Come meet the authors of the exciting new 42 Day Devotional for Nerds everywhere! Eric Anderson and Nathan Marchand take time to sit down with us and give us the origin story of their devotional series 42. For more info about The New 42: God Terraforms All Things visit http://nerdchapel.com/books/
Below the video, you’ll see a transcript of the interview. We want to give a HUGE thank you to Devoted Geek Branson Boykin for transcribing for us! Hero Status!
Dallas: Today on Extra Tuesday we’re talking about the New 42 and the creators behind it.
Dallas: Hello Devoted Geeks. Welcome to Geek Devotions, the Youtube show from a couple of devoted geeks who are devoted to letting people know that they are loved. I’m Dallas, and with me is
Dallas: And we’re pretty excited today, because, if you’re watching this and you see down at the bottom corner somewhere–I think that’s the way it records it now on Youtube–we have some guests with us, and they are the creators of the New 42: God terraforms all things devotional. Umm, so, guys, say hello.
Nathan: HEELLOOOOO DEVOTED GEEKS!!!
Eric: Hi guys. This is Eric Anderson, how are you doing? Glad you’re watching.
Dallas: Alright so we got Eric–
Nathan: The loudmouth in the corner is Nathan.
Dallas: –And these guys are awesome, very cool guys. Before we get into talking about the subject of the book, let’s talk about you guys real quick–who you guys are, what do you guys do. Let’s start with Eric. Eric, you lead something called Nerd Chapel. What is that?
Eric: Nerd Chapel is my effort to bridge the gap between the Church and the nerd community. I’ve been running game nights at my home for quite a while, and eventually, I decided–well, God said you have a teaching gift. Why aren’t you using it? So I did a few youtube videos and started blogging, which has led to–a few months ago I started a new website called nerdchapel.com.
Dallas: Which looks great by the way.
Eric: Thank you.
Nathan: I’ve been telling him to get a legit website for a while. I’m glad he finally did it.
Eric: And also with having these books out I’ve been going in, tabling a lot of comic-con conventions, gaming conventions, anime conventions and just being a point of connection for people. There are a couple of rare opportunities to do chapel services at conventions. I’m doing one at JFX in a few weeks which is an anime con in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then in September I’m planning and organizing one for Grand Con, which is the gaming convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Dallas: Very cool. Nathan, who are you and what do you do, bro?
Nathan: Well, besides being a raging nerd, I’m a professional writer, and I’ve gotten not only–well, I’ve got both of these devotion books as I came with both of the visual aids. This is the first one right here, and then obviously this is our second. I have–I don’t know how many–like five or six other titles to my name in publication right now. The two devotionals are my two nonfiction books and then I have a lot of novels, fantasy and science fiction mostly, that are out there, some short story collections I have contributed to, some anthologies. I actually met Eric at Taylor University Fort Wayne. I was a professional writing major there. That’s where I got started. I’ve worked a lot of odd jobs since then. I’ve been a substitute teacher, I’ve been a reporter, I was a pizza delivery guy for a while–all the while trying to keep up with my writing habit. And I currently am a master’s student in English with a writing concentration at a local university
Dallas: Okay cool, very cool man. Well, now that you guys know who these guys are, Celeste has recently gone through this herself and she wrote a review on this particular book which, by the way, can be found on www.GeekDevotions.com, link’s in the description below. (or click here) Celeste why don’t you start us off by giving the audience–I’m talking to these guys–just some of your initial thoughts on what they’ve created here.
What we liked about New 42
Celeste: So, I’m one of these weird people, I smell books. So your book smells really nice.
Eric: Yes! Yay! That’s good!
Nathan: Eric, we are creating legal snuff.
Celeste: Okay, and moving on from that, but it’s just really well written, it’s really well put together. The artwork is great. So I wrote in my review–which should be out by the time this is out–that I have a couple of learning disabilities, so the way that the print is is actually really helpful. Because it’s not like super small. It’s not super squished together. It makes it a little easier to read.
Nathan: That’s very nice to hear because I did the interior design on the book.
