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BookWorthy Chats with Liz and Jack Hagler



BookWorthy Season Two Episode 9 Cover
Patrick Wigglesworth Bizarre Bible Adventures




 

Valerie- Today we’re talking with author and illustrator team Liz and Jack Hagler about their graphic novel series Patrick Wigglesworth’s bizarre Bible Adventures. Welcome to BookWorthy Liz and Jack.

 

Jack and Liz- Thank you, we’re excited to be here.

 

Valerie- So glad to have you here. As a mom of three boys, I feel you guys have stepped into a very needed space in the Christian fiction book realm with Patrick and his bizarre adventures. But we have to answer one question first. Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?

 


mountain and river
beach

Jack- We like the mountains and the beach too. We have a place up near Lake Tahoe, so that’s been one of our favorite spaces for years and years.


Valerie- Very neat. I know in California you kind of get the best of both worlds, mountains on one side and beach on the other.


Liz- We’re 17 miles from the beach, so we do like both.


Valerie- As I said earlier, you guys have created almost the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dogman for the Christian market. Can you tell us a little bit about what led you to write a graphic novel for Christian audiences?


Liz- So we worked with Child Evangelism Fellowship, it is in the school system, and we were watching all the kids with those books, just eating them up. Dog-man, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and all that. I had been involved in illustrating Children’s Books and we had already written another book, which kind of helps with an overview of the Bible we thought about how we could bridge that into making it something that would be more like the Wimpy Kid version so that kids can laugh. We wanted them to laugh. And so, it was a long process of trying to figure out how to do it back and forth. Trying this and that did or didn’t work and getting feedback. Because of the way we wanted to incorporate him going through the whole Bible, which we had done in our other books. We were able to pull those images that we had used before for some of the storytelling. It was mostly an effort to reach those kids who have a harder time reading or want to laugh.

 


kid laughing

Valerie- I love that. I always say that “food is the way to my kid’s heart, but laughter is the way to their soul. Because if I can get my kids laughing about something that has to do with God and the Bible, then I know it’s going to connect with their hearts also. I love what you guys have done. Now, in book one, Patrick gets to give Moses as his tour guide through the first five books of the Bible. Then in book two, we get Joshua to walk with Partick. Now who gets to be the tour guide in Book Three, which comes out in April?


Jack- So we have Daniel in book three. We’re currently working on books four and five now, so I think it’s Daniel. David has a part too. We’re working on so many projects in different places so it’s hard to remember.

 

Valerie- I know the timelines for books are so hard to understand that a book coming to the shelf has been worked on for almost two years. So, I bet it is hard to get your timelines right with all of it. But I love that Patrick Wigglesworth is a very 11-year-old kid, and I love how you personify him. When my kids read the first book they were like ‘how do they know how I talk and speak?” How did you go about personifying an 11-year-old so well in your books?

 

Liz- I’m an 11-year-old at heart. I’m the crazy one that does the crazy outline stuff and Jack is like the logical one. So, we go back and forth, you know and he brings a lot of the boy elements in too. It is a collaboration. But I’m the 11-year-old boy that’s crazy. That’s asking questions and pushing boundaries.

 

Valerie- And that’s exactly what 11-year-olds are doing. What was it like working together on this book series?

 


Jack and Liz Hagler

Jack- Well, it’s really fun. We enjoy it. The beauty of this is that when I retired from my previous work, we were able to focus together on that. Liz is like she said, she’s the crazy one who has all the crazy ideas and so forth. My background is in engineering and so forth, so my part is kind of bringing that together into a format that makes even more sense. So we’re back and forth and back and forth.

 


Jack and Liz Hagler

Liz- Even scheduling, just scheduling. Cause I was like, oh. These are my dreams, and he’s like okay now you have to work that into this many hours a day to get there. So many drawings have to be done and okay. You know, so just the whole process, it takes the two energy.



Jack- It’s hard at times it’s hard because we don’t see things the same way. So we have to back and forth and back and forth and walk around a little be and then come back together. Because we want to find the right image or the right words or phrases that fit what we’re trying to convey. And that’s not easy. A lot of times it’s hard.


Liz- We throw it out to our kids too. We get stuck sometimes and our kids are older, but they have kids now. So, we’ll throw it out to them, what do you think? And they're like, no. And then we’ll reboot. So, we have a whole community working on this from the standpoint of just learning how to make a character come alive.

