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An interview with Paul McCusker

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Passages, Part 1 Information and Review
Passages, Part 2 Information and Review
A list of Paul McCusker's work for AIO
Get plot information, reviews, and notes on the Passages books

With the two "Passages" audio episodes now out, many fans have been wondering about the book series by Paul McCusker.  AIOHQ recently conducted an e-mail interview with Paul McCusker.

AIOHQ: First off, how many "Passages" books will there be and what are their titles?

Paul McCusker: There will be six "Passages" books. I've written the first four. Three are coming out sometime this month. They are: "Darien's Rise," "Arin's Judgment," and "Annison's Risk." The remaining three are supposed to come out next Spring. Book Four is: "Glennall's Betrayal" (though we've debated that against another title) and we're still discussing the titles for five and six.

AIOHQ: We've now heard the "Passages" audio episodes. Were these episodes written before or after the book series was written?

PM: I had written the first four books before writing the audio episodes.

AIOHQ: Why did you need to write a "tie-in" radio episode?

PM: We'd always thought that "Passages" as a concept would lend itself well to audio. As time went on we decided that we should try at least one original story -- meaning that I didn't adapt one of the books for it -- to help introduce the books to our listening audience.

AIOHQ: The audio episode starred Timmy Riley. Will the novels include familiar characters? Which ones?

PM: The premise for the novels begins with Jack Allen finding a hand-witten manuscript in the bottom of an old trunk. It tells a story about a brother and sister in the 1950's who somehow slip from Odyssey into this world of Marus. Jack shows the manuscript to Whit and they investigate where it came from. This leads them to another manuscript and then another -- and a deepening mystery about whether or not the stories might be true. (Whit being Whit, he would certainly consider the possibility.) So the series works on two levels: Whit and Jack investigating the stories and then the stories themselves. 

To make the audio fit within that premise, I had to have Tom meet with Alice so she could tell him her very strange story about her adventure with Timmy -- but to leave it so that Tom isn't sure whether to believe her or not. I also thought it was a nice way to lightly touch on Timmy's spiritual experience -- referenced in "Malachi's Message."

For me one of the wonders of "Odyssey" is how so many of the pieces fit together.

AIOHQ: Will there be other "Passages" audio episodes?

PM: We don't have any plans for the immediate future. But that doesn't mean there won't be.

AIOHQ: Some fans have noticed that "Passages" contains elements similar to the Chronicles of Narnia. Were these similarities intentional?

PM: I think it's impossible to create stories about people from our world going into other worlds without comparisons to "Chronicles of Narnia." Just like it's impossible to write any fantasy stories without thinking of "Lord of the Rings." You've already noted on your website how much CS Lewis has influenced the writing that Phil and I do. So I knew there was no doing "Passages" without readers thinking about Narnia. Ironically, after I'd started the "Passages" series, I was able to adapt the Narnia books for Focus On The Family Radio Theatre.

There are important differences, of course. "Passages" doesn't have the mythological elements that Narnia has. No talking animals. And my story lines are meticulously based on Bible events (whereas Lewis alluded to the Bible without always paralleling it). Lewis also assumed that Narnia is real. One can argue that Marus isn't real -- it's just some stories that somebody made up about another world.

AIOHQ: Will all the Passages books parallel a Bible story?

PM: Yes. From the beginning, the goal for "Passages" was to re-tell Bible stories so that those who knew those stories might get a fresh new look at them. And "Passages" is a subtle way to nudge non-believers towards the Bible. The stories are meant to be given to those who DON'T know the Bible stories, in order to show them that the Bible isn't the boring book they might think it is. (The same reason Whit originally created the Imagination Station, come to think of it.)

AIOHQ: Are there any other AIO book series in the works?

PM: I've heard rumors about other AIO books, but I can't give you any details.