Celeste: And that sometimes is a legitimate problem, especially with devotional books, because the thing is people try to squish so much in, and they’re trying to keep the books small. And then you sit here going, I can’t read. So that’s a personal problem.
Eric: And that’s a problem with Bibles as well. There are so many Bibles with super tiny print.
Nathan: Yeah, absolutely.
Celeste: So yeah, I really enjoyed it. I know you read a couple of the devotions that was the main one doing it. What were your thoughts?
The Geeky Content
Dallas: I’m really enjoying it. For those of you who maybe–I don’t know how a preacher explained it, but this is a devotional. 42 weeks or 42 days of going to the Word of God and talk about God’s transformation in people’s lives and how it changes lives. But what I love is the span of geekery that you guys have here.
Nathan: We worked very hard on that.
Dallas: You can tell. It’s spaced out really nicely. Sometimes you get these specialized devotionals out there. I bought Celeste the Sherlock Holmes devotional and everything’s kind of based around Sherlock Holmes and that’s really cool. But within the geek world there are so many of us that our interest span many things. We could sit here and we could all name stuff that we like and they’re so expansive. But when you read through this–and I could tell you guys are authentic with what you have going on here. You could tell, we were talking about anime, you know what you’re talking about with anime. When you were talking about Godzilla–it seems like you might be a fan of Godzilla.
Nathan: Just a little bit.
Dallas: Just a little bit. But, as a Geek, when you hit the Devotions that are in my realm, and you do it right, it makes me feel like you took care and purpose to write this to really speak to me as a Geek in my Geekdom. So I really appreciated the care that you guys put into this. But let’s talk about this from your guys’ perspective. This is not the first book you have. Nathan, you actually have the first one. What’s the title of the first one you have?
History of 42
Nathan: 42: Discovering Faith through Fandom
Dallas: So, I can assume why you guys are calling it 42, but why don’t you guys tell us. Why is it 42 devotions?
Nathan: Well, there’s an interesting story behind that. Originally, the way this whole thing–well, I’ll let Eric tell the beginning of the story. He’s the one who really kicked this off.
Eric: I was wandering around, looking at Christian bookstores, trying to get an idea of what there was for devotionals. And as I looked around, I saw a lot of sports devotionals, a lot of hunting and fisherman and outdoorsy devotionals. I saw a lot of devotionals for women, or as I like to call them, women tease groups. And I look around–like, there’s something missing here. And I couldn’t find one that related to the nerd crowd at all. So I felt like there was a need, and eventually, it felt like God saying, “Eric, you do it. Go ahead.” And I called Nathan, and I said, “Nathan, I’m doing this. Are you in?”
Nathan: The way I remember the conversation was you called me up and said, “Have you noticed there’s a devotional for every subculture out there except ours?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You wanna write one?” “Sure!” I have a lot of experience writing devotionals. The writing program at my university–pretty much as soon as we were put in a classroom, we were told, “Anything you actually write in this will be made for publication.” The professor said, ‘We want you to at least submit it for publication.” He had a lot of connections with devotional books, like those little ones you get monthly that they hand out at churches and stuff like that. He had a lot of connections with them and with a lot of freelance writers. So we would write stuff up, and he would send them off, and since we were his students, we would usually get picked up. And so I had a lot of experience writing these things.
Eric: I was a Bible major in college. He was a writing major. I felt that putting those two together with both of us being nerds would be a good combination.
Nathan: Yeah, and as for the 42 thing, when Eric and I were initially planning the first book, he originally wanted it to be 40 days, because 40 is a significant number in the Bible. And I had been around the Christian publishing world enough to know that devotional books are usually 30 or 40 days–30 days because it’s a month or 40 days because of the significance behind it. So we were in one of our Christian nerd groups, and we were saying, “Hey, can you guys give us some ideas for this?” Somebody piped in and said, “Why don’t you make it 42 days, since its for nerds and geeks, in reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” And I said, “That’s genius! Let’s do it!” It took Eric about three days to agree with me. I’m like, “Dude, trust the nerdy writer. I know what I’m talking about.” But then, once we were both on board with this, we built everything around it. We’re probably getting ahead or ourselves, but we’re thinking about doing some additional ones to this, and we’re finding all of these different ways to pun off of 42.
