Author Interview: Krin Van Tatenhove
I asked author and editor Krin Van Tatenhove about his new book, What Gives You Hope? I hope you enjoy!
What motivated you to write/edit this book? How did you land on the question, "What Gives You Hope?"
I’ve never been a doomsayer. Like most of my friends, I try to remain hopeful amidst the challenges we face. However, during and after the pandemic, while engaged in deep conversations with those I love, I saw their moods darkening. How can you blame them? On any given day, multiple crises bombard us through the media: war, mass shootings, environmental warnings, health scares, weather catastrophes, endless political infighting.
As I describe in the book’s introduction, a friend was reciting a litany of things that anger and depress him about planet earth in the year 2022. Since I agreed with his list, I found myself literally needing to catch my breath and find some fresh air. I looked at him and said, “What gives you hope?” It was on that very day that I decided to reach out to others with the same question, knowing that hope is like oxygen to our souls.
What are some things that make you feel hopeless in the world right now?
Two things: intolerance and ignorance. By intolerance, I mean those who are unwilling to fully accept others of a different race, sexuality, religion, or cultural identity. Their fear of “losing their place in line” leads them to a cruelty of heart and a support of reactionary politicians. Ignorance goes hand in hand with this. As people allow demagogues to fan their fears, they become almost two-dimensional. They cease educating themselves about the broader picture, even within their own faith. I wrote about the need for a more expansive and unifying view of our planet in my book, Invitation to The Overview.
What are things that make you feel hopeful?
What makes me most hopeful are the values I see emerging in younger generations, especially the way they are rising up to vote their consciences. They grew up with a much different view of both diversity and “the American Dream.” They give me a fresh breath of air. It comes as no shock that reactionary politicians are now seeking to restrict voting rights at the college level. This new world vision rising among the young scares them, but I say, “Bring it on!”
The book is a compilation that includes 18 authors from different generations, faith traditions, and diverse backgrounds. Why did you want to collaborate with other authors on this? Why did you select these specific authors?
Collaboration is one of life’s greatest joys. As I say in one of my books (co-written with Rob Mueller): Mutual transformation is the hallmark of fruitful collaboration, whether it’s in a marriage, a student/teacher relationship, or a corporate merger. There is so much creativity in the lives of others, and when I find a project where we can intersect, creativity gets magnified on all sides, transforming everyone involved. You will see collaborations in my art books, Box of Darkness and Presence; and in three of my nonfiction volumes, The Pattern: 12 Steps for Everyone Who Wants Them, The Smile on a Dog: Retrieving a Faith That Matters, and The Six Medicines of BodhiChristo.
With this particular book, I simply pondered the many connections I’ve made over the years, then approached the people I thought would bring a diverse perspective to its pages.
What is the message you HOPE readers will take away?
Hope is alive! It is part of the lives of so many people, and when we articulate our personal hope to others, its sparks that same quality within them.
There are lots of stunning images in the book made with AI Midjourney. There are also some original works by a couple authors. Why did you want to include these images in the book?
I am also a published photographer. Visual art has long been a part of my life. I’m a firm believer that any message will imbed itself more deeply in a person’s consciousness if we engage multiple senses. This is why films are so powerful. We see them and hear them simultaneously. I know that there is a lot of controversy about the emerging copyright laws surrounding AI imagery, but as it currently stands, what we create with these bots is royalty free. I appreciate this new medium!
In addition to being a writer for Story Sanctum, you're also an editor. What advice would you give to other writers who might be thinking of submitting a story or book proposal?
That’s pretty simple. Getting a creative writing piece – a short story, novel, blog, or article – into its first iteration is wonderful. It’s a creative birthing. But the real work comes in the editing. Edit, edit, edit! Come at your piece on different days and in different moods, letting that moment’s light refract through it. Also, find a trusted group of friends who will read the piece and give you honest and constructive feedback. This helps us develop, as Hemingway said, “a built-in bullshit detector.” Finally, it never hurts to hire a professional editor. I have done so with much of my work.
Are you working on any other projects?
Absolutely! I have a couple short stories that are near completion – The Sanctuary and The Final Incarnation. I am also working on a book entitled Third Eye Dawning: Learning to See the Middle Path, an extended meditation on how to avoid the extremes that get inculcated through our cultures, families, and natural temperaments. I am also compiling a short picture book with my friend, artist Yasmin Gudino, called Obra de Luz, illustrating the seven main chakras through image and word.
Krin Van Tatenhove is a writer, photographer, and Texas Master Naturalist. His 40 years of professional writing experience have led to countless articles and over a dozen books. You can freely download most of his work by visiting krinvan.com. He is married, has four precious children, and currently lives with his wife and special-needs adult son in San Antonio, Texas.