Where did the idea for the Katie Carlson Adventure Series come from?
A number of years ago God led me to write a serious book for couples about protecting your marriage. Then one day it occurred to me that since we flew a lot in our ministry work, I could productively use my time on airplanes by writing a fun, fiction book for kids. At the time, I reasoned that writing fiction didn’t require any resource or reference books like serious topics did (how wrong I was!), so it would be easy to do while flying.
Just a short time later, I was out riding my bicycle when the entire storyline came to mind for the kids’ book. I always carry paper and pen, because I get lots of ideas while biking, so I stopped and jotted it all down. Creating stories seems very natural for me, because I’ve always put myself to sleep at night by making up adventures. However, I really didn’t think it would come to anything, so I simply stuck it in a file.
When did you know that you wanted to write fiction for youth?
After getting the plot idea for the story, I didn’t think much more about it, because it seemed like God had directed me to continue teaching and speaking to women. But on our next flight, I typed out the first couple of chapters just for fun, then sent them to my brother who had three kids ranging from nine to twelve years old. He got really excited, because he saw how the book was teaching a Christian character quality. He and his wife had read tons of books to their children, and his comment was that so few books—even good stories—actually taught anything of value. So he really encouraged me to continue.
I haven’t read tons of children’s literature on purpose, because I want the Lord to direct me rather than merely imitating what is out there. The one series that has inspired me, though, is
C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
What do you hope to accomplish with this series?
This question gets me so pumped up! The original idea—to teach Christian character qualities while telling exciting adventure stories—hasn’t changed. But God has enlarged the scope
The Lord has led me to weave an entire discipleship process into the Katie Carlson Adventure Series! As far as I know, such a thing doesn’t exist in any other Christian fiction series for kids.
The Cru motto of Win, Build, Send is exactly what this entire series does. The first book explains how to know Christ personally in a very natural way as part of the story. Then book two follows up by explaining more about forgiveness. The next books successively teach the importance
of daily time in the Word and the trustworthiness of the Bible, the importance of Christian fellowship, the Spirit-filled life, how to share your faith in Christ, and how to stand firm in the midst of the world’s temptations. It’s an entire discipleship package, all woven within fun,
exciting stories that kids are eager to read!
Josh McDowell says, “If a child doesn’t accept Christ by age twelve, there’s only a four percent chance he or she will.” And George Barna adds, “What you believe by the time you are thirteen is what you will die believing.” So it is critical to reach our young people with the gospel and ground them in the foundations of Biblical faith in Jesus Christ.
We all know how desperately our society needs transforming. We yearn for a spiritual awakening and a return to Biblical values in our country. But I have to admit, I’ve had a hard time having the faith to believe that the adults in America are going to turn back to the Lord.
However, when I saw what the Lord was directing me to do with the Katie Carlson Adventure Series, I got so excited I couldn’t sleep! If we can grip the hearts of the youth and plant them firmly in the Lord, I believe the upcoming generation can be a huge part of transforming this country!
These books are also a wonderful tool for reaching non-Christian kids. As they are drawn into the story, they get the gospel presented in a totally non-threatening, natural way. Then as they want to continue following Katie and Zack, they’ll keep reading through the series, being discipled as they read. And the best way for kids to learn and remember is through stories—so this is a natural!
There will also be supplemental resources that go along with the series. For instance, Adventure
in Paris teaches the importance of daily time in the Word, so we will be offering a free download of a daily Bible study called 30 Days with God. It has daily readings, along with short explanations and applications. And woven into the Bible studies are vignettes of Katie and Zack learning these same truths, so kids will want to keep reading the Bible studies to see what Katie and Zack are talking about. I’m just so excited about the potential of all this, I can’t help using tons of exclamation points!
How did you decide to pick the locations for the first two books?
The first book, Adventure at Cassidy Ranch, is set in northern Colorado—not far from where Cru meets every other summer. I picked a location that was both very pretty, and very familiar.
But the actual ranch setting is based on Rancho Mission Viejo, a 22,000 acre working cattle ranch very near our home, where I was privileged to help exercise horses for several years. It’s far easier to describe a location you know well!
The location for Adventure in the Bahamas was chosen because the story is about hunting for sunken treasure, and upon research I discovered that most galleons went down around Florida and the Bahamas when they hit the area’s jagged reefs. Elbow Cay, specifically, was chosen for its charm and blend of British and Bahamian cultures… so of course we had to go there.
What are some of the future titles you have planned to appear in the series?
Book 3, Adventure in Paris, is coming out this Fall. I haven’t decided on the exact titles for Books 4 and 5 yet, but one is set in the wild west of Texas, and the other in New Zealand. They will be available in 2015. Books 6 and 7, a cruise around Italy and a fun story in Hollywood, will be available in 2016. Texas and horses go together like bread and butter, New Zealand is the outdoor adventure capital of the world, I love Italy, and of course you can’t beat Hollywood for a story that deals with temptations!
What kind of feedback have you received from readers or parents of readers of the first two books?
Honestly, Stottler and I have been overwhelmed by the response! The kids love these stories—not only the adventure and cliff-hanger chapter endings, but also the spiritual aspects.
Kids have an innate hunger for the Lord, so it meets that need in a very natural way within the context of the story. And since I’ve been putting Chapter One of the following book in the back of each story, the kids (and the adults) have been very eager for each successive book.
The funny thing is, adults seem to love the stories as much as the kids. I even have fathers coming up to me at church and whispering that they just finished the book and loved it, and want to know when the next one will be available.
And grandparents have been incredibly eager to purchase the books, because they have a strong desire to see their grandchildren grounded in Biblical truth. They have been a great market for these stories.
I can hardly wait to see what the Lord is going to do through the Katie Carlson Adventure Series. He has given us all sorts of huge ideas for expanding the impact in kids’ lives, like summer camps, school curriculums, board games, etc. So the adventure continues!
Authors and Books
Here you'll learn more about some Cru authors and the ministry materials they've created that are making a difference in the lives of real people.