Eric: It was surprising, or exciting, when I did a 5-year celebration for my ministry when I put together photos to run on through the night, without realizing it I put up 42 photos for it.
Dallas: I feel like the Lord was speaking to you guys.
Celeste: It’s ingrained in your life.
Dallas: So let’s talk about the writing process you guys have. You heard Celeste and my opinion about the book. We really enjoyed the book. We enjoy the care you guys have. But how did you work out the process of sitting down and writing 42 devotions covering the span of Geekery, from A to Z basically? How did you guys plot this out?
Nathan: The nuances of each of the books was a little bit different. But we essentially followed the same process, which was Eric came up with the themes and the Bible passages and stories he wanted to cover. So I kind of let him be the architect of that. He did consult with me on a few things, like “Hey what else could we add here?” We did talk that over, but I let him spearhead that. And then we both would spend a lot of time just racking our brains, trying to figure out what pieces of Geek culture, whether it be a story or some our personal experiences–we got into some of our personal experiences in the second book; the first book is all stories–trying to figure out how to fit them in there. Then we were also trying to be conscientious of making sure we don’t overuse certain things. Like, okay let’s not have more than two or three devotionals about Star Wars, two or three about Star Trek, something like that, and also trying to make sure we space them out.
Dallas: So, Eric, as you as the architect for the actual Scripture side, what was your thought process going in, building the New 42, how you wanted this to span out for people?
Eric: Well, there were a couple of things I knew. One was I knew God wanted us to focus on how He makes things new and how we can cooperate with Him as He makes things new. The other thing was I really felt like God wanted us to look from Genesis to Revelation and help people get a big-picture focus on Scripture and help combat some of the issues we have with Biblical illiteracy in our culture. There’s so many people that don’t know some stories that really should be known if you’re growing up in the church, so many stories that are important to understanding the whole breadth of what God is doing. And I just wanted to encourage people to take the study of–let’s see how Scripture moves along and how we can see God moving throughout the entire portion of Scripture.
Nathan: And then after we finished all of that, I compiled everything, edited the snot out of it, and then we sent it off to some other people, had them work it over, got feedback from them. And then we would edit again. And I did the interior design for it. We commissioned an artist for the artwork. And then I did most of the work trying to put the cover and everything together. We ended up running into difficulty, as I always do, with Kindle Direct Publishing, which was originally Createspace. We ended up running into a little bit of trouble making our custom cover agree with what they wanted. So we ended up getting a little bit of help from one of Eric’s graphic designer friends to finalize it. But we were barely able to get it done just in time to unveil it at–what was the name of that convention again?
Eric: Muskee Con
Eric: Muskee Con. Yeah, that was our big unveiling.
The Cover Art
Dallas: Very cool. So you mentioned a little bit about the art, and the art’s kind of interesting. When we first talked about this in our car ride conversation, we actually got it wrong. So if you guys could explain the cover to folks. What’s up with the cover? Talk about the cover.
Eric: So being that we added anime in–we didn’t do much anime in the first book. So we wanted to make sure we had a character to represent anime that would fit with the other characters that we had in the first book. And Nate had recommended an anime girl, and I loved the idea, and I was like, “Okay, great.” And our artist worked with that and gave us some great points on what we were looking for. And we both thought, “Well, we’re doing more with gaming in this one, so let’s get an arcade machine in there.” And at first we just wanted our characters standing around the arcade, watching her play it, but then the artist showed this to us, essentially transforming our first book into an arcade machine, and I loved that idea. This looked so cool. So I guess our first book is a Transformer now. And then the other thing on here, you’ll notice on the viewscreen of the arcade machine, there is an image of a super spy and a superhero at the Cross. And what’s happened is that, because of Christ’s redemptive death on the Cross, there have been healing potions lined up, inspired by Isaiah 53:5, which tells us that we are healed by His wounds.
