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Bob Hartman answers questions regarding his latest book Hanging Out With Jesus Again

Bob Hartman answers questions regarding his latest book Hanging Out With Jesus Again
An Authentic Media Interview with Bob Hartman

Bob Hartman is a bestselling author, specialising in retelling Bible stories in a new and exciting way that children love. Bob divides his time between writing and storytelling in schools and churches.

Following on from Hanging Out with Jesus, which  looked at Jesus’ ministry to the Transfiguration, Hanging Out with Jesus Again focuses on the disciples as they journey with Jesus to the cross and beyond. Pip, one of the disciples, retells some  of the adventures he had while hanging out with Jesus and his mates Big Bart and Tommo in this fun, quirky yet informative story that will help children understand the gospel stories.

Why did you want to make the stories of Jesus accessible to a younger audience?

I think those stories need to be accessible to everyone. The trick is finding the right language and approach to make them truly accessible.

How do you think retelling these stories from the perspective of Jesus’ disciples engages the younger audience?

In the case of this book, Hanging Out With Jesus Again, I think the humour helps. Obviously, we have no way of knowing what those three disciples were actually like, so I have had to create their characters pretty much from scratch. That gave me the freedom to play around with them and come up with characters with whom I think children will relate. Bart is particularly ridiculous, but in a gentle, clueless, sort of way. Tommo is grumpy, and Pip is more of an innocent, so you get a variety of personalities, which is always helpful when it comes to building a relationship with the reader.

The disciples are a bit mischievous in your books – why did you give them these characteristics?

I think that if they were just three goody goodies that wouldn’t be as much fun, or particularly credible. On the other hand, I think they usually have the best of intentions at heart and genuinely want to try to understand and follow Jesus. So, they are mischievous but not malicious.

This book is a follow up to Hanging Out with Jesus – why did you want to write a follow up?

To finish the story. The first book only took us halfway through the story of Jesus and I thought it was important to see how these characters dealt with the more serious events at the end of the gospels.

Was it hard to pick up the characters again or did it come easily?

It came pretty easily. I reread the first book, in preparation, but I felt that I already knew these characters well. I like them. And that always makes writing them a joy.

This book covers the events up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection. The adventures of the disciples have been full of jokes and humour up to this point, so how did you approach this subject? Did you have tochange your style at all?

I tried very hard not to change the style at all when they faced the more difficult parts of their journey with Jesus. They needed to continue to be who they were and to deal with those events in ways that were true to their characters. So, I kept the humour, which I think makes their handling of the sadness, for example, even more acute.

What is the main point you want to get across to young people about Jesus (and Easter)?

Hope. I think that comes through in the story, and it is something we desperately need at the moment.

Have you had any feedback about Hanging out with Jesus – anything in particular stand out?

It has been very positive, indeed. The best thing is that kids want more of these stories, which I hope this book will provide.

You have recorded an audiobook version of the first book – how was that experience? What do you think an audiobook brings to a child that is different to them reading the stories themselves?

When I wrote the books, I had the voices of the characters in my head.  But that is no guarantee that the reader will hear the same voices. The audiobook gave me the chance to bring these voices to life. And I hope that makes the experience even more enjoyable.  The recording process was great fun.

What was the most surprising lesson you learnt from writing this book?

I gave the characters the freedom to reflect on what Jesus was doing, to ask questions about it, and sometimes even to be offended by what he did or said. I hope that gives the reader the freedom to ask and wonder, as well. And hopefully to find the answers in a positive context, like these disciples did.

How do you think Sunday School leaders/ teachers can use these books to effectively share the gospel with children?

The chapters are short, so they could be read (or listened to) quite easily in a Sunday School session. I think it would also be fun to compare the stories with the original text and talk about why I retold them the way I did, and perhaps even react to the disciples’ questions and concerns.

What do you hope the reader will learn from Hanging Out with Jesus Again?

That hanging out with Jesus is an amazing, life changing experience - just like it was for Bart, Pip and Tommo.

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Hanging Out With Jesus (Paperback)
Bob Hartman
Retail price: £9.99
Your price: £9.99

Hanging Out With Jesus Again (Paperback)
Bob Hartman
Retail price: £9.99
Your price: £9.99