“A story with the power to change the direction of your story.”
~ Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor, speaker
Have you ever wondered if there is a bigger plan to your life or if everything just happens by chance?
In The Blackberry Bush, David Housholder will take you on a journey across two continents to discover that your life may be bigger than you think and that even the worst of mistakes can find redemption. While on this journey, he will also examine today’s youth cultures and their complex relationship with the Christian faith.
Through his book, Housholder hopes to help adults better understand the teen cultures of today. He also helps parents whose teens and young adults aren’t going to church, but are looking for a way that might nudge the children back “home” to church without being “preachy.”
An interview with David Housholder, Author of The Blackberry Bush
What was your inspiration for The Blackberry Bush?
My wife is from Holland and parents lived through the siege of Rotterdam by the Germans in World Ware II. They basically grew up in the rubble. They saw some horrific things during and after the war, especially when women who had dated German soldiers were rounded up and publicly humiliated. I asked myself the question, “How many generations would it take to redeem something like this?” Then, I began to write.
Throughout the story, blackberry bushes are often found in the background. What is the significance of the bushes?
The blackberry bushes represent the nasty barbed wire in which we get tangled. There is really no way to avoid it. We try to do our best, but in doing so, we often make it worse. We imprison ourselves over time and can’t escape on our own. It is the human condition.
The Blackberry Bush looks at two youth cultures represented in our world today. Can you tell us a little about these two cultures?
At least out here in California, there are two youth cultures. One character, Josh, represents the outdoorsy, extreme sports-oriented lifestyle with Jack Johnson music as a spiritual soundtrack. They wear apparel with Hurley and Quiksilver logos. The other character, Kati, represents the more artistic indoor, clubbing culture of music lovers and irony-seekers. They wear a lot of black and the Emos and Hipsters would be subsets of this group.
The lives of Josh and Kati, your two main characters, are intertwined without their knowledge. Do you think that our lives follow a similar pattern?
Yes, certainly. I believe the Lord has us meeting people for a purpose (our benefit and theirs) every day. We need to become more aware of it and watch for it.
Do you believe in predestination? Are there multiple possible futures or only one?
It sounds like a cop out, but yes and no! I believe there is a dynamic freedom in life with more than one possible outcome. There is also destiny that only God gets to vote on.
Josh’s and Kati’s grandparents play a special role in their lives. Why do you believe the grandparents were better able to understand them than their parents? Isn’t this the way it often goes? Do they really understand us better or is it a wisdom that comes with age and knowing what really matters? How did your relationship with your parents and grandparents influence the book?
I think that grandparents and grandchildren are natural allies, because they have a common enemy, the parents. Actually, I do believe that it is because they are older and less controlling. After raising their own children, they know that trying to control children doesn’t work. Instead, they just love and guide them.
They often learned this the hard way as parents. I am somewhat disappointed in how I parented, and this certainly comes across in the book. My shadow sides are amplified into some really ugly things that the parents do. However, I was especially close to my grandparents.
The grandparents made a decision that greatly impacted their lives. Do you believe that good can come from our worst mistakes? Can a life really be redeemed after we deliberately make a wrong choice?
YES! This is one of the main reasons I wrote the book. The characters in the story are far from perfect. Several even make huge, deliberate decisions (not mistakes) to do something clearly wrong. The worse things we do, the more material the Lord has to work with in creating something new and beautiful.
The book begins with the historical day that the Berlin Wall fell and it also looks back to 9/11. What was the significance of these historical events to the story?
I believe that every generation is shaped by the things happening around it. That is why no generation ever grows up to be like the last one. I wanted a book that shows how the big events of the last generation have shaped this group of young people.
Kati’s grandfather states that we “are in the presence of a God who speaks.” How do you think God prefers communicating with people? Have you ever received a message, in any form, that you believe was from God?
All the time! Where do you want me to start? The first step is to believe that He speaks. The second thing is to see that what is keeping us from hearing is our listening problem, and not His talking problem. Then, we have to get quiet enough to hear the still small voice.
Who do you think will be most encouraged from reading The Blackberry Bush, and what do you hope your readers will take away?
It is a book for all ages—young adults, parents and grandparents. It is for committed Christians and vaguely spiritual readers alike. Even for atheists who have always wondered if there is more to all this than meets the eye.
Many of us are intimidated to interact with today’s young people. How can we best relate to adults much younger than we are? Will this book help me understand them?
YES it will! The key is to hang around with the young adults that are the most comfortable with you and build out from there. Don’t force yourself in where you don’t fit.
The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder
Summerside Press/June 2011
ISBN: 9781609361167/208 pages/paperback