By Kyle Beck
David Athey’s students at Palm Beach Altantic University have more than one reaon to listen when he talks about writing. Athey is not only a professor, but also a published novelist.
An English and creative writing professor, Athey wrote the novel “Danny Gospel,” the story of a young man searching for romance and heavenly glory no matter what he most endure.
The inspiration for the novel came from an interesting man Athey encountered.
“I met a man who believed that mosquitoes could be used by God to help him fulfill a mission,” Athey said. “I knew that was unique enough to propel a story.”
The mosquito plays a large role in “Danny Gospel,” a story that took Athey 18 years to write and publish.
“I rewrote the story over and over, trying to find a good balance of artistry and faith,” Athey said. “It was very difficult to find a publisher. My writing is too Christian for most secular publishers, and too literary for most Christian publishers.”
The publishing company Bethany House eventually decided to publish the novel released in 2008.
It became an audio book and was also published in Dutch.
“Now I’m hoping for someone to turn it into a movie,” Athey said.
Athey believes a writer gets to play God to a certain extent, which is why it is difficult for him to pick a favorite character in “Danny Gospel.”
“I love all of my characters,” said Athey. “I wish they’d act smarter sometimes, and get along better, but I tend not to interfere very much. I’m happiest when my characters do well without need of too many miracles.”
Athey was hired full-time at PBA after working as an adjunct and teaching at Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
Even though he loved writing from an early age, he had no desire to one day be a teacher.
“Writing is a gift, a passion and a calling, and I first took it seriously in tenth grade,” Athey said. “I had no ambition to be a teacher, because I’ve always had a phobia about public speaking. But here I am, speaking to rooms full of people every day.”
He enjoys teaching at PBA, due in large part to the students with whom he deals on a daily basis.
“The students are amazing,” Athey said. “I appreciate how they take their faith seriously and are open to serving God through their creativity.”
Athey cites the Holy Spirit as his biggest spiritual influence, but adds C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor and G.K. Chesterton among many others as his earthly influences.
His favorite book after the Bible is the dictionary.
“Just as musicians must love notes, writers must love words,” Athey said.
The advice he would give to young writers is, “read as many great books as you can, practice writing for at least an hour every day and pay attention in your humanities classes.”
Athey has three works that are in the closing stages: a collection of poetry, a book of reflections for Christian writers and a new novel.