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Podcast: Dragons, Absent Fathers, and Stories That Heal (Kathryn Butler)

This article is part of the The Crossway Podcast series.

The Power of Stories

In today's episode, Kathryn Butler talks about the power of stories to help our kids grasp and value the true story of God’s redemption. Katie shares about how reading with her kids helped to carry her family through the pandemic and explains why good stories resonate so deeply with all of us—including our kids.

The Dragon and the Stone

Kathryn Butler, MD

When 12-year-old Lily McKinley finds her deceased father’s stone pendant, she is transported to a new dimension where she must battle evil nightmares with the help of a dragon named Cedric to save the dream keepers and rescue the Realm.

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Matt Tully
Well, Katie, thank you so much for joining me again on the Crossway podcast.

Katie Butler
Oh, Matt, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Matt Tully
We've we've had the pleasure of talking with you a couple of times. Now, the first time was to talk about modern medicine and end of life care and all the tricky decisions that come with the end of life in America. And then more recently, we had you on to talk about your experiences working in an ICU as a trauma surgeon, another world that most of us know very little about, and it's very foreign and intense, both of those pretty heavy and serious topics. But today we're going to talk to you about a new fantasy fiction series that you're writing. And I have to say that's not the most predictable writing move as an author. So I wonder if you could just explain to all of us what it was that drew you to write a fiction series.

Katie Butler
Yeah, first of all, I think I should at least backtrack and point out that the people who now say, where did this come from? When they look at my trajectory from medicine to suddenly writing fiction, people who knew me when I was younger, had the same question when I chose medicine, because from a very young age all I ever wanted to do is write stories. And, and I was when I was four years old, I used to draw pictures in a stack and staple them together and bring them to my dad as a book. And I would dictate the story to him. And it just went from there. I went to young writers conferences in high school. I wrote my first book when I was 17 and her into a college scholarship. I wrote a book between med school and residency because I had the story in my heart. So stories have always been very dear to me and it was not until I really stepped back away from medicine, which the Lord brought me to by his Providence through a pathway. I wouldn't have expected that he brought me back to that love for it. And it actually arose during COVID in 2020. You and I had talked before about how in the early stages of the pandemic, when cases were really surging in Boston, I went back for a brief period of time and worked in the ICU after having been out of practice for a number of years to homeschool my kids. And to be clear, I was just plugging holes. There are people who have been in this for the long haul for the last two years who are exhausted and they are the heroes.

And I was in it for a very brief period of time, but it was a time that was tumultuous for my family because we were into a very clear rhythm and a routine homeschooling our kids. And that was completely disrupted. I was working nights, my eldest son, who was seven at the time, understood enough about what was going on to be really scared for me, he was worried that I would get COVID and we knew so little about it then except that people were dying from it. So he was very frightened by the whole thing. And so it was a really stressful time for our family. And there was this one day after I'd been working in the ICU, I would come home, sleep, get up and go in. And I would do that for like three nights in a row. And during one of those days, you know, I just saw in his eyes like the worry and the anguish. And before I went back to work, I sat down and did, what is really the beating heart of I think of many households with young kids. I sat down and we read together and we had been reading through the Lord of the rings trilogy, and we're already into the return of the king. And there is this fantastic scene.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with, in the book where it's a very dark and gloomy moment and Sauron’s forces have overtaken all of middle earth. And you know, the people, the free peoples are about to fall and King Théoden takes the Rohirrim out on a charge against Minas Tirith, which was once this gleaming palace that's now just overrun with dark armies. And there's this incredible paragraph that Tolkien writes where not only is this king presented as a savior, leading his people to vanquish evil, but there's an entire change in the atmosphere where he talks about morning suddenly dawned and there was a wind from the sea and it's this beautiful sudden renewal of goodness, vanquishing evil. And with all the turmoil we were going through, I read that with my little ones squished into me and I started to cry and my son said to me “mommy, are you okay?” And I said, “I'm fine, honey. I said, this just reminds me an awful lot of the hope we have in Jesus, that things are really dark and scary right now, but we know that Jesus will return and he's going to make all things new, you know?” And so that, with that, in my mind, it got me just thinking so much about how grateful I was for the stories that I was able to share with my kids that pointed to Christ.

