Brian Wells Interview
League and Lantern
International Christian Retail Show

June, 2016

Donna: First, tell us a little about your book and what inspired you to write it.

Brian: The book is my heart. Whether we have been doing television, movies or our other projects, my heart has always been 9-14 year old kids. I just feel like middle school time is just “wet cement” for kids’ formation. I have always felt like I had this action adventure in me that would appeal to that age range and that is where the League and the Lantern came from. I spent early years in my life in Nigeria [but] I grew up in Springfield, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln. I grew up around this Abraham Lincoln lore and always thought there was a lot of mystery when we would go visit his tomb. There were some initial ideas there that became seeds for this story.

Donna: You mentioned the 9-14 year olds and I saw where you mentioned on your website that that was one of the tougher years for you. Is that what leads you to have a compassion for that age group?

Brian: Yes, I do think the books, some of the themes, the middle school themes in the book, come from that angst of me remembering how tough those years were. Also as a parent having seen my son and daughter go through the same kind of seasons.

Donna: I read that you included 140 of the top middle school words into the book.  How did you even know to do that and what triggered your thought process there.

Brian: I did not set out to write a book that builds great vocabulary. I set out to write an awesome book but then after about the third draft we started looking at the way some of the language was flowing [and] we noticed that there was some great vocabulary in here for kids. If kids read this in the summer, maybe we could help them stay sharp from a vocabulary standpoint. Something else, my son is studying English education and he wrote a vocabulary guide based on all 140 of those words that is downloadable for free on Parents can go to the website and download this vocabulary list of the 140 words that are in the book and includes exercises if you want your kids to learn those words.

Donna: If you would talk about the term you use, “criticize by creating.”

Brian: [This ] is an old phrase some people attribute it to Michelangelo, criticize by creating. I thought if I don’t like what is out there [for entertainment] maybe one of the reasons why I am so frustrated is God has put something in me that I am supposed to get out and do better. What if we tried to create flat out awesome entertainment that also calls out what is best in us and see how the market responds? That is what I mean about “criticize by creating.” If we are frustrated by something that is out there maybe that is because God has put something in us that we could do better.

Donna: Tell us a little more about the book giveaway that I saw that on your website.

Brain: When you buy a book on leagueandlantern .com, we give away a book for free. For every book that we sell we donate a book to a child who couldn’t otherwise afford it. Our partners are Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. When we first moved back from Nigeria my dad pastored a small church in Illinois. My dad would volunteer at the Salvation Army on Saturday mornings, and he would organize all of their book donations. He created this little book store within Salvation Army and in exchange for doing that they let him bring home any books he wanted for free. I will never forget, [when] he brought me home an old beat-up copy of Hardy Boys: Secret Agent on Flight 10. I just fell in love with reading after that. Every time anybody would donate a Hardy Boys’ book, my dad would bring it home for me. I still have all 50 of those in my office at home. When I decided to launch this book, one of the first calls I made was to the Salvation Army to ask how can we partner and do something. I love the public library but there is something about a kid being able to hold their own book in their hands, and to be able to write their name on the inside. I am thrilled to say we just gave away our first 1600 books where they are giving away to kids at their summer camps.

brian wells bk league lanternDonna: So you do see [League and Lantern] as a series? Will there be other books coming?

Brian: It is planned as a 5 book series. I have book 2 pretty much outlined at this point. I know where the whole thing ends up in book 5 but where we are going in the middle, I will discover with everybody else.

Donna: I always wonder, does the book take you there or do you have a plan.

Brian: I think it depends on the author. It is different for me, it is a mix but I am, there are these terms that they use a “plotter” and a “pantser” and I am more of a plotter. I need to have that outline really flushed out but then I do get surprised when I am writing and end up going a different direction than planned.

Donna: I think that is when you know it is taking over -like the story is taking over. What is the God DNA behind this book.

Brian: When I talk about The League and The Lantern, it is similar to the family movies we did. I would not describe it as a christian book, it is not The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. It is not a gospel allegory but my faith informs everything I do and so there is what I call a God DNA to the work and to this book. An example of this is the main character in the book, Jake, who is a 12 year old kid. He is able to solve this clue on the wall because he knows about Lincoln ’s house divided speech, but he also knows the scripture that Lincoln took his house divided language from so there is respect for scripture in the book- this boy has memorized  scripture. Another example, one of the kids in the book is Lucy, after Lucy in Chronicles of Narnia. That is what I mean by God DNA that is woven throughout the book.

Donna: So this book would appeal to christians and non-christians?

Brian: One of the things that have been really encouraging to me is that we have Christians who love the book, but I also received an email from a librarian at a totally secular school. She has fallen in love with it and wanted it to feature it in their school this fall.

Donna: What separates the League and the Lantern from other books?

Brian: When we talk to parents, they say when it comes to most entertainment for their kids they feel conflicted. What [parents] tell us most of the time is they feel like they have to choose between the great and the good. [Stories] can be well written, have great characters and engaging stories but they also have reinforcing themes of narcissism, violence or sex. Or they can have stories that call out the best of their families but maybe they are poorly written and rather cliche. We say you shouldn’t have to choose. It is both a flat out funny page turning book that their kids are going to love and they are going to love that their kids love the book because of the character that it calls out in them.

Donna: That is what you strive for right there. I was reading that the characters in The League and the Lantern discover lessons in mercy, compassion and charity. How did you weave that into the story?

Brian: You don’t want this to come off feeling like some after school special, but you focus on the quality of the adventure. There are times when these characters are going to be faced with choices. This whole book builds up to a choice where the character is able to act out of anger or revenge or he is able to show compassion. We have him make a hard choice but he makes a choice of compassion.

Donna: anything else about the book you want us to share?

Brian: I think I would encourage anybody that has a 9-14 year old in their life, whether it is a child or grandchild, go to  and have them read the first 6 chapters for free. If they aren’t hooked after that then forget it. We are finding about 90 percent of the kids can’t stop reading the first 6 chapters. There is a free trial download for the first 6 chapters for free. Please go back to and buy it because we give away a free copy for every book/download we sell.