Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Christian Tibbs of the Eldor Series Is Helping To Change Our World
Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: When I first attempted to write a book, I quickly encountered challenges that led to burnout. I wish someone had told me early on that failure is actually a valuable learning experience. Looking back now, I realize that those setbacks taught me important lessons about planning, execution, and resilience. If I had known from the beginning that failure is just part of the journey, I would have approached challenges with a more open mindset, learned from my mistakes, and been better prepared for the road ahead.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Tibbs.
Christian Tibbs is the author of Chronicles of Eldor: The Amulet’s Legacy, and author of the ongoing Eldor series. Christian has a diverse writing background which has been his passion since a young age. Christian’s writing is focused on heart-felt and exciting stories that capture real life situations as well as engage the imagination of those who read them.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a glimpse into the colorful tapestry of my childhood. As I reflect on the moments that have shaped my journey, I’m excited to take you on a memorable and captivating storytelling adventure through the chapters of my early years.
My childhood was shaped by a unique family dynamic. My mother, a compassionate and dedicated woman, had to work tirelessly to provide the best life she could for myself and my younger brother. Her unwavering love was evident in her constant efforts, despite her limited presence at home due to work commitments. Her sacrifices were a testament to her devotion to our well-being.
However, our household also had its challenges. My step-father, a gruff and abrasive man, and his son, who took after him greatly, introduced a different energy to our family. This created a complex environment that required navigating delicate relationships and maintaining a sense of resilience.
Financially, we never had much, but my mother’s determination ensured that we always had what we needed. She prioritized providing us with a stable foundation, teaching us the value of hard work and perseverance. Her unconditional support and presence, even through years of a strained relationship, became a profound pillar in my life.
Seeking refuge from the tenseness of relationships with my step-father and step-brother, I sought solace in my school community. I eagerly immersed myself in various activities, spending as much time there as possible. I found a sense of belonging and purpose through playing football, joining faith-based clubs, and eventually becoming a part of my school news team.
During middle school, I encountered a transformative experience that ignited a passion within me. It was my English teacher who greatly praised some of my essays, commending the vivid detail and descriptive storytelling I had employed. Her words of encouragement lit a new fire within me, and I became determined to further explore and develop my writing skills.
Inspired by her praise, I began to immerse myself in the world of literature and writing. While writing didn’t always come naturally or feel immediately fulfilling, I discovered that it allowed me to express myself and create vivid narratives. I started practicing writing more regularly, often dedicating months to starting and sometimes not finishing new books and stories. It became a creative outlet that I cherished.
Writing gradually evolved into a deep-seated passion. I would experiment with different genres, weaving tales that transported readers to enchanting worlds. As I continued to develop my storytelling abilities, I found joy in crafting engaging narratives and capturing the imagination of others.
This passion for writing also sparked an interest in journalism. Joining my school news team allowed me to combine my love for writing with my curiosity about the world. I relished the opportunity to investigate, interview, and share stories that mattered to our school community. It gave me a sense of purpose and a platform to amplify the voices of others.
Throughout my journey, I faced a significant challenge in the form of executive function issues, which made completing tasks a considerable struggle. This obstacle became particularly evident during my college years, as even graduating took twice as long as anticipated. It required immense perseverance and determination to navigate through the difficulties that accompanied my executive function issues.
However, I was fortunate to have a solid foundation of resilience and persistence instilled in me by my mother. Her unwavering support and belief in my abilities served as a constant source of inspiration. In addition to my mother’s guidance, I was fortunate to have the support of close friends who understood and accepted me for who I was.
With their support and my own inner strength, I learned never to give up. I developed a tenacity that propelled me forward, even in the face of setbacks. I discovered that by consistently pushing myself and maintaining a positive mindset, I could overcome obstacles and ultimately find success.
This journey taught me the value of patience, self-compassion, and the importance of building a strong support network. It also taught me to appreciate the small victories along the way and celebrate the progress I made, regardless of the pace.
My childhood was a tapestry woven with diverse experiences and valuable life lessons. Despite the challenges presented by a complex family dynamic and financial limitations, my mother’s unwavering love and determination provided a stable foundation for me and my younger brother. Her sacrifices and presence became the guiding force in my life.
