Our Backstory

[Allan writes:]

To quote a famous movie line: "Let's start at the very beginning. That's a very good place to start."

Fairbanks, AK 1976-78 - Chris and I were born into a Christian bookstore. Well, we were both born in a hospital, but soon after our respective births were a part of running a Christian bookstore which our grandparents and parents owned and operated for 10+ years. That meant we got to sleep behind the counter and, as we grew older, make forts behind the bookshelves. More importantly, we were exposed to every new Christian children's book and product that came out. Many of those books left an impression on our lives that last to this day.

In 1989 our family moved from Alaska to Washington state. The bookstore was behind us, but the books were not. In the years that followed, our parents started a Christian School Book Club, became Northwest representatives for God's World Book Club and eventually Lifetime Books & Gifts. This filled our pre-teen and teen years with lots of travel, conventions, and, of course, books. During these later years, books continued to leave their impressions on us, both figuratively AND literally. Moving boxes of books from one location to the next is heavy work!

For our Jr. High & High School years, we also had the distinct privilege of being homeschooled. Our mother made the effort to bring us the richness of learning at home. This unlocked a whole world of experiences that took us beyond the basics of education and gave us the opportunity to really explore our learning with our God-given talents and interests. We became more involved in art and animation; even setting up our own "animation studio" where we could practice story writing, storyboarding, and animating our creative ideas.

Upon finishing my highschool studies in 1995, both Chris and I pursued our interest in animation at the Art Institute of Seattle. In 1997 we graduated with degrees in Computer Animation & Multimedia and a dream to create imaginative stories and films that would bring the God's truth to life.

However, the next ten years would find us building a website design company, growing our families, volunteering at our church bookstore (yes, the books came back when our mom became manager for our church's bookstore), and wondering when and how this dream would ever happen. Did God have a plan?

He did.

In Spring 2005, our parents attended a Christian writer's conference at Seattle Pacific University for a project they were working on. After the first day of seminars, they felt prompted to offer their tickets to Chris and I. "There's some great children's book sessions and we think you'll be encouraged", they said. Well, they were right. We were greatly encouraged and met some incredible people. It also provided a key spark for us. During a lunch break, Chris shared how his morning devotions in the book of Judges had a verse that really stuck out to him, Judges 21:25 - "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." To us, that verse just sounded so much like the Wild West. No sheriff. Every man was a law to himself. And right then and there a book series was born, Heroes of Promise, where we could retell powerful biblical accounts in a fun, wild west setting to inspire and challenge today's youth. Over the next months, the idea crawled it's way out onto paper in words and illustrations.

What happened from there was a two year period of forming a new business, Lumination Studios, and submitting our manuscript and sample illustrations to numerous publishers. There were some near-acceptances that ended in the dreaded "no-thank-you"; each time testing our faith. But God, in His providence, opened doors and directed us to ultimately land a contract with Warner Press (our wonderful publisher!) for our Heroes of Promise book series. In July, 2007 our first book "The Legend of Gid the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits" was released at the International Christian Retailers Show in Denver, CO.

And so it has begun: a new chapter in our lives, now as Authors and Illustrators. Looking back over the previous pages of our life, it is exciting to see the purposeful design with which God has woven our story from childhood to today. He is the perfect Author. Nothing is by chance. Everything is so carefully crafted. He has been and will continue to be faithful. We simply follow his lead and look expectantly forward to what He has planned for us in the future.

And what do the next pages hold for us? We invite you to keep coming back to this blog to find out. Whatever it is, we know it's going to be good.... and for HIS glory.