Nathan: Well, and that was also a piece of artwork that you had commissioned her to do for you at the cons. So she was taking a lot of the artwork she had done for you or the both of us before and kind of melding it together in this really creative fashion that we really weren’t expecting.
Eric: Yep, she did an amazing job and really did it better than either of us could have figured out.
Nathan: Yeah, and my whole goal with this was I wanted to make sure we got the shorthand, because the characters that you see on the cover of the other book–we have the dragon on the church, and then we have a superhero, a knight, and a sci-fi spy guy. One guy said that knight looks like he belongs in Dark Souls, which I thought was great. And then we have our Superman looking guy, and I like to think the spy guy looks like Neo from the Matrix. So I thought, “Okay, we’re representing a lot of the major Geekdoms here.” Well, our artist, even though we didn’t tell her anything other than just give us these generic characters to represent this, and then she realized when she finished, she was like, “I didn’t make any of them girls. I didn’t plan on that. I just didn’t do it.” So I said, “Okay, if we’re going to do more with anime and gaming, we need to make our new character a girl.” So I said, “Make our new character an anime girl,” but I wanted to make sure we got the shorthand in there to communicate “Yes, we have video games and we have anime in this.” So I was saying, let’s make it a Japanese schoolgirl with the big eyes and put katanas on her back, because she’s an anime school girl, and that’s what anime school girls do.
Who is the New 42 for?
Dallas: So here’s a question for you guys. We get a lot asking us, “Hey, what do you recommend for my kids? What do you recommend for my family members?” Who do you recommend that book for? Age range, genders, whatever–who do you recommend this book for?
Eric: I would recommend it for anyone high school and above, and maybe even middle school. And I’ve had several guys tell me that they were using it with their sons, and they were reading through it with their sons, and they were having a really good experience doing that.
Nathan: I met a guy at GenCon who came a couple of times. He worked as a teacher at a private Christian school, and he used it in his classroom. And he said it was tremendous. And he came and shared this with me at a point where I was feeling pretty discouraged at GenCon. Things just weren’t going the way I expected, and he said, “Hey maybe you’re not a world famous, best-selling author, but what you’re writing is making a difference in these kids’ lives, and I want you to know this.”
Dallas: That’s awesome.
Nathan: And then he came again another year and talked to me about whatever new books I had there, and he said, “Hey, I remember you from last time, and I want you to know it’s still making a big difference. I really feel like God told me to tell you this.” And I’m like, “Thank you sir.”
Eric: And I had a friend of mine who is using our first book with his youth group right now. And they’re reading one entry every time they get together as a youth group.
Nathan: Yeah, and actually, when I moved to Fort Wayne, I went looking for a new church, and the church I ended up going to, the pastor met with me one on one in a coffee shop, and I told him about these books, because he loves to read. And he took a look at them, and he bought the first one right on the spot. When the second one was out he bought a copy of that right there on the spot. He told a couple of members of the church council right there in front of me after service, “I want to do a Bible Study with these books.” So, it sounds like that’s gonna start this summer. So I’m really excited about that.
Theological Background for The New 42
Dallas: Let me ask you guys this real quick, because with devotionals sometimes, there is a slant theologically. And it goes one way or another way. It’s super fru-fru, or it’s like, “Here’s my theological point I’m going to make.” Reading y’all’s, it felt like it was a very balanced devotional, that I don’t care what your religious background is, you can get in this, you can plug in, and you can discover the truths that God has for you. Was that intentional, or was that j8ust a natural aspect of what you guys do?
Nathan: It was very intentional on our part.
Eric: Yeah, we really want people to use this to get to know Scripture better, to get to know God through Scripture better. And if you’re trying to post a certain viewpoint, that won’t happen, because people focus on the viewpoint rather than on Scripture and God Himself. So we just want to give people a way to experience Scripture and to experience Jesus. And that’s really want we’re trying to do.
Nathan: Yeah, we don’t really want to get into the mud with a lot of the debatable theological issues. That’s not what we’re about. We want to get on those big ideas what 99% of us agree, that these are the universal theological truths that we can all agree on. Because we don’t want to get into the mud with any of those debatable issues.