My journey taught me the value of patience, self-compassion, and the importance of a strong support network. I learned to appreciate the small victories along the way, celebrating every step of progress regardless of the pace. Armed with these lessons, I am eager to continue my journey, embracing new opportunities and striving for success with unwavering determination.
Thank you for joining me on this captivating storytelling adventure through the chapters of my early years. I hope my story inspires others to overcome challenges, pursue their passions, and find strength in resilience.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
Absolutely! When I was younger, there was indeed a book that had a profound impact on me and inspired me to take action in my own life. That book was “The Transall Saga” by Gary Paulsen. While I was initially introduced to Paulsen through his famous book “Hatchet,” it was “The Transall Saga” that truly left a lasting impression on me.
In “The Transall Saga,” Paulsen takes readers on a thrilling journey through time and space. The main character finds himself transported to a parallel world, facing unimaginable challenges and dangers. What struck me the most about Paulsen’s characters in this book was their unwavering resilience and determination.
As I followed the protagonist’s quest for survival and his unwavering spirit, I couldn’t help but be inspired. The characters in the story didn’t just let life happen to them; they took charge and happened back. They faced adversity head-on, pushing their limits, and discovering inner strength they didn’t know they possessed.
Reading “The Transall Saga” ignited a fire within me to approach life with a similar mindset. It made me realize that I had the power to shape my own destiny and overcome obstacles in my path. The book taught me that challenges are not roadblocks but opportunities for growth and self-discovery.
Inspired by the characters’ resilience, I began to take action in my own life. I became more proactive in pursuing my passions and dreams, embracing challenges as opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I developed a mindset that allowed me to approach difficulties with determination and a refusal to give up.
“The Transall Saga” not only transported me to a captivating world of adventure but also instilled in me a sense of empowerment and a belief in my own abilities. It taught me that I had the power to shape my own story, just like the characters in the book.
To this day, the influence of Gary Paulsen’s work, especially “The Transall Saga,” continues to inspire me. It serves as a reminder that life is an adventure waiting to be embraced, and that by taking action and happening back, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was quite young, I made a mistake that, looking back, brings a smile to my face. It happened when my mother and I were at a local park with tennis courts. The net on one of the courts was controlled by a crank on the side, and I had wound it up all the way. However, to my dismay, I discovered that the locking mechanism on the crank was broken.
In a moment of panic, I turned to my mother and expressed my concern that it wouldn’t lock. She, wanting to reassure me, confidently said she had it under control and that I could let go of the handle. Trusting her, even though she had no way to actually catch the spinning handle, I released my grip.
As you can probably imagine, the handle spun back with an unexpected force and smacked me right in the face, resulting in a bloody mess. While it may not seem funny at first glance, we can’t help but laugh about it now whenever it comes up in conversation. And that’s because it taught us an important lesson about perspective.
In this situation, my mother had misunderstood the issue and mistakenly believed that she would be able to catch the rapidly spinning handle as soon as I let go. However, the reality was quite different. The incident serves as a humorous reminder that sometimes, when we fail to consider alternative perspectives, it can lead to unnecessary complications and even mishaps.
The lesson we learned from that comical mishap was the importance of taking into account different viewpoints and considering all possibilities before making assumptions or taking action. It taught us to pause, evaluate the situation from multiple angles, and communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings or unintended consequences.
Looking back, I can’t help but appreciate the laughter and the valuable lesson that came out of that funny mistake. It reminds me to approach situations with an open mind, to seek different perspectives, and to embrace the humor that can be found even in the midst of unexpected challenges.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
One of the ways I strive to make a significant social impact with my book is by challenging the assumption of white protagonists in fantasy novels. This goal wasn’t initially at the forefront of my mind when I started writing, but it was sparked by a thought-provoking dialogue I encountered. I remembered tweets by J.K. Rowling discussing the possibility of a black Hermione, which got me questioning why fantasy protagonists are often assumed to be white.
In my book, I want to address this issue by incorporating subtle details that indicate the race of the characters, while making it explicitly clear on the cover that Hannah and Jack, the main heroes, are young African Americans. The story itself doesn’t revolve around their race; it’s a fun fantasy book featuring magic and dragons, where the characters just happen to be black.