You know, thinking about in the fellowship of the ring, the moment where Gandalf is there facing the Balrog and says, “you shall not pass” and he's dragged down into the abyss. And my son turns to me and says, he gave his life for the others kind of like Jesus did for us,or the moments reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my kids, which are so steeped in allegory, but I remember my daughter when we were reading the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I, and there's this wonderful moment, which again, it's a lot of gloom and despair and then all of a sudden, Aslan comes out from the mist and he says, courage, dear one, and you see this image of an albatross and my daughter who was six at the time, leans over and says, mom, that's kind of like the holy spirit, you know, and, and just thinking about all these moments where I was so grateful for stories, bringing to life gospel themes in a rich way that helped to give our family hope. And so with that in my head, when then I had this image that came to me of a girl walking in and on a dragon in her kitchen eating her food. Whereas normally, you know, you dismiss it because you're busy and, and these are childish things. I let it linger. And that's when I started turning to, okay, this is a story that maybe I should pursue and offer others in my own kids. What I appreciated so much from children's authors.

Matt Tully
It's amazing how much you hear that same kind of story though, that, that have like a single vision. I think Jakey Rowling is famous for talking about having this vision of a little boy with a little, you know, lightning shaped scar on his forehead. And that kind of sparked this whole world that arose out of that. What's behind that. What do you think is going on there? Was it that simple for you? Or was there more of a story there?

Katie Butler
No, it was, I think we have these moments constantly because there's children, you see them constantly where something will come up and look, get an idea. And whereas kids, they run with it as adults we're too busy. And I think it really was this moment where it's something normally that I would have just discarded, but because of this narrative of thinking and reflecting upon how much children's literature has been so rich in our family, I didn't ignore it. And so I started asking questions. So my first question was, well, who was this girl? And, why is there a dragon in her kitchen? And what is her story and what is her background? And it kind of evolved from there.

And the writing process for me has been a lot about that. Been a lot of discovery. It's almost like the story exists in and of itself. And our job as authors is to unveil them. You know, almost like I think Stephen King talked about this, actually saying you're an archeologist, it's just some kind of artifact and you're, you know, brushing away the dust, trying to unearth this Relic. And that's kind of what it felt like the whole writing process for the past three books has felt like a process of discovery. Like the story is there and my job is to bring it to light.

Matt Tully
Well, I'm reading the book right now, as you know, with my eight year old daughter and we're, we're a number of chapters in, and she's loving it. It's just kind of the perfect audience. She's the perfect age for what you're doing in the book. But it's interesting to hear you say that it feels like you're an archeologist and yet it seems like there's pretty clearly a lot of semi-autobiographical elements in the book that, that kind of resonate with you. So for one Lily, the main character, her mom works really long hours at the hospital and kind of leaves Lily to fend for herself a little bit, her and her grandmother. And it seems like there's probably some connection there. So how did you think about those autobiographical bits?

Katie Butler
I think we write best what we know. And so as things came out, you know, the, in, in Lily herself has kind of a composite and a lot of ways of people in my own life. She's brave. Like my own little girl is she's eccentric. Like my son is. And the fact that she's short, that was me. That was me. Even as a, as a doctor coming out of residency, I used to call it the punky Brewster look, people would look at me and I looked so much younger than I actually was. And it would be like, punky, Brewster is going to do my surgery. Are you kidding? You know, so that's something that I was familiar with and always kind of bumbling through things. And, and I think that just naturally flows. We write what we know well, and you know, and I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to necessarily stretch out and incorporate a lot that is, I'm not familiar with although we do research. But yeah, because I think that would be forced. It wouldn't be genuine. So I think that just comes up because it's, it's what we're familiar with and what we can speak into easily. Yeah.

Matt Tully
Well, you mentioned your kids already. I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit about your family?

Katie Butler
So I'm parents to Jack who's nine and Christy is almost seven, which she will remind you that she's not sick. She's almost seven. She turns seven in three months and I've been homeschooling them for, coming up on six years. And it has never been something that we expected. You know, I was a full-time career physician, but…

Matt Tully
Was homeschooling something that you had experienced?

