Gil Stafford has been a professional athlete, teacher, coach, university president, and Episcopal priest. Now he’s a full-time writer, having published four books.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
It took me seven years to write Blue Jesus. The title came to me about halfway through the writing process. Having a title helped me make decisions about what went into the book and what I needed to discard.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
The book cover was easy to choose because it was the piece of my sister’s art that the book was based on—but when I saw the cover the Atmosphere created, it made me cry. The best moment was when I handed my sister the book. No words for the emotions.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
As a high schooler I secretly wanted to be a writer, and it was my 11th-grade English teacher who encouraged me to continue writing. She offered the guidance I needed. Over the following years I did a lot of academic writing, which at times was boring and hard to stomach. But when I was 50, I went to a writing workshop that featured Barbara Brown Taylor and Nora Gallagher. They challenged me, encouraged me, and pointed me in a new direction.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
My bio pretty much speaks for itself it terms of occupations. But it has been my writing over the last twelve-plus years that has transmuted the way I see myself. I dreamt of being a writer, but I never called myself a writer until after the fourth book was published.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Having worked on the book for seven years and then holding it in my hand was an out-of-body experience. It was as if time collapsed and the past, present, and future had all rolled into that singular experience of holding the book.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Taxi – Harry Chapin
Between the Lines – Janis Ian
One of Us – Joan Osbourne
Old Man –Neil Young
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
Every person has the divine within them. My perfect reader would be the person who, like my sister, can’t read.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I just finished The Bible and the Tarot and I am currently working on The Red Book and the Tarot.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Atmosphere was a gift to me. My book had been rejected so many times I had lost count. I was very discouraged, especially because Blue Jesus was so important to me. My three previous books had been “traditionally” published. But the experience with Atmosphere was so affirming, encouraging, and professional; it was beautiful. And for that I am very grateful.