Episode 54
The Storyteller Who Wore Tennis Shoes
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The Storyteller Who Wore Tennis Shoes

 Episode 54  Comments  Stop Play

Feisty interview with author Chris Heimerdinger on his latest novel, "Thorns of Glory, Part 1"

HOST: Greetings! Welcome to Forever LDS, our 54th episode. This is Chris Heimerdinger, your host. Today is a special day! We have a special event planned. We are going to interview the author, the writer, the creator, of the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, Chris Heimerdinger. And he has been courteous enough to give us his time. We have a full list of questions, things that I think many people want to know and understand about this series and about the author. Well, without further ado, let’s welcome our guest, Chris Heimerdinger! Thanks for being here.

 

CHRIS: Well thank you. Can you hear me okay?

 

HOST: Yes! Yes, we can hear you fine.

 

CHRIS: Well, then, first I’d like to say, thank you for inviting me. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any kind of a real in-depth interview, so it’s an honor.

 

HOST: Well, first of all, I guess we oughta ask the obvious question. Your new book, Thorns of Glory, Part One, Volume 13 in the Tennis Shoes series, has been a long time in the writing process, in coming. More than five years, I think. 

 

CHRIS: Yes. Very nice of you to remind everyone.

 

HOST: Well, do you have an explanation for that?

 

CHRIS: It has been a while, and I’m sorry it took so long.

 

HOST: Don’t you think...six years...that’s just a wee bit long, Mr. Heimerdinger (baby noises), don’t you think?

 

CHRIS: As I was about to explain, I have a life to lead, I have other pressures and things to take care of, and I really like to put a lot of research into these books. An extraordinary amount of research—as opposed to some adventure, fantasy-type novels—to really give people an idea of what it was like to live at the time of the Nephites and the Lamanites, and also in the Old World, in Jerusalem, to live at the time when this story is taking place. 

 

HOST: Okay, so this book deals with both Jerusalem and the Hill Cumorah. Correct?

 

CHRIS: Yes. Right. It deals with both locations. It has for the last several books. It’s dealt with both of these locations; we’re basically dealing with the last battle that takes place at Cumorah, as well as the last week in the life of the Savior.

 

HOST: And if I understand it correctly, this book is not the last book. There’s still one more to come. 

 

CHRIS: Yes. Yes, that’s true.

 

HOST: So, what, are we going to have to wait another five or six years? 

 

CHRIS: I hope not! I hope I can get it done a little sooner than that. 

 

HOST: But you’re not sure.

 

CHRIS: Well, as I say, life has its twists and turns and unexpected things—

 

HOST: Didn’t you say that this particular novel—I remember you actually telling your fans that you were going to try and write both Book 13 and Book 14 at the same time, turn them into the publisher simultaneously, and then have them come out within 3-6 months of each other. What happened to that plan?

 

CHRIS: Well, I guess reality set in. Part of that was because I didn’t see a nice break point, a place where I could have Book 13 end made a lot of logical sense. But as it turned out, it had a very logical endpoint. 

 

HOST: So what you’re saying is, it is going to be another five or six years. You really haven’t started Book 14 yet. 

 

CHRIS: Well…

 

HOST: Come on, you can be honest with us!

 

CHRIS: No. That’s because I’ve spent so much of the year focused on not only getting this manuscript ready, but also doing the audiobook, and…

 

HOST: So you’re really going to make us wait this long? 

 

CHRIS: I hope not. I really hope I can focus on this.

 

HOST: But we can’t really trust us for anything that you tell us, because you told us that you were going to be releasing it within 3-6 months of each other, and now it’s, “Oh, I had a great ending!” and so what can we rely upon you telling us being true?

 

CHRIS: Um...I do my best. I really think that this is one of the strongest, if not the strongest Tennis Shoes book, the strongest creative work that I’ve ever produced. I think that Thorns of Glory is a bit more sophisticated reading than my earlier novels. I don’t really imagine an eleven-year-old reading this book as readily as maybe they did reading Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites. 

 

HOST: So you’re telling us this book is a lot more boring. A lot more research, history, that kind of dull stuff. 

 

CHRIS: I don’t think that kind of stuff is dull! With every Tennis Shoes book I’ve tried to do something different and unique, tell a story that reveals ideas that nobody’s ever really suggested before. And this book is no different. 

 

HOST: But it won’t be something that you expect eleven-year-olds to read.

 

CHRIS: No! I mean, there might be a few—there will be eleven-year-olds, I’m sure. But I don’t think it will be as light reading. If you’re familiar with the whole series—I don’t think if you were anybody of any age you would start this series by reading Book 13. You’d want to start at Book 1, or at least start at Book 8, where the current, ongoing story began. It’s not as light of reading. It’s not from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old boy. It’s from the point of view of a number of characters.

