"Q&A With John Driver"
Book: The Upset
Author: John Driver
"John earned a B.A. in History and a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he was a Whittle Scholar. He then worked as a secondary educator for several years, teaching history and math to high school and middle school students before transitioning into full-time ministry and writing. He currently serves as the Executive & Teaching Pastor at The Church At Pleasant Grove in Mount Juliet, Tennessee near Nashville, where he serves daily in numerous writing, discipleship, and speaking endeavors." (Source: www.johndriver.com)
1. What was it that made Tyler Trent such an outstanding person?
Tyler stood out for many reasons, but I think the most compelling one was his willingness to share his brokenness. As he faced so much and even lost hope at times, he didn’t hide his struggles, but rather shared them with others.
In this world, we often succumb to the erroneous notion that we are the only ones feeling what it is we’re feeling. This lie leads us to dark places of isolation and self-absorption, all because we think that no one has ever been where we are. Tyler shared where he was and where he had been, which provides hope for others who are facing similar giants.
2. How did you meet Tyler and his family?
I met Tyler and his family through my literary agent. He reached out when they were looking for a writer and I was blessed to connect and become friends with this incredible family so that we could partner together towards the common goal of getting the story written amid such dire and untimely circumstances.
3. What was it about Tyler, his illness, or his story that created your passion to write this book?
Tyler was such a brilliant young man who made bold moves when it seemed more prudent to play it safe. After a chemo treatment when most people would rightfully seek a place to rest and recover, he camped out for Purdue football tickets and began a movement on his campus that continues to this day.
I guess I love that Tyler stayed in motion when it would have been easier to get bogged down—his faith and legacy were matters of imminent importance to him, which led him to live life with an adventurous urgency, one that many of us seem to lack. I want to live as boldly as he did.
4. What are a few things that Tyler taught you?
Tyler taught me to be intentional about listening for other people’s stories and not just your own. He was actually a little frustrated when he had to talk about himself because he really wanted to hear about others. This perspective and empathy have impacted me deeply.
5. What are some things that make Purdue a special university and how long have you been a fan?
As a University of Tennessee alumnus, I am actually not a Purdue fan— and oddly enough, neither was Tyler before he enrolled. I hate to spoil the story, so you'll have to read the book to learn how a fateful and unexpected turn of events led Tyler to be the Purdue "superfan.”
6. Is there any part of his story that you wish you shared in The Upset but didn’t?
Not really. Tyler and his family were very intentional about revealing the intricate and intimate highs and lows of their story, so I feel very satisfied and proud of all they wrote in that it provides a very well-rounded picture of their life and faith revealed in their collective stories.
7. How big of a role did faith play in Tyler and his family’s life?
Tyler’s relationship with God became the centerpiece of his story, and not in a token or rhetorical sense. He asked God to use his cancer to reveal his love to more people, even though the cancer is not what Tyler wanted and he did not believe God “gave him cancer.”
To that end, Tyler wrestled in the pages of the book with that which so many in this world are wrestling: the mysteries surrounding suffering in this life as it relates to God’s nature and the essence of the time in history and eternity in which we live.
8. What are some lessons in the book from Tyler that you hope readers take with them?
Above all, I think Tyler would have wanted the reader to be able to see the light of God’s goodness embedded in what seemed like such unspeakable darkness.
Reading his own perspectives can really bring this seeming contradiction to light, but it suffices to say that there is something undeniably beautiful there if you are willing to really dive deep into Tyler’s story and perspectives.
9. How can readers continue to support Tyler’s legacy?
You can go to tylertrentbook.com to learn more about Tyler, his story, and ways to donate to cancer research.
10. What were some of the emotions you felt when you saw the grand opening of the ‘Tyler Trent Student Gate’ at Ross-Ade Stadium?
I was blown away by the continuing wave of love, support, and awareness that keeps cascading across the campus related to Tyler’s story and legacy. Gratitude. Humility. And of course, sadness that Tyler is no longer here with us on this earth.
11. What does the line, “Whether I live or die, either way, I win!” mean to you?
This sums up so much about the message Tyler wanted to leave with us all. It puts into his own words the same sentiments that many heroes of faith who suffered greatly also expressed.
To me, this means that no matter what I face, there are those who have gone before me who found a hope and a future in this midst of their suffering that promised to eclipse the pain and redeem even the darkest of circumstances.
This spurs me on to tie myself off to these anchors of faith, just as they did.
12. After writing this book, what do you hope resonates with readers?
That no matter what they face, God is an ever-present help and hope in times of trouble. We often run from the One who can offer us hope beyond the temporal circumstances of this life because we feel that our suffering here reflects some sort of broken promise from Him, but Tyler’s story and perspectives reveal that we are often just mistaken about what exactly God has promised… which is so much deeper, longer-lasting, and ultimately more fulfilling than what we face in this life.
13. What’s the best book you have read in 2019 thus far?
14. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Draw up a plan for hitting word counts on an actual calendar (paper or digital) and then go after those word counts with gumption. This means writing from your raw place and worrying less in the early stages about polishing and editing the content to perfection.
Begin by just meeting the word count, then you can focus on rounding everything out into a better-finished product. In other words, writing is the best antidote for a bad case of writer’s block.
15. What’s the best advice you have ever received on happiness?
It will actually make you happier (i.e, more blessed) to give than to receive; that is, looking outward is the most effective strategy for strengthening what is inward.
16. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
I am so grateful to be writing quite a few books as we speak. As a collaborator, I have been divinely blessed with opportunities to write, but also with literary agents who have become incredible friends and champions. They constantly help to align and connect me with exciting projects and authors.
Any time you get to write professionally at all, it’s a big deal, so I am humbled and honored to be able to work on so many amazing projects as a collaborator. And at times, I do write in my own voice, including a satirical book that released this year entitled, The Ultimate Guide For The Avid Indoorsman, which has actually now won several awards for humor. So yeah, I’m always scheming up new and silly ideas for the future.
Places To Find More From This Author:
Facebook: John Driver Writes
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