Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!
Thanks for joining me today. Would you welcome Eleanor Gustafson to Soulfully Romantic? She’s stopped by to chat about her novel, The Stones.
About the Book
The Blurb: “With comprehensive detail and flowing prose, Eleanor Gustafson crafts the retelling of King David’s life-from his teenaged anointing to his death-as seen through the eyes of Asaph, a Levite historian. Fictional in scope, yet with amazing Scriptural accuracy, he Stones provides a revealing, behind-the-scenes glimpse into biblical history with all the twists, turns, thrills, and romance of the world’s great drama. You will be there as: A young teen collects stones to take on a giant A prideful rebel takes count of his fighting men A fallible leader succumbs to lust, temptation, and deceit A poet and musician grows closer to God through prayer and worship A man after God’s heart discovers the unfailing love and forgiveness of his Creator The Stones is an epic adventure of man’s innate need to worship God and rely on Him for strength-and how badly it can go when he fails to do so.”
Toni: Thank you for joining me today. When I first read the blurb for The Stones I was intrigued! How did you get the inspiration to write a fictionalized story of King David’s life?
Ellie: I’ve always loved the David story. His life is sheer drama and contains complex characters, romance, tragedy. The story as we read it in the Bible can seem a bit dusty and disjointed, so I wanted to put flesh on the bones and make it come alive and more accessible to readers.
Toni: That is awesome! What resources helped you in researching this novel? How did you decide how in-depth you wanted to go?
Ellie: My husband has been a pastor and an educator—an excellent resource. In the Bible, I searched out every reference to David in Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms, and also the Pentateuch for sacrifices and the moral and ceremonial law. The prophets were helpful for items such as clothing, jewelry, and idolatrous practices. Then the trip to Israel. Didn’t want to go, suspecting it would be too touristy. God met me there in many special ways.
Toni: Israel?! What an awesome opportunity. What are you currently researching?
Ellie: I have a novel completed and may have found a publisher. The title being An Unpresentable Glory, it has an intriguing way of portraying the biblical view of sex and covenantal marriage. For research, I traveled to North Dakota, Westchester County, NY, and the DC area.
Toni: That’s nice you get to travel for your research. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Ellie: Read good, well-written books, and take notes. Study plotting, character development and even sentence structure. What makes some sentences zing and other just plod? Learn grammar and punctuation!!!! They can be your best friends in getting an editor to look at your book.
Toni: Great advice! Before you leave, we would love to get to know you better. Could you tell us how you came to be a believer?
Ellie: Through reading a book. What else? I was a starting reader, and this book had an invitation at the end, and well…of course!
Toni: Amazing! What is your favorite book in the Bible?
Ellie: I’ve read the Bible through at least 7 or 8 times. How can I choose a favorite book? Each casts a new ray of light. Even Leviticus has useful material, as does Judges—though that may be the hardest of all to read.
Toni: It is hard to pick a favorite book. I love them all for different reasons. Has David affected your spiritual life?
Ellie: David has shown me what passion looks like—beyond just church or praise songs. Sometimes he’s groveling; sometimes awestruck: How majestic is Your Name in all the earth; sometimes dancing wildly in joyous abandon.
“Nathan, there are times when I feel I might die like Uzzah. Not from touching the Ark, but from just holding out my love to God. Love can be dangerous, Nathan. A fire is consuming my heart, and if I were to articulate that fire, I’m not sure I’d survive. It needs an altar.”
I have felt this.
Toni: David is an amazing example of our journey here on earth. What else feeds your passion?
Ellie: I would say 2 Corinthians 12:9—But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
This first appeared to me as a freshman in the Wheaton College bookstore. I needed a little notebook, and that verse was on the cover. It has served me well over many years, and I may be coming at last to understand it.
Toni: What is your favorite Bible study?
Ellie: Many writers have influenced me profoundly, not least of whom is Eugene Peterson. Aside from the fact that he endorsed The Stones, he has fed my soul.
As everyday realities, births are wonders, whether as a new baby in the world or as a new creature in Christ. We are launched by acts of love and promise into ways of seeing and being. Our first birth thrusts us kicking and squalling into the light of day. Our second birth places us laughing and worshiping in the light of God. (As Kingfishers Catch Fire, p. 27)
Toni: I will have to check his works out. And last, what is your favorite Bible retelling?
Ellie: The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David. 🙂
Toni: But of course. 🙂 Readers, do you have any questions for Eleanor?
About the Author
Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not begin writing and publishing until 1978. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, parenting, and mouse wars—all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.