Katie Butler
No, no, I was, I was raised in public school. I didn't even know Christ, which I've talked about until I was 30. So it was through my medical work that I found the Lord. And when I was actually at a turning point in my career where I loved my job, absolutely loved it and was with a great group. Lot of promise was about to be promoted to an academic position, but I was very convicted by Deuteronomy 6, a chapter verses 6-7, where it basically makes it clear that we're to infuse our kids' days with knowledge of the Lord. And that it's not just when they go to church on Sundays, but throughout the day, when they walk in the way when they rise. And I was working 90 hours a week, and it was very clear that I couldn't do that for them while I was working. In addition, I was doing a lot of work in education at the time. That was my academic concentration. And my son was not a good fit for traditional school. He had a lot of sensory difficulties and he was also very asynchronous. So he's grade levels ahead in some subjects and lags behind in others. And all of these things put together really prompted me to say, I think as crazy as it sounds that the Lord is calling me away from medicine in this season. And it's something that was so hard. And, you know, I struggled a lot with my identity. I struggled with thoughts about my wasting the opportunities God's given me, am I being foolhardy, but he's worked through it in such tremendous, beautiful ways for our family, for our kids who were thriving, where my son was really having mighty struggles with his sensory issues early on and would have meltdowns on a daily basis. Now he's, he's happy. Cause I was able to give him the attention and the therapy he needed and also the writing ministry that's come out of. It is something I never would've been able to juggle or pursue if I was working. You know, so the Lord has been incredibly gracious to us and I'm awestruck on just how kind he's been through us on a daily basis over the last few years.

Matt Tully
So in light of your work as a homeschooling mom and what you said a few minutes ago about just the power of stories to help shape our minds and even provide us with these powerful examples of gospel truths, what, what role do fiction stories play in your life as a family and even in the homeschooling work?

Katie Butler
It's the beating heart of our days, to be honest. I mean, the life's blood is Christ as the center, but in terms of what unites us, There's this great book I actually have right here. It's called the Enchanted Hour by Megan Cox Gordon. She's the wall street journal children's book critic. She talks about the time spent reading with your kids and all the benefits it has intellectually and in terms of the development, but she uses the term Enchanted Hour, which I love. And there's a quote in this book from the children's author, Kate DiCamillo where she says that in that time that you spend with your kids reading, you get to share a patch of warmth and light, which to me just encapsulates what that experience is. So story reading has been a daily part of our rhythm. It's actually their favorite part of the day, still with everything that we do and they do rock climbing and they're at, you know, in a program at the wildlife sanctuary and everything.

But when I say, okay, it's time for cozy up reading,

Matt Tully
That's what you guys call it?

Katie Butler
That's what we call it. And we sit down on the couch and we have a stack of books and we'll have usually four at a time into their air, their anthologies, or it'll be a children's novel. And we read a chapter from every, you know, every day and, and it's been vital. They love it. They love it. And it's great, it's been a great opportunity for us to connect. There are these themes that constantly come up, even if it's not an overtly Christian book, if it's not something like the Chronicles of Narnia where there's so much Christian allegory, what I find and Tolkein talks about this is that there are these redemptive arcs that will course through stories, or there are these threads of good versus evil that will arise that give you the chance to pause and turn to your kids and say, what do you think about that? What does this remind you of, you know, so reading an anthology, an unabridged anthology of Dickens stories, and we're reading about Oliver Twist and there's a lot of concern for orphans and widows. And we'll think about, does that remind you of anything, you know, that what's at work here, you know, and then it was looking at the tale of two cities and my son turns to me and he says at the end, you know, he, his life for the others, you know, that's that kind of sacrificial love for others that you see through the Bible, the Wingfeather Saga, which has these beautiful Christian themes of sacrificial love and redemption, you know, and, and so, you know, token in unfairly stories, he's got this great paragraph at the end, where he talks about the fact that stories resonate with us and create these bursts of joy when the truth is basically bursting through the narrative. So that great stories resonate with us and the best ones resonate with us because they have an echo of the gospel in them. And that they thrill us because that's actually the gospel thrilling us in those moments. And so it's been a delight and the kids need scripture first and foremost, but I've just found that really imaginative, beautiful stories that echo and mirror gospel themes are a really beautiful way to expound upon and reinforce what they're learning in the Bible.

Matt Tully
And my sense is that many Christian families and parents, they kind of rediscover the power of stories when they have small kids and they start reading to their kids like that. But with that it also feels like almost a truism that for many of us as Christian adults, we can tend to maybe not feel like fiction and stories like this are that important. We can kind of, we feel like our lives are busy, they're packed full of stuff. And if we're, even if we're readers, we can maybe think, ah, I should be reading theology or Christian living type stuff. That's going to really help me grow in my faith. Why do you think it is that as adults, we can so often lose an appreciation for story?

