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Talking And Reading About The Elephant And God

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Tracked down to my own apartment, I give a sample reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”. And I explain the genesis of the book. Gotta say, it might have been more entertaining to emote some of the Elephant’s poetry.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book:

From The Elephant Talks To God:

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

“More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

“An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

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The Elephant’s Poems For God On National Poetry Day

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My book of short stories, The Elephant Talks to God, consists of many conversations that an Elephant has with God. In one of the stories, he breaks out into {his version of} poetry.

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The monkeys, in the trees,

Cause a breeze, when they sneeze.

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I nudged the boulder with my shoulder.

It was older, and much colder.

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It is a stone, which has grown

In a zone, all alone.

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It is a thrill, to have free will,

That is until, others say `nil’.

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That’s not my last, don’t be so fast,

My muse to cast, into the past.

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The rock of ages, dissolved in stages,

And proved the sages’, `noblesse obliges’.

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It’s just a guess, I do confess,

That more is less, in the wilderness.

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God – as God is wont to do – did have the last word.

Poems are made by fools like thee,

But only I can make a tree.

Author Interview And Reading

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Tracked down to my own apartment, I give a sample reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”. And I explain the genesis of the book. Gotta say, it might have been more entertaining to emote some of the Elephant’s poetry.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book:

From The Elephant Talks To God:

The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.

“More lucky than smart,” said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.

“An elephant wades in water,” they would sagely say, “only if the mud hole is wide enough.”

And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.

Interview With National Radio Some Years Ago (But Most Answers Remain The Same)

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I came across a transcript of this at the end of last year. It’s not that I forgot it, but it took me some time to remember it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. What unique challenges do you face when writing about serious
non-fiction issues such as religion?

I WRITE about spiritual matters and leave religion to others. The spirit and its quests drive religion – religion just interprets. The biggest challenge I faced in THE ELEPHANT TALKS TO GOD is that the Elephant started asking questions I could not answer. Thus endeth the book.

2. You wrote The Elephant Talks to God in 1989. Why did you decide to
re-release it with the added stories rather than write a sequel?

THIS WAS the decision of the publisher, Goose Lane. When they approached me for a re-issue they were unaware of the additional stories. It was decided the marketplace would prefer one longer book over two shorter ones. Having just one book also reduced production costs, which in turn reduced consumer cost.

3. Why did you decide to become a writer?

“I WAS born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” This quote from Leonard Cohen sums it up. Not “born” this way exactly, but within one month in grade eleven I went from ‘no writing’ to ‘continually writing’. I have no explanation. I had no previous interest nor inclination toward the arts, or writing. I was not a reader, and only after university deliberately read such children’s classics as Black Beauty and Alice in Wonderland.

4. What books or authors have most influenced your life?

POSSIBLY P.G. WODEHOUSE was the most influential author in my formative period. I even sent him a fan letter and received a response. In university I experienced Franz Kafka, and I believe I have read everything of his in print. Much later I visited Prague to research a novel I have since written about him. There are reports of ‘missing’ stories and diaries of Kafka still in Berlin, which I would dearly love to find.

5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good
writing?

SURPRIZE, HUMOUR and reality. ‘In context’ (it doesn’t matter what the genre) I want to be surprized by what is happening, yet fully believe in the reality created in the book. And somewhere, at least once, every character in every novel should make me laugh at least once.

6. What are you reading right now?

“WICKED” BY Gregory Maguire. His abilities as a writer astound me. I am a slow reader, and seemingly getting slower. Soon (?) to be read will be Alice Munro’s “The View from Castle Rock ” and John LeCarre’s “The Mission Song”, both requested Christmas presents. I also do a lot of research for my novels, and will embark upon histories of China in the near future.

7. What advice would you give to writers starting out?

I HAVE two steadfast rules, one put into rhyme. “When in doubt/take it out.” Regardless of the wonder of the poetic line, or the awe of the slice of dialogue, if you have any questions about its effectiveness, that is reason enough to remove it.
The other concerns the physical writing itself. At the end of your writing day, and you know what the next line of dialogue is, or the description you are going to write, or the next line of the poem – DON”T write them down. Start with them the next day, and you will quickly get back into the writing. I find this works 90% of the time.

8. Describe your writing process.

I’M A morning writer, roughly from 9:00 until 15:00. There’s a meal in there, and research and email and such, but I will generally complete two pages a day. I generally write seven or eight days straight and then take one off. At the start of a novel I have a well developed outline and characters, though I rarely write such things down. I find that at the end of a novel I spend an additional third of the writing time editing what is done. I usually complete a novel in two years.

9. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome
it?

THREE MONTHS of writer’s block during my second novel has (so far) been my experience with this curse (knock knock knock on wood). I sat at the desk literally for hours per day attempting to continue. I think I wrote five paragraphs in that time. I know of no way to overcome it other than attempting to write each day. My number two tip in question #7 will help in avoiding writer’s block.

10. Naturally, most writer want as many people as possible to read
their work. Who did you have in mind when you were writing this book,
the “believers” or the “non-believers”?

BRITISH PUBLISHER Joseph Dent introduced “Everyman’s Library” in the early 1900’s (which is now published by Penguin Random House UK). As my mother was from England and my father was a proud UEL, there were many of these books when I was growing up. Everyman’s Library had a motto at the beginning of each book:        “Everyman, I will go with thee/and be thy guide,/ in thy most need/ to go by thy side.”     This is what came to mind when thinking of who I write for. I did not write for either believers or non-believers. I wrote for everyone, and my job is to make them accept that the The Elephant believes. 

DE

A Christmas Elephant Story For The Love Of God

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This is an abridged version of a story from “The Elephant Talks To God”.

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The Elephant was not oblivious to the Christmas season, and wanted to pay his respects. He travelled to the special clearing where a cloud waited for him.

“It’s your Son’s birthday and I want to congratulate him.”

“Thank you.” The cloud descended further. “It is a grand time.”

“I’d like to …” the elephant hesitated.

“Yes.”

“You sent your son for us to see, so we would believe.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I want to …”

“Spit it out,” said God. “You’re fired up.”

“I want to see you.” The elephant spoke quickly. “I don’t have to see you, you know that.  I believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you; it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain, but …”

“Go home,” said the cloud.

“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.

“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.”

“Thank you for coming to see me,” said the elephant.

“Sing some carols.” The voice was distant. “I like them.”

The elephant turned and started through the woods. He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach, and the rich grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible, so he could join the singing at the Mission he knew was happening later in the evening.

He trotted along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noted the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest. He slowed down and then stopped in his tracks.
He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush. There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp. Tears rolled from his eyes, and the golden trunk touched his own, and gently
wiped them away.
DE
(purchase)

 

 

An Elephant And God Talk Up A Storm (Well … A Cloud or Two)

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The Elephant Talks to God is an endearing collection of whimsical tales in which a young elephant forages for answers to that age-old existential puzzle: What is the meaning of life?

In this new edition of Dale Estey’s best-selling book, this pachyderm philosopher asks questions and God answers — sometimes cryptically, sometimes humorously but always with love and patience. The answers unfold in a series of conversations between this humble, though occasionally impertinent, beast and the Almighty.

The free-ranging exchanges between the two include contributions from  missionaries,  various monkeys, birds and insects. These sweet, sometimes satirical, and occasionally moving stories will appeal to readers of all ages.

The book includes most of the original stories from the popular 1989 collection, as well as many new ones. Original, fresh and unsentimental, The Elephant Talks to God belongs on the bookshelves of anyone who, just like the inquisitive elephant, has ever wondered about life, love and the true nature of happiness.

https://www.amazon.com/Elephant-Talks-God-Dale-Estey-ebook/dp/B003ZUXXEM

Author Interviewed About Elephant And Writing

Dale Estey – The Elephant Talks to God

by

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The Elephant Talks to God is a book of short stories where my Elephant takes his queries and comments directly to God. God not only listens (as God does to us all) but enters into conversation with the Elephant, answering his questions. The stories eventually ended because the Elephant began asking questions the author could not answer. This book is not typical of my novels, the first being a Fantasy set in World War Two and published on two continents, the second a Thriller leading to my first translated work.

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Atlantic Canada, where I have lived all my life. My mother was a British War Bride and my father came from United Empire Loyalist stock. The Estey ancestry goes back to medieval Italy and the House of D’Este. I am interested in, and directed by, all this heritage. I have been writing for over thirty years.

What inspired you to write this book?

My mother gave me an elephant figurine as part of a Christmas gift. While struggling for a subject for a short story, I looked around my room and stopped at the elephant. It was to be a one-off story. The Elephant (and God) had other ideas.

How did you choose the title?

