Ben Avery is a versatile writer who has followed his dream since childhood. A truly talented and modest author, Ben has played in the big leagues with Zondervan and also served as an integral part of the continually growing and consistently excellent Kingstone Media (Ben wrote Book of God and Job, both of which I recommended).
Despite his busy life as a father and freelance contributor, Ben took the time to participate in my ongoing In God’s Image interview series, wherein I ask the same (or, at least, very similar) questions to creative types. Below he provides a wonderful picture of how the writer’s life may look: one “lives the dream”, but the work is hard, and things do not always work out like they would in one’s own mind. Fortunately for each of us, the author of our personal story knows best, and we can trust that difficulty now may be a great blessing in disguise.
Please join me in getting to know Ben Avery.
1. Define yourself in one word (Disciple, Christian, American, Man, etc.)
2. Why do you choose that term?
Everything I love comes back to story. And I love telling stories in many different ways: using sock puppets with my kids or writing comics or teaching. Story is a powerful thing, and I have felt its power in my life and I love using stories to help people learn or to bring people a bit of happiness or to make people think.
3. Tell us about your writing endeavors as well as whom you see as your audience.
I’m a storyteller and I have stories to tell. I use different mediums, and my audience may change depending on the story I want to tell.
4. What was the latest comic to feature your writing and what led to its creation? Can you give us your favorite three projects on which you’ve worked?
My favorite three projects? First, TimeFlyz is the Saturday morning cartoon I always wanted to make, and I was very blessed by Zondervan when they chose to publish the entire eight book series, let me get into the characters in ways I would have never had the opportunity to do. Second, the Bible stories I’ve done for Kingstone, which has been another incredible opportunity to take the stories that have blessed me personally and dive in deep for the research, which has ALSO blessed me, and then to pair up those awesome stories with awesome artists. Seriously, Kingstone’s output is drawn by some of the best artists in the business. Third, my career was jumpstarted by the chance I got when I worked on George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight. Without that initial project, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do any of this other stuff.
As for the most recent comic to feature my writing, the most recent book of mine to be published is The Twelve, a graphic novel that has twelve different chapters, each chapter being the story of one of the twelve apostles. Some of the stories are very short, like the Zealot, but other stories are longer, like Peter and Matthew. Although I freely admit, Matthew’s is longer not because of the wealth of information but because I like him so much.
5. How has the your career as a writer required you to sacrifice?
I’ve sacrificed comfort. By working as a writer, there were times that we weren’t exactly sure how we were going to make ends meet. We always did, one way or another (it helps that we have no debt other than our house), and there has been some miraculous times where we would wonder how we were going to pay for this bill or that, and then a check would come in the mail that was a royalty from some old project. You see, working as a freelance writer my yearly income might cover my yearly needs, but sometimes clients don’t pay right away, creating problems when you were counting on getting paid for the work you just did for short term/monthly needs. Not every client is like that – for example, Kingstone is the best publisher I have ever worked with — but enough to cause problems. And those problems have meant that I was cleaning toilets and mopping floors for a part time job to insure regular income.
6. What is your primary goal as a writer?
To write good stories that touch people by making them laugh or cry or think.
7. What is your largest hope for those who engage your writing?
I hope people connect with the stories and in doing so connect with the storyteller and in doing so connect with the Creator who created me.
8. What are two key ways in which you believe your writing benefits readers today?
Well, for one, I believe that readers who read my Bible stories can benefit by seeing those stories in a new light, either by looking at them in a ways they never have before or, maybe, looking at stories they never have even looked at before.
I hope that my writing also benefits people by connecting them with a writer who sees things in a way that’s different from them. That’s why people read, right? To experience a world that’s not theirs. Okay, not all people, but a lot of us do. We all look at the world in different ways, and I’m just another guy who looks at the world in another way. My worldview, like any writer, is going to come through in my writing.
9. How have you seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in your work?
All over the place. I’m nobody special, but for some reason God has chosen to let me live out some of the dreams I’ve had since I was a lad. Seriously, when I was in sixth grade I was asked to make a timeline of my life and I knew then I wanted to be a writer. I actually planned to go to a college and study to become a comic book artist, but I realized not too long after that I didn’t quite have the natural ability for a career as a published comic book writer. But on that timeline I knew I would be a writer before I was thirty and I would have a castle in the Canadian Rockies with wolves on the grounds and sharks in the moat. So, one out of two isn’t bad. Besides, I didn’t know back then that sharks needed warm salt water.
But God has given me a chance to get paid to do what I love. It still feels like I don’t deserve it, and it’s fun to look at the shelf and say, “That paid for food that my kids ate” or “That fixed the van.”
Beyond that, every once in a while I get to see how the end product has touched someone. Those little notes from readers are awesome, and it is so cool to see how God has used you to impact someone else.
10. How can readers learn more about you and your work?
My website is benavery.com and my Faebook page is facebook.com/