Children’s, Christian, Fiction
Date Published: December 2, 2019
Publisher: Clay Bridges Press
Welcome to the first book in the "Pillow Stories from Heaven" series! "A Call from Above" is an imaginary story, a Jesus-style parable, about the life of Sonny, a baby eagle who grows up in a chicken coop. A lot has been cast in Sonny’s life, and now he has to figure out who he really is. Does God have a special purpose and plan for Sonny?
This story will entertain and teach parents and children as it draws them to reflect on the true meaning of life, our place in the world, and our destiny and calling.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Time and timing.
Time: simply because of life’s responsibilities and demands.
Timing: every story has a timing. A story is being born into a specific circumstance. One cannot force a story or write stories like a machine, day in and day out. It has to come naturally. It’s part of the creative process.
In my case, if my mind is available, that’s the first step.
I don’t believe in locking oneself up in a room and thinking up a story out of thin air. We need to have something to say. A story is often a response to a specific need. A a good example of it is Jotham and his parable of the trees in the Book of Judges.
I call my book series “Pillow Stories from Heaven” because often I think of a story when I’m first awake. And they can be listened to with one’s head to the pillow, too.
Once we have something to say, writing usually is not a problem.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
The simple answer is: I don’t own an Ipod!
Sometimes I listen to music on youtube and watch music videos. Often the music I’m listening to has to do with finding worship music I can recommend to our friends overseas. Sometimes I listen to music on Christian radio in my car too.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Yes: children and parents in our outreach in Armenia, Georgia, Pakistan, and other parts of Asia and Africa. Also my wife, Aly, and other members of our family and friends who have children, or are writers themselves. But I’d welcome more professional feedback, especially from industry insiders in the children’s book publishing circles.
What book are you reading now?
I read the Bible daily, usually in the morning, in a contemplative way.
I just finished reading through “Wisdom of the Guides: Rocky Mountain Trout Guides Talk Fly Fishing” by Paul Arnold, and I’m now going through “Complete Spanish Grammar” by Gilda Nissenberg as I’m trying to refresh and improve on my in Spanish before a coming up trip that involves visiting Spain.
How did you start your writing career?
Writing wasn’t natural to me. I studied math and studio art. Writing, more specifically creative writing, came as a response to a specific need. I was asked to reach out to a community that struggled with youth drug addiction. I needed to come up with something to say. That’s how I started to write messages and teaching lessons. I became a pastor soon later, running a Bible school and a publishing house. We had an award winning writer in our congregation. She decided to put together some of my messages into a book, and that was my first book.
Years later, I studied film and screenwriting and started to write screenplays. I received a request to teach in Pakistan, but I didn’t know anything about that culture. So, I decided to write short stories in parable format and it really worked. I began using these stories in other parts of the world.
Short stories, parables particularly, are a way of teaching. They are a “folk theology.” They are easy to understand and entertaining. These kinds of stories engage, are remembered and passed on. Often all we need is just some encouragement, inspiration, answers to our questions, and simple yet profound insights that make sense of the world around us.
An opportunity opened to publish some of these stories in children’s picture book format here in America. That’s how it happened for me.
My second book is called “Hundedth” and it is loosely connected to Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-14. The hundredth sheep was lost, thus I named him “Hundredth.”
Jesus’s parable speaks about what the shepherd did: “…does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?” In my story we see all that the sheep goes through during the same period of time. We see him go from a state of innocence through temptation and fall; the sheep’s desire to return to the herd and his previous state of innocence; his own efforts in trying to do so, and failing at it miserably. We see his sadness, loneliness, and alienation. Then, through the shepherd’s love, we see the sheep’s regret, his inner transformation and finally restoration. This whole train of thought sounds like some kind of deep theological discourse, but here it’s a simple story with the adventures of a lost sheep.
About the Author
Tom Aish grew up behind the Iron Curtain where he studied studio art (MFA) and first met the risen Messiah. His interests include cultural and film studies (MAICS). He lived and studied in Sweden and Israel, and most recently settled in Colorado Springs, where he lives with his wife, Aly. Tom’s many hobbies include learning, photography, film, and travel. He writes blog articles and children stories; in his free time, Tom enjoys nature—especially the mountains.