow. Stories, in particular, are one of the best ways to understand the truth—the truth of the world we live in, the truth of our own hearts, and the truth of who God is. A redeemed imagination is one of the best ways of knowing, and showing, what the world is really like.
Carrie: Yes!!! All of this. Beautifully said.
Q: Who are the writers that have inspired you the most?
Andrew: Well, just because they’re obvious answers doesn’t meant it’s not true: Lewis and Tolkien are the undisputed GOATs. But I also love Chesterton, MacDonald, Wangerin, Wendell Berry, and fellow writers in my own community like my brother A. S. Peterson, Jennifer Trafton, N. D. Wilson, Sally Lloyd-Jones, and Jonathan Rogers.
Carrie: Several of my own faves in that list!
*note for anyone who might be wondering… GOAT stands for greatest of all time 😉
Q: What advice would you offer to young aspiring writers?
Andrew: Read constantly, write constantly. Find a good community. Pray for help, because writing is difficult work, and you can’t do it alone. Also, think of writing as a way of loving people. Self-expression is a dead end.
Carrie: Amen & amen.
Join Andrew Peterson for read-alouds of books 3 & 4 in
The Wingfeather Saga!
WaterBrook & Random House are offering hardcovers of The Monster in the Hollows and The Warden and the Wolf King to THREE of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson?