Thanks for being here!
1. A little about me.
I taught English at colleges in Michigan and California.
Delphine, my wife of 39 years, died of cancer in 2000, and I miss her every day.
Two years later, I married Vickie. Every day I thank the Lord for Vickie.
2002-2010, we taught English at universities in China then retired ten miles from the Alabama Coast.
2. What inspired me to write about Elijah?
The Holy Land inspired me.
Starting with a Greenville College class on the Geography of the Holy Land. I studied that text and other books on the region.
In 1964, Delphine and I toured the Holy Land for three weeks.
In 1984-85, Jordan College, where Delphine and I taught, sponsored the archeology dig at Oboth, the Rift Valley oasis where Moses headquartered in 1293 BC (Numbers 21:10). This work gave birth to Blossoming Rose, the curator of Biblical Tamar Park on the site of the dig.
When we weren’t digging, we led busloads of tourists around Israel, introducing them to the Biblical sites. Plus, we made personal jaunts exploring Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
The topography of the Bible hovered in me with its songbirds, rock badgers, Absalom oaks, and the usual rain shower at 1 p.m.—waiting for me to write.
3. Did the idea just pop into my head one day and I decided to put pen to paper?
The idea dripped in during the summer of 2016.
In 1st and 2nd Kings, I noticed Omri, Ahab, and Jehu. With them came Elijah, Obadiah, and Elisha. During June I read and reread of their ambitions, successes, and failures.
4. How did I make the initial step into writing my first novel?
As July opened, I remembered James 5:17. Elijah was an ordinary person like the rest of us. A normal guy with feelings and affections.
I thought I knew a lot about this individual. I had looked around his neighborhood in Gilead and climbed Mt. Carmel, where the Lord sent the fire. From the coast of Sidon, I had gazed at Mt. Hermon like he did. And for two years I drank from a spring where he may have quenched his thirst. (I found no “Elijah was here” inscription.)
Hmm… how would it work for him to be a regular guy?
5. Do I remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story?
I was sitting in a rocking chair on our Alabama back porch stroking the neighbor’s cat.
What kind of family did Elijah come from? What did he do for a living? Did this “man of like passions” notice the ladies? Have a temper? How old was he? How did he talk, walk? What color was his beard?
This could be fun. I put the cat down, opened the laptop, and wrote my first words of fiction.
6. Do I write for my own enjoyment or more for what people want to read?
Every morning the Ghost of Average Writer greets me. “You’re no C.S. Lewis. Your character descriptions can’t equal ‘Chuchundra, the musk-rat, who never comes out into the middle of the floor, but always creeps round by the wall.’”
I shrug. “This is supposed to be fun, remember? Last year, I was curious about a regular guy named Elijah. Today I’m helping Obadiah hide the good guys from Jezebel. If I enjoy the story, maybe others will.”
The ghost backs into the corner. “We’ll see.”
7. What do I do when I hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write?
I groan. Usually something like, “I don’t know what these people should do here, Lord. Help me, please.” Usually next morning I see them in action. So, I thank the Lord, tell Vickie, and jot down a few notes.
8. Which of these characters most reflects my personality?
For instance, right after his father rescued him from a slave trader:
Dad rested his hand on Elijah’s shoulder.
Elijah pushed the hand away. “We can take that guy. Chase him down and make him let those girls go.”
Months after I wrote those words I realized they describe my own short-sighted, impetuous behavior at age 12. And at age 80.
(Versions of this interview originally appeared on Hallee Bridgeman and with Deena Adams.)
- Tsinghua University 清华大学 2007-2008
- Chongqing Technology and Business University 重庆工商大学 2004-2007
- Alliant International University 1984-1988
- National University 1984-1988
- Phoenix University (Jordan College) 1976-1980
Visiting English Professor
- Yunnan Normal University 云南师范大学 2010
- Sichuan Normal University 四川师范大学 2012
- Chongqing Normal University 重庆师范大学 2001
- Bachelor of Arts – Greenville College, 1963
- Master of Arts – Michigan State University, 1976
- Doctor of Philosophy – Michigan State University, 1987