 

HOST: Yes, I know, I’ve heard, I’ve seen that trend, and a lot of readers have complained. They don’t like going back and forth. 

 

CHRIS: Well, I’ve heard that from some readers, but I think some really enjoy it. And it’s especially fun for the audio, because it allows me to hire narrators that I really trust and whose talents I really appreciate, and they’re able to give an interpretation of the character that I wasn’t expecting. I sometimes find that very refreshing. 

 

HOST: Okay, so, the question everybody’s gonna want to know is, when is the next book going to be finished?

 

CHRIS: ...I don’t know.

 

HOST: You don’t know. 

 

CHRIS: No! I’ve never known exactly—

 

HOST: You’ve told many times exactly it was gonna be released in September two years ago. And then you said it was going to be released last September. And now you’re telling us it’s going to be released this October...19th, right?

 

CHRIS: Yes, that’s correct. October 19th. Although I do expect to receive some books that I can ship a little bit earlier. 

 

HOST: Anyway, the point is that don’t you think that your readers are getting really frustrated? I mean, many of them abandoned you! They stopped reading your stuff about the time that Harry Potter put out its last volume, and Hunger Games, and Twilight—I mean, all of those books came out in between your books in the Tennis Shoes series! Doesn’t that embarrass you sometimes? 

 

CHRIS: Well, yeah, I suppose. I’m just doing the best I can here. I’m just trying to get the books done in the best way, with the most skill, and the most talent possible, I suppose, to make sure they’re the highest quality that they can be.

 

HOST: Well why is it that other authors like J.K. Rowling and others are able to do this and deliver books in a timely way. I mean, are their books not very good? 

 

CHRIS: I don’t know. I can’t speak for them. I only know what I go through, and what I go through to create a book. 

 

HOST: And you are not as good a writer and so it takes you a lot longer to put it together?

 

CHRIS: Maybe! Okay, I suppose. Yeah. Sure. We’ll go with that. 

 

HOST: Okay! So, there’s probably a lot of reasons NOT to read Tennis Shoes Volume 13. 

 

CHRIS: No! As I say, I think it’s my best Tennis Shoes book. 

 

HOST: But you just said it was boring and full of nothing but research.

 

CHRIS: That’s not what I meant. What I meant to say is, this book—it’s near and dear to me because I get to discuss some really important, sacred, and emotional things. Like the experience of that terrible day on Cumorah.

 

HOST: But you’ve been discussing that terrible day on Cumorah for the last three books.

 

CHRIS: No, this is really the battle. We finally get into the battle itself. But beyond that, we also get into the Garden of Gethsemane and the events surrounding Christ’s great sacrifice that day on the Mount of Olives. 

 

HOST: Well what are you telling us that a thousand movies and Ben-Hurs and...what are you telling us that everybody else hasn’t been telling us all along?

 

CHRIS: I think I have some good ideas that nobody’s ever really thought of before. 

 

HOST: So what are those?

 

CHRIS: Well, um...I don’t know. I can give you a small example. I’m not sure that Judas really delivered a kiss to the Savior. In fact in two of the Gospels it tells us that—

 

HOST: Hold on, are you telling us that the tradition that we’ve had for centuries that, I mean, for thousands of years, that Judas kissed the Savior before he betrayed Him. You’re saying he didn’t do that?

 

CHRIS: Actually, I didn’t, and to be honest, two of the Gospels—I believe it’s John and Luke—

 

HOST: So you totally cut out the kiss between from Judas.

 

CHRIS: Yes, but let me explain. 

 

HOST: Are you sure that people want to know?

 

CHRIS: I hope so! I did a lot of research and I’m trying to say that two of the Gospels, John and Luke, actually don’t confirm that Judas followed through and kissed the Savior on that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I think it was the plan, it was always the plan, for Judas to kiss the Savior as a way of revealing to the Roman soldiers and all those who had arrived that night to participate in the arrest. It was the way of identifying which of the twelve men was Jesus Christ. But as Luke suggests, I think Judas stopped dead in his tracks the minute that the Savior basically said that, Judas, do you really intend to betray the Son of Man with a kiss? I think that threw him off. I think that’s where we get that scene in the Book of John where the arresting officer and all of the individuals in that group were confused momentarily. And Jesus actually had to come forward and say, Whom do ye seek? And they’re saying, Jesus of Nazareth, and they respond to that by thinking he’s performed another great blasphemy, like when He said “I am the great I AM.” They display quite a scene when that takes place.

 

HOST: Okay, but every book, every movie we’ve ever seen that scene of the arrest shows Judas kissing the Savior on the cheek, as a way of identifying Him to the soldiers. So, why are you throwing that out the window? 

 

CHRIS: I’m not really saying that’s definitely how it happened, that Judas did not deliver the kiss. What I’m saying is there’s a good chance it didn’t happen that way. 

