Thursday, July 4, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Matthew Elliott!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Matthew Elliott!

I'm pleased to welcome Matthew to my blog today. Grab your favorite beverage, draw up a chair, and get to know this fascinating guy!

What was your inspiration for the story?

As a child, I loved to create stories about Superheroes and Starship Captains but I always struggled to understand what I was trying to write down. I grew up with a stutter and still to this day deal with virtual dyslexia. Despite my inability to comprehend things, my mother continually encouraged me through her struggles to do the same and often told me, “Son, my prayer is that you will do better than me. God has blessed you with a huge imagination.” These words became my inspiration. I lost sight of that for a while, but God brought me back to it. When I released my first book, Ahavah Writings for the Journey, as a devotional in 2015, it was to honor her.

How do you develop your characters?

Honestly, I develop my characters through my own life experiences or those of the people who have impacted my life in some way. Since I write Biblical Fiction, I can also use what I glean from scriptures and historical documents that capture the personalities of my characters in some way. On a deeper level though, I almost become each of my characters as I develop my stories. Have you ever heard of Method Actors? Well, I consider myself a Method Writer in a lot of ways.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit
Pixabay/Ahmad Ardity
you knew you had to include?

Oh goodness, research is probably the most chaotic thing for me. I love it, and that is only because my professors in college cultivated this in most of my directed study classes. To pass each one, I had to learn how to find the connections others do not. It is not a rarity to see me with seven or eight different historical resources out on the living room table all at once. Most of the time I will also have my phone in one hand and my computer in the other while I’m reading all the resources I have searching for the possibilities. I love bringing real-life events or locations into my stories because it reminds me, and my readers, of the foundation my stories are built upon.

What draws you to the time period about which you write?

I love connecting the missing pieces in history, especially biblical history. It was this passion that led me to Oklahoma Wesleyan University as a young adult. At first, I thought I was meant to be a pastor, but as I gathered ministry experiences, I realized that the reason I changed my major from Pastoral Ministry to Biblical Studies, was focused on the fact that there were just too many questions I could not find the answers to in scripture. With that in mind, I naturally turned from a pastoral focus to biblical history. The reason I write Biblical fiction is honestly because I am obsessed with figuring out how to connect those dots in scripture with proven history.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

It is… The Series is called ‘The World of Kedoshim’ and it is explained in three or four blog posts on my website. The basic idea came from a character I created for a letter I had to write in one of my religion courses in college. The project required us to become a New Testament Character and write a letter to the early church. That developed into something bigger in 2015 when I developed and outlined the first story. That work has become the concluding trilogy in The World of Kedoshim but is still a work in progress. The legacy of this word will be at least 16 stories.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

I will use the episodic series I released in 2023, Finding Philemon, to answer this question. I mentioned earlier that I originally wrote content with a pastoral focus. Well, Finding Philemon was originally written as a devotional curriculum I wanted to send out to churches. The idea was to tell a fictional story that had a workbook with devotional highlights and thoughts at the end. When the publisher fell through, I took my five-year hiatus from writing. Early 2023, I was sitting in my living room listening to music while watching the fireplace and that story was reborn as the Biblical Fiction Series it is today. It is what convinced me to pick up my pen and write again. The changes from what Finding Philemon used to be and what it is now are significant and bringing that story back to life brought a lot of healing to my writer's heart. Based on some suggestions from my following, I actually released a paperback version of that whole series on Amazon. It went live on 7/4/24.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Life is filled with uncertainties. It is congested with defeats and we will never get away from the sad reality that we live in a fallen world. However, we cannot let that keep us from embracing the hope that things can, and will, get better. Each one of us will endure trials as writers. I know I have struggled with embracing my identity as a writer for several years and the one thing I always come to conclude is that the term writer is not exclusive to publishing a book or becoming rich/famous through our stories. Our identity as writers comes from the calling that has been placed upon our hearts. We all have stories to tell and should not be afraid to write them down if we feel like that is something we should do.

What books are on your nightstand right now?

There are a lot of books on my nightstand both digitally and physically. While I’ve always preferred physical books, I have been enjoying the ability to read digital books. I think there are around ten that could technically be considered ‘on my nightstand’. Here are a few though.

  • The Practice of the Presence of God- Brother Lawrence (it never leaves)
  • The Silas Diary- Gene Edwards (research)
  • The Scribe- Francine Rivers (research)
  • The Believers Legacy Books- DM Griffin (entertainment)
  • When Jesus Wept- Bodie and Brock Thoene (entertainment)

What is your next project?

Currently, I’m working on another episodic series based on the time Paul spent in Ephesus during the third missionary journey. It is a continuation of John Mark’s journey but will end up being a shorter series that brings the riots that took place during that time to life in The World of Kedoshim. I do not have a release date as of yet but would like to release it digitally by Christmas 2024. There is still a lot of research and writing going into the series.

What is one thing you wish you could do?

One of my life dreams has been to open a bed and breakfast inside a lighthouse. The second part of that idea is to open up a tea and bookstore in the tower itself. I’ve always had a fascination with books, tea, and lighthouses so combining them all into one entity seemed like a great idea. That will likely never happen, but it's nice to dream.

One of the more realistic dreams I have is to write full-time from home so I can spend more time with my wife and children. There are so many things I will miss because I have to work a ‘daytime job’.

Here is the description of my most recent book in The World of Kedoshim, The Cyprus Journal.

One Young Man. His Significant Story. A Witness of the Early Church.

The Cyprus Journal is a first-hand account of the ministry on the Island of Cyprus, through the eyes of John Mark as he documents his life's calling as a memento to those who fear failure. His Purpose? To remind those who have fallen away from the faith, that they are not alone in their failures. To foster growth and to encourage them to Come Home!

Many knew him as the young cousin to Barnabas the Encourager, the son of Mary who offered her home to honor the Savior and those who followed Him, or even the man who abandoned Paul on his First Missionary Journey, but there is more to his story. His story is one of new beginnings, a promise fulfilled, and a man who overcame fear of the unknown.

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