 


Patrick Wigglesworth- Hagler

Valerie- Very true. I love the dynamic between the two of you. It reminds me of me and my husband a little bit. We make the joy that I like to throw sprinkles and like YAY! Let’s do the fun things, and my husband's like, let’s sweep up the sprinkles. Now Liz, you kind of say you’re the 11-year-old. Are you what brings the humor to these stories?

 

Liz- Yes, I am the humor one. But Jack has a different kind of humor because there are different kinds of humor. Because the way we work, we’ll write and then we think of images and then we crop out the writing because we put in the image. So there’s a lot of back and forth because of the way that words don’t always have to be there with the drawing. So, it’s not a very clean writing process.


Jack- Oftentimes, Liz will put something together and we’ll work on it. And then we’ll go, that’s not that funny. But you just keep playing with it and playing with it, and then all of a sudden, one or the other of us will say, well, what about X? And then we’ll look at each other and we’ll go, oh, that’s clever or that’s funny or that’s, you know, whatever it is. That’s usually most of the time five or six edits down the road, from the original. It’s all editing. There’s no writing.

 


Patrick Wigglesworth Picture

Valerie- It’s always good to get the writing out to get something on paper because editing is where the actual magic happens, right? Are any of the characters patterned after people and situations that you have encountered in your own life?

 

Liz- Well, not really, but we had to think when we built a world, you kind of have to remember the people that you build, so it helped for us to just think through, like the grandmother in Sacramento, my mom’s in Sacramento, the grandparents in Marin, his parents were in Marin. They’re not now, but basically, we use some of the base camps to get oriented. My dad was an ophthalmologist. So that came from my childhood. But as far as the people, no not really.


Jack- Well, there are combinations like we were talking about. Patrick is sort of a little bit of a combination of Liz and our son. Our son is out of the box and loves to go for life.


Liz- In some ways, Patrick reflects a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of childhood we just ‘have to get with the program’. So Patrick is having to ‘get with the program’ but having to adjust his attitude. A lot of life I remember as a child was like, oh gosh, why do I have to do that? Like 95% of my childhood, you know, you just have to go with the flow. So he’s venting his frustrations and then trying to do creative problem-solving in that process. So we wanted him to be proactive, but also very real with these emotions. You know, angry at people and having a bully in his life, and dealing with frustration. We wanted kids to be able to connect and go, “Oh, I can see my story in Patrick’s story.

 


two boys

Valerie- I think you guys have done a great job with that and with Patrick being able to be relatable to so many different kids. With this group of friends, they have their interests and the things they like to do, and the bully plays a big part in Patrick’s journey also. Now, there is one little element of Patrick that made me laugh a lot was that he’s a sleepwalker. Now were any of your kids' sleepwalkers?

 

Liz- We dealt more with night terrors. Like, Ahh!!! Screaming.


Jack- I don’t know if I ever told you this, I did some sleepwalking when I was a kid. Not to the degree that Patrick does.


Liz- Come to think of it, at a camp, I did end up going outside one time and they’re like where are you going? I don’t know. So, I think it might be a common childhood experience. I’m not sure we thought of that. I’m not sure how we came up with that.

 

Valerie- Some new revelations even today, right? No when did you or where did the name Patrick Wigglesworth come from? Because it’s a bit of a mouthful.

 

Liz- Patrick came from a call from my eldest daughter. I said I needed a good name, and she came up with Patrick. Then, Wigglesworth, we decided to use some famous evangelist’s name.

 

Jack-Smith Wigglesworth was an English evangelist, a hundred years ago, previously a plumber actually, but became a very famous evangelist. And we love the name. It was a fun and very unusual name.

 

Liz- And then we use some names like Derek Newton. We use some other evangelist names in the beginning just then throw them in there. There are a few other historical Christian character's last names as you read through the series. We just had fun.

 

Valerie- Those are fun nuggets to search for and to know that even though you said the original Wigglesworth was not an ophthalmologist, but a plumber. It’s a little fun thing for people to continue to gid through and be able to read your books multiple times and discover new things about them. Now when did you guys first decide to become writers and illustrators?

 

Liz- It is my dream, so as a child, I was writing and drawing ever since I was little, making little books. And in college, I was an art and English major trying to figure out how to do this. And so it’s been forever. Just working on this project and trying to figure out how to do it, going to conferences, Mount Hermon’s Writers conference. The first book I illustrated was the Bible Animal Story Book and then the early reader's Bible the first edition. But then I realized I couldn’t meet the deadlines. They were always at Christmas time, and I couldn’t do the deadlines raising kids. So I put it on hold. We homeschooled for ten years and then Jack was a pastor and worked in the children’s ministry department. And I realized gosh, I don’t even know my Bible and I thought there needed to be a way to have the flow of the story, so kids understand that it is one big story. And that’s when I first started kind of working on the side, you know, and that produced our other book, Hooked on the Book. 