 

HOST: Then why do some of the Gospels say that it clearly happened that way?

 

CHRIS: Keep in mind that these four Gospels were all written by men, by humans. They were fallible! There was a lot of hatred of Judas Iscariot, a lot of hatred that continued through the generations. I think it was just in vogue to believe the very worst—I mean, Judas is bad enough, they had to put an exclamation point on it by saying that he completed that kiss, when it was the plan but they never actually completed the kiss. 

 

HOST: So you’re saying that a couple of the Gospels got it wrong? 

 

CHRIS: It’s important to realize—I think the miracle of the four Gospels is how much they have in common. But there are discrepancies from one Gospel account to another.

 

HOST: So what you’re saying is they messed up this particular thing. Two of them got it right and two of them got it wrong. 

 

CHRIS: I don’t know. I don’t know for sure. I’m just suggesting that it’s possible. And in my mind, likely, that Judas didn’t actually deliver the kiss. It explains those verses in John where everybody was so confused because it wasn’t clear which one of them was the Savior, and the Savior actually had to pose the question, Whom do ye seek?

 

HOST: Alright, so you’re changing the way everybody else does it. Does that make you feel good?

 

CHRIS: What do you mean?

 

HOST: Well, I mean, does it give you pride? Does it give you a special sense of, “I’m the dude!” when you go in and say things are different than they’ve ever been said by anybody before?

 

CHRIS: No, no! I’m just helping—I hope what I’m doing is just letting people think about it. Just giving people the option, because—

 

HOST: It sounds to me like if you were born in a different century, you’d be a perfect candidate for being burnt at the stake. You’re clearly saying that the Gospels are fallible, that they’re not perfect down to the very last syllable or comma. 

 

CHRIS: As I say, the miracle is how much the Gospels got right.

 

HOST: What you might do is make people believe the Gospels at all! Has that ever crossed your mind?

 

CHRIS: No! It hasn’t! I use chapter notes in th—

 

HOST: Oh yes, chapter notes! I remember, you’ve been doing chapter notes for about, let’s see, since Book 8 now. Right?

 

CHRIS: Yes, I have. And that has been a really valuable thing for me, because I want my readers to know that there is some plausibility, or at least I’ve put in my research, to try and describe things the way they might have really taken place. 

 

HOST: But how can you do that in a time travel book? You really think that Jim and Garth and all those guys really traveled in time and that the Rainbow Room is real?

 

CHRIS: No! 

 

HOST: And that you can really go through vortexes and you can mingle with heroes from the Book of Mormon and Bible, it’s not gonna mess up history at all? You believe all that?

 

CHRIS: Are you finished?

 

HOST: And with the gift of tongues thing, that everybody’s gonna understand each other? [Host sings Twilight Zone jingle]

 

CHRIS: That’s not what I’m saying at all. All they are is—they’re observers. They are time travelers from the modern era who observe events. And I’m just trying to make sure their observations are as accurate or as plausible as it could possibly be. 

 

HOST: Okay...okay. Okay. Well, let’s move on, then. So you finish this book this year after working on it a long time, telling all of your fans different things than have actually come to pass and you actually don’t have the next book ready to be published right away. And you’re being deliberately misleading—

 

CHRIS: I’m not being misleading. Is this interview going to be like this the whole time?

 

HOST: Like what?

 

CHRIS: Adversarial.

 

HOST: Adversarial! No, we’re big fans! Big fans, Mr. Heimerdinger. Brother Heimerdinger.  Or, can I call you Chris?

 

CHRIS: Uh, fine.

 

HOST: Can I call you Christopher?

 

CHRIS: Sure.

 

HOST: Can I call you Chrissy?

 

CHRIS: Please. I was expecting this to be a serious interview. 

 

HOST: It is a serious interview. A serious interview. Now let me come back and ask another question. Thank you, by the way, for sending us an advance copy of the book, which, unlike many interviewers, I did actually read.

 

CHRIS: I bet you did.

 

HOST: I actually read it from cover to cover and there were some things here that concerned me a little bit, and I want to read them to you. I know that you have expressed many times that you don’t use profanity in your books, you try to stay away from scenes of really intense violence, or sexuality, whatever; you try and have nice clean family books. But how does that explain some of these paragraphs that I’m about to read?

 

CHRIS: Which paragraphs are you about to read? 

 

HOST: Never mind. I found these and I’d like to read them to you.

 

CHRIS: Well, you know, before you do that—

 

HOST: Just let me read it. By the way, I think that this character, the character who’s reading this particular segment is Brock, right? He’s in the middle of a battle, right in the middle of a battle, he’s become one of the warriors because he’s sort of been enlisted to help them out, and he says, “My skin seemed to liquify, sweat and soot crawling over me like maggots. I jerked away from the dead Nephite and slipped again. Numbskull! Why couldn’t I keep my footing? The ground was coated in gore, slathered with...with...it was all over my hands. My weapon. The scorpion sculpture was stained, too. The air was sick and sour. Rotten milk, rotten something. I learned that wounded and dying men released whatever was left in their bowels. That stench filled the air, too.” I mean, that’s really gross! That’s violent! You say you avoid violence? That’s sick stuff. That’s really gross! 

