For Ministry Leaders
Getting to Know Bill Myers
September 29th, 2010
Getting to Know Bill Myers
Question: Why did you write The God Hater?
Bill: In 1989 I wrote a children’s story called, "The Experiment," which was part of a series called either Bloodstone Chronicles or Imager Chronicles. In it, a little girl can’t understand God’s love. Everybody tells her God is a loving father, which does her no good because her dad left her at four years old. So God lets her create her own little world. Soon she falls as deeply in love with those she created as God has with her. That story of seeing the world through God’s eyes has always stuck with me and to this day I get e-mail on the book. So, I wanted to explore that theme on a much deeper, adult level, particularly in the areas of logic, philosophy, science and of course, the heart.
Question: You mention in your preface that in some ways The God Hater is the flip side of another novel of yours called Eli. How is that so?
Bill: Eli is the retelling of the Gospel as if it were to happen today instead of 2,000 years ago. Everything from the birth at the back of a Motel 6 laundry room, to the choice of some sketchy disciples, their travel across the country in a motor home, challenges by the religious establishment, the eventual lynching by that establishment, and the resurrection from an Atlanta morgue. I constantly get mail from folks who say after reading the novel they finally “get the Gospel,” and that excites me. But with The God Hater, I wanted to explore the story from God’s perspective—the logic that makes Divine intervention necessary, the dangers of living only by Law, the necessity for the Incarnation . . . all driven by a love that consider our lives more important than His own. Of course, making Mackenzie human drastically changes aspects of the story, but I even found that fascinating as, time after time in writing it, I discovered along with Mackenzie why it’s necessary for God to intervene. It was quite a ride and I hope the reader gets as much out of it as I did.
Question: Why did you choose an anti-God protagonist?
Bill: First, I wanted to legitimately explore that type of thinking. I do the same when people talk to me about my beliefs. I first ask questions about theirs, find out what they think and why they believe what they do. It’s amazing how our so-called “objective intellect” is often clouded by our hearts. I remember a great thinker of our time who said such mean and vindictive things regarding the death of Jerry Falwell. Or another who made equally mean-spirited comments on Oral Roberts’s death. Comments that, at least to me, reveal a much deeper, emotional agenda than any so-called logic. As with Mackenzie in The God Hater, it’s remarkable what really hides under our “intellectual” barriers.
Second, I wanted to explore how other great minds like Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, Antony Flew, and those throughout the centuries (even Paul) overcame their preconceived notions and went from staunch anti-believers to believers.
Question: Why do you write religious fiction? People tell you all the time you’d have a much bigger audience if you found another genre.
Bill: I write to explore and learn. And to be honest, what could be more interesting than exploring some aspect of an infinite Creator. That’s got car chases, steamy romances, and alien spaceships beat hands down. I think of those angels in Revelation around the throne crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Originally, I used to think they had the most boring job in the world. Can you imagine saying that over and over again, 24/7? And it would be boring . . . if you were only preaching it or reciting doctrine. But what if every time they cried, “Holy!” it’s because they’ve discovered some new and incredible attribute of God? That’s entirely different. And that’s what I try to do with my writing. Folks who dismiss me as a “religious writer” probably figure I’m just pontificating. Maybe I am, but I don’t think so. I may cry, “Holy!” but I cry it out of the thrill of discovering yet another attribute of an infinite God.
Question: Where do you get your ideas?
Bill: I try to spend thirty to forty minutes a day in quiet solitude with God. Usually during the morning in my back orchard—just me, the Bible, and my horrible singing voice. Occasionally during those times an idea starts to form. (That’s not to say every idea is from God. I’ll take credit for all the lousy ones.) Other times I’ll look at our culture and see how the God of the Scriptures may be misunderstood or misrepresented. The Judas Gospel, which I’m writing now, is an example of the latter. Then comes the fun part . . . noodling on a story and looking for ways to explore those issues.
Question: Any hobbies?
Bill: I’m pretty much an eight hours a day, six days a week, fifty-two weeks out of the year writer. But part of that job is research. I love to learn. Even when I’m not writing, I’m studying something, reading half a dozen books, and keeping my iPod handy with books on tape. I do, however, love to interact with students at a college Bible study I teach. There’s something invigorating about stripping away the Sunday school Jesus we mindlessly recite and discovering the real Christ by asking hard questions and digging into the Scriptures. I also mentor a dozen high school boys. They start off as squirrelly freshmen and gradually turn into compassionate and committed men of God.
Question: Do you have any frustrations? What is the one thing you’ve not been able to do?
Bill: That’s easy. My frustration is similar to my exhilaration. I love it when I think I’ve been able to capture some incremental element of the Infinite. My frustration is that all my words can only capture the tiniest flicker of His blazing glory.
The thing I would like to do more is capture more of my stories in motion pictures. I was trained as a film director in Europe. I cut my teeth writing scripts and directing small, award-winning films for fifteen years. I understand the medium and how to tell a story with it. But when it comes to major productions, Hollywood just doesn’t think God “will sell.” At least that’s what they say to my face. The only problem is there are plenty of exceptions that disprove it, which leads me to believe we are facing spiritual battles that have nothing to do with money—much like that dual wall theory we discussed earlier. In any event, here I stay in SoCal, still meeting with producers, still knocking on doors, and still being shown the exits—while at the same time learning to be content with wherever I’m planted. Pressing on and being at rest. It’s an interesting dichotomy that I still haven’t mastered. Maybe we’re not supposed to.