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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spotlight on Jedd & Todd Hafer

This week, we're going to have a special bonus of not one, but TWO spotlight features and author interviews. Thanks to the folks at GlassRoad PR, I can provide the extra book giveaway and bring this interview to you.

Jedd Hafer's work with severely troubled teens at Children's ARK for the past twelve years gave him the material and voice needed to write a book hurting teens won't put down. The average kid at Children's ARK has been kicked out of five places for bad behavior. He has broken up gang fights, saved kids from dying of overdoses and prayed all night with kids who were suicidal. He understands the driving forces and the pain behind young people's behavior so well that he is in high demand as a trainer and presenter on crisis intervention and de-escalating angry, aggresive youth.

Todd Hafer is a veteran writer with over 30 books to his credit. He recently worked on Battlefield of the Mind for Teens with Joyce Meyer which is currently on the best-seller list. Todd is an editorial director at Hallmark and has overseen many of Hallmark's most successful projects.

And now, let's hear from them. Don't forget to post a comment for your chance at an FREE copy of BAD IDEA.

1. You've tackled a difficult topic, but a message that, like rape, is needed for today. What led you to write about this subject matter? Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

Jedd: To me, it's kind of a 2-part answer. I work with (and Todd has counseled with -even when he was a teen) some pretty self-destructive kids.

We both have personal stories that have touched us in these areas that would fall under 'inspiration'. However, we never set out to write a story "about self-harming" or "about divorce" or "about hidden drug abuse". We just set out to write a good story that was real. Griffin is a complicated guy who happens to have quite a few problems despite looking pretty good on the surface. That seems to strike a chord with most everyone.

Todd: In addition to what Jedd has said, my journals from my teen and early 20-something years also informed the book. Sometimes, time and distance give you the perspective you need to write about something. It was intriguing to go back and read chronicles from those challenging years, but then be able to write about old wounds, rather than fresh ones. And, I was able to add what I have learned about life since then.

2. What themes exist in Bad Idea that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Jedd: Again, the messages were probably less overt than people might guess. To me, the principle mesage for adults is PAY ATTENTION! Don't assume everything is okay. Get engaged with the young person. Dig. Check it out. Pay attention! The message to young people may be the same, but with more of a "be real" slant. Griffin plays lots of mind games and he doesn't see the harm until pretty late - especially the harm he causes others when he hurts himself.

Todd: Something that kept striking me as we wrote this book was that it's not just where you are going in life -- it's who you have beside you on the way.

I hope, too, that readers get the sense that no one is as together as he or she might seem. We're all fragile, flawed creatures who need mercy and grace.

3. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

Jedd: My favorite was the smart-Alecky comments Griffin makes. They came pretty naturally. The tough parts were the scenes in which people deal with tragedy. That's tough to portray and it's different for everybody.

Todd: Two difficult scenes come to mind. The first is when Griffin truly encounters death for the first time. Working on that scene took me back to the death of my best friend a few years ago. To take readers to that place, I had to go there again myself, and that really never gets any easier. The second scene is when Griffin learns that Amanda Mac, his longtime secret love, has found a boyfriend at college. Again, if you've been there, you know the pain. The challenge in our book, though, was to convey the sense of pain and betrayal without slipping into MTV's Real World manufactured drama. ("MTV's Real World," by the way, is one of our favorite oxymorons, right up there with "Republican Party" and "head-butt.")

As for favorites, I like Griffin's imaginary conversations, with everyone from Robin the Boy Wonder, to distance-running legend Jim Ryun, to God.

It's always a kick to unleash your imagination and let it run buck-wild for a while. As we work on the follow-up to "Bad Idea," we're having a lot of fun with Kansas Miyagi, who counsels Griffin-san during his continued adventures.

4. How did the two of you become writing partners? Who contributed what to the book?

Jedd: Todd was already a successful writer when he offered his little brother a chance to work on a church humor book (Snickers from the Front Pew) with him. We have similar senses of humor and both really have a heart for young people. Todd wrote all the nouns and I wrote all the verbs.:) Actually, Todd provided the great overall idea, the plot, the structure, the characters and the layered intracacies. I put my name on the cover. Seriously, I contributed many the immature, snide comments from Griffin and Todd did the rest.

Todd: Jedd and I have always been close, and I have long admired his creativity and sense of humor. Another key element Jedd brings to the creative process is a truly good heart -- which is reflected in the modesty of his answer above. In a lot of ways, he is a moral compass for our books.

I dread to think how darkly cynical the books would be without him. And who needs darkly cynical books? For that matter, who needs rhetorical questions, such as "Who needs darkly cynical books?"?

Anyway, when I started writing books, I kept telling myself, "You've gotta come up with some ideas that will give you and Jedd a chance to write together." Fortunately for me, we've been writing together for about eight years now.

5. When is/are your next book(s) coming out and what is/are the story(ies)?

Jedd: After 'Bad Idea' will be a sequel called 'From Bad to Worse' a novel with Girls. We also worked on a teen devotional called The Road Ahead - a collaboration with Hayley DiMarco.

Todd: Uh, yeah. Pretty much what Jedd just wrote. Although, I also have an eight-book sports fiction series called "The Spirit of the Game," which has been out for a little while now. Toby Mac wrote the foreword for it, which might be the best part of the whole series. The publisher, Zondervan, is going to repackage and re-release this series in a year or so. I am going to go back and do some rewriting on these books -- developing the lead female character, Robyn Hart, a little more. I am grateful for this opportunity, as I wanted Robyn to be more prominent in the first place. But the series was originally marketed as an "Especially for Guys" thing, so some of Robyn's best stuff is still lurking on my hard drive and in various notebooks. But soon all will be revealed.

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Thanks, guys, for joining me on my blog. And thanks to everyone for reading.


Anonymous said...

WOW! Sounds like a great book! I enjoyed the interview! Blessings to you Jedd as you work with young teens and to you both as you continue to challenge and enlighten readers with your stories.

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

Book sound very good. Great interview on Jedd and Todd Hafer.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Well, this week's winner is quite easy. Since the one didn't sign a name or email, the FREE book goes to you, Shauna. :) Congratulations.

Email me with your information so I can forward it to Jedd and Todd for your free book. Thanks!