I believe that this approach to representation feels more natural and authentic compared to methods employed by larger intellectual properties, where diversity can sometimes feel shoehorned in. By showcasing diverse protagonists without emphasizing their race, I hope to create a sense of inclusivity and allow readers from all backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the story.
Ultimately, my aim is to contribute to a broader cultural shift by providing diverse and relatable characters, challenging existing norms, and inspiring readers, particularly young readers, who may not often see themselves as the heroes in fantasy literature. Through my book, I want to normalize diversity and encourage the industry to embrace inclusive storytelling that represents and empowers individuals from underrepresented communities.
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
In my book, one of the most captivating stories revolves around Jack, a somewhat overly cautious young man with a remarkable transformation into a strong and brave hero. Despite not being the dominant protagonist, his journey is incredibly intriguing and resonates with many readers, regardless of gender.
At the beginning of the story, Jack is portrayed as someone who approaches life with excessive caution. He is hesitant to take risks and often second-guesses himself. However, as the narrative unfolds, Jack finds himself in situations that demand courage and quick thinking. Through these challenges, he discovers a wellspring of inner strength that he never knew he possessed.
What makes Jack’s story particularly fascinating is the exploration of his personal growth and the evolution of his character. Readers witness his gradual transition from a timid individual to a formidable force, driven by his fierce loyalty to his companions and his unwavering commitment to the greater good.
Throughout his journey, Jack confronts his fears, learns to trust his instincts, and embraces the unknown. He faces formidable obstacles and makes difficult choices, all of which contribute to his development as a hero. His story serves as a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery and the capacity for ordinary individuals to rise above their limitations.
The intricacies of Jack’s character, his internal struggles, and his eventual triumphs make his story deeply engaging and relatable. It highlights themes of bravery, loyalty, and personal growth that resonate with readers on a profound level.
While both protagonists play vital roles in the narrative, it is the unique journey and personal transformation of Jack that captures the imagination and sparks curiosity. His story serves as a reminder that strength and heroism can be found within individuals who may not initially appear as the traditional “dominant” heroes.
In essence, Jack’s captivating narrative offers readers an inspiring tale of self-discovery, personal growth, and the realization that even the most cautious individuals can become extraordinary heroes when faced with extraordinary circumstances.
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
The decision to bring my message to the greater world and challenge race assumptions in fantasy literature was not a single “aha moment” but rather a series of events that gradually unfolded during the creative process of writing my novel.
It all started when I was describing Hannah’s features in one of the earlier drafts of the book. At that moment, a memory resurfaced, reminding me of the intense discourse surrounding J.K. Rowlings tweets about the possibility of Hermione being portrayed as black. This memory struck a chord within me and made me reflect on the lack of diverse representation in fantasy stories.
It was this gnawing feeling, coupled with a desire to address this issue, that led me to make a deliberate choice: to subtly imply that Hannah, the main heroine, was an energetic young black woman. I wanted to challenge the assumption that protagonists in fantasy novels are always white.
As I continued to rework and revise the story, I realized that it was important to make the racial identity of the characters explicitly clear. I wanted readers to see Hannah and Jack as young African American heroes, celebrating their diversity on the book’s cover.
This decision was driven by a growing conviction that representation should not be an afterthought or a forced inclusion, but an integral part of the storytelling process. By embracing diversity and making it an organic aspect of the narrative, I aimed to create a more inclusive and relatable experience for readers.
Ultimately, it was this series of events, sparked by the recollection of the discourse surrounding J.K. Rowling’s tweets, that propelled me to bring my message to the greater world. Through my novel, I wanted to contribute to a shift in the fantasy genre, where diverse representation becomes the norm rather than the exception.
By sharing this story and challenging race assumptions in my book, I hope to inspire other authors, readers, and the industry as a whole to embrace diversity, engage in meaningful conversations about representation, and create a more inclusive literary landscape.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
As a first-time author, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to witness the direct impact of my book on individuals. However, I hold a sincere hope that my work will contribute to setting a new standard in the fantasy genre and foster a more inclusive environment for readers.
By challenging race assumptions and promoting diverse representation in my novel, I aspire to create a space where readers from various backgrounds can see themselves reflected in the stories they love. I aim to inspire young readers who have been yearning for heroes that look like them, to provide a sense of belonging, and to ignite their imagination in a way that embraces their unique identities.