 

CHRIS: Okay, let’s back up a little bit. I mean, that is a little...it is intense. And…

 

HOST: Nice euphemism. 

 

CHRIS: What?

 

HOST: Nice euphemism! “Intense.” You know, instead of gross, yucky, bleh, blargh, hyuh! [choking noises]

 

CHRIS: What I was trying to do was, as I say, offer to the reader a realistic depiction of what it was like to be on the Hill Cumorah, where we know at least a quarter-million people were killed in a single day. It wasn’t a pleasant event, and I’m not sure how much you can gloss over in making that kind of a description and yet keeping it real, keeping it accurate.

 

HOST: So is that your goal, accuracy?

 

CHRIS: Well, yeah. To an extent.

 

HOST: So you have to describe all the blood and muck and slipping in gore, and…

 

CHRIS: Yes. I mean, yes and no. I actually tried to hold back in some of those descriptions. But sometimes it was very difficult to hold back. 

 

HOST: Ah. So you’re one of those kind sort of like Shakespeare, you believe that you should put the mirror up to life and show things exactly as they are. 

 

CHRIS: No! No, actually I don’t really support that philosophy of Shakespeare. I’m an author, I’m a storyteller. I don’t really have the right to, for instance, I don’t have the right to put profanity, or a word of profanity, into someone’s mind. I don’t feel like I have that right. 

 

HOST: But you do have the right to describe slipping on guts and people releasing everything in their bowels at the moment of death. 

 

CHRIS: It’s not like I...I didn’t get too deeply into the description. You’ve read the worst stuff. 

 

HOST: Well I’m not sure I have! Let’s read this, okay, this is from, I guess we’re listening to Harry now. He says, “We descended the narrow stairs, dodged a few tents and canopies and found ourselves among the first columns of wounded. Blood, still black in the waxing daylight, smeared the ground like a morning dew.” That’s pretty gross, isn’t it?

 

CHRIS: Yeah, sure.

 

HOST: Reading on. “Mary gasped and hesitated. Something to our right caught her eye. As recognition set in, I tasted bile. Limbs. A lofty tangled pile of discarded legs, arms, whatever you can imagine. An orderly dumped more gore onto the pile. They hadn’t even gone to the trouble to dig a pit. I nudged Mary to trudge onward. She shivered, staggered. I feared she would wretch. She found her nerve and walked faster. Jacobah led the way.” That’s...that’s in your face. I mean, no. I wouldn’t want an eleven-year-old reading that, either. 

 

CHRIS: There is a balance every author has to make when they describe things like this. I want to create enough of a feeling of actually being there, where someone can appreciate what really happened! And at the same time—

 

HOST: So how do you differ from Shakespeare? 

 

CHRIS: Well as I say I don’t believe the artist has a licence to do anything they want and put anything into somebody’s head that they want.

 

HOST: But an author can talk about a lofty, tangled pile of discarded legs, arms, whatever you can imagine? 

 

CHRIS: Well I struggled with some of those things even as I was writing them. 

 

HOST: But not enough to actually not write them. 

 

CHRIS: Well I apologize for that. There probably are some writers who will find some of these scenes hard to take. But you’re just focusing on the really gory stuff. There’s a lot of beautiful stuff as well. 

 

HOST: But you also talked about how you don’t much get into the sexuality of things. But you created a character whose name is ‘Salami’.

 

CHRIS: No, it’s Salome'. 

 

HOST: Really? It’s not salami, like the cut of meat?

 

CHRIS: No, it’s Salome'. You’ll see an accent at the end of the name. 

 

HOST: Salome'. Okay, cool. Anyway, this is the same woman who was involved in doing a dance that caused the death of John the Baptist, right? I hope I’m not giving away any spoilers by reading this. 

 

CHRIS: No, of course not. I always love it when my interviewee gives away spoilers. 

 

HOST: You’re the interviewee. 

 

CHRIS: Excuse me?

 

HOST: I’m the interviewer, you’re the interviewee. The way you said it kind of spoils the joke. 

 

CHRIS: I’m saying yes, I don’t like it when there are spoilers that might ruin the story for someone—

 

HOST: Do you want me to not read it?

 

CHRIS: [sighs] Go ahead.


HOST: This is also the first time that I’ve ever seen in one of your books where you’ve actually gone from the point of view of a really evil character. 

 

CHRIS: Yeah, I suppose that’s true. There was a little section in Book 8 where I told a scene from the point of view or from the mind of Lamanai.

