Branding: “Branding A Wild Horse”

O boy! Branding! Great topic, Teresa! And great lead in, Sam!

Teresa made mention in her last post of “going all over the map.” We’ll, I guess that’s me. Truly, I know it would be much easier on all those involved, from my wife to my publisher, if I just stayed with one thing (let alone one hobby–my wife would certainly sleep better!). But I can’t. Call it a lust for life, of new adventures, of trying new things. I am what I am.

Music really kicked this all off, this “branding” issue. I remember, like Sam, wondering wether or not to include my middle initial in my “music name” (Michael W. Smith), to use the whole middle name (Steven Curtis Chapman), or to leave it out all together. When you’re 17 this is a big deal. And as Sam pointed out, still a big deal when you’re not 17 anymore.

Within music itself I had to determine what “genre” I was. Well, that wasn’t very successful. It’s taken me over ten years to figure that out! (Probably one reason why you’ll never hear Christopher Hopper on KLOVE…I definitely don’t “fit the mold,” or stick to one). Then again, I was always much more intrigued by musicians that continually reinvented themselves rather than bow to “what’s expected”; those types wear themselves out (and their “sound” for that matter) by their third album.

After traveling as a musician, singer, worship leader, speaker, (what am I now?) I had to go and do something crazy–of course; write a book. Really, though, I can pin that one on the Lord. And then the name thing started all over.

J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis…and C.K. Hopper? Well, it was on the drawing board. Fortunately my [brilliant] publisher recognized I already had a little bit of a brand in the works, which included a nice web presence under Christopher Hopper (.com). So that’s what we went with. That, and there is no way I could have justified being put in a league with the greats. Don’t you have to at least be dead for that kind of status anyways?

The White Lion Chronicles have been so much fun to write. I’m not sure getting paid for them is actually legal; it’s almost like skipping school and then finding out your teachers all gave you “A”s for doing so. And truth be told, I have many more works of Christian Fiction within me. Can’t wait! However, if I am to be true to my “deep inside parts,” I know there’s something else. And why wouldn’t there be? After being stuck with this brian for quite some time now, would I expect anything different?

If someone were to ask me right now “what’s to come,” aside from Christian Fiction, I would have to say that I’ll be writing out of my “pastoral experience” (as I’ll call it). I have three books in me right now, all of which draw from my years growing up in a pastoral-home, a youth pastor, and years traveling and ministering to youth. There are some incredible books out there, for instance on relationships; God bless them! But I suppose, like everything else, there’s always something more to be said, or at least in a different way. Jennifer and I are working on one such book right now that I think will be hitting “relationship” issues in a whole new way. What “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” did for the 90’s, I hope our does for the next few years (or more).

Someone recently asked me what my inspiration was in writing Rise of The Dibor. I smiled and eloquently told them of my favorite authors, waved my hand in the air wistfully, and then concluded with some divine point of inspiration. As I got in my car, I realized that’s not what the person had asked me at all. I could see it in their face. Later, I told them what really inspired me; my life. Boy Scouts. Camping every month of my life for eight years straight. Traveling overseas. Learning how to relate and live in community with people. It was then that I realized my trademark, if it could be called such a thing; my love for this amazing journey called life that my Daddy invented is the very entity which drives my creation of art, wether it be my books, my music, or my paintings (yes…I do that, too. I can hear my wife sighing as I write…).

So what am I getting at in all this verbal throwing up? That maybe my “brand,” as incredibly shallow and quirky as it may seem, is simply that you’ll never know what to expect from Christopher Hopper. When someone sees my name in print, they know they’ll get a shock, something new, a twist, an unexpected new friend to meet, album to listen to, or piece of art to hang in their house.

Maybe if you’re standing next to someone in a store and you hear them say the following, you’ll think they’re reading something new from me:

“Well, I never–what is he thinking?”

…let me know if you figure that out. It’s probably like trying to brand a wild horse. Good luck!

Write on!


(Possibly what could happen when branding a wild horse. In this case, what happened when my pastor’s saddle came undone and snapped. Yes, he’s OK, and yes, he’s still my pastor. Thanks for asking. Needless to say, we sent it back fro a new one.)

(For those that wonder what they’re looking at, the borken strap holds the saddle onto the horse via the girth. Not a good thing to have break…)


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