A “spotlight” is defined as “intense scrutiny or public attention.” “A lamp projecting a narrow, intense beam of light directly onto a place or person.” Or in my case, possibly a great author. Come back regularly to check out my latest Spotlight!
I recently interviewed author Eric Odell-Hein about being an author and his newest book. Welcome to that interview!
How much time a day do you spend in researching your topic?
Since Finding My Son is a personal memoir, my research involved validating the accuracy of my memories. I constantly peppered my wife, mother, and father with questions about my recollections to ensure I was being accurate. I’ve authored two other books, both of them non-fiction. Systems of Evil is based on my doctoral thesis, so the research that went into that book was immense. Recovering Lost Treasure started out as a master’s thesis, which I then re-wrote to be a popular-level introduction to the ancient religious patterns of thought that saturate the Bible. That also involved a tremendous amount of research. Both of those books took about thirteen years to research and write. I researched most days, but I wrote only occasionally. When I did write, I would spend several uninterrupted hours creating the raw content. Since I already had the research completed and organized, it was easy to create the content.
What is your favorite time of day to write, and why?
I tend to write starting in the evening lasting to the late hours of the night/early morning. I have a full-time job at Microsoft, serve as the president of a seminary, and volunteer as a teaching pastor, so finding time to write without distraction is difficult. When I’m able to find a good chunk of uninterrupted time, it’s usually at night.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
As a child I read fiction. The works of Tolkien, particularly The Silmarillion, really impacted me. As an adult, the non-fiction works of Mircea Eliade had a major impact. His systematic recognition of the patterns in religious history was amazing. As an academic, I don’t always agree with all of his conclusions, but the quality and breadth of his work is amazing. The first three pages of chapter one in The Sacred and the Profane are mind-blowing for their concise accuracy and deep insight. I’m not sure a more meaningful and deep set of sentences have ever been written, excepting the Bible. Currently, I am a devoted reader of Dr. Michael Heiser. If you only read one author (besides me), give him a try.
Why did you write this book?
When I went through the adoption process, I was full of concern, fear, and insecurity. The adoption agency provided a list of books for all prospective adoptive parents to read, and they were all great, but none of them really spoke to where I was at as a man, a husband, and a potential father. In looking back at my personal adoption journey, I wish there had been something that spoke more accurately to my situation. I wrote this book in an attempt to provide a resource to people, particularly men, who are struggling with adoption, either the concept of adopting or the myriad challenges that come up as part of the process. In the end, adopting my son, Ephraim, is the greatest moment of my life. If this book helps just one person in their journey, then mission accomplished.
What was your funniest moment as an author?
It came when I was doing research for my Ph.D. on the theological systems of evil found in the world’s religions, which would become my book, Systems of Evil. At that time, Microsoft had me on constant business trips up to Montreal. On my first trip to Montreal, I was in the middle of studying Islam’s approach to the topic of evil. Since it was my first visit to the city, I only knew how to get from the video-game lab I was working in to the restaurants on Rue Cresent. At lunch I took a book with me so I could research while I was eating. It was The Religion of Islam, by Maulana Muhammad Ali. It was a large, green, hard-back book with bright gold lettering on the cover. It really stood out as something that was obviously Islamic. I ate lunch at the Hard Rock Café, and I was concerned that even though I was a Christian, I might be giving off the impression that I believed in the Islamic faith. It had already happened elsewhere when I was researching Buddhism, and I didn’t want to inadvertently give a false witness as to my faith. So I thought about it for a minute, then I ordered a bacon burger and a beer, hoping that the bacon and booze would show I wasn’t an observant Muslim. I thought I had avoided this (probably made-up-in-my-mind) dilemma. After eating I left the restaurant and took the only route I knew back to the lab along Rue Ste-Catherine. I was immediately engulfed in a large demonstration. A huge, seemingly unending flow of protesters filled the street, and I had to push my way through them to make it back to work. And they weren’t just any random protesters: they were Zionists. It turns out it was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel, and they were a loud, forceful group with their chants, banners, and signs. I’ve since been told that the Palestinians had some sort of unofficial embassy or office on that street in Montreal, which is why they were demonstrating there. As I tried to push my way through the demonstration, using my obviously Islamic book of the theology as a raised shield, I mused that despite my intention at the restaurant to communicate my adherence to the Christian faith, I might end up getting attacked by Zionist and Jewish supporters of Israel who might think I was in opposition to them. I found the irony humorous: a Christian (a bit of a Zionist myself), getting attacked by the Jewish faithful after being mistaken for an Islamic zealot. All three of the world’s primary theistic faiths coming together in one unfortunate event. Of course everything turned out just fine, and there was no hint of violence in what I observed. Once I made it back to work, I found the situation amusing in retrospect.
