Today’s guest on Inner Source is Steven Miller, Author Mary L. Hamilton’s young hero from See No Evil, the third novel in her Rustic Knoll series. Steven, I have had the pleasure of following you through three years of camp at Rustic Knoll, and I was so glad to get the chance to learn more about you. Please take a moment to tell our readers a little about yourself.
Well, I’m seventeen, going into my senior year of high school and, for those who haven’t read the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books, I’m blind. But I don’t let that stop me from participating in most of the activities. My parents first brought me to camp when I was five, and I’ve been coming back every year since then. So I’m pretty familiar with the camp. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Not that I’ve been to many world places, but—I’ll just leave it at that.
You had a very special relationship with your father and your mother. They both handled your special circumstances very differently. How do you think that has helped or hurt you as you have matured?
Dad never let me get away with anything just because I was blind. In fact, he made me work hard to overcome my limitations. I appreciate what he did now, even though most of the time it wasn’t much fun. He encouraged me to be as independent as possible. Sometimes, his methods were a little scary, but Mom was always there to comfort me and sorta pick up the pieces afterward. And she let Dad know when he crossed a danger line. But she never really tried to undermine Dad, so I knew she supported what he was doing, even if she didn’t always agree with how he did it. Since Dad’s death, I’ve tried really hard to live up to what I think he’d want me to do. Sometimes, Mom tries to hold me back, and that bothers me. But I hear other kids complaining about their parents, and I guess it’s just a teenage thing. Anyway, I’m glad I had both Mom and Dad. Without Mom, I might have grown resentful and angry. Without Dad, I wouldn’t have the confidence I do today.
The title of the novel is a play on words based upon your special circumstances, but your novel has an excellent message with regard to what we allow ourselves to see (and to hear). You deal with an issue that today’s teens face that many in my generation couldn’t fathom. What do you think of the information age and how it can be abused by anyone of any generation, not just yours?
I think the temptation is really nothing new. Dad once told me he sneaked a look or two at a girly magazine when he was my age. But all the electronic gadgets we have make it easy for anyone to find. I think most things have the potential for good or evil. It’s how we choose to use them, and that makes it even more important to guard ourselves against whatever entices and tempts us. Like Joseph of the Bible, we need to run the other way when temptation hits us. But that takes a lot of self-control. Believe me, I know!
What advice would you have for a young man or a young woman who has gotten themselves addicted to those things that are available to them via the Internet or other devices?
The best thing to do is put filters on your phone and your computer. And confide in someone you trust, someone tough enough to cut through your phony excuses and rationalizations, to challenge you to rise above where you are. If you don’t have someone like that, it’s going to be really hard to break the habit. The next time you’re tempted, challenge yourself to go one hour without looking. If you make it that hour, give yourself a high five and try to go another hour. Keep adding the time. The longer you go, the more you’ll want to keep it going and not look, not indulge. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Just start over and try again. If you keep trying, you’ll make it, especially if you pray and ask God for strength to overcome.
Now that your time as a camper at Rustic Knoll has come to a close and you look back on the years you spent there, what was your favorite moment as a camper—even if it wasn’t shared in the series?
Wow, that’s a hard one. I don’t know that I can pick just one. The friends I’ve made, the staff, the water carnivals, Zeke’s lessons, cabin pranks… My favorite moment? Okay, this probably sounds weird. Maybe it’s because being blind makes me rely on my other senses, but my favorite moment every year was when I first arrived at camp and caught the scent of the lake on the breeze. I can’t even describe how it smells because it’s so different from other smells, that mix of water and sand and fresh air. I know some kids think it stinks, but to me, it’s heaven. I always waited for that first breeze, that first scent. I’d take a deep breath, pull in as much as I could, and it always made me smile. Because I knew then I was back at Rustic Knoll, and the fun was about to start.
I don’t think that’s weird at all. I’m not blind, and I make associations with smells. I get a hint of a certain scent and a person or place comes to mind, and if your friends think the lake stinks, they need to visit my hometown at certain times of the year when the algae is blooming in the river. Thanks for being with us, Steven, and I look forward to the interview with your author, Mary L. Hamilton on Thursday.
More About See No Evil:
Steven Miller guards a dark secret. Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad’s belongings, he’s inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it’ll quiet the guilt he’s carried since Dad’s death three years ago. While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll’s beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie’s recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship. But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?
The Rustic Knoll series has two other outstanding novels:
Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him. Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven? All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.
Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep.
At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.
Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future.
Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough.
When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.