By Deena Adams
I’m exited to introduce you to this week’s guest author, David Parks. I met Dave in 2019 through the ACFW online critique group, and he and I exchanged quite a few critiques for one another. He’s a super nice guy, a great writer, and he loves Jesus.
He’s offered a paperback copy of his debut novel, The Boy Who Closed the Sky, as a giveaway. If you enjoy Biblical fiction, you’ll love his story based on the prophet Elijah.
Be sure to comment on this interview by October 12 to enter the drawing.
Welcome to the blog, Dave! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
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. We taught English at universities in China, and in 2010 retired ten miles from the Alabama Coast.
Pictured: Vickie and Dave in Sichuan about 2008.
You have lots of experiences to incorporate into your writing! As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Grow up? I preferred catching fish in the swamp with my bare hands and helping my big brother, Bob, shoot pheasants. I’ve achieved my childhood goal of leaving responsibility to others and having fun all day long.
You deserve to have some fun! What inspired you to write Biblical fiction?
1. Holy Land Topography
A class on the Geography of the Holy Land. Greenville College. 1962. For years, I studied that text and other books on the region.
My wife and I toured the Holy Land for three weeks in 1964. 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 and introduced the Biblical sites. Plus, we made personal jaunts exploring Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
So, Bible scenes came alive with songbirds, rock badgers, Absalom oaks, and the usual rain shower at 1 p.m.
Pictured:1984 at the Dead Sea. Mrs. Delphine Parks; Dr. DeWayne Coxon, President of Jordan College; and Dave Parks.
2. Kings and Chronicles
In 2016, I noticed three kings—Omri, Ahab, and Jehu. Mixed in with them, came Elijah, Obadiah, and Elisha. Fascinated with their ambitions, successes, or failures, I spent June reading and rereading the books of Kings and Chronicles.
In July, 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 Gilead and climbed Mt. Carmel, where the Lord sent fire. Like Elijah at the widow’s house, I once stood on the coast of Sidon and gazed at Mt. Hermon. For two years I lived at a spot on Elijah’s probable route to Mt. Horeb. (I found no “Elijah was here” inscription.)
Yet, 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 set the neighbor’s cat down and opened the laptop.
I love that! Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?
Yes, by Elijah’s personal history. Before I embellish a scene, I glue it to an event recorded in Kings or Chronicles.
I also take secret delight inserting a bit of my family history into an ancient scene.
One night at Oboth, Delphine looked up at the Lord’s brilliant desert star show. “The sun goes down and the sky is ours.” Her words found their way onto Elijah’s lips.
When the gate bumped Elijah, he uttered my dad’s, “Small matter, Pal.”
My mother-in-law had a wonderful habit of holding your face in her hands to help you listen. I loaned her custom to Elijah’s mother.
Very cool. How many hours a day to you spend writing?
Eight or ten. Depends on whether or not the lawn needs mowing or the floor needs mopping.
That’s dedication, my friend. How many unpublished and unfinished manuscripts do you have?
Besides Obadiah’s story, I have a page of notes on, The Cat Who Came in from the Cold.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Elijah’s story took five years, but the sequel could take six months. See, I mixed Obadiah’s life in with Elijah’s until some wonderful critics told me they couldn’t keep track of everybody. So I chopped out forty-five Obadiah chapters, and I’m editing them with a scalpel. Yesterday I told Vickie we might publish The Secret of the Caves: A Novel of Obadiah and the King on my eightieth birthday in January, 2022.
Dedication…and perseverance. Do you have hobbies you enjoy? What do you do for fun?
For pleasure I used to garden and read and piddle around with Bible study. The challenge of writing is so much fun, however, I gave up gardening.
Yes, writing is way more fun than gardening. LOL What does your writing space look like?
On the back porch, where I can enjoy the chickens in the yard, I write in a rocking chair between wicker stands with coffee and a notebook on one and the neighbor’s cat on the other.
Great surroundings to transport you into your story world. Which character in The Boy Who Closed the Sky was easiest for you to write and why?
Elijah’s character seemed to flow onto the screen. 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. Can’t we, Nate.”
Months after I wrote this bit I realized it describes my own short-sighted, impetuous behavior at age 10. And at age 70.
Which character presented the biggest challenge?
Elijah’s brother Nathan made me back up and rewrite a time or two. At first, I thought of Nate as a kind of savant, but I couldn’t make that work in this setting, so I toned him down to a shy academic.
What was the hardest scene to write?
There are no easy scenes. Many nights I groan, “Can’t write it, Lord. I don’t know what these people should do here. Help me, please.” Usually in the morning I see what they’re doing, thank the Lord, tell Vickie, and jot down notes.
Inspiration from the Lord—the best writing guide ever! What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
A vision of their life: “My foibles are no excuse to sit on my rump. Because I’m a regular person with passions like Elijah’s, my day begins when I follow his dad’s advice to ‘Listen for the voice of the Lord and do the right thing.’”
Great wisdom from Elijah’s dad we all need to heed. How can your readers and fans support you?
- Write a brief “Verified Purchase” 5-star review on Amazon.
- Send the book link to ten friends or relatives.
- Show me the page number and exact wording of typos to correct for the 2nd edition.
Any last words for your readers?
From Elijah’s dad: “Listen for the voice of the Lord and do the right thing.”
Thanks so much for a great interview, Dave! I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your writing. You are an inspiration, and your journey encourages me that it’s never too late to pursue the passion God puts on our hearts!
Join the conversation! Do you enjoy reading Biblical Fiction? Does a novel about the prophet Elijah sound intriguing to you? What questions do you have for Dave?
Be sure to comment by Tuesday, October 12, for a chance to win Dave’s book!
The Boy Who Closed the Sky by David Parks
Click the book cover for purchase link
Elijah faced the king then glanced at the open gate.
Vendors and shoppers blocked his escape.
Lord, you’ve gotta get me out of here.
He leaned toward the king. “As the Lord lives—the God of Israel whom I stand and serve—for these next years we will have neither dew nor rain unless I say so.”
Elijah sprang for the gate and smacked into a donkey loaded with onions. “Uhh!” The air left his lungs.
“Grab that kid!”
David Warner Parks taught English in China and the USA.
In 1983-84, he made his home base in ancient Oboth (Numbers 21:11) — the modern Biblical Tamar Park — while he explored the paths of Elijah in Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Elijah may have paused at Oboth, yet Professor Parks did not discover an “Elijah was here” inscription.
Parks’s debut novel, The Boy Who Closed the Sky, covers the life of Elijah the prophet. The sequel, Hide These from the Queen, enlarges on Obadiah’s rescue of prophets from Jezebel.
Parks lives near the Alabama Gulf Coast with his wife, Vickie. He writes in a rocking chair on the back porch with the help of the neighbor’s cat.
Please share this interview on social media to help spread the word about David’s book!
If you missed last week’s interview with Alyssa Schwarz, find it here.