 

HOST: No, no, no. This is nothing like that. Let me read you what you wrote. “I’d never met a messiah. Any man who commands the attention of the masses, especially one who rides upon an ass, will prove interesting indeed.”

 

CHRIS: (I hope my narrator does a little better reading than you.)

 

HOST: “I require no dagger. I’ll find some other weapon lying about. A candlestick. A pot shard. There are many ways to geld a stallion.” That’s the Savior you’re talking about, right?

 

CHRIS: Yes.

 

HOST: Well that’s kind of blunt. That’s a pretty awful way of saying it! Wouldn’t you agree? And yet you went ahead and put it in your book. 

 

CHRIS: You’re focusing on some—yes. Yes, I felt that that was appropriate to describe how I envisioned or how I imagined the character of Salome'. 

 

HOST: Well, you certainly crossed the line from some of your other books. 

 

CHRIS: I don’t know. I think I have scenes of violence, occasionally, in other books. But as I say, you’re focusing on very small portions of—

 

HOST: Oh, they’re important because, you know, you might have eleven-year-olds reading this book. 

 

CHRIS: As I say—maybe. If they’ve read the other books in the series. And if they have, I would hope that my other writing up till now has matured them enough for them to be able to handle this kind of scene and really get a feeling for how evil, or how unjust man can be, man and woman can be. 

 

HOST: So in a sense you’re trying to help your young readers to grow up before their time. 

 

CHRIS: I hope not!

 

HOST: That’s what you just said!

 

CHRIS: That’s not really what I said. I’m saying that I hope that people who have read the entire series will appreciate the fact that I’m trying to give them a real idea, sentiment, description of how it might have really been at those battles.

 

HOST: Hah, just like Shakespeare! Putting the mirror up to life!

 

CHRIS: To some extent, okay? To some extent. But not in the way that I think Shakespeare was describing. Because I believe the storyteller is not a journalist, they aren’t a filmmaker, I mean—

 

HOST: So you think that movies should avoid these things, too? 

 

CHRIS: I’m really not talking about movies. I’m just talking about writing a novel. I don’t have to put—I feel like I can always avoid putting profanity in a book, because I can always say something creative, like “he bit off an expletive.” And the audience knows exactly what I mean; I don’t have to use the word. 

 

HOST: But you definitely described the gore. And in the case of Salome', you got into some pretty weird imagery.

 

CHRIS: Listen, listen. This interview is going in a direction that I really didn’t expect. Okay, is there some deep philosophy you want me to describe? Because I’m just doing my best as an artist, trying to go with whatever gifts or talents that I have trying to describe things according to my own spirituality. My own level of understanding. And that’s not perfect! I mean, every now and then I hear about someone who—like, a mother will come up to me at an autograph party, and they will say, “Oh my son just loves your books! He’s inactive now.” And that makes me feel really sad, like, “Well they didn’t read my books very closely, because my books, if anything, what they’re trying to do is testify to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

 

HOST: Well obviously in an instance like that you must have failed miserably. 

 

CHRIS: Well, I’m not sure that anyone would expect an author to do that, or to take on that job by themselves. They also need good parents, a good bishop, a good seminary teacher—

 

HOST: So a storyteller isn’t someone who influences the spirituality of someone. 

 

CHRIS: No! Well, they play a part! We all play a part. We all sort of have to work together to help somebody, but in the end, it’s up to the individual, whether they get a testimony of these things, the Book of Mormon, the Church, for themselves. My books aren’t going to provide a testimony where a testimony doesn’t exist. 

 

HOST: What are you saying? I mean, parents have been buying your books for years because they wanted to give their children a testimony of the gospel. 

 

CHRIS: I don’t think that’s why parents have been buying my books. I think what they want to do is—here’s the point: my books are meant to bring the Book of Mormon to life. Now, I kinda hate that cliche—

 

HOST: The Book of Mormon can’t bring itself to life by itself?

 

CHRIS: No, the Book of Mormon can definitely bring—it brings itself to life by itself. I’m just trying to create some images that maybe make it easier as they get into these verses and this strange location and this strange culture, help them to visualize it a little more clearly. 

 

HOST: So you think you have a special license to give an accurate vision of what exactly happened in the Book of Mormon. 

 

CHRIS: No, no! That’s not what I’m saying—I am just a—I’m trying to be plausible, but it’s speculative, it’s fantasy. But it’s fantasy trying to celebrate things that are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I mean, that are a part of the Book of Mormon. I believe we’re talking about a real people that lived—

 

HOST: Well, haven’t you been criticized by people who believe in the Great Lakes theory of the Book of Mormon? Or the Heartland theory? That think your books are just evil because they sometimes describe palm trees or jaguars, where obviously there were no—there’s no palm trees and jaguars in Ohio. 

