Bio: The Story So Far

For a short bio, visit the Press Page.

What follows is a longer narrative.

Born into a family of educators, I grew up in Christian education: in Oregon, at Portland Christian Schools; and in Washington, at Seattle Pacific University.

My wife Anne is a poet (Delicate Machinery Suspended, 2011, T.S. Poetry Press) and freelance editor. We can often be found writing in the coffee shops of Shoreline, WA, or teaching our cats, Mardukas and Zooey, to high-five. (You get bonus points if you can explain why they named him “Mardukas.”)

Here is a quick overview of my professional life as a novelist and as a writer on matters of faith and art.

In 1996, I began blogging about movies, music, literature, faith, and culture. That blog would eventually become lookingcloser.org.

That same year, I began writing what became the first volume of my four-volume fantasy series The Auralia Thread.

My blog quickly became a hub for discussion about the relationship between faith and art, as many Christians and “seekers” who wanted to discuss movies, music, faith, and mystery—and who had struggled to find kindred spirits in that discussion—began finding one another online.

Around the same time, I co-founded a non-profit arts group in Seattle called Promontory Artists Association, and created a periodical about faith and art called The Crossing, which featured work by writers like poets Scott Cairns and Luci Shaw, as well as interviews with artists like musician Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine and photographer Fritz Liedtke. The Crossing eventually closed up shop due to the number of activities and endeavors that began in Promontory’s growing community. Promontory eventually became The Artists Guild, a non-profit that continues doing good work in Seattle.

In 2001, I was invited by the editors of Christianity Today to write a weekly column called “Film Forum,” comparing and contrasting film reviews in the religious and mainstream press, and examining the nature of dialogue about art in the church and popular culture. The column continued until mid-2007, when I began focusing on full film reviews for a new Christianity Today film-review site called CT Movies. From 2008-2009, I contributed a monthly column there named after my first nonfiction book—“Through a Screen Darkly.” (I returned, during 2016–17, to contribute another series of articles called “Viewer Discussion Advised.”)

In 2008, I shifted my focus from Christianity Today to Image, the literary arts journal, contributing more than 90 personal essays about faith and film to the journal’s blog: Good Letters.

My review of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days won an Evangelical Press Award in 2006. And I had the honor, in 2007, of receiving the Spiritus Award at the City of the Angels Film Festival for my writing on the subject of faith and film. Receiving that award, I spoke about the challenge of writing for evangelicals about ambiguity and beauty in art.

In addition to Image and Christianity Today, my essays and reviews have been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and websites, including Books & Culture, Paste, Relevant, Risen, Comment, Christ and Pop Culture, and Seattle Pacific University’s quarterly magazine Response (where I worked for several years as a contributing editor).

My work at Christianity Today and Looking Closer led to the publication of my “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darklyin 2007, the same year that his first novel, Auralia’s Colors, was published. Through a Screen Darkly earned a “Starred Review” from Publisher’s Weekly. The book is used as a textbook at Seattle Pacific University, Fuller Seminary, Northwestern College, Bryan College, Biola University, and in other schools and L.A. film programs.

Auralia’s Colors earned the rare honor of two Christy Award nominations, and was recommended by independent booksellers as a BookSense Notable selection upon its release.

Publisher’s Weekly said, “Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told.”

The second story in The Auralia Thread, Cyndere’s Midnight, arrived in bookstores in September 2008; the third, Raven’s Ladder, in February 2010; and finally, The Ale Boy’s Feast, in March 2011.

In 2005, my film reviews were celebrated in a front-page feature of The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine (Pacific Northwest) (see the archived main page here), and my work was noted in TIME Magazine.

In 2009, I brainstormed a new website called Filmwell with my longtime film-reviewing colleague Michael Leary. Filmwell now features a number of experienced contributors, and has become a site for unpredictable exploration and inquiry related to cinema, especially foreign and independent films.

In 2016, I resigned from my position as a writer and contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine in order to accept invitations to teach courses on creative writing and film studies. I have served as an instructor at Seattle Pacific University, Northwest University, and Houston Baptist University, and in 2016 I taught an online film course for homeschooled high school students.

I keep a busy calendar for public speaking about the arts at film festivals, universities, churches, teachers’ conferences, and on radio programs around the U.S.

In 2013, I accepted an invitation to serve as Writer in Residence at Covenant College in Georgia, where I taught Creative Writing (fiction) and spoke in Chapel. (I was delighted to find myself named among their Top 10 Chapel Speakers of 2013.)

In April 2014, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries highlighted “helpful Christian resources that consistently navigate the Hollywood landscape with a great deal of perception and clarity,” and my work was the first recommendation on the list: “Overstreet’s reviews are never less than thoughtful, balanced, and fair.”

In March 2016, I earned my MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University, with guidance from mentors Paula Huston and Lauren Winner.

From May through July 2016, and then again in 2017, I taught an online graduate course — “Film, the Visual Arts, and Apologetics” — for Houston Baptist University.

In the last few years, I’ve accepted invitations to speak or teach:

  • at Houston Baptist University, on the occasion of their first annual HBU Writers Conference;
  • in Dr. Jeff Keuss’s “Youth and Culture” course at Seattle Pacific University;
  • at The Glen Workshop, the arts conference hosted by Image journal in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 2010, 2011, and 2013;
  • at the trans(Formation) leadership conference at Bethany Community Church in Seattle;
  • at the Nashville arts conference called Hutchmoot;
  • at Seattle Pacific University’s Day of Common Learning;
  • at the International Arts Movement (IAM) Encounter 11, in New York City, giving a presentation on the redemptive power of play;
  • at a gathering of Seattle’s G.K. Chesterton Society in April 2011;
  • at Jubilee in Pittsburgh, February 2011;
  • in UCORE classes at Seattle Pacific University;
  • at the International Arts Movement (IAM) Encounter 10, in New York City, giving a presentation to artists about the art of storytelling called “How Shall We Then Tell Stories?” (video here);
  • at the Spoke Christian Women’s Association in Spokane, Washington;
  • in Ede, The Netherlands, on the subject of faith and cinema, to media professionals, educators, and church leaders;
  • at King’s High School in Shoreline, Washington, on the subject of moviegoing discernment;
  • at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the subjects of fairy tales and the Christian imagination, and Christian perspectives on movies;
  • at the Trinity Arts Conference at the University of Dallas in Dallas, Texas;
  • at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa;
  • at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference in Seattle, Washington;
  • at Seattle Pacific University’s Day of Common Learning (two years in a row);
  • and elsewhere.