Liz and Jack Hagler quote

After that book, that’s when we were doing Child Evangelism Fellowship, and we were like how do we take what we’ve already done? Because I know God always builds on what your skills are. He doesn’t ever dump them. So, for us, it was a matter of how do we take what we’ve built, and then when we saw all the Wimpy Kid stuff, we thought, gosh, maybe we can put these together. So that was the building process through the years.





Bible

Jack- When I went to seminary, I was in my 20s, and I was a fairly young believer when I went to seminary. And my very first Bible survey course, I was taking the class and the teacher was teaching, and I just kind of sat there. I was the classic student who sat there with their mouth open going, oh my goodness, I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t understand this big story and all of a sudden it began to come together. And I had thought to myself, if I’m having this experience, how can I help other people have the same experience? Now, at the time, I didn’t know that was going to be focused on children. That worked through Liz, obviously having our kids. But that experience has stayed with me for my whole life. So that’s a big part of my desire to be able to put something like this together and work with Liz.

 

Valerie- I love that, because the Bible itself is such a big book and there are so many stories, while kids, if they have the opportunity to go to church on Sundays, they do get little pieces here and there, but there’s so much that’s missed too. To develop kids to have a love of reading the Bible is a challenge because it seems so big and heavy and not fun, but there are so many amazing stories in it.

 

Jack- Knowing the context of the stories within the book of the Bible, for example, you know, oftentimes Bible storybooks and so forth they’ll get a story here and there, but you don’t understand the context. Where does this fit into the flow of Scripture in God’s bigger story? And so that’s part of what we wanted to do is to put that together. The reason we included the Bible verses under each story is the goal would be, gosh, maybe a family wouldn’t be intimidated just sitting down as a family and reading this together and looking up the verses around the dinner table. Then they talk about the real stories and then this is going to go through the whole Bible. We don’t cover everything, but at least you can get a framework for how this flows through the Bible.


Liz- One of the other things we were talking about as we built on it is we wanted Patrick to have the God story concept. We each have our own unique God stories that God’s working in our lives. And just like the nation of Israel, remembering those stories is so important because that’s how we can build our faith and tell the next generation. I have a friend who said we’re only as fresh in our relationship with God as the God stories we’re having in our lives. And I thought, man, that’s true. And sometimes I don’t see God working, but then he or somebody in our community is sharing. God did this incredible thing, and then we’re like wow. We come alive again. So, it’s a whole different lens on how you see the world. And that’s just a little piece. It’s such a multi-level thing, but hopefully, you can get kids laughing and they can start asking questions. That’s the real goal.

 

Valerie- That’s an amazing goal, just to make the Bible more tangible and approachable. I love that you have those verses peppered throughout the book. Where the stories that the person is being led through or Patrick’s being led through come from the Bible. Because for kids, it can be like, oh sure that is just another story. This is Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood. But, no, this is God’s word. This is what happened. And so it’s neat that your book provides that opportunity to dig a little deeper if they’re on the older side of the book range and such. One of the reasons I’m so excited about this whole series is that it has a great opportunity for kids who struggle reading as well as people who might be new to the Bible to not feel overwhelmed by just how big the Bible is. There are some parts in the Bible where you’re like, okay, Leviticus, we’re gonna keep going here for a while. But I love the heart and goal of these books. Now, book three is set to come out in April and you said you’re working on some more. How many do you suspect there will be in this series?

 

Liz- Well, we don’t know. We’re still in the process. We’re working by faith through this, but currently, there will be five books in total.


Jack- Four and five go through the New Testament.


Liz- We’re working on that, which is tricky. Jesus is the love of our life and trying to bring that whole thing together, so we have some exciting things we’re doing and trying to make the whole thing come together. I’m not going to spoil it, but there would be five in the series that take you from Genesis through the New Testament.

 

Valerie- That’s exciting. I can’t wait. Now, what are some of your favorite children’s books?

 

C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy


Jack- I think one of my favorite authors has always been C.S. Lewis, for a variety of reasons. But you know, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Space Trilogy, those have always been huge. But then as we mentioned before, like the 13-story Treehouse. We’ve been studying this genre a lot. I love that series.