Katie Butler
Oh my goodness. What a great question. I think you hit the nail on the head, it's that we see ourselves as having outgrown it and that we have better work to do or more intellectual work to do. But the truth is, if you know, from the Dawn of time, right straight from the garden, we are a people that are well-versed in stories and stories of what we remember. You know, there's a, there's a lasting power to a narrative or to a character that stays with you. But I think because we so rarely study them in the upper grades and we transition to things that are more academic or more serious, I think the delight in them starts to fall by the wayside, but I think, I think you're absolutely right. I don't know if you've had this experience if you've read the Chronicles of Narnia with your kids yet. I was not a believer when I first read those as a kid, I still loved them. It stirred something in me that I think great stories do in all of us, even if we don't have the words for it yet, but then going back and reading them with my children. When I know Christ, I think on every single page I start crying and I would turn, and I would put the book down…”do you understand what this means?” And it was this incredible rediscovery, you know, it's been for what you're saying, Matt, it's been a real joy that I didn't anticipate for myself too. And embarking into these tales again and seeing the delight on my kids' faces. But also for me, it's just seeing in such beautiful ways, these gospel themes come to life,

Matt Tully
Definitely been our experience as well. You know, you find a good children's book written by a good author who knows their craft. And it, it it's, it's so meaningful, maybe even more meaningful for us as parents than it is for the kids. We catch a lot more beauty and significant stuff there. You mentioned just the truth themes that can permeate these stories that can testify to these broader truths about God and about humanity and about our place in this world and what we need. And one of the themes that I feel like is somewhat common in literature, and maybe even in particular, children's literature is a theme that I think you pick up on in your, in your book. Pretty early in the book we learned that Lily's father has died somewhat recently. And it's pretty clear that Lily and her mom are still in the midst of their grief and processing that loss. And it got me thinking about how this theme of absent parents and even an absent father in particular seems like it's pretty prevalent in kids movies and books. I think of movies like the lion king, the Harry Potter series, and Harry's parents are both gone. And then even more recently in, quite poignantly in the Pixar movie Onward where again, the central character has lost his father without giving away any of the, any spoilers about the book. Why did you decide to make Lily fatherless in this book?

Katie Butler
I think I really felt a need to, first of all, I want to say that sometimes we try to sugar coat, how much kids understand and try to say that they don't understand a lot about suffering. And I think that, especially having seen my son wrestle with some deeper questions, in the wake of COVID, he started to have questions about God's goodness, even, or even if God existed. And so we had to dive, do a deep dive into Job with my seven year old to try to help bring him through that. But I think it's important to number one, acknowledge that kids as much as you know, they're shielded from a lot of the hurts of the world, they do tend to be aware of them and to have fears that are real and fears that are big. And then another thing is that I really wanted these books to be able to point to hope in the darkness. And I thought for a child, what are the things that help to confront them with what can be really dark about the world that we live in that's fallen. And so that's why I wanted her to be someone who was struggling and to make that clear that she had, there was something very real at stake for her throughout the book. She's an outcast. She doesn't quite fit in. She's the imagination that she has, that she dives into to help her cope with her. Dad's grief gets her into trouble constantly. She’s kind of lost. And I wanted her through this narrative to discover where her worth truly lies and where she has a home and to give her some hope in the midst of darkness.

Matt Tully
Yeah. That makes me think of a scene kind of late in the book, when, again, trying not to give away too much here, but Lily is kind of, has to come face to face with the question of her Father's love for her and she's, or, or maybe lack of love for her. And it's a pretty intense and even scary scene on a number of levels. There's that relational level with her dad. And then there's also kind of what's right in front of her. And I wonder as you think about that and the way that she has to question her father's love was any of that, like personal for you, did that kind of flow out of your own experiences as even a young girl with your dad?

Katie Butler
Thankfully not. They used to be to God. That kind of narrative actually rose because throughout the book you'll, you'll use, you know, it's not strictly allegorical, but there is a Christ figure and there is a figure who is the adversary. And so it was more of asking in my head, if this character was confronted with Satan, what would Satan say? And so Satan throughout is very much someone, which I think is true to what we see in the Bible who says things that sound very convincing and he's the father of lies. And so that's in that. And I was thinking actually, even going back to Genesis of what did Satan do? Satan tried to convince basically Adam and Eve that no, no, God's not telling you the truth and that lessons God's love for you in the process, if he's not telling you the truth, do you know? And so it was more reflection about who I thought Satan was. And so there's this conversation that she's having with this character. And I said, what would he say? What would he say that would unnerve her and how would it be deceitful and how would he achieve his aim? So it was more thinking about the characters and how the Bible informs them in that moment.

