Writing Business

Tips from the Pros: Eleanor Gustafson

"SundinGreetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing Eleanor Gustafson, who has been published in fiction and non-fiction since 1978! Ellie recently had the book of her heart published, The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David, which has an accompanying study guide, the perfect blend of her fiction and non-fiction background.

"CANEllie, how did you get into writing? How many do you have published?

As a child, I loved stories and read myself into needing glasses, then began making up stories in my head. When I finally started writing them down, my mother and others advised me to stick to music. Didn’t. Persevered and finally got a number of essays and short stories published – which gave me hope for writing a novel. Did that. My first, Appalachian Spring, was my most successful in terms of sales, but subsequent novels taught me a lot, mostly what not to do. By the time I got to the novel I always wanted to write (The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David) I had it mostly figured out. David is one of my favorite characters in the Bible, and even though sales haven’t been terrific, the response has been excellent. Check out the Amazon and LinkedIn reviews. (Please note: Sales are not the only or perhaps the best criterion in defining success.)

"CANAbsolutely not. And how did you get your first book contract?

I attended a writers’ conference at Gordon College, manuscript in hand. One person read the first page and muttered that I wrote in Mandarin English. He didn’t elaborate on that. Another well-known author, right after lunch, nearly fell asleep on me. I hadn’t bothered talking with the Zondervan editor, thinking it hopeless, but after she left, someone encouraged me to send her the first chapters. Did. She wanted the entire manuscript, and Zondervan took it on. They also accepted my second novel, Wild Harvest, but because I insisted on a "difficult" ending, the book didn’t sell well. Learning Experience #1. We won’t talk about Learning Experiences #2, 3, 4, 5 – all in my third novel, Middle Night (self-published).