 

CHRIS: Well, okay. I do have—I mean, I try to write in such a way—I try to sometimes give caveats at the beginning of my books that say, you know, if this book doesn’t take you back to reading the scriptures themselves, then I probably shouldn’t have ever written it. 

 

HOST: You probably know that there are some people who just read Tennis Shoes Among the Nephitesand they don’t read the scriptures. 

 

CHRIS: Well in that case that is a failure! What I’m trying to do is make them read the scriptures themselves.

 

HOST: So, what you want your readers to think is that the Book of Mormon is actually just a silly time travel fantasy.

 

CHRIS: No! No, that’s not what I’m trying to do at all.

 

HOST: But there might be some readers who—that’s what they do. 

 

CHRIS: I can’t control all of that. I’m just trying to do the best I can to celebrate the Book of Mormon. I love that phrase: to celebrate the Book of Mormon. And hopefully help people to appreciate the scriptures themselves when they start reading them.

 

HOST: Unless of course they fall away from the Church, blah blah blah. 

 

CHRIS: I don’t know if that’s—is that my fault? 

 

HOST: Maybe it is!

 

CHRIS: Okay, okay, I wasn’t expecting this interview to go this direction. 

 

HOST: Well, I’m just trying to challenge you. I’m just trying to make you defend what you’ve written.

 

CHRIS: I’m not sure I’m—I’m just doing my best to feed my family. I’m doing the best that I can. 

 

HOST: But sometimes you really do damage, don’t you think?

 

CHRIS: Boy, I hope not. I hope not. I’m very sensitive to that. As I write, I’m trying to think about stuff like that. If someone just goes hog wild and writes anything that they want, I think they could get misled and say a bunch of things that could be really misleading. I can’t promise that I have the image or vision of anything exactly correct. I mean, I do believe that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica. I think most of the evidence suggests that.

 

HOST: But there’s a lot of people who don’t believe that. 

 

CHRIS: The fact is the Church has not come out with any specific doctrine that tells us exactly where the Book of Mormon took place. So, I’m just doing the best that I can, like many scholars—

 

HOST: Let’s say you’re wrong. Boy, you’ve really created the wrong impression of the Book of Mormon!

 

CHRIS: I hope not! Listen, I hope that it’s an accurate idea and image, but even if I have the right location, I’ve always had this idea in my head that if I die and I go to the Spirit World and I’ll run into Teancum and he’s going to beat me up because he’s going to say, “I never had a son! I never had a wife!” Of course, in Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites I gave him both of those things. 

 

HOST: Okay, so really it is fiction and it can be utterly ignored. 

 

CHRIS: Sure. Yes. Alright. I’ll buy that. You can utterly ignore it if you want to! You don’t have to read my books.

 

HOST: Cool! So what LDS fiction would you like us to read?

 

CHRIS: I don’t know! Whatever you think is going to be clean and inspiring and uplifting to your family.

 

HOST: But Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites would not be in that category at all. 

 

CHRIS: I hope it’s in that category. I’ve been around for thirty years doing this—

 

HOST: Aha. So you may have been misleading people for thirty entire years. 

 

CHRIS: I think this interview is over. I’m not sure if we’re accomplishing anything. Thank you very much. 

 

[click]

 

HOST: Hello? Uh, Mr. Heimerdinger? Did he just hang up on us? Brother Heimerdinger? Can we try to get him back on the line again? Call him. I’m sorry everyone. I didn’t think the interview would become this feisty. Obviously Mr. Heimerdinger is a bit more overly sensitive than I first thought. 

 

CHRIS: Hello?

 

HOST: Mr. Heimerdinger! It’s Forever LDS again. We didn’t finish our interview. 

 

CHRIS: I know, I hung up on you. 

 

HOST: But I still had some important questions I wanted to ask you. 

 

CHRIS: Listen, you’re really going to publish this interview, is that right?

HOST: Yes. You gave us permission and I don’t think we’re doing anything that’s against the law. 

 

CHRIS: Well, I think that your motivation for this interview was not totally on the up-and-up. It wasn’t wholesome. You really have in your mind the idea to denigrate the Tennis Shoes books. 

 

HOST: No, I wouldn’t do that! I was trying to, as you say, trying to “celebrate” the Tennis Shoes series. 

 

CHRIS: My goal was to celebrate the Book of Mormon. 

 

HOST: Yeah, whatever. So anyway, the point is, you’re still telling your fans that you’re probably not going to come out with another volume for another five or six years. 

 

CHRIS: No! Alright, anything is possible. But I hope that I’m able to come out with another book in a much shorter period of time. 

 

HOST: But you haven’t even started it yet. 

 

CHRIS: No! Listen, as I say, I think this interview is finished.

 

HOST: Hello? Hellooo? Mr. Heimerdinger? Brother Heimerdinger? Chris? Okay, he’s not answering. Can we call him back one more time? [phone dials] Alrighty, here we go. One ringy-dingy. Two ringy-dingy. Three ringy-dingy. 

