In high school and college, Robin studied Spanish while Chris studied Latin and then ancient Greek. We weren’t the most successful students, but at 19 Chris left college and moved to Japan for 30 months, where he mastered Japanese, not through classwork but through speaking it for long hours every day. We knew foreign language mastery could be a huge challenge but also highly rewarding. There was nothing like being able to communicate with and learn from others who could share completely different mindsets and cultural backgrounds. What kind of a world would we live in, we thought, if more people could communicate with others from very different backgrounds in their native languages.
A few years later, after getting married, we were living in the beautiful seaside arts and beach town called Cambria, California, trying to discover our dreams. One evening, our two best friends shared how they loved reading together the long James Clavell novel of medieval Japan called Shogun. Since the novel contained many Japanese phrases, they would walk around their house bowing and trying to repeat some of those phrases in their home. We began to wonder if a long book like that could teach or introduce a few words on every page, so that by the final chapter, one could actually be thinking in their new language. This was our genesis.
But there was one problem. Chris wanted to write it himself, trying to decide if it should be a romance—how romantic?—or an adventure novel or spy novel—how violent? Finally, Robin came up with a solution: why start from scratch? Why not start with works that are already beloved and sought for on the internet. So we began with a romance, Pride and Prejudice, and an outdoor adventure story, Tarzan.
After a long career in screenwriting and marketing, Chris was then teaching English literature and English as a second language, and was able to recruit some of his most brilliant students to co-author with us. We were also able to connect with other teachers to test the books and refine and re-adjust as we went along. We started our own publish company, A Novel Approach to Publishing, because our approach is both new and based on stories. We are now working with five languages, hopefully out in 2021, with many more to follow in the future. And thus the journey begins.