Where to Pick up a Copy
Celeste: Well, now that we know this is being used in youth groups, being used in schools, and is pretty much for anybody, where can people find it?
Nathan: Amazon is the best place to get it at this point
Eric: Yeah, Amazon, or if you happen to be at a con one of us is tabling at, you can get off of one of us and get it signed.
Nathan: Yes, you can find it listed in some other vendors. Kindle Direct Publishing, formally Createspace, has an option where they can make it available at other vendors, but Amazon is still the easiest place, because Kindle Direct Publishing is an Amazon company, obviously. But I think you can get from Barnes and Noble and a few other vendors. You should be able to talk to a few libraries–theoretically because I’ve never tried it. But Kindle Direct Publishing tells me these books will be available for libraries and independent bookstores to get.
Eric: I know that I did find my first one on Walmart.com.
Nathan: I have now officially arrived!
Eric: Yeah, so that was exciting. And then it was funny, because you see ads on Facebook. And I started to see ads on Facebook for a book I wrote at Walmart.com.
Nathan: Eric, I’m so jealous of you right now, because I want that. I feel like I need to start spamming everybody on Facebook with links to my books, just so they can click it and then be bombarded with ads.
Dallas: We’ll tell you about Facebook marketing a better way later.
Celeste: That is another video for another day.
How to Get Ahold of Eric and Nathan
Dallas: Next question. How we can find you guys personally? If somebody’s like, hey these guys are interesting. I love what they’re doing. I want to connect with them personally, check out the other books that you’re selling, or Eric, connect with you at another Con you’re doing. How can they do that?
Eric: Three different ways. First, there is the website, Nerdchapel.com. There is the Facebook page, facebook.com/nerdchapel. Then I’m also on Instagram, so you can look up @nerd_chapel, I’m on there as well.
Nathan: And for me, you can check out my author’s website, which is www.nathanjsmarchan.com. Yes, I had to use the js, those are my middle initials because nathanmarchan.com was already taken. I want to find this guy and find out why he stole my name.
Eric: He should be paying you for it.
Nathan: Yeah, he seriously should be paying me for it. He owes me so many royalties right now. But anyway, that’s my author website. It has a blog that I try to update weekly, as I can. You can also follow me on twitter at @nathanmarchan7 and you can find my professional Facebook page. You can do a search for The Worlds of Nathan Marchan, which is what I was finally able to change it to. Those will be the best ways to do it. And the website will have links to any of the upcoming events that I’m doing, or you can buy my other books, and things like that. I am going to be doing two events this summer if anyone wants to come see me. I will be doing G-Fest in mid-July. It’s Rosemont, Illinois, it’s a suburb of Chicago, right next door to O’Hare Airport. I will be paneling there. I’ll be on three panels there. It’s a Godzilla-Kaiju convention. I will also be at GenCon tabeling–are you coming to GenCon, Eric?
Eric: Yes, I’m coming to GenCon, and I have several conventions in Michigan that I will be at this summer, which are all listed on my Facebook and on my website as well.
Nathan: I will tell you, if you only make it to one this summer, come to GenCon. Not only is GenCon huge and fun–
Eric: And amazing
Nathan: Yeah…I think fun kind of covers that, but maybe I’m crazy. I am, but anyway. Eric and I don’t always make it to the same shows. So if you want signatures from both of us and you want to meet both of us, that would be the time to do it, at least in the immediate, usually.
Celeste: Well, thank you guys so much for coming and being interviewed and letting us read your book. We really really appreciated it. We had a good time doing it.
Dallas: We like free books.
Celeste: I like free books.
Nathan: Who doesn’t?
Celeste: Good question. If you would like to read our review on the New 42: God terraforming all things, then you can find it at www.geekdevotions.com.
Dallas: Also, don’t forget to check out all of our social media, as well as their stuff. Look on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Just look for Geek Devotions, really easy to pop up.
Celeste: With all that being said…
Nathan: Stay Devoted!!