I wanted the most straight-forward title of such a weighty character and subject matter.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I had no interest in writing, books, reading or any of the arts until Grade Eleven. Within the space of a week (for no obvious reason – I say that God cuffed me on the back of the head) I started writing “funny” short articles. The first of them which I remember (and it may indeed be the first) was about a classroom pencil sharpener which chewed up my pencil. I would do one or two of these funny articles a month. They started to get published in the regional newspaper, The Daily Gleaner.

Do you have any writing rituals?

My writing rituals slide around and some disappear over the years. The bulk of my manuscripts are done long hand with a BIC black ink pen. I usually write in the morning. I use binders and write on alternate lines on both sides of the page. I do now write thriller/adventure books on the computer, for I find that medium enhances the speed of such stories.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

When stuck for a character’s name, I go to a Gazetteer. Most of the time the character appears with name intact. I have three novel manuscripts where the central character has no name but just initials.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Every day I write I learn something about writing. The Elephant showed me I can sustain humour.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I know what I should have done differently, but I doubt I would do it. I would have concentrated more on the career aspect, promotion and name recognition. But that might mean I would have written one less novel. Not worth the trade-off.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I prefer reading books where all the elements (character, plot, description, philosophy) blend seamlessly. Writers whom I enjoy who accomplish this are John le Carré, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Mavis Gallant, Alan Bennett, Robert Hass, Alice Munro, Saul Bellow.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am working on a thriller centred around NATO. Internet chicanery is at the core of the intricate plot. One central character is a guard/attack dog named Louie. His name came from a real dog I heard being called to in a dog park. Louie is a Cane Corso.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

*BEST* advice for a writer – write regularly. Work time into a schedule to make it possible to write a number of times a week – same time/same place if possible. Publishing venues are so broad these days that it is best to take a long time and study them all. Then chose an avenue that is comfortable (and understandable).

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Perfection is over-rated. Enter my books and you won’t be disappointed.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

http://DaleEstey.com

Amazon.com

http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Elephant_Talks_to_God.html?id=Cj5sAAAACAAJ

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000411133160

http://twitter.com/#!/DaleEstey

Interview at:

http://www.sellingbooks.com/

Postcards From The Past Without Pictures

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Dear Eustice:

My mind confronts so many intangible truths that you sometimes seem – or is it just hope on my part – to be my only peg of reality. Have you noticed that whenever we finally believe we know the reason for something which happens, it often occurs that the real reasons are exactly the opposite of what we supposed. Everything walks a line – as narrow as those upon this page – between profound revelation and mindless absurdity. As I look through my window, the shadows cast through the trees on the next building, take the shape of a French poodle carrying a parasol. Is even Nature absurd?

Yours,

Margot
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Dear Margot:

Nature is nothing but reality, only the intangible can be absurd. As I’ve said too many times (and why do I repeat myself yet again) you spend too much effort – and wasted effort, for how can it be other – on futile quest and query. The only truth to be found is in sour milk or pleasant fornication – these things are real, these things exist. Absurdity is kittens playing or the Prime Minister’s latest speech. These things we look at with amusement or contempt – we know not to expect much from either. Quit you silly endeavours and join the world which surrounds you, not the one which your head surrounds. All important answers can be found between someones legs.

Yours,

Eustice

 

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Dear Eustice:

Ideas and questions are what make us more than the rutting animals you seem to exemplify. I do not claim that I shall ever reach Plato’s perfect bed, but neither would I wish to remain in your oft-used and no doubt soiled one. We are meant (I am quite certain of this) to strive to new understanding, new revelations about ourselves and our place in this world. The sole function of our body is to be a vehicle for transporting our mind, and keeping it alive. My `quest and query’ as you put it (and, by the way, did you steal that phrase – it sounds like the title of one of those pretentious little magazines you read) is both proper and noble. I really do wish you would utilize the gifts given you, and not waste so much time in idle and – it must be said – repetitious pursuits.

Yours,

Margot

 

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Dear Margot:

One of life’s meaner tricks is to allow us all a different set of beliefs. Cows, cats and dragonflies are content with their uniform outlook on life. Their needs are simple (if keeping alive can be called simple), and they eat, drink, keep warm, and yes, cheerfully reproduce with little thought of anything else. If you wish to assume there are greater endevours in this existence, then you should also assume that only saints and angels can fathom them, and not spend so much time on a chore for which you are not equipped. Grand thoughts may be fine for the likes of Plato, but my perfect bed will have three beautiful partners in it, who are completely willing to whatever I suggest. I think if you study our bodies more closely, you will see what it really is their function to produce. You could do with stimulation to more than just your mind.

Yours,

Eustice.

P.S. Moira sends her love

 

DE

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