Stephen Lawhead: Only He Knows Where The Skin Map Leads
- Friday, October 29, 2010
It's demanding for readers. Then again, I figured again there's a whole nation of people who were just besotted with Lost and they seemed to jump around a lot and they forgave a lot just to get through the story. They seem to be able to keep track of that. You just tell them to look at it like a miniseries.
Two of the first characters that readers encounter are Kit and his girlfriend Wilhelmina. They both seem to be leading kind of blasé lives at first. And then BOOM. Kit's great-grandfather Cosimo arrives on the scene, and he and a little ley-line travelling change all of that.
Survival sharpens your wits a bit. But they're just, I think, typical of so many people, modern urban dwellers in particular—you're in a big city and the demands of work and social pressures of various sorts, and it's easy to lose yourself. You just let things slide, one by one. And as Cosimo tells [Kit] in the beginning, "You have your friends who you see less and less of, they've all moved out, they've got families and stuff and what are you doing?" But that is just like so many people that I run into, and they recognize themselves. Like I said, survival sharpens your wits. You begin to engage with what's going on around you and try to make sense of it.
Both Kit and Wilhelmina seemed to adapt pretty quickly to their new alternate realities.
Maybe there are other people who don't. I don't know. Well, Wilhelmina's sharp. And she's one of these people who could look around and sees what the opportunities are and goes for it without worrying too much about what she's leaving behind. Kit, of course, is different because he had help. He had people around him at first to sort of cushion the blow. Then when he gets off on his own, he sort of has a feeling for what is going on. So he's not completely frightened by it.
But I think what will emerge in the second book is that he's pretty much in development mode. Things begin making an impression on him, and there are things that will happen as the series goes on that will bring him to new places in himself in addition to what's going on around him. So we just have to be a little more patient with him.
Cosimo plays a big part in changing in Kit's life or at least guiding him and helping him to change his perspective.
Yes. So much of who and what we are depends on the worldview, depends on how we view things. Are they danger or opportunities? Sort of like getting hit over the head.
Is that what Cosimo has done figuratively for Kit?
Well, that's exactly what it is. That little speech at the beginning where he's trying to convince him to come along on this quest is very much that. What are you holding on to that's so important that you can't make a change?
Do you identify at all with any of the characters in The Skin Map?
Oh, probably all of them. I don't write myself into any of my books, but you can't stay out of them either. I don't worry about it too much. When I imagine these characters, I just try to make sure that once they sort of come forth from the story then you try to just be true to them and make them as natural as possible.
Did you have a particular audience in mind when you were creating these characters and interweaving their stories?
Could be myself. Could be anybody who likes this sort of thing. I don't really think, Well, a 12 year-old to 16 year-old is going to really get this. I can't do that. But I think anybody who has a taste for a kind of adventure story.
The Skin Map seems to have a lighter feel to it. Would you agree?
Yes, because the series will get heavier as it goes because the subjects that I want to really look into are pretty weighty and if you put that on the cover and have the story begin with this … whoa.
So that's what I'm up against a little bit is that there's no reason for anybody to open up a book these days. Entertainment's so easy. You stream a movie on your iPod if you want to or whatever. To get someone's attention and to keep it—and to keep it over the course of five books—is going to be a real challenge. But it also is just fun. I wanted to make [The Skin Map] a really fun ride, a really fun journey. And yet we're going to hit some serious subjects along the way: life and death and what comes after and what this is all about. Why are we here and where are we going?
Will the more serious topics begin with The Bone House?
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