Monday, February 23, 2015

Author Spotlight: Eleanor Gustafson

I am excited to present to my readers and followers Eleanor Gustafson and her book Dynamo.

When I read Dynamo, I didn't know what to expect. And what I experienced was a beautiful and thought-provoking tale. This novel holds a special place in my heart and I adore its place on my bookshelf. Click here to read my review on Dynamo.

Now I welcome Eleanor Gustafson, who has a beautiful heart for God.

[RBR] Dynamo is a very realistic and gritty novel--completely clean--but so true to life that the reader forgets it's a novel. How hard was it for you to write this story?

{EG} Actually, it was one of my easier novels to write. My mental computer holds a stash of tales, made up over Many years. I pawed through the file, held this one up as having promise, and went to work. My lifelong passion for horses was put to good use. It still took over 8 years to write and get published. I write slow, my previous novel (The Stones) taking more than 15 years.

[RBR] In one part--I won't elaborate because of spoilers--it made me tear up and cry. Did you find yourself getting emotional as you wrote about the death of a beloved character?

{EG} Oh, I get very emotional, though not necessarily over a death or other tragedy. If something deeply beautiful is going on, I cry. I believe God gave me the gift of tears, and it's often used over things of profound beauty. :-)

[RBR] I learned a lot about horse and the competition scene. Have you always been around horses? Tell us more.

{EG} Scene one: I grew up in a small, New Jersey borough (yes, that's what it's called) with a population just under 1000. I recently looked at a map of Branchville and noticed a tongue that has to have been the property of a prominent citizen--DLB Smith--who had horses and was instrumental in establishing the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show that was held at the base of the tongue. That horse show grew up to be one of the most prominent on the East Coast and provided much of the competition material for my book. I occasionally rode one of DLB's horses, a nasty fellow name The Earl, who shows up in the novel under the name Lord Nelson.

Scene two: Down the street from my house, an older couple also had horses, and when they bought a pony for their granddaughter, I practically lived there. I dedicated Dynamo to this woman who influenced my life profoundly.
"In memory of Lydie--my horse mentor and instructor in important things, such as the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and time spent with kids instead of housework."
That pony taught me important lessons. The first time it dumped me, I knew I had to get back on, return to the bone of contention, and make him go past the turnoff toward home. He won the first battle: I prevailed in the second.
Scene three: When I entered Wheaton College. I took horsemanship for phys. ed and was asked by the instructor to teach a few classes. I ended up doing that for four year, marrying one of my students, and riding until I was 6 months pregnant with our first child. Yes, horses have always fascinated me, and the making of Dynamo brought great satisfaction.

[RBR[ Dynamo has two characters that are the epitome of a rebellious heart, but these two come together because they understood each other. Does writing this kind of hidden symbolism and allegories to Christ's love come naturally to you, or do you plan it out?

{EG} This Jeth-Janni symbiosis shows up right at the beginning. From there on, it was a matter of building in conflict and necessity, making their relationship work authentically. I want to write authentic, literary, Christian fiction. For me, it just doesn't work to sprinkle fairy dust, in the form of Christian talk and Bible verses, over an unsubstantial story line. God is real. He is Alpha and Omega, Life and Light and Love beyond all our poor imaginings. He is a living being, and I must show him working deeply in characters who are likewise real. Nothing else will do.

[RBR] Dynamo is a novel that has the enduring theme of giving it all you can. Dynamo, the horse, was a wild heart, just a Jeth was. When their true nature of determination and endurance emerges, it is brilliant! Is this how you see Christian life: to be determined and to endure? If not, how do you see it.

{EG} Jeth is determined, yes, but he learns early on that determination isn't a match for a sovereign God who is the real determiner. Jeth is terrified by God's strange activities, how they might impact his own future. He understands clearly that he is not in control. But there's Maybelle, his mentor/prophet. She, along with God and Jeth, are the three main characters in this novel. Jeth thinks he is training the stallion Dynamo, but underneath all the horse business, God is training Jeth to become a servant.

[RBR] Tell us more about why you wrote Dynamo and if there are any future books planned.

{EG} My biblical novel, The Stones, about King David, was good prep for writing Dynamo. Jeth and David have a surprising amount in common. They both have a giant passion for God, but they are both serious sinners and reap serious consequences from their sin. When I have opportunity, I want to sit down with David's wife Abigail and with Maybelle, just to get their take on the pair. :-)

I am currently polishing a novel, An Unpresentable Glory, that has three threads: gardening, Native Americans, and politics. Again--a real God, real characters, and hopefully, another page-turner. Stay tuned!

Thank you, Eleanor, for being a part of Rebel Book Reviews, but most importantly, thank you for glorifying God's name through your stories. Dynamo is truly a wonderful literary work and God has blessed you greatly.

To learn more about Eleanor Gustafson and view more of her works, stop by or if you would like to connect you can find her on Facebook.
Check out her Amazon page here: Eleanor Gustafson's Amazon Page.

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