The world of children’s book is one I adore and yet know so little about from a professional perspective . . . so today, I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with Charles Areson, who has independently-published children’s books.  I think you’re going to like him as much as I do. Also, his books, Impossible to Forgive and The Bee in the Blackberry Bush are free for Kindle.  🙂

1.Tell us about your book.

Still Learning: An Interview with C.S. AresonImpossible to Forgive reveals how I struggled deeply with the subject of forgiveness while facing serious family problems, particularly in coping with the alleged murder of his grandmother by a serial killer. Along with the truth of Scripture on the topic, I share my personal story of what God did for me and what God can do for you.  (You can watch the trailer here.)

Impossible to Forgive came about after I lead a series of meetings on forgiveness in July of 2015. The first night, I shared about my struggles with letting go of the hate and anger I felt toward the man who murdered my grandmother. After finishing the meetings, I was convinced it was time to share my experience with others who might be struggling as I was.

2. What stories, themes, motivations do you find yourself drawn to in your work and in the works you read?

Considering my children’s book’s theme is “there is no greater love than this to lay down one’s life for a friend” and my second is about dealing with murder, you might think I am focused on death, but you would be wrong. My stories, both fiction and nonfiction, are inspired by themes and lessons people need to live a happier and fulfilled life.

When I look at what I like to read and what I write, the theme of inspiration to have a better life is in all of it. I have to admit I have a real weakness for science fiction and fantasy, but if I am not feeling inspired, I probably won’t finish the book, be it fiction or nonfiction. Some of you may understand where I am coming from when I say I had a real problem being inspired by some of the books I had to finish in college and in my graduate program. (Can you say, “Yuk.?”)

3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing, I am doing my day (and night) job as pastor. I try to spend free time with my family playing games. To relax, I enjoy cooking and, unfortunately for my health, eating.

4. What made you believe you could write a book? How did you dispel doubt as you wrote?

I always wanted to write a book, but what pushed me to write was when my youngest daughter asked me when I “was going to become a real author.” I had been was writing stories for her, including The Bee in the Blackberry Bush. When Elizabeth turned 10 at the beginning of 2012, I determined that by Christmas she would hold a book that I had published.

Then I heard Jon Acuff say that it was better to be 80% and published than 100% and in my head. It reminded me that my work did not have to be perfect; it just had to be 80%. Funny thing was I misheard Jon: the quote is 90% not 80%. Thinking back, I am glad I didn’t hear right.

The story about how I got an editor and an illustrator and what has happened since is an amazing story but would take up too much time. I will cut to the chase and tell you that though Elizabeth did not get her book for Christmas, she did get it for her 11th birthday. To make it even better we managed to keep it a secret and it was worth it. Check it out here.

I wish I could say I don’t have any more doubts or fears about writing, but I do. After talking to other successful writers, I found out that the fear never totally goes away. Knowing this helps. Misery loves company I guess.

6. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?

I realize I am never going to please everyone, so I do not try. I write what I think is right and good. I wish I could say I never worry about what will sell, but I do. But that is not why I write. I guess I am more concerned with telling the truth as I see it than anything else.

To give you an example, Impossible to Forgive is just the first part of what I plan to write later, which will include the other messages I gave in July. These will be more controversial than this book, as if talking about the need to forgive murders is easy. Here are the working titles: Optional Forgiveness? and Forgiveness Is Not Reconciliation.

7. How did you learn to write?

You wanted to know how I learned to write?  I am still learning. I mentioned that I consider myself a storyteller. This is a far cry from writing, which I learn every time I read my rough draft.  However, I think the key is to always keep learning. If a writer quits learning, then his writing will decline, just as it is in any area of our lives. We have to keep growing.

8. If you could inhabit the setting of one book, where would you live and why?

What book setting would I live in?  This is easy. The world of Max and Link. I know you haven’t heard of it. It is a world I created for my daughter and is filled with adventure and only talking animals. I hope to get the review process and illustrations done some day soon, so others will visit this place. In a way, I did get to visit that world, but you will have to wait for the last book of the trilogy to get any more information.

Author C.S. AresonCharles Areson is a blogger, lifelong learner, Nazarene pastor, an author & storyteller, a (grand)father, a husband, and most importantly a follower of Jesus Christ. From owning his own business to working on an assembly line, from being a hospice chaplain to an author, Pastor Charles’ experiences add a unique flare to his ministry. You can find him at his website, on Facebook, or on Twitter