Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am thrilled to have David Parks as my guest. It is my dream to spend time in the Holy Land – to walk the roads I’ve read so much about, to stand on the sides of mountains, down in the valleys, drink from wells. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about David’s experiences that sparked his novel about the prophet Elijah. I hope you enjoy his interview as much as I did. David is giving away a copy of his latest release! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I taught English at colleges in Michigan and California.
Delphine, my wife of 39 years, died of cancer in 2000. I miss her every day.
Two years later, I married Vickie. I thank the Lord for Vickie every day.
In 2002-2010, we taught English at universities in China then retired ten miles from the Alabama Coast.
Tell us about your current release. The Boy Who Closed the Sky: A Novel of Elijah the Prophet, starts with twelve-year-old Elijah trying to rescue a slave girl. A few years later he challenges the king: “Neither dew nor rain, except at my say so.”
He thinks anger motivates him, so he rejects the idea of the Lord speaking through him. Not until Moloch thugs have him hiding under a thorn bush does he pay attention to the Lord’s exact words. The story follows the Biblical outline, ending with a chariot of fire and the mantle falling on Elisha.
Why start at age twelve? The Lord gave him messages for three kings, whose reigns covered most of Elijah’s lifetime.
• King Ahab, 22 years – “neither dew nor rain” • King Ahaziah, 2 years – “die in your bed” • King Joram, 12 years – “bowels will drop out” • Total reigns = 36 years
In 866 BC, most people died before their fiftieth birthday, so Elijah needed an early start.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? The Holy Land inspired me.
In 1962, at Greenville College, I took a class on the Geography of the Holy Land. For years after, I studied that text and other books on the region.
In 1964, my wife and I toured the Holy Land for three weeks.
Then in 1984-85, we worked in an archaeology dig, Biblical Tamar Park, at Oboth, the Rift Valley oasis where Moses headquartered in 1293 BC. 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.
So, Bible topography hovered in me with its songbirds, rock badgers, Absalom oaks, and the usual rain shower at 1 p.m.—waiting for me to write.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? The idea dripped in slowly.
In 2016, before I ever thought of writing, in the books of Kings, I noticed King Omri, King Ahab, and King Jehu. With them came Elijah, Obadiah, and Elisha. That June I read and reread of their ambitions, successes, and failures.
How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel? In July that year, I remembered James 5:17 says Elijah was an ordinary person like the rest of us. A normal guy with feelings and affections.
I’d seen Elijah’s neighborhood in Gilead and climbed Mt. Carmel, where the Lord sent fire. I had stood on the coast of Sidon and gazed at Mt. Hermon like he did. And for two years I had lived at a spot on Elijah’s probable route to Mt. Horeb. (Although I read Hebrew slowly, I found no “Elijah was here” inscription.)
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? I was sitting in a rocking chair on our back porch, opening the laptop.
What kind of family did this regular Elijah come from? What did he do for a living? Did this “man of like passions” notice the ladies? Did he have a temper? How old was he? How did he talk, walk? What color was his beard?
This could be fun.
I wrote my first fiction.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? Every day, as I crawl out of bed, the Ghost of Average Writer greets me. “You’re no C.S. Lewis. You’ll never do a character description to 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 fun, remember?” I’m still curious about this regular guy named Elijah. So I aim for a story I can open two months later and enjoy. If the story’s fun for me, maybe it will be for others.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? I groan, “I don’t know what these people should do here, Lord. Help me, please.” Usually, in the morning I see what they’re doing, thank the Lord, and tell Vickie.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality? Elijah.
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 10. And at age 79.
Here is where you can find David online:
David is giving a copy of The Boy Who Closed the Sky to a reader! See below how to enter to win: