Sunday, 15 November 2015

Member Showcase: Eleanor Stoneham

Thank you for joining us on the blog today Eleanor, and for answering my questions so patiently, and honestly. 

1. Could you start by telling our readers something about yourself?

I'm addicted to travel, getting as much in as possible before age and travel insurers unreasonably conspire between them to put my passport in mothballs. Meanwhile I'm on an exciting journey of discovery, following pilgrimages so far to Greece, the Holy Land, Caucasian Georgia, Durham and Greece. I've visited more than 30 countries, so am still ahead of my well travelled kids, catching up with my husband, and I'm still going strong. Latest on the list is Ethiopia this autumn to visit the 12th century rock-cut churches, and much more. I'm very excited. I've had all the necessary jabs now and I can't wait to go. I shall blog about it all when I'm back so watch out for it at

I'm also a plant scientist, chartered accountant, retired business woman, horticulturist, allotment enthusiast, farmer's daughter, verger, blogger, environmentalist and author. English born and bred but I have lived in Australia, the Canary Islands and the Netherlands. And I'm granny to two gorgeous boys,

2. Could you give the readers a flavour of the books you write?

My books mostly reflect my fascination with the interface between science, spirituality and religion including consciousness studies and mystic traditions. One reviewer said that I offer a refreshingly new perspective on the spiritual condition of our time. I am interested in organisations such as Christians Awakening to New Awareness (CANA) and The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM).

3. You deal with some painful issues in your writing. Does this come from personal experience?

Oh my goodness yes. I went through an extremely dark period in my life. The world really went totally black but out of it all emerged a much stronger and new me, building a completely different and much more fulfilling life in which God plays a very important part.

4. How did God help you write your books?

Being very involved in worship as both altar girl and verger is a great privilege, and the love, warmth and vibrancy of my local church has given me a great deal of spiritual strength and support as I have pieced my life together again and found a new direction for my energies.

5. Christianity is very evident in your writing. Are there any favourite bible verses or similar that have helped you during your writing periods?

It's so difficult to choose, but some stand out for me. The words of the hymn based on Psalm 46: "Be still and know that I am God…I am the Lord that healeth thee…In thee, O Lord, I put my trust…." and Anna Briggs' wonderful hymn "We lay our broken world, in sorrow at your feet…" both speak to me very powerfully and have helped focus me in my task. Also David's song of praise in 2 Samuel, chapter 22, has some very encouraging passages when I've struggled.

6. How do you go about researching for your books?

It's hard to generalise isn't it? This sounds incredible now but in those archaic pre-internet days not so very long ago I spent many very happy weeks over several months researching my first book. It was an easy step from there to the Cathedral at lunchtimes where I found refreshment for both the soul and the body. I am constantly inspired and informed by membership of both the British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS) and the Scientific and Medical Network, a cutting edge organisation seeking a better understanding of science, spirituality, consciousness and the human experience. Extensive travel is producing loads of new material for future use when the moment is right.

7. What would be your one piece of advice to authors writing on subjects that may be painful?

Be very careful.

8. If you were on a desert island, what three books would you like to have with you, apart from the bible?

Well I hope there's no weight or cost restriction on this. I'll clearly have more time on my hands so I'd like to take a good bible commentary, such as The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Student Edition). It's gathering too much dust on my book shelf at the moment. For lighter relief how about the fabulous Great Botanic Gardens of the World and James Wong's Homegrown Revolution, a great book to help me get the best out of the edible plants on my island.

And please I would have to have a huge supply of notebooks and pencils. I can then write while I indulge in my passion for wiggling my bare toes in the warm sand. I would feel closer to God there than just about anywhere else I can think of.

9. Have you ever eaten anything unusual? If so what?

Not quite Witchetty grubs (I'm vegetarian in any case) but the Sri Lankan Wood Apple has a really funny smell and doesn't look very appetizing inside but it's absolutely delicious. I'm growing Achocha (a kind of cucumber) on my English allotment - so easy to grow but not widely known.

10. Where is your favourite place to write?

This has to be the attic room I'm lucky to have access to, hidden away in Dorset looking over the fields towards the cliffs and the sea. And I can go for bracing coastal walks to clear my head and find more inspiration. At home I work in my upstairs study with a direct view of the birds jostling for space around my birdfeeders.

And of course when I'm travelling, notebooks and pencils are always on the go.

11. Do you use paper and pen or a keyboard?

Both! I use a decent size laptop. I tried to bring myself up to date with a smaller computer Notebook but find it far too fiddly for comfort.

12. If you are allowed to say, what are you working on at the moment?

I was so disappointed by our Lent Group study guide last year on the Beatitudes. I found it far too bland and undemanding and having extensively researched the market I cannot find anything better for home groups, so I've set out to write my own. This will be distinctively different and will link the Beatitudes with the concepts in my first book, Healing This Wounded Earth. It will urge participants to go way outside their comfort zones, to really take the salt and light of Christ's teachings into their day to day lives in very practical and challenging ways. There's nothing insipid about it at all.

There are several other ideas simmering inside me waiting for the right moment to appear, perhaps using my pilgrimage and travel experiences, perhaps a first novel. Exciting times ahead…

Thank you Eleanor. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know more about you. 

If you want to find out more about Eleanor and her books you can find her on the following links


  1. "7. What would be your one piece of advice to authors writing on subjects that may be painful?

    Be very careful."

    For whose sake, the writer's, the readers' or others involved in the writer's life?


    1. That answer was a bit too brief I fear. I was thinking in terms of my own pain and what was brought to light in the writing process. Cathartic perhaps in places but also potentially deeply troubling. And of course family feelings have to be considered.

  2. Have always found your pilgrimage blogs fascinating, and enjoyed your photos!

  3. Thank you Mari - am now back from Ethiopia and will be blogging my experiences soon - the rock hewn churches were totally fascinating and it is a very Christian country - I learnt so much and had an amazing time which I hope i will be able to convey.