Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Story Time . . . THE STONES by Eleanor Gustafson - Interview and Giveaway

There are so many fabulous authors with releases right now that I had to double up in a lot of upcoming weeks. So this is our first Story Time Tuesday where we're doing an interview and giveaway, but it won't be the last! Let's give a big welcome to today to Eleanor Gustafson, author of The Stones, Biblical fiction about the life of King David. Don't forget to enter Friday's giveaway for Deliver Us from Evil too!

Eleanor has gracious offered to give one lucky reader a copy of her book, so as always, leave your comments below along with a way to reach you!


About Eleanor

Eleanor K. Gustafson has been publishing both fiction and nonfiction since 1978. Her short stories and articles appeared in a number of national and local magazines. The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David is her fourth novel. In many of her stories, Eleanor explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, Sunday school teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. She has enjoyed a variety of experiences, from riding horses to building houses, all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. She and her husband live in Massachusetts, where he teaches Philosophy and World Religions. They travel extensively, spend time with their three children and eight grandchildren, and enjoy working and camping at the family forest in Chester, Vermont.

About The Stones

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 musician.

Fictional in scope, yet with amazing scriptural accuracy, The 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.

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.


What's your latest book?

The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David, published by Whitaker House, January 2009. A companion Study Guide is also available.

What's your favorite part of the story?

Although the David story is rich on many levels, I like the prophet Nathan’s confrontation of David after the Bathsheba affair. It put the fear of God into David, and it does the same for me. The scene starts on p. 373 and heats up 373ff.

Always love striking the fear of God into my characters. =) What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

I want readers to take away fear of God, the grace of God, and the love of God—in that order.

Ah, and the order makes it so beautiful! It's a great representation of a spiritual walk. Now let's get personal, so the readers can get to know you a little. What's one of the oddest or most interesting things someone has ever said about you?

Long before I ever wrote anything, I was making up stories in my head. This diversion continued until college, marriage and babies shifted my focus, but once past diapers, the old urge returned. However, my first efforts at writing fiction prompted at least two people to advise me to stick to music. Fortunately, I didn’t pay attention.

LOL. Some people just don't know what they're talking about! We're all glad you kept with the dream. Now, speaking of the dream—what would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?

My dream office would be a lot neater than the real one (and my husband’s half of the room would also be neat or possibly in another room). My office would have a wrap-around counter wide enough for a large-screen computer (Mac, of course). I would have shelves close at hand for Bible, reference books, printer paper, phone, Kleenex; drawers for odds and ends; a comfortable chair on wheels; a pewter saucer for a cup of tea; and a monthly and yearly calendar in easy view. A woodstove would be just outside the door, lending its heat to an otherwise chilly room.

Except for the neat-husband part, that is my real office. I’m blessed to have a supportive husband who loves me, makes me laugh, and is my best friend. What’s a little mess next to that?

As someone who is messy, I agree with the sentiment. =) What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

Four published novels have taught me that an author must be willing to get out there and hustle. But in the year since my current book, The Stones, was published, I find that I have hustled myself almost into the ground. Hard work, yes, but a unique and effective ministry has surfaced in the form of group discussions and formal presentations. Authors normally promote their books by talking about characters, and whatever point they’re trying to get across—all without giving away the story line. But with David, most people already know the story line, and I can talk freely about every aspect of it. In addition, this story carries a message far deeper than my other novels, and I can address issues ranging from blood and sex to cherem and the fear of God. This helps people understand who David was as a key player in Israel's holy destiny, and I often see a look on faces that says, "Yeah—I GET it!" Even though worn to a nub, I'd love to do more of this type of ministry, but getting invitations—in homes, in churches, wherever—requires a certain amount of chutzpah. I would appreciate prayer for this, as it obviously has to be a God thing. While selling books would of course lengthen the shelf life of The Stones, my deeper concern is to make David come alive and accessible to the average reader.

A nobel goal, to be sure. I'll keep you in my prayers. Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?

With my David book, I have relied heavily on a special group of friends that I asked to pray for me. They have stood by me through this past strenuous year of promotion.

I also choose assorted people to be first readers and find their input invaluable. I may not agree with everything they say, but I pay close attention. I’ve learned not to assume any reader’s intelligence. With the book I am currently working on, I recruited two non-Christian readers, among others, and was pleased that they both got the point of the story.

If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving allowed!)

The immediate temptation would be to give it all away, but if I HAD to buy something for myself… Hmm. I’m sitting here, scratching my head, unable to think in terms of spending that much money on myself. A trip, perhaps, to visit friends in Scotland, or to someplace WARM in winter, or maybe Iceland, preferably in summer. P.S. I have a pile of socks waiting for me to darn. Does that tell you anything about my spending habits? =)

That you really need that trip to someplace warm! I'd be happy to meet you there--Hawaii sound good? LOL. Okay, back on topic. Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

Vividly. My husband and I were traveling in Florida, staying overnight with a distant cousin who was on the brink of Alzheimer’s. Our son called us from Massachusetts with the news that Zondervan had accepted my first novel, Appalachian Spring. Good—and memorable—news, indeed!

Any funny family stories about living with a writer?

At an airport en route to a TV interview, I woke to the sudden realization that I had forgotten to remove my indispensable penknife from my jeans pocket. I had learned from multiple sad experiences that security folks really don’t like knives. This one was relatively new, as the previous one had been confiscated at some other airport. Didn’t want to lose this neat little guy. What to do? I looked around, spotted a large, potted plant near the door. Went over, looked around surreptitiously, and “planted” the knife by one of the stems, leaving just its head above the dirt. Went through the line smiling. Returned the following day, retrieved the knife—a bit damp and dirty—and left the airport—smiling. Cathy of Whitaker House said, “Thank God we didn’t get a call from the county jail having to post bail for you!”

LOL--a trick worthy of a novel, to be sure! What are you writing right now?

I am finishing my fifth novel, Dynamo,a story in which a five-gaited horse serves as a metaphor for a man’s passion for God and his fear of God.


Thanks, Eleanor, for livening up Story Time Tuesday with talk of The Stones! Sounds like a remarkable book!

Readers, be sure to check out Eleanor's website. The book can be purchased from Amazon, as can the Study Guide. Be sure to read all the wonderful reviews!

(Giveaway ends 2/23/10. Void where prohibited. The winner will have two weeks to get their address to me before a new winner is selected.)


  1. Oh, please enter me! The books sounds wonderful!

    Michelle V

  2. a wonderful posting/interview...thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book


  3. I looooove Biblical fiction. Please enter me!

    Stephanie at StephanieMorrillBooks dot com

  4. This book looks like one I would really like. Thanks for the chance.

  5. I love the knife story! That's kind of like when I went to the courthouse to get an accident report and I had my box cutter in my back pocket. (I worked at a bookstore in receiving.) My poor box cutter had to wait outside the gates for me until I came back.
    kristengjohnson [at] gmail [dot] com

  6. Susanne Dietze asked me to enter her as well.