Adorning the Dark Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Sep 10th

What prompted you to write “Adorning the Dark”?

In the beginning, it was a writing discipline. I was in the thick of a new album at the time,and wondered if it might be helpful to journal about the process, in real-time, to get the juices flowing. It wasn’t long before I wondered if other people might find it helpful, too. One thing led to another, and I realized I had a book’s worth of thoughts and opinions. (This will come as no surprise to those who know me and have suffered my rants.)

For whom did you write this book? Can those who don’t work in the arts and may not consider themselves a creative person use this?

This isn’t a technical “this is how you write a song” kind of book. There are plenty of those, and I don’t happen to think they do much good. I wanted to write something that would be helpful to all manner of disciplines: songwriters, novelists, poets, painters and pastors—but also parents and teachers and accountants and carpenters. One of my soapboxes in the book is that everyone’s creative. Everyone. And my hope is that the principles I cover in “Adorning the Dark” can be helpful no matter what field you’re in.

What is one thing you have learned about creativity and the Christian life in your 20 years as a singer/songwriter, that you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?

The first thing I’d say is this: “Success (or failure) isn’t going to change anything about who you are in Christ. Relax. Be led by the Spirit, not your ambition.” The second thing I’d say is this: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” (These two things are closely related.)

How does our calling as Christians intersect and inform the “great mystery of creativity”?

When we take seriously the fact that as humans, we’re bearers of God’s image, and as Christians, we’re also bearers of the Holy Spirit, we remember that we’re well-equipped to speak beauty into ugliness, order into chaos, light into darkness, love into lovelessness. That’s true no matter what our specific calling is. As we move through time, we’re contributing to the story of creation whether we like it or not. It just happens, no matter who you are. But Christ’s love enables us and calls us to do more than just create. It enables us, by his power, to redeem. We’re invited into partnership with the Great Redeemer to tell a better story, to take the broken bits and fashion them into something better, truer, more beautiful—and by doing so, to bring healing to the world and glory to God. 

You’ve written fiction novels before, but this is your first non-fiction book. How was this writing process and journey different for you?

With fiction, of course, there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. Figuring out how to give direction to all these thoughts about the process, along with memoir-type parts, my story was more difficult to get my head around. I hope it worked. (If it didn’t, please send a notarized letter to my editor.) But even if just one chapter is helpful to someone, I’ll be happy. That’s the main thing. I want this book to be useful. Fiction isn’t useful, strictly speaking, which is part of why I love it so much. 

What do you hope readers glean from reading “Adorning the Dark”?

I hope they’re encouraged, literally. I hope it gives them courage to make the song, poem, painting, sermon or story—whatever—that the Enemy doesn’t want them to make. I want them to fight back at the darkness by filling it with stars.

Tell us about the album you are releasing this fall, “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ.”

This year marks the 20th year since we started the “Behold the Lamb of God” tour. I never in a million years thought that I’d still be doing this tour two decades later, but I certainly hoped I would. The live show has evolved quite a bit in all that time, so we thought it would be fun to throw a party and re-record it all with some new voices. Those days in the studio earlier this year were some of the most joyful I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t wait for folks to hear it.