Allison's Book Bag

A Singer, A Writer, A Proprietor, Oh My!

Posted on: January 25, 2013

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby and their trusty dog, Nugget, must escape from the vicious Fangs of Dang who lost seek their lost jewels of Anniera. The edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness to the deadly Glipwood Forest and beyond set the stage for this epic adventure that includes: original songs and funny poems, authentic hand-drawn maps, an ex-pirate grandfather, toothy cows and real sea dragons, tours of Anklejelly Manor and Peet the Sock Man’s Tree House, and genuine recipes for Maggotloaf.

Cover of "On the Edge of the Dark Sea of ...

Cover via Amazon

This week, I’m featuring the first book inThe Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. The above description comes from the blurb on the back cover of On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness.

Andrew Peterson is a Christian singer and songwriter, who puts on concerts around the country. Every few years, he also gets to play in Europe. Peterson is also a novelist. He’s working on a four-part fantasy series, the first three of which have been published. He even illustrated some of the pictures. Peterson is also a proprietor of the Rabbit Room, a community of songwriters, authors, and artists interested in storytelling, faith, and fellowship. Last, he’s been married for fifteen years. Peterson and his wife live in Nashville and have three children. The family also has a Great Pryenees dog named Moon Dog.

Over the next three days, I’ll tell you more about Peterson’s music, his books, and other aspects of his life. Then on Saturday I’ll post a review. Save the dates: January 23-26!


Janner Igiby lay trembling in his bed with his eyes tight, listening to the dreadful sound of the Black Carriage rattling along in the moonlight. His younger brother Tink was snoring in the bunk above him, and he could tell from his sister Leeli’s breathing that she was asleep too. Janner dared to open his eyes and saw the moon, as white as a skull, grinning down on him through the window….”

The above quote is from the first page of my featured book for this week, The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. I’m posting it here as part of First Chapter First Paragraph. In a single paragraph, Peterson introduces his characters, describes an eerie setting, and sets a dark tone. I’m hooked! How does the first paragraph in your book turn you off or draw you in?

Janner didn’t like it but he was once again as curious as his brother…. The bridges zigzagged for what seemed like miles before they came to a fork.

The above quote is from a random page in my featured book for this week, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. I’m posting it here as part of Teaser Tuesdays, a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers!
  • Share the title & author too, so that participants can add the book to their Books To Read Lists if they like your teaser.


Now turning to Andrew Peterson himself, I first discovered Wingfeather Saga, because of hearing Peterson in a local concert. For that reason, I’m focusing first on his life as a singer.

In 1996, after Caedmon’s Call lead guitarist and vocalist Derek Webb came across Peterson’s lyrics online, Peterson received an invitation to join the group’s band at an upcoming show. The band enjoyed Peterson’s performance and asked him to join them on their 1998 tour. Peterson accepted and soon became involved with music industry.

Backed in 1999 by Essential Records in 1999, Peterson went on to create his first full-length album: Carried Along. The album was listed on CCM Magazine’s list of the Top 10 albums of 2000. It also featured the top ten radio single, “Nothing to Say”.

Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since that time, Peterson has released 14 albums. Other highlights of his career include:

  • In 2003, Peterson released Love and Thunder, which featured country singer Alison Krauss along with other notable artists.
  • In 2004, Peterson’s song “Family Man,” from the album Love and Thunder, was nominated in the category “Country Recorded Song of the Year” for the 35th Annual Dove Awards. In that same year, Peterson released a Christmas album, Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. Ever since that release, Peterson and numerous fellow Nashville area musicians have gone on an annual tour playing the songs from the album. My husband, my mother-in-law, and I attended this year’s tour.
  • In 2006, Peterson worked with his friend Randall Goodgame to release Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies, a children’s album. The album produced two tracks which were featured on one of the videos in Veggie Tales, a series popular in the Christian children’s market.
  • In 2007, the acclaimed country singer Randy Travis recorded Peterson’s “Labor of Love” for his 2007 Christmas album: Home for the Holidays.
  • In July 2008, Peterson released Resurrection Letters, Volume Two, a collection of songs about what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means. The album reached #9 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums.
  • In August 2010, Peterson released Counting Stars, which debuted at #7 in Billboard’s Top Christian Albums. His single from the album, Dancing in the Minefields, reached #13 on Billboard’s Top Christian Songs chart and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks.

In my research into his music career, the answer to three questions stood out most to me. They’re paraphrased below.

QUESTION: When people talk about you and your music, they often talk about your ability as a storyteller. What is the importance of telling stories to you?

ANSWER: When Peterson was a kid he used to listen to his dad preach every Sunday. Over time, Peterson noticed that he paid more attention whenever his dad broke away from exposition and told a story. “I’d be scribbling on the bulletin, struggling to stay awake, then he’d say, ‘The other day I was at the post office…’ and something in the air would change.” The same held true for others in the congregation too. Peterson believes that realization carried over into the songs he wrote.

QUESTION: What was the lowest point in your writing career, and how did you get out of it?

ANSWER: One day Peterson was trying to write a lyric and came up with almost nothing. Feeling like a failure, he closed his notebook. He got out of it a few minutes later when he opened his notebook back up and started to write. Most of the time Peterson, he feels like a sham when he writes. But then God’s voice cuts through (in Scripture, more often than not) and reminds “me of who I am”. After that, somehow he writes one line and then another. Sometimes he even looks back with wonder to see that a chapter or a chorus has been written. According to Peterson, that happens every day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQUESTION: In the past ten years or so that you’ve been making records, what would you say has changed about your identity as an artist?