Matt Tully
It seems like some of the most popular young adult series, whether it's something like Lord of the rings or Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, or even, you know, more recently that Wingfeather Saga that we've mentioned, they all deal in pretty direct and stark ways at times, with the reality of suffering and evil even, and loss. And to your point earlier, I think they presume that kids can understand these things and already do have a sense of these things that can be maybe deeper than we, as parents even realize or want to realize. So how did you think about the challenge of depicting evil and loss and suffering in an honest and realistic way that takes your own children and other children seriously, but also in an age appropriate way? How did you kind of strike that balance?

Katie Butler
You know, we've talked about the Wingfeather Saga and Andrew Peterson had a beautiful remark that he used when talking about his own series, where he said he wanted to give kids a match strike in the midst of darkness. And so there are barely dark moments in his book as well, but hope isn't far behind. And so I wanted to do the same thing where the danger is real and, and the fears are real. And I didn't want to play down on that because as I said, you know, my own son had recently dealt with some significant doubts that left him really discouraged. And so I wanted to at least honor that yeah, kids have real fears and kids will experience moments that are very dark. And so I tried to make sure that nothing I did was too graphic, you know, that would be scary in that way, but, and that, you know, there was never a lot of violence that you saw, but that the danger was there and present, but the hope was even greater and the hope shines through. And so I try to strike that balance. I hope I was successful, you know, but I wanted to at least honor the fact that kids legitimately deal with some real fears and not play that down, but give them a hope that's even brighter that can chase away that darkness.

Matt Tully
Do you feel like there've been times in your life as a parent, maybe your husband's as well, where you have been surprised at the understanding of your kids and the questions even that they had about a situation. Did that ever kind of take you off guard?

Katie Butler
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think I talked about this during our last podcast. My son, when he was only five, I talked about my friend, David, who was dying and who had a very close relationship with both my kids. He was their Sunday school teacher. And because of my medical background, I was very involved with him during his last days. And my son was very aware of what was going on. And he one evening had this amazing conversation where he started to ask me, you know, when Mr. David dies, will his lungs be pink. He had emphysema. And so he understood what that was and was asking. Does that mean, you know, when we see him again, will he be completely well? And then he's the one who said to me, “mom, I want to see him every day until he dies.” He was five! And it was because of that, that actually we went back and had our last conversation with him because he fell unconscious two days later, you know, but it was like the wisdom of this little boy who could see the writing on the wall and saw what was important, which was, I'm thinking about everything else that I have to do. And yes, I'm trying to support my friend and my little boy says, we need to see him. Cause we're not going to see him again until heaven, you know? And so we've had many such moments where I've just been so touched and astounded to see the wisdom of kids and even as a parent, I can think of back when I was in college, I spent a lot of time as a pre-medical student doing volunteer work at Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer center. And so I witnessed kids who were in the throes of chemotherapy and saw them still just wanting to play in the playroom, but also saw them wrestle very clear-eyed with their own mortality and with some really hard things and talk about them openly, you know? And so I think it was that tension that I really respect where kids can still be very lighthearted, but because they're dealing with something that's heavy doesn't mean they don't understand it. They often understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

Matt Tully
Another decision you made with the book, it relates to Lily's grandmother, who seems to have some kind of dementia. I'm not finished with the book yet. So maybe more will come out about that as we read. But again, that's not something that you see depicted all that often in my experience and certainly not in children's fiction, but that's a reality of Lily's life and her experience of the world. And I'm curious if there's a specific reason why you decided to write her character in that way?

Katie Butler
I think that is actually a product of what our family was going through at the time. We, at the time that I was, the story was kind of coming together. We were actually providing daily respite visits for an elderly couple. One of whom had dementia. And my kids were with me every day. Every time we go over and what was so striking to me and heartwarming was that she was always such a lovely, lovely person, but couldn't remember who we were, couldn't remember much of anything, but whenever you'd open a book of photographs from all the trips that she and her husband took throughout the country, she never remembered the details of the trips, but she would see like the Alaskan glaciers and she'd gasp. And she just had this sense of wonder looking at it. And the other thing is that she always was able to sing hymns, you know, and we have a neuro-biological understanding of that, that those are parts of the brain that are spared in dementia. But to me, it, it also resonated with a deeper truth, that there are experiences that for us as human tap into who we are, especially who we are in Christ and the fact that we can cling to hymns long after we have forgotten who it is that comes to see us every week to me is, is a gift and speaks to God's grace in our lives that we may not understand what's going on around us, but we can sing his word and we can look at a skyline or a mountain landscape and be awestruck by his fingerprints. You know? And so I, I think honestly, it's because this friend of ours was very much in my mind. And so Gran has dementia. For that same reason it was to me that she's a presence and she's lost in some ways, but she's still adapting to her. That's I think why she emerged that way.