 

CHRIS: Listen, if you guys don’t stop calling here, I’m going to call the police or something.

 

HOST: Oh, really, what is it you think we’re going to do?

 

CHRIS: You’re pestering me, I mean, you’re bothering me. 

 

HOST: But we were having a good conversation and I think readers were learning a lot about your books and about you—

 

CHRIS: I’m not sure they’re learning anything accurate from this interview!

 

HOST: Oh, I think they are. And I think, Mr. Heimerdinger, you need to be straight with people right now. When do you intend to finish this book? Your next book, Volume 14, Thorns of Glory Part 2? 

 

CHRIS: I hope to finish it in a year or two. 

 

HOST: Ah, isn’t that what you said last time? And look at what happened! We waited five or six years.

 

CHRIS: Listen, we’re just going over the same thing again!

 

HOST: So really, I think what we need to know, and what readers need to know, is you’re somebody who really can’t be trusted!

 

CHRIS: I’m doing the best I can, dude! I’m trying to finish books, I’m trying to live my life, I’m trying to balance everything! 

 

HOST: Alright, so you’re saying you’re doing the best you can. 

 

CHRIS: Yes. I’m doing the best I can. And I know for some people it’s not enough, but I really hope that this particular book, with its insights, some of the information and vision it provides, really makes somebody feels uplifted and really far more informed regarding the battle at Cumorah and the events of the Gospels in the New Testament.

 

HOST: Okay! Well that’s fair! Why didn’t you just say that?

 

CHRIS: I did just say that. 

 

HOST: Listen, I mean, all is forgiven. I don’t hold any grudge against you for hanging the phone up on me. 

 

CHRIS: Uh...yeah. Okay.

 

HOST: I’ll tell you why, I’ll tell you why. I do not hold a grudge. I bring a grudge. 

 

CHRIS: That...doesn’t make any sense. 

 

HOST: It makes perfect sense.

 

CHRIS: It makes no sense. You make no sense. This interview is over.

 

HOST: It makes sense! It’s profound! It’s deep! Think about it!
 

CHRIS: It’s not deep, it’s dumb. 

 

HOST: I’m not listening to this, I’m not listening!

 

CHRIS: Listen to it! Learn something! Actually become better at what you do! 

 

HOST: Not listening! Not listening! [sing-song voice] "This is it, this is it, this is life, the one we share, have a ball, this is it, this is it…"

 

CHRIS: This is stupid. This is stupid. It’s insane. 

 

HOST: "Keep on doin’ what you do…"

 

[cross-talk and cross-singing, Host singing lyrics, interview descends into madness]

 

CHRIS: You have serious problems!

 

HOST: That’s a terrible thing to tell someone. You just come out and you tell someone that. I’m trying to do you a favor here! [sobbing] And you say something like that! Just out of the blue! 

 

[Host hangs up]

 

CHRIS: Hello? ...I think he just hung up on me! What the heck? He just hung up on ME!

 

VOICE: I think you really hurt his feelings. 

 

CHRIS: What?!

 

VOICE: You made him feel bad. Hurt his feelings.

 

CHRIS: Who are you…?!

 

VOICE: I’m, uh, your third personality. 

 

CHRIS: My third per—

 

VOICE: Yeah, I took the spare bedroom. 

 

CHRIS: How many of you ARE there?!


VOICE: Oh, nobody’s ever counted. 

 

CHRIS: Alright. I’ve had enough. I don’t want to make the guy feel bad. 

 

VOICE: Call him back. Make it right. Make it good.

 

CHRIS: Alright, alright. I’m not even sure how this is happening. It’s broadcasting on his—

 

VOICE: Just call him back! Call him back!

 

CHRIS: I can’t call him back! 

 

VOICE: You don’t know how to redial someone? You just hit 911. Star-six-nine. Star-something. 

 

CHRIS: Alright, alright. Um...okay. [phone dials]

 

HOST: Hello?

 

CHRIS: Our interview is over, I just wanted to apologize for asking me some questions. I guess some information got out there that somebody might want to hear. Listen, I didn’t want to...I think I’m gonna go now. 

 

HOST: No, no, no. Hang on, hang on. I have one other question for you. Passage to Zarahemla. 

 

CHRIS: Yes, what about it?
 

HOST: Do you intend on making any more movies? 

 

CHRIS: Yes! Well, I hope so. As Orson Welles says, “A camera is the greatest toy that a kid ever had.” 

 

HOST: Do you intend to make movies out of the Tennis Shoes books?

 

CHRIS: Well that would be a dream come true to do that! I think it would be rather expensive to come up with all the costumes for the Nephite army and imagine all the special effects that would go into creating the Rainbow Room or the Galaxy Room.

 

HOST: So when do you anticipate that you might be involved with possibly making Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites: The Movie?

