ELLIE: I want to engage, to hook readers right off and keep them turning pages until they arrive at the meat of the novel.
CLARICE: Tell us about your books.
ELLIE: Dynamo is one of those page-turners, so readers tell me. Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania’s mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a bad-tempered, gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob’s jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion. Everything changes when God enters his life—via a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But with that fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God’s hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, “Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I’m being set up for something.”
He is, indeed. Jeth’s life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption. This story is God in your face: Who is He, really? What does He ask of us?
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. ~ Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV)
The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David: Next to Jesus, David is my favorite Bible character. As I soaked in his story, I felt compelled to put flesh on the bones of history. The fascinating and complex characters who surrounded him—Joab, Absalom, Abigail, Benaiah, Ahithophel—needed a place to stand and be heard. Who were they? How did they influence David? Shepherd, warrior, musician, king, ladies’ man, lover of God, despicable sinner. Only God could use such a man, not only to establish the Israelite kingdom, but also to plant a seed—in the least likely of his wives—that would ultimately bear the righteous Son of David.
CLARICE: What inspired you to write Dynamo?
ELLIE: God put horses in my life early on, and each summer I was exposed to a show that featured some of the finest horseflesh on the East Coast. Though I never owned a horse, my experience back then made a permanent mark on my life. My passion for horses met my passion for God, and Dynamo came forth.
CLARICE: Do you have a story or two of how your books have impacted individuals for the glory of God?
ELLIE: One of my valued pre-readers had this to say concerning Dynamo: “On a personal note, I had recently been praying to be a weapon in the hand of God—a weapon of mass creation and healing, not a weapon of destruction. Shortly after praying this, I was able to read this book. Be encouraged, people. He is still VERY involved on this planet.”
After finishing The Stones, a reader said, “This book is one of just a few works of historical fiction that is truly life changing, and I know I will NEVER read the Psalms the same again. They now seem so much more relevant because I better understand the events and emotions from which they sprang. I also identify much more closely with the psalmists because I realize that they were just as human as I am. Pretty good outcome for such an exciting read!” [I won’t mention that my son posted this on Amazon. J ]
CLARICE: What lessons have you learned from this journey?
ELLIE: In Dynamo, Maybelle taught me along with Jeth. She’s a piece of work and serves as Jeth’s personal prophet and God interpreter. She loves Jeth and walks him through the spiritual minefield of God’s unusual activity in his life. Even before Jeth becomes a Christian, she somehow knows that God has chosen him for a special purpose. Drawing on Old Testament prophets, she feeds him passages that strike terror in his heart but that bolster him at critical moments. Mentor, yes; spiritual goad, yes; but tower of strength when Jeth desperately needs one. Maybelle became my spiritual mentor, as well, and I can’t begin to say all that David/Stones taught me.
CLARICE: Which is easier for you—coming up with a story idea or actually writing it?
ELLIE: Actually, neither of these is easy, but once I get a draft, then the fun begins. I love weeding out verbiage, polishing the rough edges of sentences, mining for metaphors that zing.
CLARICE: What writing projects are you currently working on?
ELLIE: I have a work, An Unpresentable Glory, that is tottering on the edge of hopeless. How do you knit together the disparate threads of gardening, politics, and American Indians? My valued pre-reader, mentioned above, thinks it could well fail but believes the last chapter to be worth the struggle of making it work.
CLARICE: Where can our readers (or listeners) meet you and get a copy of your books?
ELLIE: For copies, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, and Christian bookstores. To meet me—hey, I’m here! I’m accessible by email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you want a signed copy for someone, let me know, and I’ll mail it and tack on the Media Mail charge—$2.69.
Eleanor Gustafson is one of eight published authors who’ll be featured at the MEET & GREET LOCAL CHRISTIAN AUTHORS event scheduled for Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 3:00 to 5:30 pm at Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, 8 Franklin St., Nashua, New Hampshire. Guests will enjoy FREE admission, refreshments, book-signings, special discounts, and MULTIPLE door prizes–including a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Click HERE to register! For more information, call Clarice James at 603-578-1860 or Cindy Saab at (978) 821-6547.