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Q & A with Bob Hartman, author of Hanging Out with Jesus

Q & A with Bob Hartman, author of Hanging Out with Jesus

Why did you want to make the stories of Christ accessible to a younger audience? Why did you decide to write the book? 

I think it is important to make Jesus’s story accessible to every age and demographic, as far as that is possible. That requires understanding both what Jesus said and did and also the group you want to reach. I felt there was a gap with eight to ten year old kids in that regard, boys in particular. So I thought that something that was funny and adventurous would be the best way forward.

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

Because Pip and Tommy and Bart (in particular) are more like grown up kids my hope is that the readers will see themselves in these characters and see, in their honest and questioning and confused and frightened and funny responses, the way that they themselves might respond to the things Jesus did. I think the book is all about asking questions. Why does Jesus do that? What’s he mean? What’s he up to, now? 

A key theme in your book is the friendship between Jesus and his disciples; what called you to focus on this?  

I hope it is an accurate reflection of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and his disciples and also an invitation for the children to see their relationship to Jesus in that way - both Lord and friend.

What was the most enjoyable thing about writing Hanging Out with Jesus?

Playing with the characters. Exploring the potential for humour within them individually and among them as a group. Imagining how they might react to the situations they find themselves in.

What was the hardest part of writing Hanging Out with Jesus? Was there an element that you struggled with in particular? 

It was important to have fun, but also to portray the events as accurately as possible. So I had to keep the randomness and ridiculousness I check. I’m not entirely sure I succeeded!

Has exploring the stories of the Bible in preparation for writing these books had an impact on your personal faith journey?

Sure. It always does. Whenever you crawl into the text and discover afresh what it has to say, there is always something new you learn about Jesus. And about yourself.

Do you have any daily reminders of your own relationship with Jesus?

Well, I suppose it has to do with responding honestly and inquiringly and not being afraid to ask questions about what Jesus did and what that means.

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

Perhaps I am wrong about this, but as I characterised Jesus’ relationship with the three main characters, I felt it was important to portray him with a twinkle in his eye, as if he was in on their jokes and sympathetic to their questions.

How did you feel when you were writing Hanging Out with Jesus? How do you feel about the book now that it is finished?

It was enormous fun. I like it when I laugh out loud when I am writing, and there was plenty of that as this book came together. I am very pleased with how it turned out and look forward to spending more time with these three disciples as we complete their journey together.

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

That Jesus wants to be their friend and teacher, too, and that he welcomes their questions and their company.

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Hanging Out With Jesus (Paperback)
Hartman, Bob
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