Matt Tully
It's also just another beautiful illustration of not only, it sounds like in your own personal life with your actual kids, but even in this story, you're putting these kids into contact with the brokenness of our world, but in such a redemptive context where you can see, you know, goodness and beauty flowing out of that. And it's really powerful. It really is. So in terms of the overarching storyline of the series, so this is a multi-volume series. You’re in the middle of writing it. I think you said you're, you're just finishing up with book three.

Katie Butler
I finished three I'm brainstorming four, I hope I don't get confused.

Matt Tully
So amazing. So that gets to the question I have is how much of this is planned out ahead of time, or you kind of know where the story is largely going. You maybe know Lily's broad story arc and how much of it is you really are just discovering as you dig.

Katie Butler
So broadly I know where it's going, you know, so broadly I know what the main issue is in book four and what the main issue is in book five, but the details are all discovery. And I know a bit, so like when I wrote book one, I had a lot of the Exodus in my head actually. There are moments of that that kind of broke through for me, when I wrote book two, I was thinking a lot about the gospel and book three has a lot of Acts in it, and I don't know if people could pick it up, but those were the things that were in my head as I was writing and interesting. And, and I'm sure you've seen, they're not allegories by any means. You read Jonathan Rogers, the Wilder King trilogy, and that is the story of David transplanted to Louisiana Bayou, you know, and, but it's very, there are very, very strong parallels. It's the same character, same kind of conflicts. That's not what these books are. It's more subtly influenced by these parts from the Bible. So I know where we're headed, but the actual writing process is very much discovery. It's very much saying, okay, now, given what happened to these characters in this situation, what would they do and what would happen? So for book three, there is a minor character who showed up three quarters of the way through the book who had a huge role that I didn't realize when the character appeared. You know? So, but that, there's a real joy in that process, to be honest, because it's, it's just joy is the best word I can, I can use to describe it, to be in that process where you're just immersed in the story and seeing what happens is delightful. And there's nothing like it.

Matt Tully
That's so cool for someone who's not a writer who has never written a story like that, that you kind of have a sense of what that might be like. And that sounds exciting and fun. Oh, it's, it's just, it's so much fun. It's just thinking about the characters have to be real in your head. And so once you'd know them well, what happens starts to just evolve because you understand what they would do in this given situation.

Matt Tully
Three almost now getting into four books in, do you feel like you're still learning things about Lily, your main character?

Katie Butler
Yes. She deepens a lot in book three, you know, book book one is a lot about her discovering the source of her, hope, the character arc over the next couple books, you know, she, so we mentioned earlier, she's got this imagination that gets her into trouble, but we find in some contexts is actually a tremendous gift, but she struggles over the next couple of books with not making that gift the source of her hope and not placing that in her heart in a position that shoves out Christ is basically what the conflict is in her trying to trust more in the Lord or in the books. Who's the Christ figure rather than in the works of her own hands. So her arc shifts or time.

Matt Tully
That's so cool that that's just so true to how we are as humans. We think we figure something out, God works in us to sanctify us in a certain way. And then, you know, just as soon as we get through that, something else kind of pops up that we need to respond to. Well maybe as a final question, Katie, if what would be your prayer for the kids and even the parents, the families that would start to read these books, what would be your prayer for them as they dig in?

Katie Butler
It would be just such a gift and I would be so thankful and be praising the Lord if families read these together and they find those nuggets where they're able to point to our hope in Christ through it, where it might be a scary scene, but then hope breaks through, you know, or a moment where they see the gospel and its transformative power in a character's arc. Like for example, I would love it, If, when people read about Cedric in the end of book one, if they're able to say, you know, works righteousness, couldn't help him, but look, what did you know, I would just love for those conversations to happen and, and them to be able to, to linger so that when kids are then later on in life, struggling with very real things, maybe there's that kernel of hope. That can point them back to Christ.

Matt Tully
I won't give anything away, but Cedric is a great character. He's such a fun character and that's a great word, Katie. Thank you so much for not just sitting here and talking today with me, but for writing this really wonderful series that is hopefully going to serve many families, many kids as they get into it.

Katie Butler
Well, thank you so much. I'm delighted for the opportunity and thank you for talking.


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