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The Miller Brothers had the distinct privilege of growing up behind the shelves of a Christian bookstore, there the learned first-hand the value of faith-based stories. They attended The Art Institute of Seattle where they formally trained in computer animation and multimedia design. Together they founded Lumination Studios to produce stories of faith and fun for families everywhere. Christopher is celebrating his tenth anniversary with wife, Angela, and they have a two-year-old son, Keegan. Allan is the "survivor" of two spunky boys, Tobias, four, and Henry, two, and is still madly in love with his wife, Sara.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourselves—you grew up "in" a bookstore?
Yes, our grandparents and parents owned and operated a Christian bookstore in Fairbanks, AK before we were born. After our birth, mother would hide us behind the bookshelves to take naps while she helped customers. Having literally grown up in a Christian bookstore we devoured every new title that came through the door while our parents processed inventory late into the night. We loved great storytelling and as we got older we discovered there were fewer titles that reached out to the active imaginations of boys in the CBA marketplace. After acquiring a degree in computer animation at the Art Institute of Seattle we felt compelled to write stories that we would have loved reading as children.

Tell us about the Heroes of Promise series. How many books are you planning on writing?
The Heroes of Promise adventures bring biblical truth to life with a new twist on some familiar Bible stories. Based on famous Old Testament heroes, the series takes place in the fictional Wild West town of Promise, which serves as a backdrop to some of the craziest legends and most notorious villains the West has ever known. We had originally chosen 4 stories for the series but we hope to include a fifth title featuring a girl as the primary hero.

Will each one focus on a different Bible character, or will we see Gid the Kid again?
We plan on highlighting different Old Testament Bible heroes like Samson, Jonah, Esther and Nehemiah. Each story will take place in the town of Promise and even though the heroes will change from book to book the White Rider will be present in each story, inspiring another hero to make a stand. We hope to introduce other products based on Gid the Kid, but we probably won’t see him again in this book series. 

What inspired you to write Gid the Kid?
We had been toying with the idea of writing a parable of the Gideon story off and on for a few years and felt it was a timely story that could help kids understand why it is important to stand for what you believe in, even if it means doing something scary. In a post-Columbine and 9-11 world, children are growing up in an age where terrorism reigns and they have to make difficult decisions about what they might do if faced by a bully or terrorist themselves.

During our devotions we came across the verse in Judges: “In those days, Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Trying to imagine what that might have been like we were immediately struck with an image of the Wild West. In those few moments The Legend of Gid the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits was born. The concept for the story started nearly writing itself and we found ourselves along for the ride as we discovered a fun new twist on a well-known Bible story.

 

Where did you get the idea for the “Black Bean Bandits?”
Just like in the story of Gideon from the Bible, we wanted the bandits to steal the town’s food supply. Since chili seemed like something a town out west could pride itself in we knew the bandits would be stealing a secret ingredient used in making the town’s chili. We combined this with the fact that in a western the bad guys always wear black, and it became pretty clear that the “Black Bean Bandits” were the perfect villains for the job.

I like how you transposed Gideon’s fleece into hot chili! Did you find it challenging to take a well-known Bible story and recreate it in a totally different culture and time period?
Yeah, we really wanted to keep a lot of the core elements of the Gideon story in place, and once we had the general concept for the story fleshed out, we had to re-read the story multiple times to integrate some of the smaller details. The Asherah pole Gideon cuts down in Judges is replaced by the sign the bandits post in town. The clay jars Gideon breaks open to reveal the torches inside are replaced with chili pots that our heroes bang loudly. When you know the story of Gideon, you’ll find a lot of fun hidden surprises like that in our version of the story.

Having the “Ponderin’ Points” is a terrific way to get parents and children talking about the story and lessons. What inspired you to include that section?
We wanted to create an entertaining story that carried an important lesson about standing up for what’s right. The Legend of Gid the Kid is primarily a fun retelling of the Gideon story, handled in such a way that it can be enjoyed by those who may not know the Bible story very well. We felt it was important to have a section in the back that helps families ask questions they may not have thought about when reading the story and can point them to the true story of Gideon in the Bible. Ultimately, we really hope to lead our audience into meaningful conversations about the topic of our book, which is why we have devoted a page of “Ponderin’ Points” that also includes activities and questions they can discuss as a family.

How would you advise children to deal with bullies?
If somebody is picking on you, or if you see someone being bullied, the first thing to do is to pray about it. Ask God to give you wisdom in dealing with them. God often uses difficulty in our lives to make us stronger in our spirit, and you’ll know when He has called you to make a stand.

Secondly, you need to seek support from your parents and teachers. If they are aware of the situation they will most likely be able to help you resolve it peacefully.

Thirdly, as our book says, “doing the right thing ain’t always easy.” Sometimes, taking a stand against a bully will make things worse, but you can’t let your fear of how others might respond keep you from doing what you know is right. Are you ready to make a stand against what is wrong, even if it means facing more trouble?

Lastly, before you confront a bully, find others to stand with you. You don’t have to stand alone. It is more difficult for a bully to pick on several who stand together than on one who stands alone. Again, if you aren’t being bullied, but an unpopular kid is, God may be calling you to stand up with them and be their protector.

 

On a fun note, is the recipe for black bean chili your favorite?
Angela (Chris’ wife) likes to experiment with recipes, so when we told her we needed a black bean chili recipe for our family activity in the back of the book, she came up with this one—it’s very good. What we like about this recipe is that it’s a simple one that kids can get involved in with their parents. But don’t be afraid to try adding new things; you just might find your new recipe could win the “Best in the West.” Maybe we’ll have to add a forum on our Web site for families to share their own black bean chili recipes.

The artwork is incredible. Have you always wanted to use your art to create picture books?
Our passion has always been to tell great stories for boys, and we knew that the visual media was the best way to do that. Beyond books we ultimately hope to be able to produce animated stories for kids using our talents as artists and storytellers.

What is it like to work with your brother? Have you always wanted to work together on something like this?
Growing up, we always played well together. We started several “companies” as kids—one was a detective agency and another was an animation studio. When we graduated from school, we went to college together at the Art Institute of Seattle and started a video production company that we ran for several years filming and editing weddings and events. Working together to write and illustrate this book has truly been a dream come true for us. We want to follow in Christ’s footsteps and become better storytellers for today’s generation of kids.

What is the main thing you hope children get out of Gid the Kid and the Heroes of Promise series?
The story of Gid the Kid is really a lesson about standing for what’s right, even when it isn’t an easy thing to do, and trusting God to handle the results. Our desire is to help parents and children realize that God calls us to stand for what is right, EVERY time, not just when it’s easy or popular. The stories we are telling throughout the rest of the series focus on other Bible heroes. We hope to inspire parents and kids to take a second look at some familiar Bible heroes and the lessons they teach. Throughout the Heroes of Promise series we will explore topics like perseverance, forgiveness, and pride.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We’d invite kids and parents to visit our series Web site at http://www.HeroesOfPromise.com. We plan on making it a fun place to explore the different stories and characters that make up the series. We also have some fun games for kids that will be launching on the site very soon.