While I may not have a specific story to share at this moment, the ultimate goal is to create a collective impact, where countless individuals can find solace, inspiration, and empowerment through the characters and themes presented in my book.
I eagerly anticipate the day when I can hear from readers who have been positively influenced by my work, when they share their personal stories of how my book helped them embrace their own identities, sparked their love for reading, or empowered them to pursue their dreams. It is these future stories, yet to be told, that I am most excited about and eagerly await as a testament to the impact of my cause.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
First and foremost, it is crucial to allocate funding to creators who are willing to take the risk of developing inclusive original intellectual properties (IPs). By providing financial support through grants, subsidies, or dedicated funding programs, we can empower diverse storytellers to bring their unique perspectives to the forefront. This would enable them to create new narratives that challenge existing assumptions and norms prevalent in the industry.
Secondly, fostering collaboration and partnerships is vital. By bringing together creators, publishers, media organizations, and other industry stakeholders, we can create a supportive and inclusive ecosystem. Collaborative efforts can lead to the co-creation of diverse narratives, which truly reflect the experiences and voices of marginalized communities. Such partnerships can amplify the impact of individual creators and foster a culture of inclusivity throughout the industry.
Lastly, education and awareness play a critical role. It is essential to promote understanding and empathy among the community and society at large. By organizing educational workshops, awareness campaigns, and initiatives that emphasize the importance of representation and inclusivity in storytelling, we can cultivate a greater appreciation for diverse voices and narratives. This will contribute to the dismantling of preconceived notions and biases, fostering an environment where inclusive stories can thrive.
By focusing on these three actions, we can actively contribute to addressing the root of the problem and facilitate the development of inclusive original IPs. It is important to remember that expecting current industry leaders alone to drive the change may limit progress. By providing funding, fostering collaboration, and promoting education, we can collectively expand the perspectives of who can be heroes or protagonists in stories, just as the introduction of Miles Morales as Spider-Man expanded the character’s universe without erasing the existing iconic portrayal of Peter Parker. This direction signifies a step towards a more inclusive and representative future in storytelling.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership, in my view, is the act of guiding and empowering others while prioritizing their growth and well-being over personal gain. A true leader is not driven by self-interest or a desire for personal recognition, but rather by a genuine commitment to the success and development of their team. They exhibit humility, empathy, and a willingness to listen to diverse perspectives. Instead of seeking the spotlight, they shine it on others, allowing them to flourish and take ownership of their roles.
An effective leader fosters an environment of trust, collaboration, and open communication, where individuals feel valued, motivated, and supported. They serve as a source of inspiration, providing guidance, encouragement, and mentorship to help others reach their full potential. Leadership is not about exerting control or dominance, but about nurturing the strengths and talents of those around you, enabling them to become leaders in their own right. An example of leadership can be seen in a team leader who creates a culture of respect, trust, and inclusivity. They actively engage team members, encourage their input, and provide opportunities for growth and development. They recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals, fostering a sense of ownership and pride within the team. By empowering others and fostering a collaborative spirit, they enable the team to achieve collective goals and overcome challenges together.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity:
When I first attempted to write a book, I quickly encountered challenges that led to burnout. I wish someone had told me early on that failure is actually a valuable learning experience. Looking back now, I realize that those setbacks taught me important lessons about planning, execution, and resilience. If I had known from the beginning that failure is just part of the journey, I would have approached challenges with a more open mindset, learned from my mistakes, and been better prepared for the road ahead.
Seek and Embrace Feedback:
Growing up, I always wanted to do everything perfectly the first time, which made it challenging for me to understand the power of feedback. It wasn’t until I was asked to participate in a research symposium during my collegiate career that I truly grasped its importance. To make my presentation the best it could be, I had to seek a lot of feedback from my professors. Through their constructive criticism, my paper became well-polished, and it made a significant impact during the symposium. If I had embraced feedback earlier, I would have grown and improved more rapidly in various aspects of my work.
Build a Supportive Network:
Learning the difference between critical feedback and negative feedback was closely tied to having a supportive network around me. Connecting with like-minded individuals who share your goals and values can make a world of difference. I wish I had built those relationships earlier because they would have provided me with guidance, encouragement, and a sense of belonging when I needed it most. Having a support system not only helps you navigate challenges but also boosts your motivation and confidence along the way.