Wizard of Oz Series

Liz- When you’re a kid, Dr. Seuss and I love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I mean, I love these bizarre things. I mean, we love the Oz series. I love all that. I had the classic OZ books my mom had for years, her mom had. So just that kind of, for me, it was fantasy. I love the fantasy and the zany kind of fantasy.

 



13-Story Treehouse

Valerie- You mentioned the 13-Story Treehouse, when I was reading through your book that’s one of the books I kept thinking about. This is just like 13 Story Treehouse.

 

Liz- That one impacted us. It’s so fun, so clever, and for me these guys were really fun and the drawings are fun too.

 

Valerie- Now Liz as an illustrator, how do you get inspiration for the characters that you draw?

 

Liz- Well you decide at the beginning, what a character is going to look like and you have to build this world, and then you have to be consistent. And that’s one of the hardest things, honestly. It’s hard to say when you want to like, oh well, I’ll change this, but no, when you make a decision, you have to figure out who they are and be consistent with those characters. So, and then that’s the same as drawing. You make decisions about who they are, and you keep working at it. We were thinking about Paul, and I thought, well, maybe he has a headband. Jack’s like, no he’s bald. So, I’ve got to redraw. Well, maybe he was bald. We don’t know that. But just trying to make decisions that you stay with for the long haul.


Jack- Well, we want it to be fun. I mean fun and all these things that kids, we know that kids would just really like it.


Liz- Once you decide on how the drawing is going to go, then it’s mechanical putting the pieces in place for me. It’s more like put them in place, did I get it, did it match, and then redraw it, but it didn’t match.


Jack- Although we always have fun, Liz and I talk about the drawings, usually in the morning she’s going to draw the next four pages. So we’ll go over it together. But then either later that day or the next morning we come back to it and go I’m not sure I like this.


Patrick Wigglesworth coloring page

Liz- Well before I was drawing them all and then he would come in, no, that wasn’t what I thought, that doesn’t seem…, so then we figured out that he needs to be more involved before I put the energy in drawing because even though you have an idea in how you draw it, it doesn’t always work.  There is so much communication in drawing and every line you put in. The thing is you have limited lines and you don’t have color, you don’t have all these other things that distract the eyes. So you’re making a lot of decisions. But the grace of God is alive and well, right?

 




Valerie- Well, it’s great that you not only have the help of your spouse, but also God is directing you guys through this whole process. And it seems like it’s been a lot of fun for you guys, as well as it’s fun for the kids to read too.


Liz- A shout-out to Tyndale, they have been an amazing team. Our editor had such great insight, and our art director, again such a great help. They have been a fantastic team for us, adding that flavor in there.

 

Valerie- We always tend to forget all the people who are helping through the process. Because being an author, and I’m sure being an illustrator on top of that, it’s not all you. There are so many eyes that look over it before the book goes to print. What can we expect next from you two?

 

Jack- Books four and five are our focus at this point. Cause they take a long time to put together. So, we talk about things beyond that, but then we remember we have to stay focused.

 

Valerie- Gotta sweep up the sprinkles. Well, where can people find out more about you and your books?

 

Jack- So we have an Instagram, Patrick Wigglesworth’s World. I know that’s a mouthful. Then we have patrickwigglesworth.com. Both Liz and I have Facebook, Liz Hagler, and Jack Hagler, and the focus there is usually the books, new things, and so forth. Those are probably the best places to find us.

 

Valerie- We will have to look for you in all those places for sure. Thank you, Liz and Jack, for joining us today.


Liz and Jack- Thank you so much, it’s been fun.

 

Valerie- And thank you for joining Liz, Jack, and me on this episode of the BookWorthy Podcast.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you are a beach or mountain person. Be sure to like and subscribe so we can discover more great books together.

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

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Five Fun Facts about Liz and Jack Hagler:


Jack and Liz Hagler author

1. Patrick’s hometown Gasket, CA, was inspired by an actual community but we changed the name from Gasquet to Gasket.  

2. Liz wrote the first draft of the books sitting in our local Nob Hill grocery store.  

3. Liz was inspired to write these books when she was teaching Sunday School and realized how so few children understood the big picture of the Bible. 

4. A number of the last names in the books come from actual historical Christian evangelists, e.g. Patrick’s last name comes from Smith Wigglesworth, and Billy’s last name comes from Ulrich Zwingli.  

5. Like Patrick’s dad, Liz’s dad was an Ophthalmologist.  








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