ANSWER: Peterson says some things haven’t changed. Like, his sense of calling to use his gifts for the kingdom. His job is something that satisfies his creative itch but also satisfies his spiritual desire. “From record to record; that’s been the thing that has given me the guts to keep doing this over the years.”

As for one thing that has changed, Peterson recognizes now more than ever how desperately he needs his friends around him. That’s not to say, there aren’t moments when he feels as if he can pull off a concert by himself with a guitar. But then “I fall off the wagon in another way. I’ll have my own personal demons on the road that come after me, or terrible insecurity will come, or….” That’s when Peterson realizes how much he needs his family, his friends, and his community of musicians in Nashville to make “me better than I really am”.

He cites The Behold the Lamb of God Tour as a great example of that, admitting there’s no way he could pull off all those songs by himself! The only reason the show works, Peterson says, is because of the community that’s involved with it. “I really feel like I’m just part of the band and along for the ride, trying to make these songs as pretty as they can be and get them out to the people.”

You can find expanded answers, along with other interesting information about Peterson’s musical career in interviews with:

I first discovered Andrew Peterson’s books because of hearing him in a local concert. Now Peterson is also establishing himself as an author of juvenile fiction. Today I’ll talk about that journey.

Peterson shares two childhood interests with at least half the authors in the world: a love of books and a love of writing fiction. The Peterson house was full of books. “Everything from Shakespeare to Robert Frost to the Hardy Boys.” His favorites were Chronicles of PrydainBlack Stallion series, and the poetry collections by Shel Silverstein.

When asked what book most influenced him growing up, Peterson said the Bible. His dad was a preacher and so naturally his childhood abounded with Bible stories. Peterson says, “We had one of those giant, intimidating black Bibles always open on the buffet in the family room. It looked ancient and it seemed to cast a long shadow. That’s how I think of the Bible in my childhood: always there, always open whether we were reading it or not, impossible to ignore, no matter how hard I tried.”

Turning now to Peterson’s love of fiction, when asked when he first realized that he wanted to be a fiction writer, Peterson admitted: Since he was a kid! However, like many other aspiring writers, he struggled to find the motivation and time. He’d start a few stories here and there, but he’d never finish them. Then one day, Peterson and his brother had a contest to see who could finish a novel first. Nothing like a healthy competition! Ultimately, both brothers ended up writing a published novel.

When asked what first inspired him to write the Wingfeather Saga, Peterson revealed: He started with a map. He built a world from the ground up, answering questions about it, and hoping those answers will “trick” future readers into believing his world is real. At some point in the map-making, he also pictured a little town on the edge of a towering cliff above the ocean. There was a little stone cottage, with a garden and a barn and fences for animals. He wondered who lived there, and the Igiby family more or less appeared. Peterson also credits one of Garrison Keillor’s Stories from Lake Wobegon called “The Royal Family” with inspiring the theme.

To end by notes about Peterson’s journey as a writer, I’ll share a summary of his comparison of writing songs to writing novels.

Songwriting requires patience. You have to do a lot of waiting, which isn’t the same as doing nothing. You make yourself available to the creative process whether or not it seems to be bearing fruit. Many nights I go to bed without a single new line or musical idea. I hammer things out on the piano or pluck them on the guitar, and go to bed knowing it’s all worthless. And that can be frustrating. I don’t know how it works, but sometimes artists stumble on a treasure hidden in a field, and your only appropriate response is gratitude. To create something beautiful is to encounter grace. So I knew going into the book writing process not to expect instant results, or instant gratification. If I was going to finish this book (and beat my brother), then it wasn’t going to happen overnight. Writing books demands not necessarily patience, but endurance.

You can find expanded answers, along with other interesting information about Peterson’s writing career in his interview with:

Peterson juggles many roles. Besides being a singer and a writer, Peterson is also the organizer of a group called Square Peg Alliance. According to him, it sort of grow organically out of a little songwriting community in Nashville. Several of the locals had been on Christian record labels and some had received radio play. As the industry started to change, however, none of them found themselves “pop Christian” enough to succeed in the Christian world but all were “too Christian-y” to gain attention in the mainstream world. And so ones just started trying to help each other survive and to stick to writing the type of songs they felt called to compose. The group jokingly named themselves the Square Peg Alliance, but it’s not as active as it had been several years ago.

Actually, one might say Rabbit Room replaced it. Peterson calls Rabbit Room the online version of the Oxford pub where Tolkien, Lewis, and their buddies hung out and read their stories. In the interest of celebrating art, Peterson invited a few songwriters, authors, and pastors to participate in the Rabbit Room experiment. It’s a web store where ones can buy books by authors, recordings by singers, and other merchandise that the members of Rabbit Room recommend—all in the name of drawing attention to creative artists who they feel are getting it right. It’s also a glorified blog where members write about whatever is on their minds.

You can find expanded answers, along with other interesting information about Peterson’s life in his interview with:


2 Responses to "A Singer, A Writer, A Proprietor, Oh My!"

it certainly sounds atmospheric!

Yes, I think one thing Peterson handles well is his building of a dark and fantastical world. Here’s my review of the his first book:
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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