 

CHRIS: I told you, I don’t know. For all I know, some rich person could come out of the woodwork and cough up several million dollars for us to make it tomorrow. But for the last thirty years that hasn’t happened. And that was one of my reasons for making Passage to Zarahemla. I was trying to come up with a concept that still celebrated the Book of Mormon, but my objective was to do it in a way that could be accomplished with less money and lower budget. 

 

HOST: Okay, alright, that’s fair. So what is your next movie then?

CHRIS: Well, I don’t know. I’ve never had a shortage of ideas. Many, many ideas flowing around inside my head. Listen, do you mind if we cut this interview short? I really have to go to the bathroom. 

 

HOST: Can’t you just carry the microphone into the restroom with you?

 

CHRIS: I’d prefer not to do that…

 

HOST: No, that’s okay. Just kidding. I understand. Okay! Well! Christ Heimerdinger! It’s been an honor and a privilege to talk to you today and to learn more about the release of your new novel, which comes out this month, October of 2020, and we just want to wish you all happiness and joy through the end of the year. 

 

CHRIS: Well that’s probably a good idea. It’s been a pretty tough year. 

 

HOST: Oh, I agree, it’s been a very tough year. Thank you. Thank you for your appearance here today on Forever LDS. We’d like to remind everyone—I think you’ll appreciate this—we’d like to remind everyone that you can still pre-order or order Tennis Shoes Volume 13, Thorns of Glory Part 1, from Chris’s personal shop site, which is www.shopforeverlds.com. I hope that gets you some business. You need the business, right?

 

CHRIS: Oh yeah, I do. I do need the business. 

 

HOST: Okay! So, we’ll call it even. We did you a favor, you did us a favor…

 

CHRIS: Sure. That’s what we’ll call it. We’ll call it even. [click, phone hang-up]

 

HOST: Alright, well! That’s it. That’s it for today’s episode of Forever LDS. We appreciate your support for the podcast, we really do. And this being our 54th episode, we’re honored that we were finally able to interview Mr. Heimerdinger, Brother Heimderinger, Chris, whatever he likes to be called, and we want to remind people that those who want to support the podcast, please visit Forever LDS at Patreon.com, and become a subscriber. Pretty soon we’ll have some great things for you to subscribe to. Yeah, you can trust me on that. So, until next time, if you don’t feel as close to the Lord today as you did yesterday, who moved? My suspicion? It was you. Again, thank you for listening, thank you for joining us today. This is your host, Chris Heimerdinger, and this is Forever LDS.  

6 Comments

Comments

  • Shelly

    Oct 9, 2020 6:29 pm

    I really enjoyed this podcast. The humor and the seriousness of it was refreshing. I have been a fan since I first heard about the books in 94. Yes I get antsy for the next book but I don’t want to rush Chris and have an inferior product.

  • Robert

    Oct 10, 2020 2:35 pm

    I just my 11-year-old nephew hooked on this serious series of books. Hopefully, he will understand the 13th book when he gets to it.

  • Elvira Poole

    Oct 10, 2020 6:00 pm

    Please Chris don’t let it be another 5 years, I don’t think I will live that long, 66 now, I wonder if I’m in the spirit world I can take a break of what ever I need to do there and read the book over the shoulder of one of my Grand Kids as I’m leaving them all to them and hopefully their parents will buy your new book …..no pressure

  • Rachel

    Oct 10, 2020 10:19 pm

    Please just promise us you’ll release the last book before the Second Coming! ????

  • Wesley Fulks

    Oct 11, 2020 11:59 am

    The interview would have been nice, but your interviewer has been pretty rude to you, taking a lot of things out of context. Had I been the interviewer, I would be more serious and frank in asking the questions. Like the interviewer, I probably would have asked about the violence in the Tennis Shoes books, but I wouldn’t heckle you about it either. Even so, I seriously hope the release date is within 2 years at the most, like you said. So please stay focused on that task. The one question I do have is that for some reason you seem to have not really started the 14th book yet, even though you told us earlier you were working on the 13th and 14th books simultaneously. Was that true? If not, how far are you really into the 14th book?
    By the way, I have pre-ordered the 13th book and audio, but didn’t receive it yet. Now I realize while listening to the interview that it will be released on October 19th, not October 1st. Keep up the good work, Chris Heimerdinger, and I hope you succeed in getting the last book published.

    RESPONSE FROM CHRIS: Wesley, I have some sincere concerns that you missed the joke.
  • Oct 12, 2020 2:48 am

    The interviewer is really going hard on Chris! I mean… really! Just because we want to know the answer to those questions that he asks doesn’t mean that he needs to put the man not he spot.

    This was such a good listen. Oh my gosh. Top-notch material. I echo Rachel. “Please just promise us you’ll release the last book before the Second Coming! ????”

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