Thank you for spending time with us, Eric. Adoption is a “big deal” in my family, as many of us have been adopted, or have adopted. Your book will be very encouraging, especially to the guys.
Readers, following is more information about Eric’s new book. I encourage you to get a copy at your nearest bookstore, or through any online retailers.
Eric was perfectly happy being one half of a dual income, no kids family. Having the freedom to travel the world with his wife Christine, while indulging his hobbies and furthering his education and career, was a pretty sweet life.
Christine wanted to be a mom.
Though he was scared he didn’t have what it took to be a good dad, Eric wanted to fulfill his wife’s dream. After years of trying to conceive, however, the couple received a devastating diagnosis: infertility.
For Christine, adoption was the obvious answer. Eric wasn’t so sure.
In Finding My Son: A Father’s Adoption Journey, author Eric Odell-Hein offers an unfiltered view into the heart and mind of a man who has experienced the sometimes messy and often awkward process of becoming a father through adoption. Encouraging men to acknowledge the fears they don’t want to admit while advocating a thoughtful, deliberate transparency as the best approach to even the most unnatural, uncomfortable aspects of the adoption process. Eric shares his misgivings and mistakes with an honesty that does not deny his insecurities.
A valuable resource for any man considering growing his family through adoption—or anyone seeking to understand the process—this engaging memoir is a testament to the beautiful gift of adoption and a touching account of a father’s love.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Eric Odell-Hein (PhD, MDiv, MRS, ThB) is the president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary. The teaching pastor at Summit Evangelical Free Church, he is also the author of Recovering Lost Treasure: Finding Christ in Ancient Myth, Symbol, and Ritual and Systems of Evil: A Study in Comparative Theodicy. Eric lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his wife Christine and their son Ephraim. All three are passionate travelers.
More from Eric
Adoption was a scary prospect for me. My mother and all her siblings are adopted, and the family dynamic for them was challenging. So when my wife decided we should adopt, I initially responded with a flat-out “no.” But my heart changed, and I am strongly convinced that our son, who joined us via adoption back in 2008 when he was just two days old, is the greatest child in the entire world. If you knew where I was emotionally prior to adoption compared with where I am now, you would marvel at the change. My adoption book is for people like me, particularly men, who struggle with the enormity of the choice to adopt and the constant challenges of the process.
On a lighter and more personal side, when people learn about all the various aspects of my life, they often have to stop and process the seemingly incongruous pieces. Some people know me as a guy who has spent more than two decades in software and entertainment, primarily in various aspects of behind-the-scenes video game technology and management. My entire family plays games, and more often than not, when I get back home in the evening, I find my wife and son online with other members of the extended family playing Minecraft. Sometimes we’ll all get in an online session together, each one of us at our own TV on our own Xbox, and take on bad guys together in one game or another.
Other people know my intellectual side, where I have earned several degrees in areas of theology and religion, including a Ph.D., as well as serving as president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary. I previously published two books on academic topics (evil among world religions, religious symbology) and have more in various stages of development, the next one being a focus on the ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cosmogonic/chaos-order symbolism in baptism. As a teaching pastor, I have a reputation for sermons with an intense ANE contextual emphasis that are part sermon and part seminary course. Check out my most recent four-part series on the Odell-Hein Books Facebook page here.
I was born in Germany to an American family, and while my German-language skills have deteriorated, I love German music. I’m very excited that my favorite group, Juli, has a new album coming out later this year. It’s mild stuff compared to most of the rock or industrial music I listen to, but they’re good. Check out the first single from their upcoming album here. I’ll be one of the small handful of Americans who purchase the album on the day it first releases in the US.
When not working or playing games with the family, I read primarily academic ANE books. When we’re in the car, I love to subject the family to my go-to podcast, the Naked Bible Podcast. No, it’s not what it sounds like. If you want to hear a serious scholar tackle the ANE context for the Bible, start with Dr. Michael Heiser’s Exodus series (it begins with episode 255).
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 5
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 6
Vicky Sluiter, November 7 (Author Interview)
Just the Write Escape, November 8
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 9
Simple Harvest Reads, November 10 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, November 11
janicesbookreviews, November 12
Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 13 (Author Interview)
A Reader’s Brain, November 14
Inklings and notions, November 15
By The Book, November 16 (Author Interview)
Book Love (Featuring Gail Hollingsworth), November 17
Through the Fire Blogs, November 18 (Author Interview)
To celebrate his tour, Eric is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon certificate and a signed copy of each of his three books!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.