Prioritize Self-Care and Work-Life Balance:
Experiencing burnout multiple times made me realize the importance of taking care of myself and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. There were instances where I pushed myself too hard, neglecting my well-being and personal life. If I had prioritized self-care and set boundaries earlier, it would have preserved my energy, prevented burnout, and enhanced my overall productivity and happiness. It’s crucial to remember that sustainable success requires a balance between work and personal life.
Embrace Continuous Learning and Adaptability:
From the beginning, I wish someone had emphasized the value of continuous learning and being adaptable. The world is constantly evolving, and being open to acquiring new knowledge and skills is essential. There were instances where I resisted embracing new technologies or changes, only to realize later that they were integral to my growth. If I had cultivated a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability early on, I would have been better prepared to navigate shifts and capitalize on new opportunities.
These insights, learned through experience, have truly shaped my journey. Embracing failure, seeking feedback, building a supportive network, prioritizing self-care, and embracing continuous learning are lessons that have propelled my personal and professional growth.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”
This quote has become a guiding principle in my life, reminding me of the importance of progress and the dangers of perfectionism. In my earlier years, I used to be a bit of a perfectionist. I would set exceedingly high standards for myself and constantly seek flawlessness in everything I did. While this mindset initially pushed me to excel in certain areas, it also created immense pressure and led to feelings of self-doubt and dissatisfaction.
However, as I encountered challenges and faced situations where perfection was simply unattainable, this quote resonated with me deeply. It made me realize that perfectionism was holding me back from embracing progress and enjoying the journey.
By embracing the notion that “perfect is the enemy of good,” I learned to shift my focus from unattainable perfection to steady improvement. I understood that in many cases, striving for excellence and making consistent progress was more valuable than obsessing over flawless outcomes.
This mindset shift allowed me to embrace imperfections, take risks, and view failures as stepping stones to growth. I began to appreciate the value of learning from mistakes, adapting to new circumstances, and iterating on my ideas. It freed me from the paralyzing fear of not being perfect and gave me the courage to take action.
Moreover, this quote reminded me to prioritize what truly mattered. It helped me realize that the pursuit of perfection in trivial details often came at the expense of time, energy, and the ability to focus on more meaningful aspects of life.
Overall, this quote has been a powerful reminder to embrace progress over perfection and to appreciate the value of imperfections and growth. It has enabled me to let go of unattainable standards, find joy in the journey, and approach life with a more balanced and fulfilled perspective.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Man, that’s a tough question! There are so many remarkable individuals who have inspired me or piqued my curiosity. If I had the opportunity to have a private breakfast or lunch with someone, and we’re talking about someone within the US, I would have to say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
AOC has proven herself to be an incredibly astute political figure, deftly navigating the complexities of the political landscape. Her ability to adapt, learn, and make her voice heard has made her a rising star within the Democratic Party. I am fascinated by her journey and the impact she has made in a relatively short amount of time.
Having a private meal with AOC would be a tremendous opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation about her experiences, insights, and strategies for effecting change within our political system. It would provide a unique chance to delve deeper into the nuances of navigating the political arena, away from the public spectacle and the usual constraints of political discourse.
Off the record and in a more intimate setting, I believe such a conversation could uncover valuable perspectives and lessons about leadership, advocacy, and the pursuit of meaningful change. It would be a chance to gain valuable insights into her motivations, decision-making processes, and the challenges she has faced along the way.
Ultimately, I believe that sharing a meal with AOC would offer a rich and enlightening experience, providing an opportunity to explore the world of politics through her unique lens and learn from her experiences in a personal and candid manner.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can buy Chronicles of Eldor: The Amulet’s Legacy on Amazon and if you would like to stay updated on my work and follow along with the progress of the Eldor series, they can find me on Twitter @ShylerTibbs. I will be posting updates and insights regarding the second novel in the series on my Twitter account. It’s a great way to stay connected and be the first to know about any exciting developments or announcements related to my writing journey.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Thank you for the opportunity!
Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Christian Tibbs of the Eldor Series Is Helping To Change… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.